Monday, March 25, 2013
Death Is Death, Regardless of Circumstance
Yesterday I got a new cell phone. My old one has been on it's last leg for a while, and I have made it last as long as I could, but it doesn't even want to let me answer messages or shut off alarms anymore, so it was time. As I was transferring all of my information from the old phone to the new one, I realized that there was one thing I could not transfer over that I was also not ready to part with. It's a text message from Desi. The last few conversations we'd had and her final goodbye to me before she took her life this past August. I read that message every so often, as morbid as it seems. I go back and look at it and I miss her. She was my very best friend, the one person who never judged me for anything, was always there when I needed her (despite the distance), and who I believe with all my heart was my soulmate. So I did what anyone in this day in age would do, I reached out to my friends on Facebook for ideas on how to hold onto that text message. Unfortunately, none of the ideas worked and the best thing I could come up with was to take pictures of the message thread on the old phone with the new phone. I suppose that will have to do. Many of my friends and family members left nice comments and heartfelt virtual hugs on my post, which felt very supportive and understanding. It's an unfortunate truth that many of the people showing their support for MY loss have experienced very similar losses through suicide in the past year as well. Just as I was about to fall asleep for the night, I got one more comment to my Facebook post. This one was anything but supportive and encouraging - it was downright rude and uncalled for. Someone I've known for many years, who I've shown constant support to throughout his recently troubled past, was going on and on about how suicide was selfish and that Desi had no respect or regard for the feelings of those she left behind. He went on to ask how any of the other commenters could possibly feel grief over her death or be supportive and understanding of my grief, and then went into a full rant on all of the things he'd been through in the past few years and look at him, he was still standing. Truth be told, he's been through a lot. But what he said was downright disrespectful and hurtful, so I deleted the comment and sent him a private message telling him that while each person has a right to their opinions, I did not appreciate his inappropriate post. He came unglued. I tried a few more ways to politely explain to him that while it's easy to judge from the outside of a situation, he didn't know Desi, he didn't know any of the facts, and that while even with the pile of tragedy she'd faced in her life, suicide was not the answer, what's done is done and her death doesn't make those left behind hurt any less than those left after any other kind of death. He was not having it. He went on the attack and once he had me spewing profanities, I knew it was better to stop and just delete/block him altogether. That's what brings me to this blog. What do people think gives them the right to diminish death by suicide as something less tragic and painful for the friends and family left behind in comparison to any other type of death? Do you think people hurt more if thier loved one is murdered on the street in cold blood as opposed to dying peacefully of old age, safe and warm in their bed? Death is inevitable. We know it's coming, we just usually don't know when. Life is about establishing relationships with other people, and when those people's lives end, the living ache and yearn for more time with the ones they lost. It doesn't matter how the death occured, or who was responsible. The end result is that one life is gone and the lives of the people connected to that person are forever changed. Sure, suicide is a choice. People choose it every day. They feel trapped, backed into a corner, left with no other options. Of course I don't condone it, and like most people, I agree that it's just not the answer. But as someone who has been suicidal myself at least once in my life, I get it. And I can tell you, that the belief that suicidal people only think about themselves and don't have any regard for the people who will grieve for them when they are gone is the furthest thing from the truth. It's ALL they think about. And then that adds to the pain they're already in and the deed is done. We, the survivors, don't have to agree with it, we don't have to accept it as a good enough reason for a life to have ended. But we still hurt. We still grieve. We still have a big empty hole in our lives that cannot be filled by anyone or anything else. So before you pop off your opinion that suicide is selfish, take a minute and think about how you would feel if the tables were turned. If someone told you that you needed to quit whining about your poor dead grandmother because she was old, so you should've seen it coming, how would you feel? If I just took your grief and tried to make you feel like you didn't have a right to feel that way, you'd be pissed. So don't judge what you don't understand. Don't add to the pile of crap that someone is already going through by spewing your opinions on how thier pain is unjustified. You don't get a trophy or medal that says, "Congratulations, you did better at life than these other people". Everyone has their problems and they are all handled in different ways. The only life you're responsible for the actions of, is your own. Period. You can judge yourself as fairly or as harshly as you like. But owning the same pair of shoes as someone else is not the same as walking a mile in thiers. Be considerate of the feelings and the grieving process of those affected by suicide. Regardless of what you may think of the act itself, the life lost still has a profound affect on others and belittling the way in which death took someone is not going to score you any points with anyone. 'Judge not, lest ye be judged' so say the Christians. Time to practice what you preach, folks. So what SHOULD you say when someone you know loses a friend via suicide? The standard "I'm sorry for your loss", "let me know if you need anything", and "I'm here if you need to talk" will suffice. Keep your opinions on the matter out of the conversation. Don't compare your long list of struggles to the reasons the deceasaed may or may not have given for why they took matters into their own hands. Don't judge. Because you don't know. That's the cold hard truth about it. You DON'T know.