Rain in the Wound

by Bill Brenner on March 1, 2010

A couple months ago I told you about my friend Penny Richards, whose beautiful 25-year-old daughter was killed in a motorcycle accident in November. I read her blog every day, and let me tell you: The stuff she’s writing is going to help a lot of grieving people get through their melancholy in years to come.

I really wish she didn’t have to be the one to set the example because she has to carry around deep pain these days. But for those who suffer from depression, her experiences simply need to be shared.

And so I direct you to the latest in her blog, where she describes the depression she now feels:

“It’s another grey, cold day, and I’m more of a believer than ever that the weather influences your attitude. If the sun would shine and the temperatures feel warmer, it would go a long way to making the darkness retreat for a while.

“I’m sure there are many things tougher to endure than depression but one of them is living with someone who is living with their own depression. I used to think your dad was taking your death harder than I was. I used to think I wasn’t grieving the “right way” because he seemed so much more hopeless that I felt. His depression seems more consistently deeper than mine. It’s easier for me to put mine aside for a time. His settles in and stays for a while. Little things are triggers us both, but more often for him.”

Does weather impact one’s mental health? You bet your ass it does. My moods almost always hit the depths when there’s too much rain, snow, cold and darkness.

In the book Lincoln’s Melancholyby Joshua Wolf Shenk, we see how long periods of gloomy weather drove Lincoln to suicidal thoughts in the 1840s, two decades before he was president.

She’s also brutally correct in her assessment that depression hurts the people around the sufferer. Big time. It’s impossible for bystanders to get inside a depressed person’s head and truly understand. It is beyond one’s comprehension. That makes helping your friend or loved one pretty difficult. Meanwhile, your melancholy hangs on them like a stench.

My family knows this all too well, especially my wife. How she has dealt with it all these years is simply beyond me.

And years ago, when my best friend was sinking into a suicidal depression, I didn’t really get what was going on until after he took his life.

Penny has wisdom to share by the bucket. It just sucks that the buckets are filled with tears.

So learn from her, and take some time to learn about her daughter. I never really knew P.J., though I remember her hanging around the Eagle-Tribune newsroom all the time when her mother was a lifestyles writer and I was night editor.

But I’ve since been inspired by her life story, as told my many people. She died too soon, but when she lived, she really lived, and brightened the lives of everyone around her in the process.

It’s a story that really helps us understand how to spend the time God gives us, whether its 100 years or just 25.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann March 1, 2010 at 5:48 pm

I just read a bit of her blog the other day. I hope she realizes her daughter is with her & her husband. I pray they both can find ways to get them thru their grief so they can be open to having a relationship with her once again. Loss is certainly not easy to get thru and I just can’t imagine it, and I pray I never know that kind of pain.

Penny March 2, 2010 at 3:32 am

Oh Bill… one again your thoughtful words fill my heart with hope. We’re making our way along this bumpy road. We will come out on the other side, of that I am sure. It’s just going to take a long time.

Penny

Penny March 2, 2010 at 3:37 am

Me again. I just thought a little more about what I said about, about your words filling my heart with hope. I really mean that. There is a togetherness in our suffering, whatever the cause, and sometimes it’s reaching out to others who hurt that helps us pull up another rung on the hell ladder. You encourage me, you really do. What we need to do is put ourselves together someplace, sometime soon. I’d really like to do that.

Barb March 2, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Bill,

Thanks for sharing this blog. I, as I’m sure many parents do, fear of losing their children. I feel so bad and hurt for her and will continue to follow her blog to her beautiful daughter.

Thanks again,
Barbg

billbrenner1970 March 3, 2010 at 3:36 am

Penny:I’d like that very much.

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