Suicide. This treacherous word burns into the marrow of your soul, leaves those behind with wrenched hearts, eyes flooded with tears, or dead as stones. Questions drift through the air, if there is air. Questions unanswered. Unanswerable. Never asked. Never answered. The knee-buckling burden of not knowing. Never knowing.
You are, if someone you know has committed suicide, in a kind of hell.
I know this hell. A beautiful young man I called my brother, one year my junior, put a rifle to the side of his head and fired. He was 23. The end. The birth-father I never met because he put on a tuxedo, slipped a flower into his lapel, put a handgun to his head, and fired. He was 68. The end. My mother who raised me, raised me I tell you, gathered pictures of her family all around her before she loaded her body with pills and alcohol. She was 68. The end.
I remember carrying her stained with blood from hemorrhaging mattress outside. I remember packing up her home, as if we were taking apart and packing away her life. I remember sitting on the floor of the empty room where she died writing, writing writing, writing in my journal, desperately hoping I would wake up and find the horror was all but a nightmare.
I ask you in gentle tones carried on the wings of angels to consider something for a moment. Try it on, if you will. Because if it lifts you, sends some warmth into the chill of loss and heartbreak, you deserve it. There is a cliché that says, Living well is the best revenge. Now breathe and think for a moment. Living well is the best revenge. In the case of suicide the revenge is not against the person who committed suicide, it is against the act of suicide.
There is something else I can tell you too. When someone you know commits suicide, it is not your fault. I know these words may sit like pebbles in sand right now, hard to see, believe, hard to breathe in, but they are true. I will not lie to you. It is not your fault. Laying blame against yourself or any living person is understandable because you, we, are trying to make rational sense where the norm of rational sense does not apply. Have the feelings you have, but don’t let them define you. The person who committed suicide is responsible for the suicide. This truth does not make them bad or evil. It very likely means they were in so much pain they were tragically only able to identify suicide as a way out of the pain.
Hold them close to your hearts. They are not gone from there. Even death has its impotence. But as close as you hold them, hold yourself and each other even closer. You are the living, and you deserve each others loving embrace right now. You do. I promise.
Remember the basics. Remember to eat, bathe, brush your teeth, wash your hair, – breathe. You are alive, and that is a beautiful thing. I promise.