Hey there, awesome readers.
You may have noticed that there’s no exclamation mark in my greeting. That’s because today’s post is a little sad. Hell… It’s A LOT sad. It’s me trying to make sense of a suicide. And as a writer, I feel I have a responsibility to share a life-saving message.
If you’re a blogger, your heart most likely shattered into a million pieces this week.
Heather B. Armstrong, also known as Dooce, died by suicide on Tuesday.
If you don’t know who she was… all I can say is I’m sorry. Sorry because you missed out. And sorry because I’m not going to go into the specifics of her life. You can get that just by Googling her name.
But I’ll tell you what I will do. At the end of this post, I’ll link to a video of her speaking, explaining why she was stepping down from her role as renowned Mommy Blogger. It’s a great video, you should watch it. During her talk she demonstrates her wit, her humour, and her reasons.
The first thing I want to say about Heather is that she was a fucking amazing writer. She wrote about her family… about her struggles with depression… about her pain… and she did it with raw eloquence.
She was a prolific writer who wasn’t afraid to share her humanity. She was honest with her words, deep with her emotions, and undeniably committed to who she was. It was part of her charm and part of her strength. Most of all, it was why we loved her.
Let’s talk about suicide for a minute.
When I was about 13 years old, my mother had a friend… a single mother who ended her life by driving her car off a bridge into a Canal. A man jumped in after her, and as the car sank, he tried to open the door. In response, she nodded her head and dismissed him.
She was done.
From the outside looking in, she was young. She was beautiful. Knowing what I know now, I can’t even imagine the heaviness of the mask she wore every day.
What I remember vividly are the words people used to describe what she had done.
“Selfish” was the one I heard the most.
And the questions.
“How could she just leave her son like that?”
This was the first case of suicide to touch my life. I didn’t understand it, and all I had to make sense of it was the adult babble surrounding me.
I’ve had over four decades of living, experiencing, observing, and learning since that incident. I still don’t have all the answers – I can’t tell you why my mother’s friend and Heather “chose” to die by suicide. But I can say this:
I don’t think it’s a decision you make. I think it’s a dark moment in suspended time where we feel lost, and the decision makes itself for you.
We’ve all experienced heartbreak and disappointment. We all know that feeling of being stuck in a milestone of our lives that sucks the joy out of our souls. We’ve all had hours or days hijacked by despair.
In these moments, we can be surrounded by the best of intentions – people that shine love and light – and yet we still feel devoid of anything except our own dark demons, consumed by an ache so powerful that it renders us into believing that this is it. There’s no way out… and yet, there is a way out.
We don’t know why some people take that plunge. All we know is that their suffering demands to be released.
If you’re suffering in silence, if thoughts of suicide are taunting you, if the long, bony fingers of death are tapping you on the shoulder… please, please, PLEASE know that you don’t have to be alone right now. There is help.
It may feel impossibly difficult. In fact, it probably does. But please. Make a call. Do it for the people who love you. Do it for yourself. Be the survivor who can then perhaps be the one to give a special kind of strength to others who need you because you’ll have that deeper understanding.
And the video I promised you: