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*"Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. "*

“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Phil Donahue

This was not a TV show. For the first time in my life I saw a body bag on a stretcher being wheeled out from the woods behind my mother’s house. It was being wheeled down the path I had taken so many walks on in the past. It had started several hours ago. Police cars and a medical examiner car lined the quiet street my mother lives on. We saw them walking on the path and looking about…both side to side and even up in the trees. At first we thought it might just be a neighbor reporting coyotes in the area….coyotes had just recently killed a pet in a nearby subdivision. Finally, my mother went outside to ask what was going on. She was told someone had reported a family member missing, a very depressed family member, and they feared they had taken their life. Their suspicions been proven to be correct. Right behind my mother’s house, on a little pathway that lead into the woods, a body was found. I have walked down that path many times to get closer to the water. I will never walk down it again. This is the first time I have ever seen a body being taken away on a stretcher, but it was not the first time I had experienced a suicide. Many years ago, before my divorce, my brother in law committed suicide. He shot himself and did so just before Christmas. It makes me wonder how someone’s life can become so dark and full of pain that death seems to be the only way out. I recall feeling angry at my brother in law for causing so much pain to his family. Now, I only wonder how someone could feel so dark, that the pain their death will cause their loved ones doesn’t even seem to factor into their decision to end their life. Christmas seems to be not only the season for joy…but, for pain as well. All the merriment and joy, at times, appears to be forced. That, if one is not deliriously full of the holiday spirit there is something even more wrong with them. Perhaps this is why I do not feel compelled to create holiday cards or images of people completely immersed in the joy of it all. It is a happy time for many…but, for many it is a time of additional pain, grief and guilt. A time that magnifies that sense of, " What is wrong with me?" I feel a tremendous amount of sympathy for the family of this poor soul. What Christmas will ever be the same for them? Indeed, how can life ever be the same? I know that my former husband’s family blamed themselves…how could one not? How can you not ask, " What did I do wrong?" or , “How could I have not seen this coming?”. Their lives will never be the same.

I went outside just a while ago and the geese that had departed just days ago, leaving the pond eerily quiet, were back. Small groups of them were flying in their familiar “V” formations…much like a flyover at a military funeral or even a football game. They flew over the pond and perhaps over the home of that family who is now deeply grieving, as if to say, “We grieve with you”.

Christmas…a time to rejoice, but also a time to remember that it is not always a joyful time for all. A time to remember those people who are not celebrating life, but are, instead, grieving an untimely death.

Comments

  • franticflagwave
    franticflagwaveabout 3 years ago

    Karen, this is a very heartfelt write and one that should never have to be written. My personal belief is the senseless act of taking ones life is the most selfish thing anyone can do. I too have been touched by this terrible deed. It is the ultimate act of pride in the human heart and we all know what God thinks of pride. He hates it!!! I have a very close friend who’s husband took his life and left his wife a note saying his decision to do so was the most the selfless thing he had ever done. How wrong he was!!! Now his wife, children, grand children are left to deal with the question of, “how can this be love and could I have done something to prevent this terrible event?” My heart goes out to the family members, who for reasons they might never understand are left with the dark misery these events leave behind. How very sad indeed~ Barbara

  • Thank you Barbara for writing…I wonder how many of us have been affected…either directly or indirectly by this senseless act? It has been over a decade since my brother in law committed suicide and although I am no longer married to his brother, it still feels like yesterday. I remember trying to explain this to our kids, who where in grade school at the time. How could they possibly understand? I was very angry for a long time…how could he do such a thing? His mother was devastated, his father felt responsible…and he was 50 years old! As time has gone by the anger has subsided and has been replaced by a sense of, perhaps misplaced, compassion. I believe people who “successfully” complete a suicide are in such a dark place that they genuinely believe they are doing the best thing for those they love…or they are so far gone that the pain they feel has taken the place of the love they once gave and once received. Certainly, for some it is the ultimate “in your face” act of anger that has been turned inwards. It is like taking poison and hoping it kills the one you are angry at. I will never completely understand it and today’s events have left me feeling a bit unsettled. Just yards away from my bedroom, someone felt that alone in the world, or was so deluded as to believe what he was doing was a good thing…pulled a trigger and ended his life while I peacefully and blissfully snoozed the night away. How many people are in such pain tonight that we don’t know about? It is a time to pray….especially this time of year, for those who are hurting to the point of blindness….thanks so much for writing. May you and yours have a wonderful and blessed Christmas this year…

    – Karen Helgesen

  • Jennifer Rhoades
    Jennifer Rhoadesabout 3 years ago

    Thank you so much for writing this, Karen. As someone who has had a friend commit suicide, I sure can attest to all the guilt and anguish that it causes. I’ve certainly entertained the idea myself at several points in my life but never did simply because of the anguish it would cause all the poor souls who somehow love me! Suicide aside, I think Christmas certainly has an underside that in the bright twinkling consumerism and Hallmark movies of Christmas magic, there is left a sense of terrible disparity and the poverty of joy is more keenly felt. Even worse, people will often chide you for not being happy, that your are misbehaving by being gloomy and are punished by withdrawing from them when they need you the most, when at that point is when they most need a compassionate ear. I’m grateful for Christmas lights and candles but I am finding that I have to turn off the TV, the music, but all that fabricated “joy” just really depresses me. I just cannot get involved in all the contrived fanaticism. I don’t want “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. I NEED “Silent Night.”

  • Thank you for writing….and you are so right! Like you, I have entertained the thought of suicide myself at different times in my life and am very glad it was just a fleeting thought…more like wishing I would just fall asleep and never wake up. I am still feeling numb about this afternoon’s events….esp. knowing that where this man died is a place I had often sat…it is off the beaten path and rather private, which is what I enjoyed about it. To think the world was peacefully sleeping all about him when he pulled that trigger just reminds me of how delicate and fragile life can be and how it’s delicate nature, in some people, is shattered this time of year. The time of year when we are all supposed to be full of cheer. I remember Christmas when my girls were small and we were poor….they were the most memorable ones of all. Now Christmas has become the time for stores and malls to go from red to black and at whose expense? So happy you are with us and I do wish you and yours a blessed and happy Christmas…

    – Karen Helgesen

  • Guendalyn
    Guendalynabout 3 years ago

    thank you karen, per le tue parole !!!

  • Thank you so much for your kind reply, Guendalyn…

    – Karen Helgesen

  • HennaGoddess
    HennaGoddessabout 3 years ago

    Oh Karen this is one of the saddest things I have read in a long time made me think how lucky some people are never to have to deal with suicide in there family or of there close friends . We all have dark moments in our lives moments that consume , mental health is a huge issue people hide feelings thinking others will not understand . Supporting friends an family at risk is all we can do but sometimes there are no signs something is wrong. Two close friends of mine have gone down this path never to return , both had rung me hrs before to talk about nothing in particular giving no hint of what was on there mind . Your post brings it all back , such waste and sadness . Life isn’t about what we own or how many gifts we can buy its about sharing moments and making the best with what we have, Glitterfest is right about the tv in fact the media driven circus of today has a lot to answer to (buy this or your not going to be happy , buy this or your not giving your family what the need). Christmas sometimes is just something to get through , our girls hold all the magic . Blessing on you Karen

  • How true….our girls do hold all the magic. The best memories of Christmas that I have are of when the girls were little and we were poor. Christmas was so special then…..what has happened to us? This event that occurred today only serves to remind me of what is important and makes my upcoming trip back to Tennessee all the more exciting. I cannot wait to hug my two little grandsons and my three daughters. It is all about family….thanks so much for sharing and writing….I wish nothing but happiness for you and your girls this Christmas

    – Karen Helgesen

  • kamaljeet kaur
    kamaljeet kaurabout 3 years ago

    sad to read this Karen….the loss is unbearable

  • Thank you so much for your sympathies….although I didn’t know this person, it has felt very personal. Thanks so much for writing….

    – Karen Helgesen

  • kamaljeet kaur
    kamaljeet kaurabout 3 years ago

    yes Karen…one does feel the pain even if we dont know the person…