Photo Credit: Sarah Jones
In order from left to right: Peggy, Becky, Karen, Mara, Barbara
My mother-in-law is amazing in many ways. She is intelligent, compassionate, driven, and always tries to understand where someone is coming from; even if that someone is different from her. I admire all of these things about her.
I can now add four more people to the list of women I find truly inspirational and admirable, “The Suicide Moms”.
The Suicide Moms consist of a brave group of women who are all survivors of suicide, meaning they each lost a loved one to suicide. However, these incredible women didn’t just lose any loved one, they each lost their child.
It’s unnatural to bury your child, it’s not the way the universe is supposed to work. Our children are supposed to bury us; add suicide to the equation, and the pain these women must feel is completely unimaginable.
Wednesday, September 18, 2019, marked two years since one of The Suicide Moms’ son, Caleb 18, died by suicide. I went to brunch with The Moms to support Karen, (Caleb’s Mom) and to meet the rest of the group.
They are Karen, Barbara, lost her son Keith 36, Mara, lost her daughter Kara 35, Becky lost her son Adam 22, and Peggy who lost her son E.C. 31.
There were a few tears shed, but they didn’t last long due to the support and love these women doled out for each other, no doubt finding strength in each other’s words and simple presence.
Karen’s son Caleb had made oragami figures and passed them out to his friends on a regular basis. Karen brought adorable oragami birds and passed them out to each of us, as well as dragonfly ornaments that hold significance for her. I was very touched by the parallel gifting between mother and son.
After some catching up, the group discussed their advocacy goals. They are advocating for it to be mandatory in the state of Oklahoma for there to be professional mental health staff on-site in our schools.
There are a few mental health related mandates we could be voting on next fall in our state. The Moms consider any progression toward their ultimate goal as a step in the right direction, but they are pushing for action to be taken immediately so tragedies like theirs happen less often.
Barbara wrote a Dr. Suess-like poem about their advocacy and the pressing need our kids have for mental health care in schools. It was amazing. Before the brunch was over the Moms had made plans to recite the poem together and send it to everyone. I offered to be the videographer. I have to get in on the amazing plight these women are undertaking. Their courage and tenacity is contagious.
I feel so privileged to have met all of The Moms, and I’m particularly proud of one. Barbara amazes me all the time, but I went away today super proud to be her daughter-in-law and so grateful to her son, my late husband, for bringing her into my life.
Although the situations in which I came to meet The Suicide Moms is incredibly tragic, I am grateful to have met them. I feel my own children might be safer knowing The Moms are looking out for them and all of our children who are still here, and giving a voice to those whose memories live on in these beautiful, vivacious women… The Suicide Moms.
My mother-in-law Barbara speaking at the Tulsa City Council Meeting advocating for mental health