Suicide is certainly not an uncommon topic but something that is rarely talked about unless we are reminded in an always shocking way. I did not know of Kate Spade but her death made me stop and pause and read the article and mostly I felt, first for her 13 year old daughter, she lost her mom, you only get one. Then her husband, he had to have been aware she had problems and most likely did everything he could within his power to help her and then I thought of her and her struggles. You certainly can't blame her or anyone who chooses to take their own life, struggling with a mental illness is tough stuff and it can reverberate out to so many people. Her family and friends will live with this tragic event the rest of their lives. How can you cope? It is not your fault, yet anyone closely associated will think I shoulda, I coulda. What could I have done? In reality, the best you can do with anyone who is suffering is to get them to seek help. Here are a few other tips from National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. #BeThe1To.
and then there was Anthony Bourdain who I did not know personally either but so many of us thought we knew him from watching him on tv. He was cool. calm and collected, I knew of his earlier struggles with addiction so long ago but this guy, he had his stuff together. You could not help to envy what he was able to do and yet you really liked this guy. He is a classic example of no one has the perfect life and no one can predict what is going on in the mind of someone else. You can not blame yourself for being a mere human being, in not knowing.
I have personally know 3 individuals that have taken their own lives one was a hanging and the other two were from shotguns. All were young men and all had tons of friends and family that loved them. It is such a hard concept to grasp. What was so terribly going wrong in their lives? Everyone has their own coping mechanisms and some just reach that point where they have had enough.
I learned a valuable lesson from my father, many valuable lessons, but this one really resonated with me. I spent the last week of his life sleeping on the sofa 10 feet away from his hospital bed set up in my parents home. He had stomach cancer and suffered terribly and cried through the darkness in the night for God to come and take him. I cried with him to end his suffering. Once the sun came up he experienced relief and seemed to be glad to still be alive. Of course, I have never suffered like he did but I have used this on many a darkest hour, just get to the morning, it will be better. It takes strength but it is doable.
It was just about a year ago, I attended a funeral for a young man that had not quite made it to 30 years of age, there was not a dry eye at the service, so many friends hanging outside with heads hung low. Whenever I saw this kid at family functions he was always friendly and social. We didn't hang out or anything but we acknowledged our family connection with recognition. He seemed like a really cool kid. He shot himself. No one knows why. Something was eating at him.
It has been over 32 years now when we were attending the birth party of twins of a friend of my fiancee at the time. My fiancee, had called his brother who had been struggling with mental illness to come to the party. The brother declined but they spoke on the phone quite a while. It was a landline, I am pretty sure there were not readily available cell phones then. The next day, my husband to be, felt uneasy, he was suppose to go away for the weekend and decided to check in on his brother because he wasn't answering his phone. He found fragments of his brother splattered on the wall. He put a shotgun in his mouth and fired. He had recently been on medication that literally turned him into a non functioning zombie. He went off his medication and this was the result. After it happened, I went to the priest that was to marry us and he was a good listener but refused to have a church service for this young man because the Catholic Church didn't accept suicide. I was born and raised catholic and had attended that church many years, I was appalled. In fairness, the young man was not a Catholic, it was me asking a favor. I was married in a Episcopal Church instead, and I am sure many people wonder why. I did have a hard time comprehending those rules of not accepting suicide. Who does? but showing compassion should be an all around non-denomination acceptance, especially to the grieving. It has been years now, maybe the church has changed its policy. I have never checked on that.
I can't say this was the worse incident, they all were but this one in particular by far seemed to be the cruelest. A friend of mine has a sister that is one of of kindest most considerate of others person in the world. She married young and I do not know the circumstances of the marriage not working but they separated. Her husband called her on the phone one evening and told her he was going to kill himself and he shot himself right then while speaking with her. They had one child together, she did a wonderful job raising him, a real nice kid. Thirty years later, this young man took his life by hanging himself. She continues to be a kind and loving person, I admire her strength and the heavy weight she carries.
I almost forgot about this one, a male relative came up to me at a family function years ago and said, I heard you were having problems. I had lost a close friend recently and was feeling the loss deeply. I thought I was Supergirl for one brief moment. Nothing new, we all at one time had that invincible cocky, I can do anything feeling in our youth. I got smacked into reality pretty quickly and early in my life. I thought I could walk into a hospital ICU unit and talk my friend out of his coma and save his life. I remember someone said to me, you should have done something. That guilt stayed with me for years. I still bring flowers to his grave to say I am sorry. It's close to 40 years now. What could I have done? I just did not know and I had to forgive myself and the people that did not understand, there was nothing I could have done. I am still a little too harsh on people I know that drink too much but that is my problem. They must deal with and address their problems, if they have them. Since I saw first hand how alcohol can destroy a life, I am more sensitive to it. My cousin took his own life a few years after he had approached me asking about my coping. Could this have been an opportunity for me to have helped him, when he asked me? I just don't know. I merely said to him I am fine, dealing with things at my pace and was less than thrilled I was part of the family gossip and everyone knew my struggle with that personal sadness.
I have had two friends that have said to me through the years, I have nothing to live for, and honestly, it has scared the crap out of me. My initial thought was always, oh no you don't, not on my watch! I have taken calls and texts many times late into the night and early morning. I have let these friends talk till exhaustion and maybe talked them down off what I call the cliff. Then of course, I have remained up with worry unable to sleep, as they have fallen off to sleep. If you can ease someones mind by listening and just letting them talk it is a good thing but the very best advice I have found is getting them to seek professional help and everyone will sleep better at night and rest in peace, still alive to wake up to the positive possibilities of a brand new day. It's not an easy thing to do but it is essential to our lives here on earth to keep our sunny side up. Be kind to people and yourself, someday you yourself may benefit by that kindness shining back at you. Everyone struggles and sometimes the simplest gesture can make the biggest difference in someones day. Make it a good one. Hold the door, say hello, make a connection. Show the value in a life and in being a human being. It is a tough world and some days do really suck but not every day does. Move in the direction of the better day. Maybe you are not all right today, but you are not all wrong either. Go easier on yourself and seek help if you need it, there is no shame is seeking help, we all need a helping hand from time to time. Don't just talk to yourself about it, talk to someone who can give you functioning tools to get through the dark days.
My sympathies to all that have lost loved ones too soon and to those that struggle with depression, it is hard and it is harsh and it is personal.