Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Suicide: 3 Observations For Those That Remain.

I have been very lucky during my time on Twitter to find and engage some of the early adopters/opinion makers of social media. Sunday, as I was checking on my feed some of these Social Media mentors were speaking in ominous terms about a friend of theirs, Trey Pennington. I have never met nor do I follow Trey Pennington. Still as an observant person with a background in funeral service, my sense was that Mr. Pennington had died suddenly, perhaps at his own hand. An engine search using "Trey Pennington, suicide" led to a post that confirmed my suspicion. If you are a family member, friend, follower or fan of Trey Pennington, I am sorry for your loss.

For obvious reasons, discussing suicide in the open is uncomfortable. As my aforementioned Social Media friends take to their blogs to start the coping process, I want to offer 3 observations for those left behind talking about the death of a friend.
  1. The family of the suicide needs more support than can be quantified. The family's world has been ripped, shaken and thrown into the wind for the world to see. Getting through each minute is draining. Give them all the love you can. This doesn't mean fawning over the family. The support offered needs to be as accessible as a La-Z-Boy recliner and not much louder than the recliner itself. If you are a "larger than life" person assisting a family touched by suicide, you must be your self.  Now would be a good time to find your volume control and set it to 2.
  2. You do not need to know how or why regarding the suicide. These answers don't apply to you. DON'T ASK.  Pursuing these questions makes you a window-less voyeur, nothing more.
  3. There are people with a sadness induced pain so pervasive, relief can not be found. When a friend is so afflicted and finds relief, be unconditionally resigned to the fact that suicide was a choice to end their own pain. As a "left-behind" your anger or bewilderment is not the suicide's problem. The decision was made irrespective of you. (This does not apply to the family of a suicide. The family of the suicide is entitled to be pissed off it being pissed off gets them through the day. The family of the suicide can deal with their anger later).
As for lessons learned, don't waste time. If you are currently engaged in a war of words with a loved one, find a resolution. Life is too short.  It's also timely to maybe get an extra hug or kiss from a child or spouse. File that memory away and make a note to add another memory before tomorrow. You never know.

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