Losing Someone

Sometimes I hear the phrase “it takes a community to raise a child.” And there are so many ways that I agree with that. Community is very important. To everyone. This past week I experienced a rather hard thing. Someone I know died. Their death was shocking and surprising. Mostly because it was unexpected. It is not officially known what happened but the conclusion at the moment is that she killed herself.

I know from experience what that dark place feels like and how hard it is to walk away from it. And I know that there are a lot of people in the world who feel that dark place as an intimate place, as somewhere there is no escape from. And that they feel so lost and dark and down that the world would better off without them. Here’s the thing, it isn’t better without them.

The ripples that come from a suicide are huge in their scope. Generations are affected. There are very, very few people in this world that would not leave anyone behind. Everyone has someone that cares or loves them more than words can describe. And everyone is affected by suicide. Everyone connected to that person walks around wondering,”what did I do or didn’t do?”, “How could I have reached them?”, “Why wasn’t I enough for them?” And though those are not fair questions to be burden with people are left to wonder.

No matter how dark things are right now, and no matter how long things have been dark they have not and will not always be that way. Our future self is so full of promise. Everyone is so full of potential and possibility. That the loss of one is so keenly felt. Everyone goes through those times of wondering, like the main character in “Its a Wonderful Life” we often what difference does our being here make? Or who would really notice if we ceased to be here? I have felt that, most people have felt that. And just like the main character learned in the movie the ripples that our lives create are vast and some are so faint that we do not notice them or what change they have brought to someone.

I guess what this boils down to is someone I cared about died. They took with them the opportunity for change and all the miracles that their life brought to people. I have lost way too many friends and family to suicide. Its not okay. Part of me wants to reach out wrap everyone in bubble wrap and just keep them safe. We all live our lives an we all have dark times. For some people I know it is the horrors of war that haunt them, for others it is the trauma of childhood abuse, or mental illness that seems to sap away their energy. These are hard things. But no one ever has to face them alone. Some choose to face them alone, and others think that they would be a burden to someone if they shared the darkness. Those burdens are best carried when the weight is divided among others.

When my heart was filled with sadness from this event I was unsure what to do. Then I reached out to someone wiser than me and they helped. And then that person reached out to others in my behalf and they helped me carry my burden. I have lived though horrors and trauma that I do not share in detail with people. But still when I reach out from my dark times to others the darkness is lessened.

So if you know someone who is in pain reach out and help them to find the help they need. There are many places to go for help. If you are hurting and think that there is nothing left and nowhere to go for help stop and reach out to one person. One candle can light many candles. Don’t suffer alone. Don’t leave us before it is time.

It takes great courage to live. Please be courageous.

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A Long Time Ago

A long time ago things were very dark for me. This was a very long time ago. Before I had a husband and before I had children. This was back in the dark days when essentially it was just me. And even though there were people in my life, it did not feel like there was anyone.

It was at this time that the depression and loneliness started to become suffocating. All I could think about was how painful everything was. How much it hurt to take a breath and to just keep going. It hurt so much more to live at that time than it did to think about not living. It was about this time that my youngest brother died in a car accident. And it all seemed so easy at that point to just not be here anymore.

I do not know what happened exactly. There was no great moment of clarification. No one came suddenly into my life to help me make meaning out of everything. There was no outside change in my life. I just decided to keep going. To keep trying to breathe. And the breathing became a little easier. Things were still dark but they weren’t as dark.

Coming out of that dark place took time. And a lot of escaping. I was living outside of Boston at the time and spent a lot of time in the city just looking at people and reading. I wrote more at that time then I had in a long time. I am not sure how I came through to the other side but I did.

That doesn’t mean that the darkness doesn’t still come out of nowhere and truly floor me anymore. It does mean that now I have reason to believe that I can make it to the other side of the darkness. Because I already have. I already walked through it. I am still here.

I guess the reason for this story is to say that the darkness though very real does not have to win. We can make it to the other side and be OK. There are many things to help us through. Friends, family, therapists to name just a few. But the point is that we are needed here. And sometimes we just need to be there for someone else, or allow someone to be there for us. I know that in reality it is really not that cut and dry all the time. But it is that cut and dry more often than we think.

I am glad that I kept walking past the open window. That I kept going. I know many who have not. And they are greatly missed. So the ending of this story is that a long time ago I thought that the pain was more than the pleasure of living. And I took a chance that the story I was telling myself was not true. And I won. I have a beautiful husband who is an amazing example of how to keep pushing through and eight beautiful children who have given me more reason to keep walking past the window.

And to end the story traditionally, I lived, happily and unhappily, but I still live.