A mighty wind______April 20, 2012
There is a conversation on TED.com that I have started with many questions surrounding suicide and the taking of ones own life. You are welcome to participate. The conversation thus far has been rich and people’s deep well of empathy comes out.
How do you move beyond why, when someone takes their own life? What about the ones they leave behind? How do we get beyond the shame? – http://on.ted.com/BgW1
This topic has moved its way forward in recent weeks. After David’s death, all the suicides in my life placed themselves on one of those timelines you see. They are mixed in with all the other activities and milestones on the continuum. They each have the still photographs from my head reminding me of where I was and what I was doing at the moment I heard. Like 9/11, the start of the Gulf War or the death of Princess Diana, I know that moment is frozen….locked in my Rolodex in my brain.
One of the questions that is showing to be important is the shame, not only for the person leaving us, for the people they leave behind. In the same way society has shamed women into thinking they are not worth the same, our bodies are less than of a mans and there is a hurdle to overcome. There is shame surrounding when a person has lost someone and the question gets asked “how did they die?” I truly understand this question, part curiosity and part staring mortality in the face. How one answers after they have lost someone to suicide is always interesting to me. Do they say….______ killed themselves? or _______ took his/her own life or do they skirt it by saying it was an accident? Whatever the answer, it is where they are.
Over time, there seems to be a couple of camps that people fall into when contemplating taking their own life. Those that are desperate for help and are not being heard. Those that quietly live in pain and this is their only option. Whatever the outcome, surviving it or dying, listening is sometimes all we can do.
My Father sent me a letter. A beautiful hand-written letter to me while I was in grad school in London. This may not seem strange only that any letter I received from him was all business, typed by his secretary and signed by him and expressed no emotion. This letter was different. It was on his personal stationary and while only a page, it said more than he had said to me in 25 years. It arrived about a month before he died.
As I was growing up, I sensed that he would not be around for long. Not knowing what that meant, I just kept a distant tab on him. When I received the letter, I knew that time was not on his side. The letter was the closure (not that I needed it) for me. Some will not be so lucky.
I recently confirmed what I have been feeling my whole life. That my intuition and empathy are wired to the same artery. Being drawn to people like Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Mother Teresa, and you’ll love this…..someone asked me when I was very young what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer….straight face….with all the matter-of-fact I could was Joan of Arc. Okay I get the rolling of the eyes and the possible “you think you can walk with those people”, all I said was I am drawn to them. There is a common thread.
Such a tangent.
So I leave you with the question, If we could set down our shame for one moment, what would you do differently?