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SaraKay Smullens

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Learning from the Death of Eight: the Tradgedy of a "Perfect Mother"

Posted: 08/10/09 12:17 PM ET

Dear Huffington Post Readers:

This will be short, with what a hope is more than just a sweet message. Our family of 14 is leaving any moment for a week beach holiday. And I am determined that all of us, from ages three to seventy something, will arrive and leave as friends. Part of this depends on my getting to the beach on time!

But before leaving I am compelled to blog about the horrific "perfect mother" tragedy, where eight lives have been lost and family lives forever scorched when Diane Schuler, mother of two and a Cablevision executive, with a bottle of vodka in her minivan, along with children, drove 1.7 miles in the wrong direction on a curving highway and crashed into an S.U.V. killing herself, its three passengers, her two year old daughter, and three young nieces. Her husband, a public safety officer for the Nassau County Police Department, is sure that his wife was not an alcoholic -- that she endured a horrific medical emergency that caused the crash.

I have no idea what happened to cause this catastrophe. (And surely this tragedy also draws attention to the impossibility of driving carefully and talking on a cell phone at the same time.) But here is what I do know: addiction is a horrible illness, which can manifest itself in myriad says: liquor, drugs, food, sex, the internet...the list goes on and on. And though it is largely genetic, any of us may be pushed over the edge into its deathly grasp if things are going on in our lives that cause us to want to numb ourselves. Years of life and my clinical practice have confirmed one sure way to avoid being pushed into this abyss: Talking together, talking together, talking together! And listening, listening, listening! And responding, responding, responding!

Please, with regularity, ask your loved ones how their life is going and how your relationships are going. And please listen to what is being said. If your wife cares enough about your marriage to say she is lonely and overburdened, please hear her and ask her how you can help. If your husband is having a horrid time with a boss or employer, or wishes stuff in your marriage were different, do all you can to listen. If your kids trust you enough to tell you where they hurt, listen. If they do not trust you enough, do all you can to build that trust by letting them know you care. Ask your friends how they are, and hear, really hear. And if you are suffering, please do not numb yourself... talk to someone, and when necessary seek professional help. It is there!

Any of us can be pushed over the edge. For life is neither easy nor fair. But one way to hang on, and beat any demons, despite it all, is communication with those you love.


 
 
 

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