Friday, May 18, 2012

Mrs. Kennedy's Death

The headline at which I am staring says that "RFK Jr.'s 2nd wife, Mary, hanged herself."

A little bit further down, a friend of hers is quoted as saying, "I saw her a couple of weeks ago, and she was fine."

Well, no.  She wasn't.  

Could we kindly allow it to be acceptable to be not fine?

When I am not fine, I tell very few people.  I am supposed to be over it, supposed to be strong, supposed to be moving on.  

There are a couple of older women in  my congregation who suffer a great deal from back pain.  When I ask either of them how she is, she says "Fine."  I raise my eyebrows and ask, "How much are you lying?"  "I don't want to be a whiner," is a frequent response.

A couple of weeks ago, someone I know told people that her relative who is dying of cancer "is doing great."

When my son was not fine, he told no one and he died.

When Mary Kennedy was not fine, she died as well.

It is all right to be not fine.

Here's the spiritual take: When Jesus Christ was not fine, he did not say, "I'm doing great."  He said, "Why have you forsaken me?"

Am I wrong to think that if we were better able to listen for feelings of forsakenness,  we might save lives?


  1. Robin, thank you for these words. I've been touched by her death. I remember my months/years spent in suicidal ideation and am grateful that I didn't act so rashly. I was saved by hospitalization and drugs (still).

  2. You are spot on, for it seems to me that when we are able to name our despair, that act can sometimes help us begin to see our way through it. It's the struggle to suppress and stuff it down that makes it worse - although I am not talking here about the chemical imbalance affected despair - I think talking about that can help but often meds are needed too.

  3. You are not wrong; you are right. It is absolutely all right to be "not okay." Sometimes, it is APPROPRIATE to be "not okay." We are humans and we have feelings; we are not robots or computers. If we live in truth (with kindness), we will be freer, and we will free those around us to live their truth, as well.

  4. Absolutely on the money, this post. I find the moment I admit I am in trouble I can begin to find a better way of dealing with the pain. Being consciously "not fine" has become my path out of deepest trouble for then I get help and the option of choosing suicide recedes.

  5. It is in our brokenness that we are able to reach out & help others; but what if we never admit that we are wounded, what good is there in that? As you mentioned, even our Lord could admit his brokenness. Thank you.

  6. I tend to use the word fine when I am not well.

  7. Can you send this as an Op Ed someplace important where lots of people will read it? So well written; so necessary to be read and understood. Such a simple and profound truth.

  8. I agree with everyone and especially Karen - how about the NYT? LATimes? Huffington Post?

  9. I so agree that we deserve the right to be in the state of being that we are experiencing. It is real and should be recognized as that. I happen to be carrying the fight for my child who suffers with the diagnosis of bipolor/depression.When you fight hard you become a challenge to the system especially if your child is over 18. Things are not fine but she keeps so much to herself as they bury her under their needs not hers. Someone asked the other day how things were going.When I honestly answered, the response I got back was "I really don't want to hear that stuff.How come you just dind't say "fine. '. Try again."..
    Somehow people don't expect a real answer as it keeps them on the surface and uninvolved. As a result to avoid rejection or dismissal "I'm fine" so often replaces reality.