“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.