Reflections on Keeping Loved Ones From Taking Their Lives

by on September 19, 2018 · 1 comment

in From the Soul

Lance Robotson/Flickr/CC-BY-NC-2.0

I remember back, maybe
when I was in junior high,
neighbors talking in hush-hush tones
about a man
who had drowned himself
in the night.
“Hey, why y’all whispering?”
I wanted to know,
all wide-eyed
and mystified
and horrified.
“Shhh, boy, he died of suicide.”

And we all just carried on
with our lives,
looking at how he had died
through the eyes
of ignorance,
of unfamiliarity
with someone taking their life
voluntarily and intentionally,
and through the implicit biases
of a society that visualized
anyone bringing and end to their existence
through suicide
as selfish or weak or meek,
the action itself, indeed,
in the teachings of some religions,
a sin,
a sin wherein
the one who has committed the sin
can’t go to heaven
because they can’t confess to the sin
and ask to be forgiven of the sin.

So, that’s the way it was back then.
We, on the whole, when
it came to self-homicide,
chose to ignore it,
just not mention it.
But over time we’ve come to
attend to it,
not as much as we can,
if the truth be told of it
because our minds,
as it is has always been with us homosapiens,
are primed
on just trying to live our lives
and make it day to day,
for some payday to payday,
for others come what may.
Who’s got time for pondering suicide
I’m trying to say?

Until one day,
in my case, one bright sunny day,
you wake up
and then wonder what’s up
with your wife, the love of your life,
not being up
as she’s always up
before you’re up
and you look in on her and she’s asleep
and then you tiptoe around,
not wanting to make a sound
because sleep for her
for months
has just passed her by,
making her wonder if she’d ever sleep again
by and by
and you’re so glad for her
and you go about your day
leaving her to rest,
your heart singing
with thoughts
of the sweet visions
she might be dreaming
as she cops z’s
for the first time since January
and this day is the 22nd of July, 2009
and you stop and dine
before you drive back home
and when you arrive at your home
you see a police officer
walking through your front door
and you walk in behind him and find
that there are other police therein
along with a family friend
who had been asked by your son
to stop by the house wherein
he notices that Nancy is not breathing
and he calls 9-1-1
which creates a crime scene
and a note is found in a drawer
that has words of goodby
in a handwriting recognized
from love notes
of days gone by
and, in shock, you can’t believe
what lies before your eyes.
But, when I look back,
in retrospect,
I shouldn’t have been
the least bit surprised
as there are usually hints
that someone might be contemplating
terminating their life.

But I looked past the clues
because I’m guessing,
like many folks,
I just couldn’t even imagine
that someone whom I dearly loved
and respected for their very strength
of body and mind
would die at their own hands
before their time.

Nancy didn’t come close to
saying she was going to end it all
or even that she was tired of it all.
She hadn’t been rejected by a loved one.
She hadn’t expressed a sudden desire
to buy a gun.
She didn’t drink beyond the night caps
that ended our days.
She didn’t abuse drugs
in any way.
But there were indicators everywhere,
as every summer
we would visit our Palm Springs time share
and I kept asking when we were going and she’d
say “Oh, yeah”
as if she had forgotten
which had never happened
because she meticulously
and excitingly planned
these vacations with care;
and we had talked for some time
of visiting Ireland and Scotland
and these conversations,
like her months of complaining
of getting no sleep
and of the noise from the bar
across the street,
seemed to stop in thin air;
and, oh, how she made sure
in her last week
that I accompany her
for her ocean swims
and walk with her along La Jolla Shores
and have lunch with her at one of our
favorite places to eat
the day before
her life was rendered complete…
I know now
that she was just waiting
for when
she could bring it all to an end.

Could she have been saved?
Well, that is now a useless question.

But there is no question
that we need to be scrupulously aware
when our loved ones
are feeling overwhelmed by despair
and very much need us to be there.

We have to keep them alive
because they’re needed in our lives.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Richard Menze September 19, 2018 at 7:27 pm

Powerful and well said. Thanks Ernie. My girlfriend’s son took his life. We know what you are expressing. Look for signs, don’t ignore, because they need us and we need them.


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