My piano teacher killed herself

Is it ok if I use this thread as a blown up Post Secret?

This actually happened this last spring, but this semester I’m in an early British literature class, the theme of which is Death, and we’ve spent the last week or so talking about suicide in Early Modern English culture, so it’s sort of been on my mind.

This might not mean a lot to you, given what I judge is the overall religious climate here on the boards, but I play piano in a worship team at my church at home. I’ve gone to that church for over twenty years, and it’s my extended home and family. I’ve played on the team for over ten years now, and I still play when I’m home from college for breaks, etc.

Here at school, I got the opportunity to lead my own worship team for a campus ministry group, which means that I’m in charge of the people and the operation of the team, and also that I lead the worship music for our services. Again, not a big deal to some of you, but a sort of ministry aspiration of mine for a long time.

I never would have been able to do any of this stuff if it hadn’t been for my piano teacher. She played piano for my church for a long time, and my parents made me start taking lessons from her when I was about seven or eight or so. I was rubbish at it, but then she taught me how to use my ear and play songs just from chords and so on, and I took to that much better. She helped me get involved in the church worship team, and basically helped me find the ministry that I’ve been doing in increasing capacity for ten years. Again, I understand that this might not mean anything to most people, but it’s very important to me.

I got a call last semester from the music pastor at that church, who is also a pretty good friend. He told me that she had drowned herself in the lake, and went on to tell me a little bit about the depression she had been fighting for a few years and how it was connected to some feelings of inadequacy as well as inability to forgive herself or allow herself to be forgiven for things in her past.

At the time of her death, I hadn’t talked to her all that much over the last couple of years. She stopped playing piano at church a while back but still gave lessons to kids there. I would see her at services sometimes and wave and say hello and she would wave and say hello but that was all. I never once let her know how monumentally different my life was because of what she taught me, or how I felt like I was making a difference in people’s lives now because of the things I learned from her. She probably had no idea.

I wish I could tell her. It might not change anything, I know that (and I can’t even think about the implications if it would have changed anything). I just want her to know.

[edit: I wasn’t able to make it home for her funeral, and I was secretly, selfishly glad. From what my family said, it was a miserable affair. She had next to no family and had only been married in the last year or so of her life.]

I’m so sorry for your loss.

When someone is that depressed, I really don’t think that there is anything you could have said that would have changed the outcome. Since it sounds like you are religious, hopefully you can take comfort in the idea that she does have a way of knowing about her impact now and that everything that happened was part of God’s plan.

Master Shake - I’m sorry to hear about your loss. I hope you can take some comfort in the dual gift of music and ministry that your piano teacher gave you. Let that gift shine beyond any of the shadows that troubled her soul late in life. Take that gift; cherish it, nurture it and give thanks for it. If there is gratitude in your heart, she will surely know of it. Trust in God’s mercy, and may peace be with you.

I’m sorry for you loss.

Your piano teacher reminds me of my oldest sister, who was an inspiration to many, dedicated her professional life to helping people such as handicapped students and battered women, who had a side business promoting artists and musicians (she helped me sell some of my own artwork), and who was a religious leader in her community (she wasn’t Christian, but was the equivalent of a minister). My sister struggled with depression for nearly two decades before killing herself.

Sometimes, when someone is depressed, they can know they were an inspiration and a force for good in the world and it’s still not enough. And when it’s not enough it leaves a terrible, painful hole in the world where they used to be.

Take comfort in the gifts she gave you. I don’t have any great answers for you, just my sympathies.

I’m sorry for your loss.
I believe in God, and I believe in an afterlife, and I believe she knows she left you with a gift you continue to pass on. The best way you can honor her spirit and her life, IMO, is to keep passing the gift along.

I think she does know. What’s the possibility of doing something with your music for her or about her? About the only thing you can do now is make use of what she gave you. Celebrate her life that way, and hope to see her again.