Saturday, September 7, 2013

Suicide Prevention Week

I have written several pieces on this blog which talk about losing my friend to suicide. The first,, was written days after she died and is simply about loss, my sadness in the days that followed her death. At this point we didn't know how she had died, just that she was gone. It was only later on the we understood that her death had come at her own hand, and then grief changed into something more complicated, mingled with confusion and guilt. 

After I discovered she had taken her own life I didn't write anything about her at all for some months, I couldn't find any words. The next time I found something i could say about her i wrote this,, just a few words which were not about her, but about my own guilt for the way we lost her. It took a very long time to let go of that guilt, and sometimes I still think, 'what if'. A thousand tiny things that, done differently, might mean she would still be alive.

A year after she died i wrote this, I thought that enough time had passed for me to be pragmatic, when I wrote this piece I thought it was measured and unemotional, but now I can see the hurt and anger bleeding from every line.

A year ago I wrote this,, and decided that it would be the last thing I would write about her. I wanted to stop missing her, stop thinking about her, lay it all down and move away. Easier said than done. 

Now, its easier to think about her. I have stopped trying to understand why she died. Still, I think about her often but I am less likely to start to cry when a moment in an ordinary day reminds me of her. Our other friends from that time have moved on, new lives, marriages and babies and now she is just a story that we never tell each other. 

I spent a lot of time in the past few years trying to find out why people kill themselves, but I don't understand. Now I think I'm probably lucky that this is the case, lucky that I have never been to the place where it is a consideration. I wanted to find some words to show people that living itself is reason enough to live. Arrogantly I thought it was just a matter of explaining things in the right way.

I don't think the words exist, but I do think that there are things we can do. We can be kind to one another, we can try to reach out a little, we can put supports in place, look out for signs of despair. We can look after each other. We can ask for help, and offer it. We can talk honestly and openly about suicide. We can do all of these things and try to make a difference to a life.

We will still lose people, it won't always be enough. 

When we lose them we can hold on to each other and try to mourn together. We can remember them and love them and forgive ourselves and them. We can write about them, talk about them and miss them. What we cannot do is change what has happened, we could torture ourselves with 'what if' but it will not change what was, what is. We will cry for them and think that we will never stop crying, but we will stop. As anniversaries pass the pain of it diminishes. Things get better, as they should. The dead remain dead, and we keep on living, hopefully we keep on living.