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On behalf of Margie Schwartz (select someone else)
About Team EdEight years ago, on May 26, 2015, my dear husband and the extraordinary dad of our kids took his life while suffering from clinical depression that was treatment-resistant. Ed tried everything – medication, talk therapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). But in the end, his depression was terminal; he was only 51. Our kids, Ryan and Emma, were only 16 and 13. The ripple effects of suicide are infinite – although the intensity lessens, we feel the small waves every day.
To someone on the outside looking in, it might seem that Ed had it all - two amazing kids, two adorable dogs, caring family and friends, a beautiful home, a great career. He was a hands-on dad . . . when the kids were small, he took "guys trips" with Ryan and "penguin trips" with Emma. He cheered them on at soccer and gymnastics. He loved them so. But the depression slowly stole away his ability to see all that was good in his life. And it did not let up. It clouded his judgement and isolated him. Just as he would have done with a physical disease, he fought so hard. But he could not win. The shock and heartache of losing Ed to mental illness is hard to put into words.
I believe that death by suicide as a result of mental illness is not a selfish act. It is a desperate act. An incredibly sad act. To think that someone believes that the world would be better without them in it, is incomprehensible to most people. But to someone with mental illness, I learned that this is a very real thought. To think that it feels too painful to be alive, is inconceivable to most people. But to someone with mental illness, I learned that this is a very real feeling.
Ryan and Emma no longer have their dad here with them. This breaks my heart every single day. No child should lose a parent to suicide. I often daydream about what could’ve been. I remember the first time I heard a child call "dad" to their parent shortly after Ed’s death, and it hit me that Ryan and Emma will never again say that word to their dad. And now, when I see an adult child walking beside their dad, it breaks my heart that my kids will never again walk side-by-side with their own dad. It’s the small, everyday things that used to be taken for granted that are now the most painful reminders of Ed’s untimely absence . . . all because of this cruel disease.
Ryan, Emma and I have survived Ed’s suicide. I like to say that we are "moving forward". I believe that you never "move on" because that implies that it’s done. In reality, it is never done – the suicide and its aftermath are a part of us forever. It never goes away. Our lives are now divided into a "before" and an "after".
It is our goal to keep Ed’s memory alive. We strive to remember the good times and the many things about Ed that made us laugh . . . and not just the way in which he died. It is also our goal to do what we can to help others. With more research and less stigma, mental illness can and should be seen in the same way as physical illness. Mental illness is real and it is life-threatening. The stigma needs to end.
I am not a natural fundraiser. But this is so important to us that I am stepping out of my comfort zone. We hope that you’ll consider donating to Team Ed to fund mental-illness research and also to remember and pay tribute to Ed . . . an amazing dad, the life-of-the-party, hard-working, dog-loving Ed. He was an incredible man.
Thank you so much for reading our story, for prioritizing mental health, and for supporting the Foundation of Hope.
Wendi, Ryan and Emma