May 13, 2014

the giving up in suffering

     The patient had lost his job and his wife was threatening to leave him.  The suffering became overwhelming.  Deliberately, he assembled a mass of various pills, a bottle of Jack Daniels and his hunting knife used to field dress deer.  The knife performed the same function on deer as it did on its master.  Both wrists had to be stapled close along with a massive slash along his neck.  This man truly intended to give up.  How he lived is beyond any medical explanation.  He admitted so himself.  He downed a bottle of pills with a bottle of Jack Daniels and then cut himself in three places where major bleeding IS going to occur.  But somehow he lived.  I don't know what became of him.  Did he get the help he needed?  Or more importantly, was the help even enough?  Or, like a statistic, did he repeat his grisly task only this time completing the grim task?
     So with this patient in mind, when people try to reassure me that the suffering will pass, I wince inside.  It is not always so.  It takes vast amounts of emotional fortitude to step away from that cliff.  It often requires a deliberate choice requiring more will power than many people have.  So that choice is far from a foregone conclusion.  Suffering can, and does, win.  The bodies taken by suicide or the broken human beings who live in constant tension of that dynamic of choosing life or giving up and embracing death are a bodily testament to that fact.

4 comments:

ZARZAND said...

I work multiple suicide hotlines, you nailed this one.
Once again, you capture what needs saying.

Robert said...

It is why I periodically remind you that I keep you in my prayers. I know all too well the suffering doesn't just go away. I want you to remember you are not alone, nor do you have to bear it all yourself.

It is thermodynamics in its purest form, is it not? Energy can not be either created nor destroyed only transferred. If we do not release that energy inside of us, it will have an effect on our bodies as well as our psyches. One of the most memorable things my fiancee said to me before she died was: "Rob, don't be angry. It will give you cancer."

Isaac van Sligtenhorst said...

Robert, that's a very interesting way of looking at it and being a scientist, an easy one to relate. The psychic law of thermodynamics. I guess that's why so many write about the transformative nature of suffering.

rsedaker said...

Isaac, it was a revelation to me when I saw it! It has transformed how I see life, how I view ecology, how I see politics, But most important, how I listen to people. It has taught me that often, the most profound part of any dialogue is what is not being said...

When I recognize that there is stress on a system (or in a heart, or...) I consider to which side of the equilibrium the equation must shift (and the consequences of that shift.) It is why I tend to not offer "words of comfort" but rather to commit to being available... even if it is to bear the brunt of a burst of anger, or a silent witness to a time of weakness. Having a "presence" helps to mitigate the effect of stress on a system and push the equilibrium back to a more natural state of homeostasis. It doesn't solve the stress... but (if used) it does provide a much needed buffer.