Lessons of Loss: Melissa d’Arabian Reflects on What She Learned From Her Mother's Suicide

11/05/2013

One spring evening in 1989, I called home from college with a simple request: I needed my mom’s credit card number for a GMAT prep course. But I didn’t get it. I didn’t even get my mom.

Instead, an unfamiliar male voice answered: “Hello?” He was an officer with the Montgomery County, Md., Police Department. We had a short conversation, but I still remember it vividly 25 years later. My mother had died by suicide.

Losing my mom crushed me logistically, financially, and emotionally. But losing my mom to suicide almost crushed my spirit. I was 20 when she died, and it plunged me into a decade-long crisis of faith.

My 20s were a mess. But the only way out is through, and sometimes the other side is so glorious you’re grateful for whatever got you there. That’s how I feel about that season of my life.

Here are some of the lessons that decade taught me:

Happiness is an inside job. Of course, that’s both good and bad news. Good news: I don’t need a new car to make me happy. Bad news: A new car won’t make me happier. Second, I believe I have more value than I can always see. I remind myself not to compare my insides with others’ outsides, or, as a friend puts it, my blooper reel with others’ sizzle reels.

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