Like a mother hen I have watched the young pharmacists I work with grow and develop both personally and professionally. They are intelligent, compassionate and dedicated, a joy to work with-I think of them as a second family, my work kids. When my own children went off to college one of them remarked “It’s ok Deb, you still have your kids here”. I am heartbroken that we have lost one from this family. Claire was an amazing person-warm, soft-spoken (until you got her going), funny, smart, beautiful, generous, strong and TALL. Yes, tall. I am a rower and there is a distinct advantage to being tall. My first question to Claire when I met her was “Do you row?” She laughed and said no but she had friends at Univ of Wisconsin who did. Over the years I would teasingly say you should try it Claire, you’d be great at it. I knew this because she was so good at everything she did. She became our pediatric intensive care pharmacist. She was compassionate, dedicated, supportive- a great team player. She became a wife and a mom of two beautiful boys Grant and Crosby and approached this part of her life with the same zest and zeal.
Her husband Andrew summoned up more courage and heart than I can even imagine to openly tell Claire’s story and I would like to share it with you.
Claire Fung, my beautiful wife and mother of our twin baby boys, passed away on Friday, February 3rd. Over the last few weeks of her life, Claire became very sick. She was convinced something dire was wrong with the twins despite multiple reassuring health clearances from their doctors. She blamed herself for what she thought was happening and her guilt spiraled into a pit of despair. It got so bad that she was hospitalized for a few days and started on medication and counseling therapy, however despite treatment and strong support from her loved ones, she took her own life on Friday, February 3rd.
Claire suffered from a severe postpartum depression – one that had gone undetected for too long but then very abruptly worsened. We should learn to find meaning in Claire’s tragic passing and realize that mental illnesses take on various forms and that increasing awareness and early detection are so crucial. For Claire, treatment was perhaps too late, but for others – if you suspect anyone you know may be suffering from a mental illness, please encourage them to seek a medical evaluation. Particularly with new mothers, this is a big issue -15-20% report struggling with postpartum depression and this is drastically under-reported. It can be so easy to focus all of your energy and worries on your baby’s health but neglect your own. And it can happen to anyone! Claire was the most jovial, positive, vibrant spirit I have ever met. She had no history of mental illness and yet this disease ultimately took her life.
I will remember my wife for her huge smile, her passion for life, and her undying love and affection – rather than the devastating anguish that consumed her toward the end. She was a loving wife, mother, daughter, and friend. She left a profound impact on all of our lives and we will carry her spark forward with us.
One of our favorite children’s books we enjoyed reading to Grant and Crosby is written by Nancy Tillman entitled “You’re Here For a Reason”. I read this book to Claire a couple nights before she passed away. There is a passage at the end I’d like to share with you all in dedication to Claire:
You’re here for a reason and if you think you’re not,
I would just say that perhaps you forgot,
A piece of the world that is precious and dear,
Would surely be missing if you weren’t here.
If not for your smile and your laugh and your heart,
This place we call home would be minus a part.
Thank goodness you’re here!
Thank goodness times two!
I just can’t imagine a world without you.
Rest in peace Claire – I love you times forever.
Today the world seems a little sadder, a little drearier but we press on. If Andrew’s beautiful tribute to Claire helps one person, someone’s wife, sister, mother or daughter, it will lessen the blow of losing her.