Monday, August 24, 2009

Leaving Others Behind

“So fare thee well my own true love

I’ll think of you night and day…”

Listening to The High Kings as I write this post – the song “Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore.” One of my favorites. It is a beautiful tune, capable of bringing me to the brink of tears from time to time. Especially if I’m having a difficult day or I don’t get to see the ones I love for extended periods of time. That actually happens much more than it should, just because of the demands of the job.

Martha and I went to a memorial service earlier today. Jason, the son of her ex-husband, committed suicide a little over a week ago. Apparently hanged himself, from what I’ve been told.

He was 33 years old.

The service was quite well-attended; from my rough count, there were approximately 150 people in the church.

Jason was living up in Concord. I didn’t know him, so I can’t provide any commentary about him or the life he led. I am aware, however, that he had some problems that were long-standing. He had learning disabilities, a potentially explosive temper, and a substance abuse problem. On the other hand, shown by the number of people that were at the service, he was a kind, caring human being. There were many people who, it seems, truly loved him, as he loved them. A number of people spoke at the service, and their words about him were consistent in terms of his willingness to help others and be a friend to people that needed one.

I do have to be honest about something. I didn’t go to the service because of any obligation I felt towards Jason. In fact, I didn’t know him; I’d only met him once, and that was probably 3 or 4 years ago. I went solely to be supportive to Martha as I figured she’d need to have that support available to her. I’m glad I did; Martha had a hard time. From what I’ve been able to learn, she made a huge effort to help him along during his early life, just to get him through the basics. But I believe there was more to it than just that; one of her brothers died in an untimely manner many years ago, and in having to be strong for her mother (who has never accepted the manner in which he died) she never got to grieve for him herself.

I can think of nothing harder when it comes to the death of a family member or of someone else who is loved.

The service itself was very good. I was incredibly impressed with the minister who is the pastor of the church where the service was held. He was a wonderful worship leader, and he himself apparently knew Jason pretty well as he said some really good things about him. Many others who attended did so as well. And his mother and sister were there. I can only imagine how hard it was for them to be there, but I think they were glad they were there.

Just the same, I am always bothered with deaths like this. While we will never know why he chose to die the way he did, I suspect that he believed something was bad enough in his life where he thought the only way to deal with it was to leave. And it’s sad.

I don’t know what else I can say other than that.


Michael Morse said...

Sorry for your troubles, Walt, and condolences to Martha. Strong work standing by. Just being there says it all.

Medic(three) said...

Give Martha my best. Walt, deaths like this are hard on me in a way I can't describe. When these tones come out I almost always know the outcome, yet I have the same uneasy feeling every time. I think it is the aftershock that gets me. I think of the ways to do the heinous act of suicide, hanging is one of the hardest on families. We had one recently that I've been trying to muster up a post about, yet I just can't seem to.

Maybe this will tip me there. Anyways, keep your chin up out there.

Karen Brook Westhaver said...

What an eloquent post about something so hard, so raw. As always, Walt, you managed to bring out the love and depth of caring feelings (if any can be found)...especially in a subject as tough as this one. Please give our love to Martha (read your post aloud to PJ) and let her know she is supported by our concern and our are you, dear friend.

Epijunky said...

My thoughts and prayers to you and Martha...

My SIL attempted this last year... She survived. Watching the man I was married to, her half brother, go through what he did, a thousand miles away from her... It was horrible.

These calls hurt. I'm glad you were there for her.

Anonymous said...

Quite frankly, I feel that this posting was totally inappropriate on your part. It was inconsiderate and insensitive, and I don't feel that it was your right to share Jason's life and struggles on the web. As a family member I would greatly appreciate it if you would remove it from your website.

Walt Trachim said...

To the individual leaving the anonymous comment, I'm sorry if my writing about this somehow offends you. However, you apparently didn't read the front page coverage given to Jason by the Concord Monitor on two different occasions. They said much more about him than I ever could. And if you have a problem with that, then I suggest you take it up with them.

As for my writing about Jason, I said absolutely nothing derogatory or negative about him. Further, I had no reason to do anything like that. I'll say again that I didn't know him, only met him once, and was merely talking about the memorial service given in his memory at the First Congregational Church in Concord.

The post stays.

Michael Morse said...

Well done, Walt. I had hoped you felt the same way I did and let it stand. And for the anonomy commenter, I'm sorry for your loss.

Martha said...

It was a lovely post, after a lovely service. As always Walt, your support is given without question, only with love. Jason had a great heart. He struggled with parts of his life as we all do. It was wonderful to hear that he had so many friends and people that cared for him. I thank those that shared about him at the memorial service. As a person who has had a sibling suicide, it is so comforting to know that even though they struggled with the kind of pain that leads to their death, they had people in their lives who cared. I work in Mental Health now. I work with those that struggle with these feelings daily. Their pain is so great that they are unable to count the cost of what their actions will be on their friends and family. For those that respond to calls for those that have suicided or have tried, please know that the families appreciate your efforts on the behalf of their loved one. Knowing that their family member is treated with professionalism and respect goes a long way.

To the anonymous poster, I'm sorry that you can't appreciate someone acknowledging the passing of someone who was obviously loved and cared about.