My daughter came home from school and as usual rang me to tell her about her day. Someones mother died on the weekend, she blurted. What? I said growing instantly cold with all sorts of terrible images of fatal car crashes running through my mind.
Who could it be? It was a small school and a close-knit group of parents. The parents of the children in each class all knew each other well.
What happened? I said. The mother killed herself, my daughter continued. I felt myself start to sweat and tears welled my eyes. Dont be ridiculous I said angrily.
Gradually the facts came out. A childs mother had indeed been in so much pain that she took her own life.
I knew this woman, she had been in my home and I in hers only a few weeks previously. Our daughters were friends and she was a devoted mother. A far better mother than me. She cooked with her children, played with them and seemed to truly enjoy them. She held an important job in the social welfare field assisting troubled youth and she seemed completely together.
It was a wake up call to me and many other mothers. Was it all an act? Was this poor woman acting each time we saw her? Do we all put on an act? Does anyone really know us? The scariest thing was that no-one suspected. How tragically lonely and isolated must our dear friend have felt when each time she spoke to anyone she was dying inside and no-one knew her well enough to know that there was a problem. I replayed our conversations a thousand times over in my mind but there was no clue. I still see her smiles.
It seems that she had suffered depression and was on medication. This makes me so angry and I believe that our Drs have a lot to answer for. As soon as a woman is stressed or unhappy she is offered medication. Why? To mask the pain. Why dont we start selling the message that were not meant to be happy all the time. We are not entitled to perpetual happiness and dont deserve it. Such happiness will come later if we lead good lives. Real life here on earth means good times and bad times. If we could all understand and accept this maybe we would be better able to talk about the bad times as we wouldnt feel such failures.
Western society is cold and isolating. If you travel through asia you will see women sitting and talking for hours on end for most of each day as there is nothing else to do. There is no high-powered job to rush to, no massive home to care for and no after-school activities to ferry children to. The women lead simple lives, cooking simple meals and caring for small homes. This leaves them time to develop meaningful relationships with other human beings.
If something was wrong with one of these women, someone would notice. If she felt it hard to get out of bed each day she would be surrounded by people who cared and she would talk about her problems and probably laugh them away. These women have far less materially than us, here in the west, but they are the lucky ones. They have each other.
We will never know the particular situation that was causing our friend so much pain as she obviously did not feel close enough to anyone to share her burden . How absolutely tragic. Our so called prosperous western society which is so lacking in humanity and meaningful relationships gave a loving mother no choice but to leave her beloved children.
We are all guilty as we keep playing the more game and believing the advertisers message that we will be happier if we work harder and buy more. What kind of example are we setting for our children?