June 6, 2019
An open letter to any kid who is being bullied:
Hi, my name is Sandy. I want to start off by saying how truly sorry I am that you are feeling so bad right now. I can tell you that I was bullied when I was a kid, but I know that won’t make you feel better. I can tell you many things, but please know that I know you are scared. I am here to let you know that you are not alone, and this is not your fault.
My son Shane was only 11 years old when he took his own life. I found out that he was being bullied only after he died. Today would have been his 13th birthday. A big milestone, and a very painful one for me. June 6 was always such a happy day for us, because Shane woke up as if it was Christmas morning. The countdown to the ‘big day’ would begin in January, and he would know exactly how many days there were left until his birthday. Shane was born on 06/06/06 in room 6 and never hesitated to tell anyone who would listen because after all, what are the chances?
I literally had no idea that Shane was being bullied. He never told me. Instead, he suffered in silence and there was nothing I could do to help him. For the rest of my life I will always be haunted thinking that I missed something and that I could have saved his life. I know there is nothing that I could have done, but that will never keep me from believing that I failed him.
I’m writing this to you because I need you to know that no matter how you feel right now, I promise you that you are not alone. I promise you that there are people who would be honored to help you, even if it’s just someone to talk to, a shoulder to lean on, or to simply sit in silence with. I’m saddened by the fact that you are going through this right now, but you really do need to understand that it will get better. What you are going through right now is not okay, and most important of all – it is not your fault. The fact that you had the courage to stand up and tell someone about it is truly remarkable. The definition of a hero is someone who stands up to adversity, even when it’s the hardest thing to do. I cannot think of anything more courageous than telling someone what you are going through. So, it is you that is a hero.
I know you will likely never forget the pain that the other kids are causing you, but please know (and I am not just saying this) that you have done nothing wrong. People who bully others are actually the most insecure people of all. Think about this: when you are happy, would you want to hurt someone else – on purpose? I would think not. I’m left to wonder what is making them so unhappy with themselves that they feel that making someone else feel bad could make them feel good? Think about this: you will never find anyone who has been admired (or liked ) by showing how small others are.
When you are finally able to recognize how great you are (trust me, you are), you will realize then how much you have to give. I speak at schools to kids about this too, because you’ve probably been told countless times to be kind (which you should, of course!). But in order to be kind to others, you need to first be kind to yourself. When you realize your self-worth, that will clearly send the message to others how you expect to be treated. You are perfectly imperfect, and so is everyone else on this planet. No one person is better than any other, no matter how much some may try. I ask that you forgive yourself for being imperfect, appreciate the amazing person you are, and to never set unrealistic expectations about the person you should be. Just, be.
Remember, no matter what – you are not alone. You are brave, you are amazing. And, I am proud of you.
Sandy (Shane’s mom)
My name is Sandy, and I am Shane's mom. Since his (ugh, I still can't admit it's happened) death I have kept a journal of thoughts as they came to my head.