Self Annihilation: A Family Shock Wave
The passing of a loved one
is never a moment to be relished and looked forward to but for some reason when it happens before the individual's time it is different. Even so, when the death comes about by natural causes people start considering the cause as something to invest time and money into to see if they cant make a difference in the life of someone else who has the same problem. When a person takes their own life, however, grief hasn't any remedy and there isn't any frenzied action or cause that anyone hurries to join in order to make a difference. It just leaves you feeling empty and often guilty even if you can't name anything that you did or didn't do that caused the person to give up.
I had an uncle, my mother's brother, who had bad manic depressive swings and who was also diabetic. Every time he would give up he would stop taking his insulin and wind up in the hospital. His health kept deteriorating until right before the last bender he married himself a wife who relished the thought of putting on a funeral as if it were a tea party. He told her that the next time he went into a coma she was to pull the plug. She did it willingly.
Duane's children still won't talk about him and no one on that side of my family willingly brings up his life in conversation. I wouldn't even know about it except that growing up I shared many of his passions while he lived and people kept whimsically wishing that he were around to enjoy them with me.
The second time my general family had to go through the shock wave effect of self annihilation it was a cousin on my father's side. The tragic part of the affair is that there was a lot of guilt that could be spread around but no one pointed any fingers. To say the least that was odd for my father's side of the family. There had been a long standing estrangement between one of my father's brothers family that had to do with an inner family dispute that had to do with a lot of drama that we all wish didn't exist. That side of my family is a proud sort who don't apologize if they can at all avoid it so when things go wrong there is usually a lot of back bighting but no one in a hurry to reconcile.
My uncle Curt moved to Arizona and was doing rather well there when his two oldest son's went haywire as teenage boys sometime will do. One of them got into the thrill of driving while drunk. After a lot of DUI arrests he ended up in prison. When he got out he had depression issues and had been tossed out of his parent's house due to the fact that he liked to cause havoc there and on that side of the family, that isn't tolerated on the whole. The story goes that he was under a doctor's care but that doctor didn't respect the withdrawal periods between various psycho-kinetic drugs that the doctor prescribed. My cousin didn't know where to go for help when his mind kept presenting him with a hopeless scenario that blood expiation would only absolve. My sister, who never knew him well or met him often still fell apart when he took his own life one day.
While my extended family had to go through that emptiness on both sides of my family once, my intimate family had to go through it one other time. My Father had a friend who they had been through quite a bit together. My father had seen him go from poor to relatively well off. For reasons that we still don't understand, my father's friend after it turned out that his last wife was thoroughly unfaithful to him, he self destructed and stopped being able to hold his life together. Before he overdosed on Tylenol with codeine my father's friend was talking up space in one of the bedrooms in my parent's basement. What hit my father especially hard is that this was the second friend that he had tried to help turn their life around and both of them ended up self destructing in the end. This was however the first time he had to see a person after they had taken their own life and he had to call the ambulance.
Perhaps the song is right, "suicide is painless," but it isn't because it doesn't leave wounds. It seems only to not hurt because it is hard to get your attempts to heal close enough to the wound to feel how deeply you got sliced by a knife that wasn't even yours and left no physical mark on your flesh. The effect, after the social anesthesia has worn off is a list of questions that have no easy answers that I have found.