I think the thing that many people don't understand is that there are as many reasons for choosing to die as there are ways to die. Not all suicides are the same, nor should they all be considered in the same light. Some people may not understand that they actually do have the support they need to live and maybe make a mistake by choosing to die, but others may truly be reckoning with their existence and decide that the best choice for them is to not continue on the path of the living.
I lost the privilege of living in the company of a best friend and former lover just over eleven years ago now. It has been a long journey for me since then of discovering what it was that I actually lost, and what stays with me of his life. I forgave him instantly and in the first moments of knowing he had died, only wished I had been able to be there with him, to hold his hand as he left. I regret that for obvious reasons, this is not possible in our society, because it would be considered akin to a form of murder. It has been in the years since that I have had to reflect on how I may have contributed to his death, how I may not have been there for him in the ways he needed. I miss him always, and still grieve his passing, and yet I don't blame him for going.
I do however have anger towards a psychiatric establishment that would not admit him into their care though he had adequate insurance and was trying to check himself in. To my understanding of what occurred he was considered too sane, because he was salient enough to check himself in. However, in my years of experience in supporting friends with so called bipolar disorder, if they are in a moment of clarity willing to submit to an institution to save themselves, they damn well better be admitted. If they are willing to do so, it is a sign not of their ability to cope, but of their ability to understand how truly dire their situation is. I am also quite angry that they not only wouldn't admit him, but sent him home with the sleeping pills that he ultimately used to take his life. I wish to help build a society in which this is not how people in need are treated. I'm not sure what better legacy I can offer him.
I hope to see a deeper reckoning in our society of the realities of this way of death. It is one of many ways people can die, and it is in fact an option that we all must contend with at some moment of our living existence. I think most of us quickly dismiss it, some of us contemplate it seriously but ultimately decide to live our lives out until their fated ends, and a few decide it is what they want, or perhaps what they need. It is a complex circumstance, as complex as any life choice.
Do not misunderstand, this is a painful way to lose a loved one's life, and many who choose this way of death are deeply troubled and wounded. And yet, let us not cast unnecessary judgement upon the deceased that stops us from examining the heart of the matter and learning deeper truths about the meaning of this gift of life we all share and how to better care for it.
I don't know what happens to our beings after we die, but I have always had a sense that my friend is in less pain than he was in this life. He may still have to learn the lessons that he cut off short here on earth, but he is safe and he is loved. And also I understand "he" in the way I knew him is clearly gone. As Laurie Anderson said, "When my father died/ it was like a whole library/ had burned down." Our loved ones will never return to us in this life in the form we knew them in, and yet what are we left with? Instead of his being concentrated in one particular place, I have this peculiar and yet somehow natural sense, that he is now everywhere.
My hope is that something I shared will be of benefit to others.
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