Yesterday I learned of the death of a colleague of 17 years. He took his own life and I was shattered by the news. He was the last person I would have expected this from. If I had to use one word to describe him, it would be kind. He was always so kind and patient in our working together.
I am so terribly sad. Sad for his family trying to make sense of it all. Sad that no-one could reach through his darkness to save him. Sad that he felt he had nothing left worth living for – that it was all too hard.
A year ago, that could have been me. I am catching a glimpse of how devastating this can be for those left behind. While it might end your pain, it generates much more pain on those around you – parents, spouse, children, friends.
In my case, I was so very fortunate to have a friend intervene and rally people around me: to remind me i was loved, I would be missed, I would leave a gap in their lives. She saw past the fake smile and façade and saw the despair. I will forever be grateful to her for helping me to start to live again; to choose to live again; to not be so disconnected and isolated.
This, I think, is a real problem in our world today. We don’t meet up face to face or talk – that’s been replaced with texts and Facebook updates. We seem to have lost the art of real connection, of knowing we belong and we matter. We have stopped asking ‘How are you – really?’ Somehow we are too busy, too wrapped up in our own drama to notice the person slowly dying inside next to us.
Recently I was asked the question ‘What does community look like”. My immediate response was that I had no idea. But looking back to last year, I think I do. Community saved me from the same fate as my colleague. I am realising today how important community is. How we all need the person to intrude on our loneliness and bring us back to a place of hope again. We all need to be reminded that we matter; we are loved.
Today, tell those you love that you do; hug your kids; connect with your friend. I am grateful that someone did this for me and stopped me from ending it all. Let’s care for each other.