The whole world changes when a loved one dies. Not just my world or your world. The entire world changes. Our hearts are broken for periods of time in which we simply try to breathe enough oxygen to get by, all the while ignoring the destruction in the world and forgetting to celebrate the births of babies who will walk in the footsteps of those who have just left us. Flip-flopped, spun around, landing sideways or upside down, giving us a different view of people we never noticed before. It takes awhile to get ourselves back in working order, uprighted by the care and attention of those who understand our grief and sometimes even by those who do not. They have their own grief and that’s good enough. That alone connects us all to each other.
This connection. This grief. This sadness.
Was she sick? Was he suffering? Was she in pain? Common questions that are usually reserved for those whose lives were ended by illness or old age. At least she lived a happy life. At least he’s not suffering anymore. Just frequently used consolations that mean absolutely nothing until you’ve recovered enough to start thinking rationally and have begun to try to figure out the end of life so you can continue to live yours. And you’ve changed.
But what about when a loved one takes his own life? Where is the compassion? Where is the concern? I’ll admit my reaction was, “That selfish sonofabitch!” That’s what I said when I heard the news, three days after my birthday. I cried. I got angry. I called him selfish. I called him a selfish sonofabitch.
I’m so sorry I ever said that, my friend.
Over the years since his death, I’ve thought about him lot. Especially on my birthday. I think about him, his children, his widow, his mother, his sisters, his family and friends, all the people who couldn’t help him but yet still carry with them an immense guilt for not doing more, for not trying harder to get him the help he so desperately wanted and needed. The entire thing was played out on live television like the circus had come to town, SWAT team and all. I hope somebody on that local news team carries a heavy weight on their shoulders for allowing his wife to learn of her husband’s death via Breaking News. You bastards.
His is just one story. And you can’t justify his death by announcing Well, at least he lived a happy life because, during his last years, he didn’t. At least he’s not suffering anymore. This, I do believe. I also believe that some people just can’t fight any longer. Sometimes cancer is stronger than we are. Sometimes an aneurysm is stronger than we are. Sometimes depression is stronger than we are. It doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human.
Wherever you are, I hope you can feel how much we all think of you. The world is changed. The world is different without you. Nobody blames you. Nobody is angry with you. If anything, we just miss you.