It’s never an easy thing, even if it is someone you haven’t seen in a long time. When you hear what’s happened, when you learn they are dead, for me anyway…when I am first told, I breath a sigh of relief. You might think that’s odd, but I the first thing I think is, “They are finally free of this.”
They no longer have any cares. The terrible thoughts and memories which have plagued them are now laid to rest. As a person who actually survived multiple suicide attempts, I do remember some of my thoughts as I felt the slide into nothingness. Then, ironically, which is a part of a the “misthoughts” of depression, I felt relief that I would no longer have the agonizing repetitive memories and the flashbacks. I would no longer have to see, feel, and remember in my body and mind and nose the pain, the words and scents of abuse. I just wanted to be away. I was cognizant of the fact my parents might grieve for me, or a former lover or an acquaintance with which I’d worked, but I rationalized my actions because they’d never understood the enormous burden each day, each breath had cost me.
When I learned this evening, after Native American class, after the high laughter, jokes and playing about of the children, that a young man I’d known since he was born had taken his own life, it took some time for it to truly sink in. I remembered myself at that age he’d shared when he died, the times in my own small flat I cried hours unto unconsciousness, when I’d fought with myself just to endure another day or take the overdose or knife which would finish me.
I suspect what happened to him. At times you could see the boy that used to be, but at others….I saw myself in him: the anger, the guilt, the fatalism. And when people don’t understand or they’re looking to give a pat soapbox preaching, they tell you you should be doing better, doing something with your life, not be such a loser. And they don’t know the pain in your soul that you can’t speak of, and maybe, even if they did, they would tell you to shut up and never speak of it. They’d tell you: you should be stronger, but they don’t tell you how.
When you reach that point where no voice makes sense, you just know you want to be away, and that whatever voice has spoken to you can’t stop the raw wound of your innocence from bleeding, you take yourself out of the world. You die alone, from your own hand.
Don’t condemn. Don’t rationalization or make excuses or try to give religious platitudes or talk about organizations who could have helped. When someone is at that time and they’ve been rejected over and over, that person doesn’t remember the numbers to call for the help lines. If people did, you wouldn’t read of the suicides or unexplained deaths. You just want to go away where no one hurts you anymore, or where you don’t do things which bring you even lower and you don’t know how to stop.
I grieve for him tonight, and I’ll sing. I’ll dance also because I hear the songs they sang when my great-grandmother died, and my uncle, and my friend, and my other son. I feel them all, and though I can only hold some of them in my mind this moment, it is with all my soul and heart. I’ll dance for him tonight, the warrior who tried to fight, but was lost.
The Red Bull Singers, “Darling Don’t Cry”
Black Lodge Singers, “Soldier Boy”
The Red Bull Singers, “Tearful Honor”
Per comment: “This is a travelling song. The living sing this song so the spirits of the dead would find their way to the spirit world. When they pass, the spirit travels for three days on this world and we sing to help them not to get lost.”