Friday, February 07, 2014

Reacting to Today's Loss

I don't have anything to add fact-wise to the event that occurred at Bend High School today. I can't comment on this particular student or the parents. What I can surmise is the tremendous amount of pain that this child was in. What I can expect is that these parents are now in pain that we, especially those of us who are parents, don't want to imagine. Beyond that, I will not conjecture on the details surrounding this incident.

However, we live in a world of instant information, where everyone who thinks they know anything is willing to send it out to the ethernet without thinking about how their words will affect others. There is judgment. There is second-guessing of the school's actions. There are solutions being proposed based on anger. Anger born out of fear.

Again, I don't have those answers. But I am going to plead with you to stop. Stop and think about what you are saying. This isn't a television show. Nobody in that room today chose for this to happen to them. Nobody in that school could predict the reactions of every single person outside those walls. Please don't react with criticism but with compassion.

I have a feeling that today's tragedy will linger with me longer than most of this type. It happened at a high school in my town. So, yeah, there's that. It's close to home. But it's close to home in another way.

We think that these things can't happen to us. We think our kids are invincible to such damaging emotions and damaged psyches. But we're not. You're not. I'm not. This was D and me just a few months ago. Even knowing what she was struggling with, I never imagined that she could take her own life. Not for real. Not until she told me that she didn't feel like she could control or trust herself not to do it. I didn't want to believe it, who does? But I finally had to.

We don't want to think our kids can hurt so much. We think that buying them warm coats and feeding them pizza and going to their games and dances is enough. That's what parents do, right? Of course.

But there's more. We have to listen to them. We have to pay attention. Don't assume that sudden moodiness is just common teenage asshole behavior. It very well could be, but don't take the chance at missing something. Talk to your kids. Let them see you fail. Oh boy, that was a hard one for me, but they need to know that parents are also just people. That they don't have to live up to perfection or unrealistic expectations.

Know your child's friends. Notice when these friends change. Ask. Ask why. Ask about school and ask about activities and ask how they feel in their own skin. They want you to. They want to know that you care about more than just grades or game scores. They want to know that they're loved.

Tell them you love them. Every day. Hug them when they need it. Hug them when you need it. Hug them when it will embarrass them because they secretly love it then too.

And even if you do all of these things, and you still can't stop the pain of depression, know that you did your best. That we don't win all the battles. We just do our best. When one of us loses the battle, show up for them with love and compassion and kindness and acceptance.

Open your hearts to those affected by today's tragedy. Trust that people did their best. Be extra kind to those around you.

Tonight, hug your kids a little tighter. Feel the gratitude.


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