Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tis the Season...

It was a sobering day today.  I was awakened by someone at the door.  I often ignore such intrusions on my sleep, but thought perhaps it was the postman delivering a package and so I got up, threw on my fleece vest and ran for the door.  There was my youngest daughter’s best friend.

I was eager to see her. She has been on my prayer list as she is separating from her husband and there is a custody battle going on over her child.  It has been anything but easy for her, for though there was no proof of neglect or abuse, her mother-in-law took the child to care for him and then never gave him back. She alleged her an unfit mother, and my daughter’s friend had the choice of their child going to state custody or letting the mother-in-law keep their young child until this issue was resolved. She made the difficult choice that only a good mother could make.  She chose to have her child stay with his grandmother rather than to go to a stranger.

That is not why she was at the door today however.  She came to inform us of what would be any parent’s worst nightmare come true. Her brother had committed suicide and she had come to tell us.  I immediately woke my youngest daughter who had come to stay with us as she does each week, to work a couple of days in our area and then returns to her apartment about one and a half hours away.  I was glad that she was here to see her friend.

We could not believe the horribleness of it all!  I used to be a psych nurse and manned a suicide prevention line years ago and know the subject well.  He was mentally ill and took the “permanent solution” to solve his “temporary problem”.  Clearly he was not thinking straight, and was suffering and did the unthinkable.There are always signs before such an event, but often go unnoticed by even the most trained of eyes.  It happened with a close friend of mine when I was a young woman, though I knew what to look for. Hindsight is 20/20, but life is not lived with hindsight.

We hugged her and cried with her and offered our sympathy and support.  I hurt for her and her parents. His life had been fraught with difficulties, but no one ever thought that this would be a choice he would make.  I assured her that no parent, friend or sibling can prevent this from happening and no one is to blame.  It was his bad choice, and sadly nothing can be done about it now. Much grief will ensue, especially after the shock starts to wear off. She did not stay long as she needed to return home and start making the endless phone calls to friends and relatives to let them know.  She had another friend who was to be by her side throughout the days ahead, thank God.
We thought about her all day long.  It is the holiday season, but for a person who is depressed, lonely or mentally ill, that can be a season that is anything but joyous.  We painfully considered that this beautiful season will be scarred by the anniversary of his death every year for this family and we ached for the hearts that were broken by this tragic event. If only he knew just how devastating this is for all those that love him, especially his family, I am sure that he would never have chosen to inflict this pain on them.

In tribute to the loss of this young man, I thought I would share his story. It is one that speaks loudly to all of us. This is the sort of event that dwarfs all other problems and puts everything in perspective. The everyday crises and upsets are so inconsequential!

It is a reminder to us just how precious each day is and made us appreciate what we, too often, take for granted! Though this young man chose to end his mental pain permanently,  none of us ever knows what events may befall us in the future and treasuring the present is really the most that we can do.  This is the season of love. Let us not forget to reach out to those around us to make everyone feel cared for and loved this Christmas and holiday season.

May you rest in peace JP! You will be sadly missed!