A Mother’s Heart

There has been a tragedy in our midst. A young mother, so despondent, so sad, so alone, that she was driven to take the lives of her children and herself.

Now, there have been lots of comments going around social media about this horrible tragedy, and, I don’t pretend to believe that I have anything more meaningful, or, more insightful than anyone else. But, I feel the need to respond to one comment that I saw.

“How could a mother’s heart get so hardened so she became capable of taking the lives of her children and herself?”

I don’t remember which forum I read it on, and, quite frankly it doesn’t matter. What matters is this: to the person who wrote that, ! respond: no, her heart had not hardened. Her heart was so full of pain, sadness and despair that the only viable option she felt was to end it all.

Now, I don’t know the whole story, none of us really do, after all, we would have to be living in her mind to fully grasp what her thoughts were, and, why she did what she did.

Women who are so helpless, alone and frantic do not hate their children.

If anything, the love and responsibility they feel for their children is so great that they cannot handle things anymore. The emotional, financial, physical and psychological pressures can be overwhelming.

And, that can push people to the brink.

I do not excuse this woman’s decision. My heart aches for her, her precious children, and, for her husband who saw the horrible aftermath. I daven that he should find healing, somehow, someway. Someday.

I am familiar with post-partum depression on many different levels. I work with women who suffer from it. I have talked to friends and family members who have as well.

And, I myself have been.

So, while I never got nearly to the brink that this poor woman did. I can understand, on some level, the sadness. Feeling so tired, thinking “why-can’t-this-baby-just-sleep-for-more-than-20-minutes?!”

While I had worked with many women before who had experienced post partum depression, I felt like it was something that “happened to other women.”

Surprise, surprise. “Other women” are me. And, you. . .

I can tell you that PPD is neither a failure nor an indication of worthiness as a mother — or as a person.

PPD is a state of clinical depression. While it high “cure” / success rate, there are the exceptions, the heart-in-my-throat-can’t-breathe exceptions. Women driven to extreme, desperate acts, it’s scary where people go when they don’t feel like they anywhere to go. These women, under ordinary circumstances, may be no less caring than you and I.

So, no, her heart was not hardened. It was broken, smashed, raw, bleeding and sad.

So, so tender it just couldn’t go on anymore.

About the Author
Beryl Tritel, MSW is a marriage and individual therapist, specializing in Women's Life Issues. She has offices in RBS and in Jerusalem, at The Place. She also sees clients worldwide over Skype. She can be reached at