Saturday, December 12, 2015

Dear H, I Heard About Your Death

Dear H,

I heard about your death this past Sunday.  Needless to say I was saddened to hear that you had chosen to end your life.  I didn't know you personally, but in a way, I know who you are.  You are the 13 year old boy from Georgetown, Texas with red hair, freckles, and striking blue eyes.  You are the beautiful blond cheer leader from Trumbull, Connecticut.  You are the gifted Academy Award winning actor/comedian.  You are the brilliant writer and leader of the Modernist movement in literature.  You are the musician from Seattle that created a new sound for a generation.

Your death was hard for me to take.  When I was informed of your death, I looked you up on social media.  I read the posts that your friends, classmates, and strangers, had left for you.  You are loved by your friends.  You were the one that made them laugh.  You were the star that shone so brightly for them.    Your classmates wish they had known you better, had gotten to know you better, or talk to you more.  They liked your sense of humor and ever present smile.  Total strangers expressed their sympathy for you and your family.

In a school of more than 4,000 students, there were many students who didn't know you, but your death has had a profound effect on them.  For many, you were the first person they know who died. Even more profound, was how you died, at your own hands.  You made them think about their own mortality, their own frailty.

You also left many asking, "why?" If some one that seemed to have it all would take her life, then what hope do they have?  The "why?" is simpler than it seems, at least to people who understand.  The desire to end your pain was greater than your will to live, and you are not alone.  Although the pain wasn't physical, it was equally as painful and just as debilitating. Judging by your friends' responses and posting, they didn't know you were in pain.  Like so many who suffer from this pain, you kept it hidden.  Perhaps you were afraid to speak out because you thought you were the only one that felt that way, or that no one would understand. Maybe you did say something, and you were told it was a phase you were going through, or that you will get over it.  There's even a chance your friends knew, but did nothing because, as a society, we aren't old how to help people that are hurting like you, and as a community, we are led to believe that everything is perfect, and that problems like yours only exist in "other" places.   If you did seek help, there is always that chance that no matter what you tried, it didn't seem to work, or you didn't click with the counselor. Regardless of the reason, people need to know that it wasn't their fault, which is something that took me so long to understand after Peyton's death.

Now parents, siblings, relatives, friends, and total strangers are left behind to pick up the pieces of their lives.  They must learn to adjust to life without you.  All the people you thought would be better off  without you will never get over you or stop thinking about you.  Instead, they will have a void that will never be filled.  They will go about with their everyday lives, but not a day will pass without thinking about you.  Perhaps a song on the radio, a smell from the kitchen, or a glimpse of a total stranger in public will some how trigger a memory of you.  They will have to sit down and collect themselves, catch their breath, or even cry, and that's okay.  Eventually they may be able to deal with the gaping hole in their lives, but they will never be the same.
Perhaps they will even come to realize that if you had known the pain your death would cause, you never would have taken your life.

In closing, allow me to say that I hope you found the peace you were looking for, and to paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut, I hope that where you are, everything is beautiful, and nothing hurts.