Death, Suicide and Spirituality

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When life runs smoothly it is easy to avoid dealing with spirituality.
When life falls apart, it is impossible to do so.
Something occurred that further forced me to question life and search for new answers.
Years ago, my 23 year old niece tried to kill herself and was in a coma at the hospital with little chance of survival.
She died two days later.
Any death is difficult.
Any close death is unbearable.
Suicide adds another dimension.
I accept her decision as right for her.
I am learning not to judge another's actions.
But the pain of it lingers.
How do we justify the fact that life is so awful at age 23 that one is willing to leave? At that age I thought I was going to change the world.
I set my goals and achieved them.
Nothing could stop me.
What had stopped her? Why was her pain so bad? Was this an isolated incident, or was life so different twenty years later? She was a troubled kid.
Even though she was wise for her age, there was a part of her that had never grown beyond a 13 year old.
Her family and society failed to help her last 10 years.
What happened? Why couldn't any of us answer this youngster who was crying out? I don't know.
The question haunts me.
We all tried to assist--family, counselors, psychiatrists, and those at the mental health institute where she stayed for a while.
Why are we at a loss as a society to help such troubled kids? The suicide rate among teenagers is high and it is rising.
What is happening? I have trouble understanding an environment that forces, allows, or in some way seems to encourage such an answer.
I blame no one, but I blame us all, all of society.
We need to wake up to the consequences of troubled kids in a troubled world.
Death is an unspoken, scary topic until we are faced with it in a personal way.
Then we grope unknowingly, with no skills to cope with the emotions.
Suicide takes us a step further into the darkness.
Not just death, but a conscious choice of death.
This is even more difficult to understand.
As selfish as it may be, suicide is tough on those left.
There is some guilt, but there is much more.
Suicide forces us to look at our lives and come up with a meaningful answer.
My niece, the girl who seemed so alone, had many friends attend her funeral.
These kids were deeply touched and they hurt.
They needed answers.
My heart went out to them.
At 23, there are few life experiences to understand suicide.
I realized I was incapable of consoling them.
I was having too hard a time groping with my own disbelief and sorrow.
I remember being annoyed at the church service.
It was so impersonal, so out of touch.
I wanted the priest to talk to those kids sitting there in pain for the loss of their friend.
I wanted him to explain the death to them, to address their concerns, to assure them that suicide was not an answer.
But this seemed beyond his capability.
I hurt for those young adults, but my pain was as ineffective in helping them as was the priest's lack of words.
Suicide is lonely.
I can't imagine how it must feel for the person taking a life.
How lonely for the survivors.
Lonely because there are no answers.
Lonely because suicide stares at us, daring us to be at peace.
Suicide is unsettling; forcing us to confront our own lives.
In dealing with some personal issues, suicide was one of my possible answers.
I'm not sure I could have acted on my thoughts, but I do know there were times when I did not wish to continue this life.
The concept of suicide is no longer scary, mainly because I have allowed myself the freedom of thinking and feeling.
The worse thing we do with emotions is refuse to honor and acknowledge them.
Allowing myself to say, "I'm thinking I may not want to live," was allowing myself to be honest, even though it seemed forbidden.
If we would allow expression of our feelings, we could say to friends, "I'm thinking of suicide" and they would know to listen or get help.
Death itself is not so scary, but the darkness of the thoughts frightens us.
These are the musings that we're "not supposed to have.
" The fact is that we do have these questionings and we need an outlet for expressing them.
We are like little kids who know we are not allowed in a certain room, yet sneak in to see why we're not allowed.
Most often, the room is not so interesting or scary.
We need to rebel against the denied access to some of our emotions, the dark side.
If we begin to honor our emotions, we have to feel the pain and sorrow as well as the joy and happiness.
We must not be afraid to look at death.
We must confront the potential of nothingness, the fear of losing our self.
The pain of that potential loss is real because no one prepares us for this thing called death.
Expressing my suicidal thoughts made the blackness of death less awesome and less powerful.
Suicide lost its power when I gave myself permission to look at it as a possible option, and then it no longer became a wanted option.
My confrontation released me to look at what my life meant and why I might choose to live.
I have always read that looking into the abyss was necessary in order to go forward.
But that was an intellectual statement, not an emotional understanding.
I have now looked into that abyss and know that it is not so scary, because I found something there.
We all need to find something more to life, a bigger picture, a reason to care, a reason to go on, and a reason to help others.
These are only some of the issues each of us must answer for ourselves.
Our answers become our spirituality, our view of life.
Perhaps if we could find such answers, we would have more fulfilled, less scary lives, and maybe we could begin to help, trust ourselves and even help our troubled youth.
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