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

Please listen: www.ClairesSong.com

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

  1. Karen, I am so sorry for the pain you are experiencing…it is unimaginable. I lost my husband to suicide almost 23 years ago and can only imagine how much more painful it would be to lose my child in that way. So many questions that will never have answers. The song you wrote is hauntingly beautiful and I wish it was out there in the mainstream media where more people could hear it. So powerful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Dear Karen,

    My heart goes out to you! Claire’s story gives me a glimpse of what depression can do at any age. People suffering with depression are so smart and talented. I am sure you will cherish the wonderful memories she left you. I can relate and empathize with your story. I also lost my 33 year old son to suicide only 7 months ago. We belong to a different club now. I am sending you much love, light and big hugs. Peace and blessings!!!

  3. 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,
    Violet

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

      1. Karen,
        We were reflecting on our time on Sleeping Meadow Drive from so many years ago and I came across your story online. My heartfelt sadness for your loss. Years later, when we met again, I remember your young, vibrant Claire. I’m not sure that a parent ever recovers from the passing of a child….you are in my thoughts and prayers.

      2. Karen, that’s a beautiful song that could easily be called “Emily’s Song”. I have a pretty good idea of the pain you have felt (and probably will continue to feel forever – but hopefully a little less painfully over time). My daughter also committed suicide on August 10, 2020, a day that I wish NEVER happened. I can’t even find the words to describe the pain I’m feeling. I just sent my cousin an email describing it a bit – I feel like my heart has been put in a blender and crushed. Your words about her hiding her pain so well, in an airtight box so no one could ever tell, is exactly what my 21-year old daughter did. We had no clue of the dark, dark demons that haunted her. She struggled with drugs and alcohol and had been sober for two months. She reached out to me the day before she committed suicide when she told her dad and me that she was hearing voices and could read our thoughts. Her dad thought she had taken something, but we found out after the toxicology report that she had nothing in her system. She told me she hadn’t slept much in the previous three days. I brought her to the emergency room (where because of COVID I could not go in with her but had to wait in the parking lot and they never saw her, making her wait for hours). We next went to a mental health clinic where they didn’t have any beds for females and where we were told to call back in the morning. She wanted to go back to her dad’s house, where she was living, and the plan was that I would pick her up in the morning to bring her back to the mental health clinic. She was willing and wanted to go, which I thought was a good sign. Never in my wildest dreams did I think she would hurt herself. The next morning after her father left for work and before I could bring her back to the mental health clinic, found her.. I cannot get the vision of my baby girl out of my head. My daughter who was so loving, so giving, who touched so many people’s lives in such a positive way, who seemed like an “old soul” to me, philosophical, beautiful inside and out, gone.. I have to believe that it is just her body that is gone and that she is still with me and around me and watching over all of us. But I can’t help but wish that her story could have changed. I wish she would have let us know sooner, I wish, I wish…

  6. 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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