My son, Chris, committed suicide on April 24th, 2017, a few minutes after midnight with a .44 Magnum bullet to the head. No one has ever loved a child more than his mom and I loved Chris. I was lucky enough to retire when my kids were very young. I spent the best years of my life in an amazing mountain house being Mr. Mom to my angels in the Colorado mountains. Both of my kids had the most loving, supportive, parents a child could have. We were devoted to those babies, all in, with unconditional love. We still are.
When Chris put a bullet in his head, he didn’t know what hit him. Chris did not kill himself. He killed us. Only the living can die. The dead cannot die. Not only did he kill us, but he killed the world. He was such a tender soul and at the age of twenty he made a terrible, impulsive mistake not to grow up in this world. He had been plagued with anxiety since birth. He had all the loving support and professional support a troubled soul could have from kindergarten to the very last days of his life.
The reason I am writing this post is because I want those obsessed with suicidal ideation and everyone else to know that suicide is not heroic. Death is nothing to the person that is dead. Death is only death to the living. His mom and I and everyone who loved Chris live his death every day of our lives. We live in the shadow of his death. We die a little every day with him. Chris did not even know he was dead. What does this mean?
I want all to understand that hatred, envy, bitterness, resentment is surface for the living. Underneath all that is a belonging that far exceeds this erroneous, in philosophy we call metaphysical, notion that we are all absolute individuals. The opposite is true. No one that has ever lived, used language, thought – thinking IS history, culture, identity if you will, is merely ‘me’, alone. That notion only covers over our unique vulnerability, inability to be an isolated ‘me’. We run from our essential connection to each other when we imagine ourselves to be alone. We cover our inferiority with the garbs of shame when we ride momentary impulses of heroic, unmoored pride or hatred, enmity, anger, and resentment. All those things leave us emptier and emptier, as life moves on. If we give ourselves over to that, we become empty shells, husks of what could have been.
This is not just philosophical. This is emotional. This is life. Life is fundamental connection to the other for better or for worse. Our only choice is to be centered, grounded in love. And love is not simply a goosy feeling. Love is pain and how we live pain every day. Love is not letting momentary distractions take us off course. For you, young people, there will come a day when love will find you more and more immersed in pain. The pain of losing those you love will more and more, as you get older, dominate your inner ‘soulscape’. You can choose not to love or distract yourself from the pain of love but only at the cost of living an empty, futile life. There is no ‘heroic’ in love. There is only a peace beyond understanding, a satisfaction which endures, in the midst and mist of pain. To acknowledge our vulnerability to each other is to live. To run from it is to die. This is the only real choice we have. Choose wisely!
In the words of Alfred Tennyson,
I envy not in any moods
The captive void of noble rage,
The linnet born within the cage,
That never knew the summer woods:
I envy not the beast that takes
His licence in the field of time,
Unfetter’d by the sense of crime,
To whom a conscience never wakes;
Nor, what may count itself as blest,
The heart that never plighted troth
But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;
Nor any want-begotten rest.
I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most:
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
From: In memoriam by Alfred lord Tennyson