I've heard of some tragedies recently. There are always tragedies, of course. Life is such a curious mixture of the horrible and the beautiful; it's hard to understand. The recent incidents involve young people deciding to end their lives and, in one case, a man also chose to end the lives of the people closest to him. So much is lost.
We can never know exactly what was in the mind of a person who has chosen to end his or her life. Was there an ongoing mental problem or was there a troubling situation that arose and seemed insurmountable? In some cases, drugs and alcohol cloud the mind and the decision-making process. Afterwards, it doesn't really help to know the reasons. The results are the same. The damage is done.
It doesn't help, either, to blame oneself and to think that we should have helped, that we should have done something, whatever something is. Most of us are not trained mental health professionals and all of us only pass through this life once. It's hard to know what to do and it's hard even for mental health professionals. Nothing is guaranteed to help. When a person has gotten to the point of suicidal thoughts, we can try to help, if we know. We can try to learn signs so that we may have a better chance of knowing. But it is not our fault if it happens. People make their choices. Sometimes their choices are tragic.
While blame is not helpful, I hope that we can try to help each other and show that we care as we live our lives. Before people get to the extremes of distress, maybe we can help them, listen to them, support them as they try to go in new and better directions. We can let them know that, although they may have problems, one of them is not that they're all alone. Alone, things can get worse and problems can lock us into bad places.
It is important to reach out to others and it is important that we open up when we could use help too. We don't have to act like we have it all together, that we are leading charmed lives. Life isn't easy or straightforward or predtable or fair. I don't see how it helps anyone to "keep a stiff upper lip" on a regular basis. It's o.k. to need help. Very often when we ask for help with something, we learn that someone else has had a similar experience or at least has had some difficulties too. They help us and we free them from feeling that they need to hold it all in. We don't need to hold it all in and, to stay healthy, we can't. We're not designed for that.
The young family that was lost this week to murder-suicide lived in Airdrie, Alberta. It seems ironic that census numbers were released this week and that community was highlighted for its growing young population. Looking at pictures and hearing about them now, this family seems to have typified that community's ideal family. They had education, employment, a home, good looks and an adorable child in their midst. We must never be fooled by such appearances. Listening to a young woman talk recently, I was struck by how her inner world differed from the confident, successful image she portrayed. She was willing to let people know of her situation, though. Not everyone lets us know of their pain.
Nobody has life figured out completely. That's o.k. It's important to say that sometimes we need help. That help may be as simple as a listening ear or two. It's important to try even though we can't make everything all right. I wish we could. We are all in this together. I hope we can show each other that and that no one ever feels they are alone.
JAHD - Please feel free to consider this piece dedicated to anyone you have known. For me, it is dedicated to Mark. (Of course I still remember. I wish you'd known I cared.)