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This article references self-harm and suicide, which may be considered sensitive subject matter for some readers.
The mother of a woman who died by suicide has penned a moving obituary in hopes of raising mental health awareness.
On May 17, Chaylie Holmgren, a 28-year-old mother-of-three from Logan, Utah died by suicide. Holmgren’s mother, Mindi K. Hoggan and her cousin, Lisa B. McKinney, honoured Holmgren’s memory by writing a heartbreaking obituary addressing the “silent epidemic” of mental health.
To all who knew her, Holmgren was a “vivacious, loyal, spunky and strong-willed, kind and tenacious with a loving and gracious spirit.”
The mother of 10-year-old Londyn, 6-year-old Braykin and 2-year-old Brixton was described by Hoggan as “the epitome of a mama bear” who worked tirelessly to ensure her children had “the life they deserve.”
“Chay left an immeasurable impression on every soul she touched,” Holmgren’s obituary read. “She was simply happy, genuine, forgiving, full of joy and light and she spread all she had to those around her. Little did any of us know, she didn’t save enough light for herself.”
According to TODAY, Holmgren was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. She received counselling and was taking medication, but struggled with perfectionism.
Holmgren was described as “vehemently private” and was able to mask her “all-consuming pain” to friends and family.
“No one knew the darkness she faced when alone or the impossible standards a perfectionist sets for oneself,” the obituary explained. “This realization that someone could so successfully hide in broad daylight, as a pillar of strength, portray such perfection and project as much joy as Chaylie did, has left all who knew her shaken to the core.”
The manner of Holmgren’s death has been “unfathomable” for those who knew her. The sudden loss has spurred Hoggan and the rest of her family to seek to better understand the complexities of mental health.
“To realize the devastating effects of perfectionism, which is not about high standards– it’s about unrealistic ones,” Holmgren’s family wrote.
Some experts have argued that perfectionism is its own social anxiety disorder. Others accept the definition of clinical perfectionism as the “the overdependence of self-evaluation on the determined pursuit of personally demanding, self-imposed, standards in at least one highly salient domain, despite adverse consequences.”
Domains impacted by perfectionism include appearance, performance at work or school, relationships, cleanliness and health, neatness and ordering. The increased self-criticism can cause impairment in any of the impacted domains and psychological distress and has been linked to eating disorders, depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) as well as mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural therapy (MBCT) are some of the approaches used to treat perfectionism.
“One person taking their own life every 40 seconds is an epidemic of massive proportion, leaving no family untouched,” the family said. “The ensuing recovery for families must find a balance between the crushing punches of abandonment, betrayal, rage, doubt, shame, shock, blame, fear, sorrow, loss, guilt, regret and confusion and the light-filled promises of presence, love and joy through our memories and the legacy left behind. It has left us utterly breathless.”
Holmgren’s family have vowed to honour her memory but say they will never fully recover from her untimely passing. A GoFundMe account has been created to help support Holmgren’s three children.
“This silent epidemic is catastrophic. If talking about it, exposing it, shouting it from the rooftops, will help even one person find a way to talk about their pain, a difference can and must be made. To help others understand, we must reach out to family members, friends and strangers,” Holmgren’s family urged. “Show kindness, an openness to talk and, more importantly, to listen, to see, to hear without judgement. If only to save one family from the pain and anguish of losing a loved one through bringing awareness to this tragic and senseless loss of life, then our beloved Chaylie’s death will not be in vain. See the signs, save a life, we cannot afford to lose another light.”