That's the kind of girl she was
Taken away so young
Taken away without a warning"
Think Of Laura - Christopher Cross
Two weeks ago it happened again. Someone close to me passed away. With it comes the almost all too familiar Kubler-Ross five stages of mourning. It also has a even more painful and tragic spin as this was a friend who took her own life. A huge host of additional questions rise when this happens. It's a more sudden type of shock and there's no way to prepare or quickly come down from all of the emotion you feel. To make things worse, she was a co-worker and so each day going to work for the rest of the week triggered the feeling of reliving all of the emotion of that day. It was pretty horrible and I had to take moments through the day just to process the emotion of it all.
For the first time in my life I was to give a eulogy. Some of my words are folded in below along with thoughts now that I have some distance from the situation.
Her name was Sarah Robertson. She came from the roughest of backgrounds. She survived abuses too numerous to remember. She had both a rough and soft exterior. On the rough side, she wore too much makeup, had tattoos and piercings. On the soft side, she had an infectious laugh, a great sense of humor and was kind and generous. With those with her background it's easy to write her off as a wasted life. On the contrary, she was trying her best to make something of herself. She had become a marketing coordinator at our company, she was a loving mother and was very intelligent.
I described her in my eulogy with three words:
First was a peacock. Colorful, impacting and daring. She had the personality that you couldn't easily forget.
Second was Dharma from the TV show Dharma And Greg. Free spirited, artistic, generous, intelligent, loving/loveable, kind, cheerful, sensitive, persevering and compassionate. I once called her that and she really liked the comparison.
"I will fly away to them, to the royal birds; and they will beat me, because I, that am so ugly, dare to come near them. But it is all the same. Better be killed by them than to be pursued by ducks, and beaten by fowls, and pushed about by the girl who takes care of the poultry yard, and to suffer hunger in winter!" And it flew out into the water, and swam towards the beautiful swans: these looked at it, and came sailing down upon it with outspread wings. "Kill me!" said the poor creature, and bent its head down upon the water, expecting nothing but death. But what was this that it saw in the clear water? It beheld its own image; and, lo! it was no longer clumsy dark-gray bird, ugly and hateful to look at, but a - swan!
It matters nothing if one is born in a duck-yard, if one has only lain in a swan`s egg.
It felt quite glad at all the need and misfortune it had suffered, now it realized its happiness in all the splendor that surrounded it. And the great swans swam round it, and stroked it with their beaks."
The Ugly Duckling
Third was a swan. Grace, purity, beauty, elegance and mostly transformation. She once said she wished she was the swan in the story of The Ugly Duckling. I think it fit her life quite well. She grew up an outcast, abused and despised. But when she takes a deep look at herself, she had transformed into a swan. The important part was that all along the Ugly Duckling was always a swan. My deepest prayer is that God will now reveal to Sarah that she was a swan all along.
As with any suicide, there's so many questions. There's truly no answer to all of those questions. Also, there's the feeling of deep hurt and anger. I know it's selfish to think but when someone takes their own life it hurts those around them. My biggest hurt is wondering why she didn't reach out to those who truly had her best interests at heart. It's something that I will have to live with and be OK without an answer.
In search for an incomplete answer, I found it helpful writing her a letter. I also talked things through with close friends. It took me a while to just come to the conclusion that the weight of the life she had lived had been too much and she was likely battling depression. She was under a great deal of stress and the people around her and from her past were a great burden on her. In many ways, she had lived a full life.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
My biggest take from all of this: drop your guard. Be transparent and find friends that you can really confide in. Lay all of your burdens before a Loving Heavenly Father where you can find the deep healing you need. Depression is a terrible condition and one you cannot deal with alone. The price of staying isolated from friends and God is far greater than the cost of transparency. The losses will continue and the price can be high. May we all find the healing that our Father so richly wants to offer us.