As a parent, your very first instinct is to protect your children and shield them from the pain and troubles of the world. Kids don't understand war, famine, strife, political bickering, racism, drug-fueled violence, or anything else. They understand that Santa comes at Christmas, that Mommy and Daddy will have supper on the table, that the dog will fetch a tennis ball if thrown, and that summer time is the best time because it means swimming pools and bratwurst on the grill and no school.
They don't understand how alcoholic parents can be abusive to their child.
Nor do they understand why such a child would be in so much pain that he would take his own life.
A boy at my daughter's school did that last Saturday. Took his own life. Why, exactly, we don't know, but it is known that this boy had a troubled home life.
How do you explain this to a 11 year old and a 13 year old girl? How to give the news, console their tears, and make sure they know that if they ever need to talk, you'll listen?
I lost a friend to suicide a few years back. As is often the case, I never saw the signs. Couldn't see through the veneer of a content man, husband, father. I didn't see the pain he held, the struggles he fought, or the failure he felt.
I was hoping they wouldn't have to experience anything like this for a while.
Now, I can only hope they talk to us -- or someone, anyone -- should they ever need.
Children should not have to endure this sort of event. It's not how the world is supposed to work.