Thursday, June 14, 2018

Off Topic

Zestful Blog Post #268

It’s rare for me to stray off the topics of writing and the writer’s life, but today I kind of have to. If you read no further than the period at the end of this sentence, I just want to say you never know how profoundly your friendship might affect someone.

Folks have been talking a lot about the recent celebrity suicides, and therefore suicide in general. I was taken aback to read a social media post by an old friend who mentioned my name among a few others as friends who helped her, during some very dark times, stay away from the brink. I’d known she was struggling on and off, and just tried to be a good friend. But I hadn’t known how much my simple friendship meant to her. What’s a good friend? Just someone, it seems, who gets in touch and wants to do stuff together. Someone who listens. Someone who can laugh. That seems to be it.

Sometimes, though, that’s not enough, and it’s not your fault. So far in my life I’ve had one friend who committed suicide; no one knew how bad things were for her until it was too late. The worst social gathering I ever attended was her funeral, where all the wonderful hundreds of people who loved her were there. Beautiful day. Everybody was there except her. She was still lying on a slab in the morgue with a purple face and a groove around her neck from the rope. The family was too shattered to decide what to do with her just yet.

I read another social media post where someone pointed out that when an airplane decompresses, they tell you to put on your oxygen mask before helping others. So yeah. Check on yourself. How are you doing? Breathe normally.

It’s one thing to be there if a friend reaches out when they’re staring into the abyss. Naturally, you go. You do everything you can. But somehow, I guess it’s important to listen to your gut too. Even if things don’t seem that bad, your friend needs you to suggest grabbing a cup of coffee. Or get out for a walk. Just a little something.

You might never know.

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  1. I wish it were that simple. My friend and co-worker's service was last Sunday--over the years, her friends had called, gone over, dragged her out of the house, and had her over for wasn't enough. I'm not saying don't try--just saying don't feel responsible if you reach out and it's not enough to help someone through. I'm glad your friend was positively affected by your kindness.

    1. Karen, yes, if only it always was that simple/easy. My friend who killed herself had tons of friends who cared. But the pain got to be too much for her. I'm sorry for your friend and your loss.

    2. I watched, "CBS Sunday Morning", last week. One vignette was about suicide...they posited that suicide had risen 30% over the last year and, if it were heart attacks that had risen by that percentage, the CDC would be doing something about it. Another source on another channel related the increase to the rising opioid crisis. I say, "Be kind to one another and send flowers!" Thank you for your blog post...hope it helps someone else.

  2. Thank you, Elizabeth, for a gritty, thought-provoking gut punch. It's so true: We never know how we touch others' lives. On the flip side, people will never know what's going on with us unless we let them in.

    The only thing I would add is if you're feeling low and friends ask how you're doing, BE HONEST! Tell them. Don't dismiss your feelings; and, for goodness' sake, don't keep them bottled up where they can fester. Talk to someone. Reach out! Get help, if necessary! Don't leave people who love you mired in "if-only"s.

    The National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

    1. Great comments, Rita. You're right about the necessity of letting people in. Thank you.

  3. It's getting to be a tough world to live in. We'll all have to start holding each other up.


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