When I was a toddler, my parents had a baby girl. She was born in February of 1958 and she died seven weeks later, in April. At the time my parents were told that she had pneumonia but is likely that my sister had cystic fibrosis which was not an identified condition at the time.
Even though I knew that it was hard for me to imagine what it must have felt like to lose a child… and it wasn’t until I had my own baby that I knew how much they lost. It has to be the worst nightmare for a parent to endure.
Recently I was told of a woman who lost her child to another illness – one that is marred by stigma as much as by the damage it does: bipolar disorder. The child lost was not a toddler, rather she was an accomplished scientist and an avid outdoorswoman. But somehow the diseases darkness overcame the light that she brought with her and she lost her battle with this terrible demon.
In the memorial pamphlet her sister wrote a wonderful tribute to her, highlighting her sister’s accomplishments and the challenges she faced with her illness. She finished the tribute by saying that she knew her sister was now free from pain… and that she hopes “that her death will give voice to an illness that is strongest when the victim is silent.” My wish is that we find a way to fight this evil illness and save those dear to us who are plagued by it.