Friday, January 2, 2009

Pieces of the Puzzle

The hardest thing there is about losing someone to suicide is the "trying to make sense of it all" part. Everyone struggles to come up with the "why" and searches for the clues that could have, if noticed, stopped this tragic event. Why did he do this, what drove him, what was going on right before. Re-trace his steps...who knew what? Why? whywhywhy.....the questions is for us and the answer. It just doesn't matter,

The search for answers is human, it is our instinct and nature to try to make sense of the world. The world is, after all, all about balance and if things don't happen for a reason what does it all mean? Things do happen for a reason. Expect when they don't. And no amount of detective work or coming up with that one shiny reason that you can point to and definitively say THIS is the reason -will change any little part of what happened.

My brother killed himself. He came up with a plan, had some comfort items in his truck with him (a blanket, pictures) and he did it. He made a decision. He turned the key. It was his decision alone. It was wrong and I believe with every fiber of my being that he regrets it. Suicide is a desperate act to try and take control of a world you feel is uncontrollable. And yes, I know this from firsthand experience. I have been to that brink before and considered that option but what always stopped me is the very thing that Troy did not take into account. How this would effect the lives of the people you leave behind.

I did some work for a suicide hotline (through the Red Cross) during college and the best description I ever heard about someone who is suicidal is that they have on blinders, the kind you put on horses so they don't get spooked. A person who is depressed to the point of being suicidal has tunnel vision and all they can see is the dark, bad, the pain. There is no way out and they think that the only solution is to remove themselves. They want to make every one's life better by not being around which is why they will tie up as many lose ends as possible. We were trained as crisis workers to get our callers (suicidal people) to just move those blinders just a little bit- just acknowledge for a second that there is a chance that things might change, that they might get better and that not all the lose ends are tied up. That is how you keep someone from pulling the trigger (sometimes literally) on their plan. I talked about this during our table chat when we planned the funeral and the pastor ended up using it in the sermon.

Troy, for whatever reason, could not see past his pain. I believe he was very depressed and had been for most of his (adult) life. This is the curse of our family and it affects the men more and we have it on both my mother's side (I have an uncle who killed himself when I was 18) and my father's side. I am sure that if he was ever truly diagnosed there would have been some side dishes to the depression entree but that was the main course. Troy was in pain and it hurt so bad he stopped it the only way he could. It was wrong but I forgive him. I love him enough to forgive him and I hope that everyone who ever loved him will come to a place of forgiveness is their own hearts- in time.

This was how we passed the time during the lull between the viewing and the funeral. Everyone was searching for the why and was spilling the bits they knew and comparing it the the bits others had and trying to make a complete picture out of all the pieces of the puzzle they had. It was my stepmom Pat who kept referring to it all as a puzzle.

I sat there and listened to them all compare notes and try to armchair diagnose Troy and what was his "problem". I heard every clinical term in the book tossed out: clinically depressed, manic depressive, went on and on. I hated it. I hated the whole discussion while understanding the need to talk about it. I just wanted to shake everyone until they understood that it just did NOT matter. It doesn't matter if we know or understand, in fact we never will! It will never make sense and putting a label on anyone without a clinical review is dangerous. Troy HAD gone to a therapist and was just put on anti-depressants but there was never a diagnosis confirmed and in my own opinion it was way to late, but he was trying, he was reaching out and he tried so hard to get help. I think it is so important that people know that. I had more deep, meaningful talks with my brother in the last months of his life than I ever had. He knew people loved him and wanted to help him and I have to think that he did get some comfort and strength from that. He was reaching out, he tried. He just couldn't hold on to the idea of tomorrow long enough for it to arrive, so his tomorrow never did. Now a piece of our family puzzle is missing and we will never be whole without it.

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