This is a picture of my daughter the night before her Dad took his own life.
Four years old and her first night of ballet class. Full of joy. Full of innocence. The worst thing that had ever happened to her was dropping her ice cream cone at the county fair.
The next day her Dad waved goodbye to her as we drove off to our play date and then he got in his car and took his own life.*
I had to sit on her little bed with her and her fuzzy stuffed animals and baby dolls and I had to tell my four-year-old that her Dad had died. She stared at me and then said, “Mama? What does die mean?” It took days, weeks for her to fully understand… even after she had seen him in his coffin… that he was not ever coming home and that’s what die means.
If you are having suicidal thoughts and you have children? Your children will not be better off without you. Your kids need you. Your death will take away some of their innocence. They will have nightmares. They will wake up sweating and screaming. Look at their photo and figure out a way to keep yourself alive on this earth. They are so little. They need you. Stay. If for nothing else… if for no one else… stay for them. Find your fight and get yourself the help you deserve so that you can care for your children.
This girl knows things other kids don’t know.
She knows how her Dad died. I told her the truth… not the gory and scary details… but just the plain and simple truth that he hurt himself so that he would die. She knows what suicide is and openly says the word when most adults shy away from it.
LISTEN: We are living in the Age of Anxiety. What the hell is going on? Post continues.
She also knows that he was a very loving, kind, and good person who made a very wrong choice.
She knows that he was human, that he was sick, and that he was terrified and she has deep compassion for him because she too knows what it’s like to be scared.
She knows that he loved her to the moon and back a billion times and he still does.
Telling her the truth opened up conversations about mental health, love, emotions, strength, grief, God, spirituality, and more. She doesn’t judge him or blame him… only loves him.
She forgives her Dad.
She knows that he didn’t leave because he didn’t love her but because he had no fight left in him to stay.
She misses him, we all do, every day. It’s a soul deep missing when a child loses a parent.
She barely remembers him.
She still loves him very, very much.
She will grow up not knowing what it’s like to have her very own Dad to protect her, laugh with her, care for her, and love her.