I’m a corporate crisis and grief counselor, and I’ve spent yesterday and today at a company, counseling employees who are devastated by the unexpected death of a young employee. Although the cause of her death isn’t known for sure yet, suicide is suspected. She was bright, hard-working, quirky, and caring, “the fabric” of the company, which has now “unraveled” as one of her co-workers put it. They are deeply grieving her loss and can only imagine the pain her family is experiencing.
Like with your sister, her friends tried many times to have her seek help, but she refused. Maybe treatment would have made a difference, maybe not. For the truth is — there are many inept mental health professionals, just has there are also many competent ones. The mentally ill brain can respond differently to various medications and treatments, and it may take a while to find the right one or the right combination. Or maybe medication won’t work at all.
In addition to medication and counseling, it takes energy and willingness to make the lifestyle choices that can support a healthy brain or help with depression — such as regular exercise; a diet that avoids sugar and glutin and includes foods that help the brain such as blueberries, almonds, wild salmon; certain supplements; meditation; spiritual practices; lower stress levels, supportive relationships. But as much as you can encourage and support someone to do these things, ultimately you can’t force them to take care of themselves. You can only take care of yourself. Sometimes that means stepping back and letting go.
One of the great ironies of life is how someone can be so deeply loved and/or universally well-regarded yet feel so unhappy and despairing inside. If only positive energy could soak through the skin and heal a hurting heart and mind.
Amy is at peace now. I hope you will find healing and peace for yourself regarding her life and death.
Debra Holland, Ph.D, author, The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving