Lori Falce: The blindsiding of a friend’s suicide
We hadn’t talked — really talked — in months. Maybe years. It’s one of those things where you lose track.
Social media had become our conduit, where we left the occasional “oh that’s so sweet” on a picture of each other’s kids or caught up on job changes and new relationships.
Last week, she liked a picture of cookies I made with my son. On Saturday afternoon, I liked an exasperated joke she posted.
On Monday, it was a social media post that told me she was gone. She had been in a dark place, and she took her own life to stop the pain.
I was more staggered than I expected to be.
She wasn’t the first person I knew who took that way out. I have even had family members choose that path. But I have never been inside a community of people so struck by it.
J.B. was part of my online moms group, a family of women who had been together since we were pregnant forever ago. Our numbers ebbed and flowed over the years. Sometimes we were closer than others, but regardless of occasional frustrations or the battle of wills that erupt in any kind of sorority, we had a kind of battlefield friendship that defies time and distance.
J.B. had struggled in recent years. We had seen her rally and fall and rally again. And when suddenly on a Monday morning, she was gone, it struck hundreds of women around the country like a brick.
It wasn’t just that she was our friend. It’s that she was all of us or, more precisely, she could have been any of us.
We all fight to figure out how to be who we want to be in the face of who we are expected to be. We all bow under the weight of responsibilities and demands — not only the ones from outside, but more crushingly to the ones from within.
We all know how hard it is to get up when you fall, or when you are tired or when you are sick.
Most of us keep going. J.B.’s passing blindsided us. It showed that for some — like this sassy, argumentative woman who didn’t know how to back down from a fight — the darkness wins.
J.B. isn’t gone because of the disconnected nature of social media.
But maybe if we are more aware of how superficial the Facebook- Instagram-Twitter facade is, we can remember to reach past it now and then.
We can share a list of suicide warning signs and hotlines for help. But we can also pick up a phone and ask if someone wants to talk. We can post links to a fundraiser or an article. We can also make real contact.
There is no single answer to suicide, but letting people know that they are valued, that they are loved, that they are connected to other people who would feel the loss like an amputation — that can never be a mistake.
I wish I had a chance to respond to J.B.’s last post again. It’s too late. I miss her, and she won’t ever know.
Lori Falce is a Tribune-Review community engagement editor. You can contact Lori at [email protected].