We've been here before.
Too many times.
We don't know how to process the fear.
The overwhelming truth that seems to sneak in and remind us time and time again of how fragile...how delicate...how incredibly fine the line is between life and death. Suddenly we're consumed with the daunting reality that life is short.
Too short for too many innocent young lives.
The sea of candles consumes my Facebook page.
Only this time the sadness comes as a tsunami instead of one forceful wave that knocks us off balance. This time we stare at our computer screens...unsure of what to think...to feel...struggling to find words that haven't already been spoken.
This time we learned about a 24 year old girl...a 16 year old boy...a 27 year old mother of two...and an 18 month old baby who was misdiagnosed .... all gone .... taken from their families, and our community, just in the past few days. Lives claimed too soon because of Type 1 Diabetes.
Broken families. Broken hearts. Broken HOPE.
But there is one death that has resonated with me and I can't get her off my mind.
I wanted to talk about her last week. But I didn't. I didn't mention her here, because, when I posted about her loss on Facebook, I received a few messages from mothers who were somewhat discouraged. Disheartened that I shared the news of her death. They were troubled because the circumstances surrounding this loss are so devastating...so hard to understand...so overwhelming...so profound.
Her name was Lalita. She lived in France. She was 9 years old. By all accounts she was a "normal" child, involved in school and neighborhood activities. She committed suicide by jumping from a 5th floor window after scribbling a note saying that she was 'fed up with her illness and wanted to end her life'.
Nine years old.
Did she fully understand the magnitude of death? The permanence?
I don't know. But I do know that she was a little girl facing a grown-up sized disease and she made a grown-up sized decision to throw diabetes -- and herself -- out a window because she was frustrated and overwhelmed.
Yet...there were no candles when the news of her death broke. It wasn't reposted much. No one really talked about it.
We just moved on.
Then the overwhelming sadness of today's news began trickling in. One after another. My heart, my mind, that restless place inside my soul stirred again with thoughts of this little girl. Her broken family. Her friends. Her teachers. Her mother....a mother who, like myself, is raising a daughter with Type1 Diabetes.
How abysmal the grief must be. The loneliness that must exist. The emptiness. The shock.
Here are some of the symptoms of depression from the National Institute of Mental Health:
People with depressive illnesses do not all experience the same symptoms. The severity, frequency and duration of symptoms will vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness.
- Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" feelings
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
- Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
Friends, the daily grind of managing this beast is all consuming. Depression is a complication that isn't discussed very often, but that doesn't mean it ceases to exist. Whether you are a person with diabetes or a caregiver, please take the warning signs of depression seriously and seek help if you notice them.
Allow our hearts to preserve Lalita's memory as a reminder that children can be affected by depression. As parents, we have social media outlets...blogs, FB, Twitter...we have online chat rooms, support forums from every angle, and connections with each other. As children, they may feel alone, burdened, and overwhelmed by the massive effort it takes to manage their diabetes. They may experience feelings of guilt when they see their tired parents or overhear a frustrated conversation among adults in reference to a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. They may experience fear, anger, and isolation.
Their emotional well being is as equally important as their physical health. Listen to them. Hold them. Reassure them that you will do everything you can to protect them. Remind them that they are not at fault. Allow them to express themselves without fear of being judged or disappointing their parents. Honor their desires for privacy, celebrate victories, and cherish every moment of their innocence.
Grown-up life will be here soon enough.
Grown-up life will be here soon enough.
Last week, we lost a child to this complication of diabetes.
Every child counts. Every adult counts. Every person affected by this disease counts. Amidst this sadness, please remember that we are a strong community. We build each other up and hold each other together. We invoke change, pave the way for future generations, and lay the groundwork for better treatment options that are linking to a cure.
We are connected.
We are a family.
We will mourn our losses,
and then we will find a renewed determination to keep HOPE alive.
From My Candy Heart to Yours,