A while back, a post on the forum caught my attention. The gentleman who wrote it was angry at his “uncle by marriage” who had killed himself two days earlier. In grappling with the death of his uncle, the poster expressed several of the most clichéd and negative assumptions about individuals who end their lives. Here is his post:
“Two days ago, my uncle by marriage committed suicide. I wasn't that close to him, but he always treated me with consideration. … He was a 62-year old farmer, a pillar of church and community, and the wife found him hung in the barn. …. No one thought he had any problems. No sign of depression. No note.
... I have some mixed feelings. I believe it was his choice to kill himself. Nobody knows how much pain the guy was in, and if that was his solution, then that solution was his to implement. On the other hand, I get the feeling it was like he was saying '**** ***' to one and all. Because of that, I say to him '**** *** right back at ya. You didn't get to me with what you did and any suffering you incur because of it is rightly yours and has no claim on me.'
He had a wife, kids and grandchildren. I think it was a rotten thing for him to do this … It's like he's put the reputation of his family, heretofore a family the whole community looked up to, into question. In a way, it let the town down to. He chose this route. -- 'You're dead now fellow. How's that workin' for you?'"
When I first read the post, it took my breath away. I was startled by the lack of compassion for the deceased and the belief system that informed the writer. And I was concerned about the impact the post might have on other members of the forum. But the poster had invited “other opinions and observations” in his closing paragraph and “wished everyone on the forum well” … so in I headed in with a response. Here is my response: