Mom Who Lost Kids, Parents in Christmas Fire Attempted Suicide: Report

Madonna Badger lost her three daughters and parents in the Stamford fire.

January 26, 2012, 9:45 AM

Jan. 26, 2012 — -- Madonna Badger, the New York woman who lost her three daughters and parents in a tragic Connecticut Christmas fire, attempted suicide last week.

Badger, 47, was reportedly hospitalized after hurting herself in an attempt to kill herself, the New York Daily News reported.

"She is okay...She is out [of the hospital] and somewhere safe," a relative told the paper. "It's just terrible--nobody could really hold up well under the circumstances."

One person close to Badger would not confirm the report, saying that the matter was very personal and difficult to discuss due to the circumstances, but also declined to deny the report.

The Stamford, Conn., fire in the early hours of Dec. 25 claimed the lives of Badger's parents Lomer and Pauline Johnson, and her three daughters Lily, 10, and 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah. Badger and her friend Michael Borcina were the only survivors.

The fire was started by fireplace embers that had been cleared out of the fireplace and put in either a mud room attached to the house or a trash enclosure next to it, fire officials said. The embers were reportedly removed because the girls were afraid they would burn Santa Claus as he came down the chimney.

Though firefighters, Badger, Borcina and the grandparents all tried to save the little girls, they were unable to make it through walls of fire that kept pushing them back.

Badger is a well-known fashion advertising executive in New York who has worked on Calvin Klein campaigns. The fire happened at her $1.7 million Victorian home in Stamford that was being renovated by her boyfriend Borcina.

"Losing one person is sad and painful, but losing multiple people can be really overwhelming. One of the hardest things in life is to lose your children and to lose your three young daughters…the pain has just got to be so intense and overwhelming that it's hard to find much solace," Dr. Nadine Kaslow, Professor and Chief Psychologist at Emory the Emory University School of Medicine told

Kaslow said that even the strongest of people can sometimes turn to extreme measures when faced with extreme loss.

"Even if you're somebody that has good coping resources in general, that level of tragedy and trauma taxes everybody and you may feel that the only way out is to end your life," Kaslow said. "Sometimes people may think that by killing themselves, they could join their loved ones."

She said that people who have experienced such enormous loss need to be surrounded with as many family and friends as possible. She said therapy can be extremely helpful and that medication may also help.

"She's going to need understanding and empathy for her plight and not criticism for why she tried to kill herself," Kaslow said.

"This is such a recent death and I'm sure everywhere she turns there's reminders and sadness, there's no escaping for her," Kaslow said. "There are other ways to get through this pain; it just takes a long time. Slowly, over time, you re-enter life, but that's a process."

The bereaved mother was last seen in public at the Jan. 6 funeral for her three daughters at Manhattan's St. Thomas Church where more than 500 people came out to grieve the loss of the young girls.

Madonna Badger's Overwhelming Grief After Fatal Christmas Fire

The mourners included her friends Calvin Klein, Vera Wang, Lou Reed and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Rufus Wainwright performed a moving a cappella version of "Over the Rainbow'' during the service.

Badger delivered a heart-wrenching eulogy where she described each of her daughters and talked about them as her "girl tribe." She described Lily as her "angel," Sarah as her "little whippersnapper, loved and lovable and full of love," and Grace as "fearless," according to the Associated Press.

Grace often asked Badger if she would die before her mother, but Badger told her it was "never going to happen."

"But it did, and I wonder why. Why my children?'' Badger asked in her eulogy. "My girls are in my heart. They're right here. And that's where they live now.''

She also told mourners, "In all the incomprehensible loss and chaos, all I can hang onto is that love is everything.''

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