Mother pours grief into ‘Claire’s Song’

by Karen Poll

Our daughter, Claire, was a bright, seemingly healthy teenager who had a zest for life and was always using the phrase YOLO (You Only Live Once).

However, by the age of 14 we started noticing changes.  We didn’t realize at the time they were some of the key warning signs of depression:  personality change, agitation, withdrawal.  We attributed them all to normal teenage angst.  

We had no idea of the catastrophic storm that was brewing inside her. Claire ended her life the last night of ninth grade at the age of 15, June 5, 2014.  We found a note telling us how much she loved us, but that she had been depressed for some time.

A few months after her death, I wrote a song in her memory, Claire’s Song, because I wanted to document the person she was, and what severe depression can do to someone.  It became clear to me that Claire’s depression boxed up her mind with so much pain that she was only able to see one way out; all the while keeping her feelings hidden to others.  

I expressed this in the lyrics

Teenage dreamer,
part-time schemer
Hid your pain so well
Built a box,
an airtight box
So no one could ever tell

I also wrote the song to express my own darkness after she was gone:

We’ll never see you, never touch you
Never hear your voice again
Now you’re gone and we’re alone
Not knowing what to doSo no one could ever tell

I hope listeners will understand the message of the chorus:

Could have told us, should have told us
Your story could have changed

as a plea to tell someone, anyone, if they ever feel in distress.

Mainly, I wanted CLAIRESSONG to tell the story of a beautiful young girl who appeared healthy on the outside, but was unbearably suffering on the inside.

Karen Poll
New Albany, Ohio

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11 thoughts on “Mother pours grief into ‘Claire’s Song’”

  1. Dearest Karen,
    I think of you so frequently, so much so, that after living away from Ohio for over a year, I came across your words and song. I remember Claire as a little girl, and your continuous devotion to her and her memory cannot be matched. Your beautiful song has touched my heart.
    Lots of love,

  2. Dearest Karen, thank you for having the courage to speak what Claire was unable to say. May your song reach people far and wide and save many lives. Sending you so much love, dear woman.

  3. Anne, Please tell this mom it’s not her fault for me. Yes, there are warning signs, but no one knows sometimes and yes teens do tend to change some. It sounds like there wasn’t a way to tell in this case. The song makes my heart hurt for the family and it’s so hard to keep that open communication with teenagers as it’s our job to help them become productive members of society while helping them make the right choices. We had our nephew from 13-18. I woke up in the middle of the night feeling something was wrong and it was. He was gone, but where and why? I knew of the places he would go. I had just had shoulder surgery and took the van without alerting anyone else. The same signs were there. I found him in the field of our neighbors house seriously contemplating suicide. We embraced and cried together. He agreed to go to the hospital and was admitted, but had the only explanation I have is Jesus not woken me up at that time, he might have died that night. I didn’t know because he used to cut before he came to stay with us and he didn’t cut anymore. No one that was involved in their child’s life can ever blame themselves. Anne please pass this along.

  4. Dear Karen. this is such a powerful song. I lost my husband to suicide and yes, his story could have changed. I hope that this song and its sincere heartfelt words will be heard by persons suffering from depression and urge them to seek help. Thank you for writing it. I am so sorry that you lost your precious teenager, Claire.

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