This post covers some personal topics, so feel free to skip it and come back later when I’m writing about bees! Here’s a Beatles song that’s stuck in my head for your trouble:
A friend of mine recently committed suicide. I’m still grappling with that concept…I feel like I want to write about it somewhere, to say something meaningful, but I don’t even know what to say. I somehow think, if I were a better human, I would know exactly how to express the depth of my sorrow, and extend some comfort to others, but instead I feel…confused? I don’t even know if this is the right forum in which to discuss it…
I didn’t know my friend was feeling depressed or even close to suicide. I had long conversations with her about nature…she liked all of my photos on facebook. We talked regularly, but she didn’t mention her health problems, or how much pain she was in, or her feelings of despair.
I think it’s natural to feel somehow responsible when a friend commits suicide, but that doesn’t ease the guilt. Should I have said something differently? Should I have called her or visited? I never even drew her a bird. 😦
The other day I lay awake in my bed and I couldn’t stop thinking about Robin Williams. I’m not a big movie watcher, so I haven’t seen all of his films, and I don’t usually remember actor names, but I remember him. He had such a dynamic charisma, he was difficult to forget. My friend was similar; she had a loud, dynamic personality.
I was told by her mother after her death that my friend had a number of medical and mental problems, and she was in pain. She feared that she would not be able to take care of herself into the future and didn’t want to be taken to a home to be cared for by someone else. I can’t imagine what her thoughts were in those final hours and I don’t ever claim to know what was best for her. She made the decision that seemed best to her at the time. I hope I supported her in the ways she needed me to.
In this same week, my grandfather, who has Alzheimer’s, was moved to a facility where he could be better cared for. This was an incredibly sad time for my family. My grandfather was always incredibly intelligent and well read (his IQ was well above average) and virtually unbeatable at puzzles and games of strategy. I remember him scoring more than two hundred points on a single word in Scrabble when I was a child. Though it seems fast to me, his disease has progressed over the past two years from mild confusion to hallucinations. It was decided that he needed more supervision and care in February when he was found wandering around his neighborhood in his pajamas on a very cold night.
These two stories are linked in their timing and their impact on my life, but also because, in the response to the news about my grandfather, so many well meaning people have said that they would rather “off themselves” before going to a facility. I don’t think they understand how deeply upsetting it is to hear that (this is my grandfather after all), especially in light of the fact of my friend’s suicide.
We all love my grandfather very much and would never put him in a place where we think he would be miserable. I very much hope that he will be even happier there…he has already begun to make friends and to play games and socialize, whereas he was quite isolated at home.
This story does not have a happy ending…I wish it did. And I wish I could impart some wisdom that I have learned in the process, but all I can do is leave you with the second to last thing my friend said to me*.
I have a few regrets about my life, but it has been a remarkable one.
She liked fungi
*The last thing she said to me was “Please stay away from electric eels!”