A few months ago I woke up to a beautiful morning. I was in a weirdly good mood, I had breakfast and coffee in peace, and then when the kids woke up, I greeted them with a smile as they fought over who would snuggle mommy first. These are the things that melt my heart, this is the life I live for. Everything was looking like it was going to be a beautiful day. Then I sat down to check Facebook.
One of the first things that popped up was a post from a page I follow about PMDD. One of the women from that page, a beautiful, wonderful woman who had a reputation for helping those around her, messaging people in the middle of the night, talking with strangers to help them out of a hard time, had passed. She had just been talking with some of those ladies a couple days previous, and when she stopped responding, they got worried. Eventually, they reached out to her husband and found that their worst fears were confirmed. Her suffering had become too much for her, and she had taken her own life. She left behind a loving husband, a couple kids, and a support network reeling from the shock of losing her.
I did not personally know her. I recognized her from the page, we had never spoken before. But I grieved that day. It hit me hard, and I felt so guilty over it. Grieving for a complete stranger felt like a slap in the face for the people who actually knew and loved her. I didn’t even know this woman, why am I seriously crying right now?
Because she could have been me.
Because I looked at her and saw a happy woman with a good family, who happened to be struggling with the same thing I was. Although we didn’t have much else in common on the outside, I looked at her and I could see me. I like to tell myself that I am safe because I have a family who loves me, children who depend on me, and a husband who encourages me to get the care I need. I like to tell myself that all of that will always be enough to keep me around. Just like countless other women who struggle with the same things I do, who told themselves the same thing. Just like countless women who have lost those battles.
Just like Robin Williams, who used laughter to make the world a better place, because he knew how it felt to be so low you can’t feel anything anymore.
Just like Amy Bluel, founder of the semicolon project, who inspired so many people and gave hope to thousands.
And like Chester Bennington, who’s music helped tons of people feel like they weren’t alone.
We grieve for these people, famous or not, because we can see something of ourselves in them. But here’s something to remember. If you hear about these tragedies and feel that grief and that loss, if you see yourself in these people and are affected by it, it’s because you still have that spark in you that wants to avoid that fate. It means that you are still hanging on. So go ahead, by all means, grieve. Because grieving means you are still living, and aren’t planning on going anywhere.