Ending 2010 Where We Began: Van Gogh & Daddy

Dec 28, 2010

A homeschool mom shares the tragedy and beauty that brought Vincent van Gogh into the hearts of her children forever. #suicide #bipolardisorder

We are quickly approaching the end of 2010. This year was not kind to our family.  Many of you know this. 

Despite the tragedy of varying types, there were brighter days throughout the year. And so it is to our benefit to focus on those beautiful days and moments with which we are blessed. We cannot allow our personal tragedies to blind us to the beauty that surrounds us. Those moments and memories help us to overcome life's difficulties.  

And so I end this year with a positive attitude.

Keeping positivity in mind, it bears mentioning that in life sometimes the tragic and the beautiful intertwine as they do in Shakespearean plays.

Getting to Know Vincent van Gogh

Tonight as I considered my year gone by, I found that Vincent van Gogh stands out in my mind. 

We spent the first 3 months of the year studying this man, his life and his art. Without a doubt, the most memorable study of 2010 was our study of Vincent van Gogh. Never could I have predicted that this study would grow to have such meaning to our family. 

When we began the study, I didn't like van Gogh's artwork. During the course of  the study, something changed. Through books and stories, games and websites, we grew to have a "connection" with Vincent van Gogh. 

He became a real person to us. Mr. van Gogh suffered from bipolar disorder. His tragic death touched the hearts of my children. They pitied this man they never knew.

Studying van Gogh's paintings brought art into their world in a way that I never imagined. The children learned the lyrics to "Vincent" by Don McLean. We even visited the planetarium with their father, where we studied the starry night sky. We were sad to see this study end. We knew we would miss our friend, Vincent. 

As it turns out, we will never leave his story behind. He is forever a part of our family.

Vincent van Gogh Becomes a Part of Our Family

my children's father

A few months later, my daughters' father died. That night, Lorelai, who had just turned 7, said through sobs and tears, "Daddy and van Gogh were the same."

"Daddy and van Gogh were the same."

You see, there is something I've never mentioned here on this blog about his death. Their father suffered from bipolar disorder. In the early morning hours of July 3, 2010, he died from suicide. This was just one day before Alexis' 12th birthday.

And now you can see why the most meaningful of our studies this year - and possibly for the rest of their homeschool lives - was that particular artist study. My daughters may never relate to any past artist the way they have personally related to Vincent van Gogh.

And so the year ends in December with thoughts of where we started in January: With thoughts of tragedy and beauty intertwined. We have with us memories of  "Sunflowers"; "Bank of the Oise at Auvers"; studying the stars; the beautiful swirls of "Starry Night" and, of course....

Vincent and Daddy.

And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night
You took your life, as lovers often do
But I could've told you....

This world was never meant for
One as beautiful as you


  1. Oh, my! I cannot even imagine how much this study and this year has affected your family. Praying for your family!

  2. I have hardly any words. But I understand a tiny bit - my brother is manic depressive and has had schizophrenic episodes. He even tried to commit suicide a few times. I pray that God will comfort you as only He can.

    Visiting from the Hip Homeschool Hop.

  3. Oh, you dear, sweet person! Your blog entry brought tears to my eyes. I've always loved the Don McLean song...

  4. Anonymous12/28/2010

    I had a friend who committed suicide. It's been one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with. I can only imagine the suffering of you and especially your children. I think the study of Van Gogh probably helped them to cope, in a way. They understood his condition and what it was like to live it. This was a very touching post.

  5. Thank you everyone for your comments. I actually debated with myself about whether to post this or not. I thought it perhaps a tad too personal and not "school-ish" enough. In the end, I reasoned that it's homeschool. Our homelife, tragedies, family members, etc are all intertwined. There really is no separating them, is there?

  6. Can't imagine what you and your family have been through. Praying for you and your children. May God give you comfort and peace with all that has happened. Blessings.

  7. Michelle, this is a part of your life. Perhaps you mentioning it, as much as it hurts, will help someone else.

  8. Joy, Thanks so much for your kind comments. :-)

  9. I just happened upon your blog. I have children around the same ages..although my youngest is 12...and a wedding on this summer.

    I look forward to reading more and I wish you well.

    happy day!

  10. I have hardly any words. But I understand a tiny bit - my brother is manic depressive and has had schizophrenic episodes. He even tried to commit suicide a few times. I pray that God will comfort you as only He can.

    Visiting from the Hip Homeschool Hop.

  11. This brought tears to my eyes.  Going to keep you and your girls in my prayers. God Bless!!!! Follow you on twitter, now your blog :)
    God Bless <3

  12. Thanks, Monica, for your kind thoughts. I appreciate the sentiments (and the follows). <3

  13. Multiplied blessings and grace to you for your honesty and vulnerability. You are a writer I know I can trust.

    1. Thank you, Pamela. It wasn't the easiest post to write, but I find the most difficult are the best.

  14. So difficult for you all.... My thoughts and prayers go out to your and your family.... My son, who was recently diagnosed with Aspergers at age 20, we all thought, psychiatrists and family alike, that he had bipolar disorder. So he was treated for bipolar from age 16 to nearly 20 years old, and with me, his mother, reading and learning as much as I could about the disorder. You know, I am so relieved, as he is, that he has Aspergers, and not a mental illness, and the mood meds could be discontinued. But I have a particular interest in Bipolar, as my mother has it, and was first diagnosed in her 60's. And I feel that my brother, who is over 50, has it as well, but it has NOT yet been diagnosed. Bipolar disorder, and how it affects loved ones, is particularly close to my heart....

    1. Wow. I am highly disturbed that a medical professional would confuse Asperger's and bipolar disorder. That's like confusing an apple and a T-bone steak. Just ..how?

  15. I am so sorry, Michelle, and hugs for Alexis. Rev. 21:4

  16. I'm sitting here , blown away by God answer to my prayers. His placing you in my life tonight is nothing short of a miracle !


Join the conversation!