Thursday, July 9, 2009

What to say?

It was a nice day yesterday with the students. At first I was wondering what was going to spur their interest as they seemed half asleep on the boat ride to the island. But after they were on the beach, they seemed to catch fire with questions.

Several told me that they had never been to a beach before. That was something that surprised me. But it made me think about all that I do take for granted as being accessible.

The good times of the day were overshadowed by learning that the husband of a colleague had killed himself. He evidently had a problem with alcohol and depression. He had sobered up, gotten a new job and was doing well until this past weekend when some old drinking buddies came to town. I'm not sure of the circumstances surrounding his death but do know that he shot himself and was found by my colleague.

I just finished writing a note to her. I sat and stared at the paper for about a half and hour. I had no idea what to write. I tried to imagine the horror of finding someone I loved dead by their own hand. My colleague is questioning whether she could have done more, seen the signs, prevented it. She hasn't tried to smooth this over at work but has told people that it was suicide and not an accident. I think that is incredibly brave.

So I sat and thought how didn't know that kind of pain. I don't have that vision of death etched in my head. I don't have thoughts of what I might have done to change circumstances.

But I do know now that there is nothing that I can do to prevent what another person is determined to do. And that as much as I would like to go back in a time machine and re-do some things, I can't do that either.

I am glad that the thoughts that I once had during my darkest days are no longer with me. I have chosen to live this life. I know now how great life is and that each day I have an opportunity to do something with it and experience both the pleasure and the pain.

" When we give up that one final controlling maneuver, we may find ourselves freer to live in this one irretrievable life we've been given." from Touchstones


  1. What a difficult situation to deal with. I wouldn't know what to say either, but I do think that quote sums it up perfectly.

  2. Yes, what does one say in that situation? My friend's husband killed himself, and she was upfront about it also. She never judged the things people said to her because she knew it was an uncomfortable subject and they meant well.

  3. I'm glad your colleague has you in her life.

    I've known a few people who have committed suicide or have tried to, and it is a paralyzing thing for those who care about them. I think just about every emotion flies in their faces. Finally understanding that you cannot control the actions of another is really the best way to make peace of a sort with that tragedy.

    Although, I have to admit, in one case when the baby sister of one of my close friends killed herself after repeated sexual molestation by their awful, awful dad, I did wish I had done something. Like, maybe kill their father before things got so far. But that was all my issues leaking all over in about every way possible. Talk about trying to take control of my powerlessness.

  4. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. My belief is that it is the ultimate selfish act...leaving those behind to pick up the pieces and go on. I'm really sorry for her and you and everyone who knew him. May God rest his soul and help his family to recover. Ask God for the words that she needs to hear.

  5. Wow, that is so amazing. It must have a whole circle of people scratching their heads.

  6. I also had a close friend take her life, no alcohol or drugs, just overpowering depression. It is sad. And yet, I watched my father fight cancer for every last moment of life. Struggles are simply a part of us, I suppose, nothing one can do except live life to it's fullest and savor every day that we are given.

  7. so glad you can be there for your collegue.

    i deliberately use the present tense when talking to a recently bereved person about the 'deceased' as i believe they are neither 'sperated' or 'dead' from the loved one.

    each case is different. some are numb. others shock, others drowning in tears. but i try to instill joy in their hearts using whatever words might bring that about. wether they make 'sense' or not.

    irealy believe we all have a path. each one is 'right'. i have faith that things are happening as they should. i try to demonstrate that to the sufferer. they see my acceptance, and they see another way of reacting to their painful situation.

    just play it by ear. the better the other person feels, the more you are getting the words right. trial and error will guide you.

    but yes, its a tricky one. do able though. good luck :)

  8. Thanx for sharing your life.

    I don't ever have authentic words for a path that I've gone down (never seen a beach, senseless death, etc.) but somehow I can learn from and grow from any and all situations and it seems like that is what God would have me be.

    Continued blessings to you and those you touch...

  9. I pray for your colleague and her family.

    The disease is so devastating sometimes, it's so difficult to hear of those who don't make it, but it also makes me consider how blessed I am to be living free and hopefully I can continue to serve a program that helps those who struggle to share a solution that works.

  10. i know i have thought of this before, i know i used to dream of an easy end. i know sometimes my addict still goes there. cunning and quick the addict is and it has a way of sneaking up on the best of us. i will say a prayer for your colleague and her husband

  11. Having been suicidally depressed in the past, I can tell you that when contemplating suicide it Makes as much sense as jumping out of the window of a burning building.

  12. I went to a memorial on July 4th for a man that had tried to get and stay sober for over 35 years. He killed himself on what was his 4th sober anniversary, but he had stopped going to meetings over a year and a half ago. I hate it that anyone would ever be in that much pain that the only way out would be to kill themself. That is just so sad.

  13. I'm sure whatever words you had for her Syd were much appreciated by her. Many people have no idea what to say in that situation so they say nothing and I believe that is the worst thing you can do. Acknowledging another's pain always helps no matter what.

  14. i would have no idea what to write either- what a terrible situation. alcoholism destroys all in its path- i'm so grateful to have been given another way to live

  15. sigh... what sad news. i will offer prayers today for your colleague and husband.


  16. i think suicide is the ultimate acknowledgement of the loss of hope. it's sad.

  17. Your kindness comes through in your blog, Syd, and it would have come through in what you wrote to your friend. Sometimes all we can offer is ourselves - no wise words of comfort, just our presence, and our thoughts.
    Offer her the chance to talk about him. Friends and colleagues can feel intimidated by a suicide, and will avoid talking about the person, and their final choice, so as not to cause discomfort or embarassment to those left behind.
    God Bless you and your friend.

  18. I have been there at the brink of that precipice Syd when all hope has disolved into blackness.
    Thankfully something always intervened on my numerous attempts, I like to think it was my HP

  19. Sorry to hear of your colleague's husband's death. This disease takes so many.


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