I wasn't going to write on this, but it's been heavy on my heart and hopefully sharing this short story will shed some light.
I recently found out that about two weeks ago, a patient of mine whom I cared for while working in residential was murdered.
I know I've talked about this in previous posts and I know as providers we aren't supposed to have "favorite patients," but we all do. And he was one of mine.
He was roughly 15 or 16 when he was in the residential facility. He had a really rough homelife and previous trauma, but his mom was involved in his life and was doing all she could to keep him happy, healthy, and safe. He was such a likeable kid. He was funny and motivated and truly driven to get better. He put in the work.
He was one of the kids who always came to the dance group I was running at that time and was always going out of his way to make the other kids in the dance group feel more confident when they were scared to try. He was encouraging. I constantly heard him telling other kids in the dance group, "just try it;" "have fun with it;" "don't take yourself so seriously." It always made me smile to hear other kids encouraging each other. It was one of my favorite parts of running that dance group.
We were actually a week out from a scheduled dance performance for the talent show when I was notified he would be discharging a few days before the talent show took place. He was bummed that he was going to miss it. We had plans of making tie-dye shirts to wear for the dance the kids were going to perform at the talent show and he still wanted to make one. After, we made them I'll never forget what he said to me.
"Thanks for helping me smile."
I don't know why I remember that so well, but I do. It stuck in my mind all these years later. I was glad I was able to be an influence in his life.
When I saw the news article of what had happened, my heart physically hurt. He's unfortunately not the first patient I've worked with who has lost their life. But what really hurt my soul was the comments people were posting on the news article.
Was in involved in something he shouldn't have been? It appeared as such based on the circumstances of his death. Does that make it okay to write awful comments about a person who don't even know? Absolutely not.
Some of the comments said things like "that's what he gets for being involved in stuff on the streets," and "good, get the druggies out of here."
But his mother had just lost a child! How people could write such rude and careless comments about another human really upset me. Sometimes people are only as good as their circumstances and you have no idea what his where at that time.
What I do know is that the kid I knew had struggles. Depression. Anxiety. Trauma. What I do know is that this kid had a huge, caring heart. What I do know is that this was not a way anyone deserved to die. What I do know is that if you have no idea about someone's situation, it's best to keep your comments to yourself. You wouldn't want someone saying such awful things about you or your family members if the tables were turned. I wish people would just think before they write such awful things about something they don't understand.
Take the time to learn the facts. Know the story. And if you can't do those things, then spread love, not hate.
RIP sweet boy.