[preface: one of my little brother’s closest friends committed suicide a couple of weeks ago. Trying to make sense of it, I wrote what I’m sharing here with you. The names have been changed to protect privacy. When it comes to suicide, it’s a universal experience of horrific loss… it could be any of your friend’s or family member’s names in this post.]
I’ve been trying to comfort Jason tonight. Talking just so he can have something else to focus on for a brief respite from the emotional pain. Reminding him of the truths in the situation, pulling him back out of the abyss that the ego tries to convince is “real”.
He could get lost in his grief and despair.
I really don’t know what else I can do in this moment.
Letting Jason fall to pieces in a safe place (with me) is a gift I can give him. He doesn’t have to be brave or strong for me. He’ll have to do that for everyone else, as he tries to show up for the family, for their circle of friends.
I’m reminding him of the importance of taking care of himself – that he must force himself to eat, to sleep, to do the minimum for his own good – because he cannot show up for everyone else with an empty cup. We nourish from our overflow, and though he has no appetite and sleep is elusive… he has to find a way to fill up his cup.
I’m reminding him that he was Ryan’s closest friend, that he gave him excellent advice, showed up for him, listened to him. I’m reminding him that he knows of despair, darkness, thoughts of self harm. That he knows what it’s like to feel distraught and lose the ability to think clearly.
But, most importantly that Ryan made this choice, and it rests solely on his shoulders.
Jason knew Ryan was troubled. He knew he was struggling to fight off the dark thoughts that were starting to suffocate him. Everyone close to Ryan knew it. They reminded him constantly of their love for him.
This wasn’t about lack of love.
It was lack of HOPE.
An ever shining optimistic outlook.
The belief that there is always something on the horizon, that things could change for the better in any given moment, that there is magic afoot.
Hope is a drug. A sensation. A way of life.
It can be contagious.
It can be shared, sprinkled.
But, no one can manufacture it for another.
You have it.
And when you don’t, life is a much less sparkly place.
I’m awe struck at these realizations regarding hope.
I have hope.
I am hope-full. I am full of hope.
External conditions beyond my control must snuff out all potential for goodness before I will start to lose hope.
That flicker of a candle that burns within me lights the way to see possibility, future outcomes, improvement, growth. To EVERY good thing.
I forget that others don’t have this eternal sunshine within.
Wait, that’s not true.
I didn’t forget.
I didn’t know.
I can barely fathom a life without intrinsic hope.
Imagining it, though, gives me a glimpse into how Ryan must have been feeling when he decided leaving was a better option than what he was presently facing.
I now wonder how you could possibly GIVE hope to someone else.
Is it like a lighthouse?
Is it the overflowing cup?
Is it a pep talk that you deliver with passion and enthusiasm, imbued with good will and the unavoidable attachment to the outcome of your efforts? Your hope that you instilled hope?
Hope is personal.
When you have it, it shines light into the dark corners within where your doubts and fears dwell.
Life without hope is dull. Faded. Empty. Sad.
And I can’t help but think of me and Jason.
I have hope.
He does not.
I’ve tried to give him mine, but it doesn’t work.
He’d have to get his own.
I’m now even more curious to discover how you could go about finding someone else’s hope for them.
“Look over here, here it is. It’s your hope, Jason. Yay!”
Could you help them find it?
Light the wick for them?
Teach them how to protect the tiny flicker before defaulting to the ingrained habit of immediately blowing it out?
Show them what it looks like when you fan it into a blazing inferno that drives you toward all the best things in life? You know… like success, happiness, love.
I hope I figure it out.