I’m feel as though I’m taking a risk in what I’m about to write. Thoughts have been swirling in my mind all day. I hope that I can put them in writing without appearing shallow.
Early this morning I heard on the news that Marie Osmond’s 18-year-old son committed suicide on Friday. My first thought upon hearing this was wondering how this awful, unthinkable event would affect Osmond’s ability to do the next right thing in regards to her own health and well-being. The more shallow way of stating that would be, “Will Osmond gain back her weight during the months and years of grief that lie ahead?” I hope you won’t stop reading after such a seemingly stupid question. My concern for Osmond has nothing to do with her dress size or her weight.
I do not have children, so I can not relate to what Osmond is going through. But I work in the field of end-of-life care, and bereavement experts tell me there is NOTHING as horrific as a parent dealing with the death of a child, regardless of the age of that child. It’s bad enough that Osmond is having to process her son’s death, but the fact that it was a suicide adds another layer of “what ifs” and “what could I have done” questions. And while Osmond deals with her own unimaginable grief, she will no doubt be doing all she can to help her other seven children work through their sadness. I would think this would be overwhelming to say the least.
Marie Osmond has been forthright about past struggles with post-partum depression. I’ve not followed her life closely, so I don’t know if she has experienced clinical depression beyond post-partum. She has famously lost weight with a commercial weight loss plan. In interviews promoting the plan, she has discussed being an emotional eater. And there in lies my concern as she begins this journey into grief.
For those of us who have a history of emotional eating (or drinking or drugging), it can be tempting to return to those familiar habits when times are difficult. When I experience deep emotional pain, I can find myself rationalizing that a bite of this or a sip of that could really take the edge off of the pain. But as one with an addictive personality, I also know that one bite or one sip is never enough. For me, an attempt to take the edge off will cause a spiral into relapse.
I’m not suggesting that Osmond has an addictive personality. What I am suggesting is that during this awful time, she may be tempted to comfort herself with food, as that appears to be a past coping mechanism. While doing so may temporarily numb some of the pain, in the long run, it could cause her to feel physically horrible. In the months and years ahead, she needs every advantage she can give herself. I hope she will choose to give herself the gift of self-care by eating well, remaining close to her faith in God, and surrounding herself with her brothers and their families. I hope other parents who have experienced such loss will reach out and share with her their experience, strength and hope. I ask God to bless Marie Osmond.