My father asked me how my family is doing with Sam’s death. I said that we all struggle.
He had had a few glasses of wine. Sadly, my father can only talk about deep feelings when he has had a few glasses of wine. It’s liquid courage. In fact, the first time I ever heard my father tell me that he loved me, he was drunk. But I understand. I believe he was raised in a very emotionally stunted family and he was never allowed to talk about his feelings. My father has done a lot of things; said alot of things while under the influence and while these things hurt to even think about, I know that he was raised in an emotionally fucked up environment, so I try to bury his words and actions and just go forward in forgiveness even though they are insidious and they do creep into the frame of my own mind from time to time.
He said to me as the fourth glass of red wine began to slur his words, ” my brother committed suicide and I think it is selfish. Suicide is selfish”.
I was taken aback, not because it shocked me that he said this, but because I had to address his comment and I didn’t want to. But I told him that Sam was not selfish and that suicide is not selfish. I told him that someone must be in a lot of pain to end their own life: that someone has to be really struggling to believe the feelings of worthlessness that are filling their head. There is a natural instinct to survive that every life force has ingrained into them from the moment of conception. To be able to go beyond such a strong instinct there has to be a real darkness responsible. I was 18 when my uncle died by suicide. I can never forget those days that he was missing, and inevitably found. He was a brilliant man but there was an air of instability around him for as long as i could remember. Ironically he was the head of the psychology department at a prestigious university. My father had to identify his body and my uncle had used a shotgun to end his suffering so I’m sure that my father, with his instilled inability from a young age to talk about things struggled for years to come after that day. In fact, he only forgave his brother in the days after my son’s funeral after seeing the closeness and the outpouring of love for Sam by so many. I hope that my father sees things quite differently now after we talked.
There is such a stigma around suicide. There is so much misconception around mental health and I don’t know if it will ever end. The numbers seem to just keep rising, or maybe they aren’t rising: but maybe more people are just sharing their loss.
In a bereavement group I belong to, there is an aunt who lost her nephew to suicide and his own parents refused to have a funeral because they said he didnt deserve one. He was quietly buried without anyone there to give him a final send off. The aunt was trying to have a headstone erected but the parents threatened her with legal action : they wanted him in an unmarked grave. Again, they said he didn’t deserve to have so much as a marker. I’m not sure of their reasoning but it felt like they wanted his life to just be forgotten. I can only imagine the life he did have. I can’t imagine feeling that kind of animosity towards any of my children. My heart hurts for that poor boy.
I have struggled for most of my life with depression and I have been to that point where the worthlessness has brought me to my knees : a point where I just wanted to end the pain. I can tell you that my feelings weren’t selfish : the pain was so overbearing that it blotted out any sensibility. I just wanted the pain to end. The thoughts and the words that reverberated inside my head telling me that everyone would be better off without me; the voices inside my mind telling me that I would be forgotten very quickly and that everyone would go on quite easily without me. There is nothing selfish about the agonizing pain that brings a person to believe those lies inside their own head: they don’t choose to feel that way on purpose. Why in God’s name would anyone choose to be so depressed and to feel so unworthy of goodness and life? They would have to be crazy to want that! The reality is that the chemical imbalance makes it harder for some to move past the negative experiences in life that we all face. Rather than learning from experience and moving on, they bury it inside their mind until the point where there is no more room to bury anymore. And then the voices inside their mind convince them to go.
Suicide is not selfish. A selfish act usually has an outcome that a person will gain from. I suppose peace could be considered a gain. But as we don’t know what waits for us just beyond that door to the afterlife, the great unknown doesn’t guarantee us anything. Maybe it’s a whole lot of nothingness. A selfish act is not seeking ” nothingness”.
I do believe that there is more though. I need to believe that. I feel that my son found peace. I know that he has found an eternal all consuming love that waits for all of us at the end of our journey. I only wish he could have found it here within himself instead of the darkness that filled his mind. My family now takes the pain he left behind and we carry it. I just hope that it doesn’t get so heavy for my other children that it puts them in that place where he was in those early morning hours where his self perceived worthlessness took him from us.
You were loved Sam. You are loved. And where ever you are now, I know you feel it. I know you are at peace and that you will be here to greet me when my journey comes to and end. But I sure wish you were still here. There was so much more living that we all had to do with you. There was so many more adventures waiting to be fulfilled. The voices you answered that morning were all lies. You shouldn’t have listened to them. I wish you hadn’t listened to them. I wish you were here. I will carry your pain so that you no longer have to but it is very heavy. And I wish you had been able to think about that before you left. You were sooo loved.