A girlfriend committed suicide last night.
If she could see the profuse tears streaming down the faces of those who loved her would she rethink her decision?
I haven’t spoken with K. in more than a decade. Why, then, do I cry? Because I couldn’t help her and feel how alone she must have felt in the hours before she departed.
My heart is splitting open because I know her pain.
The pain that can shred and rip and tear unrelentingly until I run and scream and pound my fists, “I don’t want to live! I don’t want to live!”
The physical, mental, or emotional pain is so acute, so dense, so persistent that I can rush toward death and embrace it blindly, willingly, as if my rescuer. That which I avoid at all costs in health, and go to great measures not to even acknowledge my life long, in despair I clutch and seize and beg, Take me now!
An inner cloud forms and begins to hide all those who love me. It covers reason, and removes from my memory the floods and drops of happiness that I have experienced until that moment.
I cry because having stood at that edge and looked into that chasm, I know I’m capable—if circumstances would push that hard again—of taking my life too (no, I’m not suicidal, I’m getting to a point).
What frightens me more than that I could, under right conditions, commit suicide—and I suspect everyone has a breaking point—is that any number of events could happen at any moment and bring me to the edge. In short, I’m not in control.
The frightening problem is the universal experience of living life: there is suffering.
Sometimes there is unmitigated suffering that cannot be removed by kind words, a loving touch, positive mental outlook, philosophical or religious discourse, pain killers, or drugs. Sometimes we are meant to be with acute suffering.
Admittedly if someone holds our hand and sits with us, or shows a perspective we inherently know is true or possible, we’re better equipped to build a bridge across chasms that we inevitably stand over in life.
As with many matters of substance and seriousness, there is no magic pill. No secret to end suicides. Sometimes fear alone is enough to keep someone from taking the step of ending their life. There is the hard work of spiritual practices and mental health hygiene that helps many.
As I looked out the window feeling K’s pain and despair, I was curious if contemplating the wonder of life could have shifted the outcome. What if she had held a newborn, a newly blossomed, brightly colored flower, or hugged a pet, or viewed a high-speed video of a blade of grass growing—
When I’ve reached my chasms, in addition to the screaming and pounding and running, and staring at a pile of pills in my palm, I’ve cried, Krishna! Krishna! Radha be with me! to evoke the mercy and grace beyond me that inevitably fills me when all other shelters fail.
Perhaps there’s no way around the apparent: we need all the help we can get from wherever we can find even a small candle of light.
“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
May light and love always be in your world,
P.S. When I received word K. was no longer with us, I held the energy of her self in my hands, and set intentions for her to be carried on her journey safely and with love to a brighter future. At any time–in life and in death–we can send loving intention and feelings to someone in need. The affectionate intention of the directed heart has a powerful impact anywhere its energy is sent. So hold someone you care for, even if you can’t be with them, in your hands with love. They will receive life affirming energy.