I did not know.

I did not know Kate Spade. I did not know who she was until I got word of her death by suicide… and it is the manner of death that connected me to her story. Today, I learned of Anthony Bourdain’s death. And it touched me.

I thought his transparency about his struggles with drugs, his emotional issues, and divorce, and frequent feelings of inadequacy… I thought this openness would protect him. That he was alright. A role model. I did not know.

I did not know Brandon or Sean… or Katy- who took her life at 12. And even though I am a parent who has lost a son to suicide, I do not know what Katy’s parents are going through. I see parents all the time who have lost a child and I don’t know how they do it… keep on living. Keep on being functional humans.

This blog connected me with Jason and his mom from New Jersey when Jason was recovering from attempting to take his life. They read my blog and so did their friends and friended me on Facebook and we talked that way from time to time… until Jason took his life two years ago, followed by Amy, his mother a month later. She had two daughters who had died years and years ago when her sister, driving drunk, crashed while bringing them home. And I don’t know what that burden would be like… but it cost Amy her marriage, and then her son, and then herself.

Grief does that. I think of ripples in a pond.

I connected with grieving parents online, and so many of them are dealing with suicidal thoughts. Too many with substance addiction. Too many with estrangement from family and broken marriages. I did not know that grief would echo in such a way and continue to touch lives, change lives…

People talk to me as if I know something… and I try to give them something of value. But what I do know is that I have theses vast areas of ignorance, that there are too many secrets, and that although we think of ourselves as complex and inscrutable, it is often everyone else and everything else that is difficult or intricate or covered and twisted and changing. I don’t know what to say. I write and I don’t know what to write. I paint and I don’t know what to paint.

I see parents who won’t touch their child’s room and it becomes a shrine. I see others who erase every painful object, every sign of their child’s existence. And often it seem there is one in a couple that keeps everything that for the other is an unbearable and constant painful reminder. I see some who withdraw and some who speak. I see some that go on, seemingly unimpeded, while others struggle to get out of bed. And I do not know if there is a right way to do this, but some ways seem very wrong.

Five years. I am still grieving. I still do not know.

I want to help. I want to make it better. I want to show that in those ripples, something good can happen. That life will be life, and there is sunshine and color and music, even in the echoes of great tragedy.

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