One of my dearest friends lost his son to suicide. It was a tragedy and his son was only sixteen. You would think that in this line of work it would be easier for me. It's not. Death is not easy for any of us. I called my friend immediately, and he cried the most heartbreaking cry I have ever heard. I have three children myself I can understand that pain so easily. I also spoke to his ex-wife it was just as heartbreaking. If someone dies by a disease or accident, I think it is easier to comprehend than suicide. Everyone involved with a suicide I think questions and blames themselves for not knowing.
My other girlfriend's son committed suicide when he was 36 years old. She said that at first she did not feel anything after he died, she couldn't feel anything. She spent the first hours trying to comprehend what had taken place. She said that she kept asking herself "why"? She once said to me that when you don't ask why anymore and move on from that need to know it gets easier. This is her advice to other's in the same situation:
BELIEVE THAT THE SPIRIT IS ETERNAL. You will always miss that child, nothing or no one will replace your child. Learn to communicate with that child. I grew up believing that we could not communicate with those that have left this realm, as did my husband. We both now know that that is not true. Though we have not learned how to visualize his spirit, we talk to him constantly, aloud or to ourselves. We include him in a lot of our conversation. Bottom line: learn to communicate with your child –the spirit lives on.
I cannot stress how important it is for all of us to know that though the human body may die, the spirit has eternal life. I know this does not matter when you are no longer able to hold your loved one or touch them. We do have the ability to communicate with them. All of us do.
My other friend's father committed suicide. She has lived in hell since he did so. It's almost as if part of her died with him. I know there is a part of her that blames herself for not knowing.
In 1985, I was a sophomore in High School. That year I for some reason decided that my life was not worth living. I had sunk into a dark depression and tried to commit suicide. I was hospitalized for the attempt and never spoke of it again. As I look back, it wasn't anyone's fault. I had didn't have the best communication skills with my parents or myself. I cannot imagine how much I would have missed if I had been successful in killing myself. It scares me even think about how close I came to not being here on planet earth. I am so grateful I lived. From my experience the only way I can think would have helped me, would have been if there had been an open communication with anyone about my feelings. I just needed to know that my life was important, or that I mattered to someone. I just wanted my heartache to end.
I don't have any answers though. It seems the older I get the less I know to be true. We as humans try to avoid negative feelings at all costs. We are indeed creatures of comfort. We do not like impermanence. Nothing is permanent. One of my favorite teacher's Lama Sura Das once said, "Loss is the elephant in the living room we all ignore or deny. Yet we can't." We cannot protect ourselves or our loved ones from death. It seems to me that suffering and dying are as much as a part of our lives and living and happiness.
I have met so many extraordinary people in my life. I have met so many people that have already suffered more than I ever will. When I watched the coverage of Hurricane Katrina and people were devastated by their material losses, I could not help but think about the people who had lost their loved ones to the hurricane. Our loved ones are truly precious. So if someone you know seems to be struggling for whatever reason, reach out to them. Don't be afraid to be wrong about a gut feeling that something isn't right. I think we all have a tendency to want to sweep difficult situations under the rug. Sometimes you might just have no clue at all that anything is wrong.
There is a great website http://www.theovernight.org/ for suicide prevention. They have yearly walks all over the United States. This year I'll be walking in Chicago, I hope some of you will join me.