Mental Illness, Suicide and Acceptance: How do we remember and acknowledge a loved one?

Mindfulness

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Today was my mom’s birthday. She is gone now having taken her own life on July 19, 2014.

I’ve been thinking for a few days what I might want to write to mark the date today. She’s been gone almost two years. Relationships with mothers are complicated under the best of circumstances. But add a layer of mental health challenges and the best of circumstances can be even more challenging. This year, a friend sent me the most incredible story written by Deborah Greene, who received the call about her own father’s suicide while grocery shopping.  Strangers helped her through those first unbelievable moments. It was poignant and hit very close to home for me. You can read about it here.

My childhood and my relationship with my mom was marked with situations that I have only come to really understand as an adult and a mom myself. There was anger I hadn’t realized and disappointment that my mom wasn’t the mom I’d have hoped for. Yet, now as an adult I acknowledge, she probably did the best she could within her own limitations. I just wanted more. I can see now certain traits that I possess from my mom, like my fascination with learning about other people, my gift of gab and my love of the theatre.

Last night, as I was looking for a photo to share of my mom and myself, I found a funny video that we had recorded when we delivered meals on wheels together about 5 years ago. She hadn’t realized that the recording was still going so while there was no video, as it bounced around in her hand, we had a lovely recorded conversation where she told me how excited she was for my daughter’s bat mitzvah later that summer. She also mentioned that she was expecting to be around to see my daughter graduate from high school. Sadly, neither of those things came to fruition as she was hospitalized the week of my daughter’s bat mitzvah and this week is my daughter’s high school graduation.

On my mom’s birthday today, I have decided to light a candle in her memory, play some classical music, visit with a dear friend recovering from breast cancer surgery (whose mom is in town) and acknowledge that while no relationship is perfect, we must accept what is because often we can’t change it. As I move forward, I continue to hold my mother in my heart and send her the love that she always wanted and deserved that perhaps she struggled to receive during her life.

Thinking about you today mom and holding your memory with me today and everyday!

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