I’m going to share straight up that I’m sharing links to a podcast where suicide is discussed openly and honestly in the context of a life, and all the life experience that led up to this moment and what happened since. I’m sharing this not so much to “bring awareness” to the reality of suicide and it’s terrible effects on a family, for those are real, or as a here’s how to live in a life of faith, rather sharing because this stuff needs saying over and over to give space for people who are suffering. Hang with me here friends.
One thing I’ve known deeply since I was young is that life isn’t easy, faith is hard work, things don’t always work out as we hope and sometimes this is harder than we’re ever willing to admit, that people struggling deserve dignity and respect, that “fair” and “safe: are myths. The older I get the more I see that both psychology and science are exercises in asking questions and trying things until something works, the more questions we ask, the more new things we try the greater chance that we have that something will work and healing will come.
I was listening to a radio talk show the day Leticia Ochoa Adams son Anthony died by suicide and have followed her on social media for a while. Watching this mother grieve her child, continue raising her kids, graduate from college, write, and talk about this child she lost, be a grandmother helping her grandkids and live a life of faith that is deep, well honestly I don’t have the “right” words to say this, however I will share what I share with Leticia, it’s been beautiful. On her website Leticia says, “Leticia Ochoa Adams is a born and raised Tejana who loves bluebonnets, longhorns and Texas shaped Waffles. She writes and speaks on faith, grief and suicide loss because after the loss of her oldest son Anthony to suicide she saw a lack of space for honest grieving and acknowledgement of trauma so she set out to create one.”
Why beautiful? What does that even mean? So here’s where I’m sharing the podcast links
Terrible, Thanks for Aasking with Nora McInerny Leticia & Anthony Part 1
Terrible, Thanks for Asking with Nora McInerny Leticia & Anthony Part 2
Leticia’s grief is honest, raw, real, lived in a way that dives into the pain of the loss of her kid, that grew in her body, who she loved, who helped raise his brothers and sister, who has two beautiful daughters, all the while dealing with the trauma of her own childhood. There is a meme that goes around now and again essentially saying that “people are dealing with things we don’t know and let’s be kind.” In and of itself it’s a good meme offering us the opportunity to extend grace when people say or do stupid shit that is seemingly painful to us personally, when in all reality they are hurt and I am/you are the nearest person available. While listening to part 2 I had several wtf moments, knowing full well that unless Anthony gave his full permission and willingly entered the hospital both the psychological and pharmacologicial treatment he needed wouldn’t be available to him. Here is this Mom, who knew full well that her kid needed help, knew he needed therapy, knew he needed in patient treatment, who had honest conversations with her kid about getting the help he needed, who did everything she could to make that happen.
Listening to Leticia speak about her kid and his best qualities, and that he was struggling, and that they had playlists and talked to each other about everything and that she knew something was wrong and talked honestly and openly with him is the necessary information for parents. While I’m not the momma I feel this deeply because it’s painful. Leticia sharing this is essential for our times, she’s showing us how to deal with the shit that happens. One of the things I hear deeply is her Catholic Faith lived out in such a real way, including getting therapy for her own childhood trauma, which has included placing responsibility for the horrific abuse at the feet of the person to whom it belongs, learning to have compassion for her mom who was doing her best in a difficult situation. As Leticia talked about some of Anthony’s experience that he told her about there is a clear spiritual component here.
As a Church we need to hire her more to give witness, please hire her to speak, to speak of this experience to give honor and respect to her son Anthony and in doing so to so many other kids lost to mental illness and suicide. As Catholics we need to give witness to the reality that life isn’t all cotton candy, and sweet, that we live a life closely aligned to Jesus, that includes suffering, and that we know our God is with us, identifies with us in all of our humanity, that we exist because He Loves us, that we have free-will and make choices that are contrary to His will and those choices have consequences. Let’s write not only about the here’s the bright shiny part of getting through something, let’s acknowledge several things including that we recognize that our own physical death is part of our reality and order our lives in such a way that we’re ready for that death. Let’s not only extend grace where it’s needed but live deeply with compassion for the hurt others have experienced – that we might not know – but offer to listen to sit with those in grief to really look at the Reality of the Cross that getting there is hard, and that the resurrection is coming.
Further let’s remember that our Church does not condemn Judas to hell, we don’t know in those moments leading up to his death if he repented of his actions. WE don’t know if he’s in heaven either. Leticia will tell you straight out she doesn’t know if her kid is in heaven with Jesus or “in a better place” she also doesn’t know if he’s in hell.
You know what I’m not quite sure how to bring all of this to a good close, so I’ll end here with prayers for the family and prayers for those struggling with mental illness, suicide, loss of babies through miscarriage and broken hearts.