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Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Sister's Brother-in-Law Just Committed Suicide

Dear AB,

Spent all day with my sister  & her hubby yesterday.  We had a nice day.  Today she called with shocking news. Her brother in law shot & killed himself in the backyard of their home.  

He is a physician who was raised on a farm. He's a wonderful man. Growing up on a farm  provided him a strong foundation. His entire family are people who are salt of earth; admirable, industrious, kind people.  His sister is a sweetheart. 

Anyway, I know you have spoken/written about suicide.  What do you think about suicide?  What can I say to the 40 year old daughter when she visits this summer with her husband & children?  What do I say in May when the wife of the man who killed himself will be here for a visit? 

I am in shock. I can't imagine how  & her two grown children (& three grandchildren) must feel. These are the last people I'd ever suspect this  could happen to.  I thought they were all very happy!

She told my sis that the day before her husband shot himself he asked her to go out for lunch with him & she declined. She told him she was too busy.  Later that day, she changed her mind & told him she could go with him for lunch. He said, "Never mind, I know you don't really want to go."

He left no note. 

Thanks for any feedback you can offer.


Dear G

The only reason people commit suicide is because life has become more painful than it is worth. When I was suffering with anxiety as a result of withdrawal symtoms from the three weeks worth of oxycodene I took, I knew I would not ever commit suicide. The coping skills I developed to cure my depression would help me get through my day. But my life was so painful I didn't care all that much whether or not I lived much longer.As I was I felt like I wasn't any good to anybody.  

You can't judge another person's pain. You sometimes don't know the pressures under which they strove every day. I used to think suicide was an act of anger. Now I'm not so sure that is correct at all. I think the only way to judge a person's suicide is cosmically. We barely know the reason we are here on this small planet hurtling through space at thousands of miles per hour. Much less can we know why someone else is here, or why they choose not to be here any longer. We lose each other through death, that is inevitable. So let us remember that, and resolve not to lose each other through our careless concern for their while they are still here.

And for those who have lost a loved one, a wife, husband, or child through suicide, let us not waste our energy berating ourselves for our own failure to save them. Their suicide is not about us, it is about them. So let us not denigrate in any way their path as a human soul, by thinking we could have or should have prevented them from going onward in their soul's journey. Whatever sadness and guilt we are feeling over their suicide, let us turn this negative journey of our own soul  into care and lovingness toward those who still remain in our presence. This is the true alchemy of which the ancient wise men spoke. They were not really talking about turning lead into gold. They were talking about turning fear into love. A. B. Curtiss

Dear AB,

That is a very compassionate response.  We can respond to suicide by awakening further to the need for love and care.

It makes sense that we need also to understand that if suicide is part of someone's journey, we must accept that, even though it is incredibly sad, & very difficult to accept. We can redeem the tragedy of the event, as you suggest, by loving more deeply.

Thank you very much.

Dear G

It's a matter of acknowledging whatever fear and pain you are feeling that someone you love has committed suicide and saying to yourself, "These feelings are negative, and will do no one any good. Is it reasonable to stay collapsed into them. No. Then I will allow these feelings to continue but I will no longer think they are more powerful than me. I am having these feeling, they are not having me.

"I will allow these feelings to run their course in a part of my brain, while, at the same time, I will take a journey to another part of my brain and, while these feelings are finishing their course,  I am going to think of more positive things or do something positive concerning the loved ones around me. I can even conjure up a magical circle around them to keep them safe if I can't think of anything more practical.

"I will ask for grace to be more loving myself, and less fearful. I will use the opportunity that I have recognized the great power of fear within me so that I might use the great energy thus created for the good if those around me." A. B. Curtiss

Dear G

We must also acknowledge to ourselves that it is a sacred thing to mourn our losses but that our mourning must be on the side of gratitude rather than fear. And as the fear comes we must be the alchemist to turn fear into love. And from the place of love, our mourning will be beautiful. The good, the true, and the beautiful are inseparable and somewhere there is our grounding in human life and our beginning awareness of Absolute Reality.

And now, even thinking about it myself, I can fear losing my own loved ones. Will I be up to what I have just written myself? The fact that I understand the possibilities intellectually will help.  I will ask, like Camus, that I will have the strength “to be equal to my sufferings.”

Dear AB

Thanks for the extra words of wisdom, AB. They are very comforting.

For all of them who are suffering I will "...conjure up a magical circle around them to keep them safe..." I like that idea very much. I will  also "...ask for grace to be more loving myself, and less fearful."  I love the idea of trying to use the energy created by sadness toward becoming more loving & for creating good around me.

Wonderful suggestions.



Dear AB

...our mourning must be on the side of gratitude rather than fear.  That must be the key to grieving "well."  Wise words, beautifully said.

I will keep in my prayers AB, that you always have the strength you need for bearing whatever pains you must bear.

You have offered so much love to others.  I hope that you always feel
surrounded by a circle of love and support. 

Thank you.

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