I have lost several people in my life. Family, friends, acquaintances…..death comes calling for us all. Old age takes most as our bodies just wear out. Accidents take some unexpectedly, giving us no chance to say good-bye. A few even have their lives taken deliberately by another, leaving us enraged and grief-stricken. And then there are the rare few who take their own lives, leaving us confused, angry, ashamed, and mourning.
Twice my life has been touched by suicide. Once when I was in high school, when a dear classmate (DW) decided that his home life was so bad that he could no longer take it. And once, this week when an old classmate (JH) chose for reasons no one knows to take that same path. The second has brought back all of the feelings I felt the first time and once again I find myself lost in emotions I can’t control.
Confusion. Why did he do this? What was SO bad that he felt he couldn’t live any longer? Why didn’t he reach out to someone? He loved and was loved. He had family and friends. He had a LIFE, not just an existence.
Denial. No, he wasn’t the type. He was happy. He always had a smile and a laugh for everyone. He really CARED about everyone. DW was about to graduate high school and escape his abusive family. JH just had a grandson that he called, “the light of my life.” With so much going right, he wouldn’t possibly have done this. He loved life too much.
Anger. I am so angry that you did this to us! You LEFT us! You wantonly betrayed our trust. You deliberately shut us out of what was hurting you and gave us no chance to help. Did you even think about us?We had to bury you, DW, on your Birthday! That was NOT a celebration. JH, your son had to stand at the head of your casket on his 18th birthday! Definitely not the memory he wanted for that special day. You are selfish. No, you WERE selfish when you made that choice. Now…….you’re just gone.
Ashamed. Why didn’t I see that something was wrong? Why didn’t I talk to you more about what was happening in your life? Why didn’t I visit? If I had visited you, maybe I would have seen something was wrong. Why wasn’t I a better friend to you? If I had shown you how much I cared, maybe you would have turned to me and let me help. This is my fault. I will carry this guilt for the rest of my life.
Grief. I lost my friend. He is gone now, and I will never see him again. I will never see him smile. I will never hear him laugh. I will never feel his hugs. I will never smell his cologne. I feel numb, yet I can’t stop crying. I want to scream and cry and throw things, but nothing will ease this pain. When I wasn’t looking, you slipped away. You left me. I lost you. And in losing you, I got a wound on my heart that will never completely heal.
It was 27 years ago last March 21 that I lost my friend, DW. Earlier this week, my community lost another friend, JH. Both lost by their own hands. This hurts more than if I had lost you to old age or disease. This hurts more than if I had lost you in an accident. This hurts more than if I had lost you to murder. This hurts more…….because YOU Chose This.