Saturday, February 2, 2013

The heartache of suicide



I’m going to pause from posting for a moment of silence in remembrance of Kevin Fry. I’m going to take a standing eight count to grieve and reflect. My kids went to school with Kevin. I attended his funeral today with my son. The minister talked about how hard any death is. It’s hard when grandparents move on after having lived a full life. We miss them. It’s even harder when a child dies before their parent. That is so true.

The minister went on to say it’s even harder still when there are unanswered questions. Indeed not knowing the cause of death inhibits the grieving process. Today the minister confirmed that Kevin’s death was suicide. We were all shocked. Kevin was such a good person. He was so happy and friendly.

No disrespect to the family. My heart goes out to his mother, sister and brother. Such sorrow is very real. I had two coworkers in Surrey who each lost a child to suicide. One was a young man in high school. He was being bullied and gave up. The other was a daughter in college. A talented musician who struggled with a mental illness. She was so relieved to get a partial diagnosis. She said I’m not crazy after all. Meaning that she wasn’t imagining there was something wrong, there was indeed something physically wrong that she had to cope with. Unfortunately she committed suicide before finding a cure.

Both cases caused me to shudder. I knew and worked with both fathers. One was my partner at work for quite a while. That kind of grief, of having to burry a child caused me to shudder. Later on there was another suicide at work. This time it was a coworker. He was going through a second divorce. After working so hard for so many years to pay child support for his own biological children, his second marriage broke down and he was expected to pay child support for someone else’s kids from a previous relationship. That is when he threw in the towel, put a gun to his head and said tax that.

I was shocked. This was a coworker who I not only had worked with but was someone who had helped me through a dark time with his genuine empathy. His daughter cried at the funeral filled with coworkers who cared. She said he didn’t think he had any friends. That was tragic.

Any time someone commits suicide the first thing that comes to mind is, was there something I could have done to prevent it? All of us are busy and all of us are responsible for our own choices. Yet attending this funeral and seeing kids I hadn’t seen in a while I felt to ask, how are you doing? No really, how are you doing?

These are tough times. The cost of housing compared to wages offered is way worse now then when I first left high school and moved out. I had a good job, a cool car and a place of my own. I could afford it on the wages I made. Now it’s not so easy. Housing has skyrocketed yet wages haven’t kept up. In some industries they make less now than they did 25 years ago. That is one thing that has always terrified me. As a parent you always hope to leave this world a better place for your kids. Unfortunately, I’m not seeing it. The cost of housing is seriously affecting kids’ standard of living when they leave high school.

Yet there is hope. There are things we can do. The key is to pull together, not to try and do it all on your own. Historically, many in some Christian denominations were taught doctrine that was very black and white: heaven and hell. You either made it or you didn’t and if you committed suicide you went to hell. I do not believe that. If a parent can have compassion on a child that committed suicide, how much more so can a heavenly parent. There is no doubt in my mind that God loves Kevin and has compassion on him.

Personally, I think hell is more of a state of mind. Sometimes it can be regret. In other ways it can be brought to face some of the evil we have done and refused to acknowledge during this life. Seeing and feeling the pain we have caused other people.

My son said Kevin’s body was found two days after his best friend had his birthday. He said that on his best friend’s birthday his facebook status was all about how this was the most empty and lonely birthday he had ever experienced and how he just wished he could see Kevin. At that point even my son began to tear up and I remembered an experience from his past.

Years ago, when he was young, my son had a big buddy in elementary school. An older student from Ethiopia who was assigned to be his big buddy and befriended him. Turns out they lived in the same complex and became good friends outside of school. Then the day came for his friend to move away. After they said their goodbyes my son quietly walked up to his room and sobbed. He cared deeply about his friend and was going to miss him dearly. I was touched.

So I think about Kevin’s friend and his pain loosing his best friend in such tragic circumstances. There’s a lot of pain there to deal with. First there’s the loss. The deep emptiness not being able to see his friend again. Then there’s guilt. Wondering if there was something he didn’t do that he should have. Then there’s betrayal. Why didn’t he tell me? I was his best friend. No doubt his mother and sister have similar feelings.

There is no doubt in my mind that Kevin did not want to hurt anyone. He has, but that clearly was not his intent. How can you tell someone you love you’re going to commit suicide? You can’t. They’ll stop you. I don’t know why Kevin committed suicide.

The minister suggested that most often the person feels they are in a hopeless situation that they cannot change. Perhaps it was the economic challenge youth today face, I don’t know. I do know that other kids his age are also struggling. Giving up is understandable. Yet if we pause and take a step back to see the bigger picture we will realize there is always hope. There is always a solution to any problem. Sometimes we have to think outside the box and be creative. Whatever we do, we have to pull together. We can’t do it alone.

During the service the minister got the congregation to repeat God give Kevin Peace three times then finally God give Kevin’s family peace. Looking at the slideshow it is very clear that Kevin was a wonderful person and that is a good thing. The memories recorded warm the heart. They are good memories. Life does not end at death. Loved ones can be reunited but not yet. We have a purpose to fulfill. Things to accomplish. Joy yet to experience.

When I look at Kevin’s smile. It warms my heart. He was a good person. Here’s a song one of his friends wrote for him. God give Kevin Peace. He is loved and missed dearly.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks, thanks for all that...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice piece K, we all need hope and faith. During difficult times, we need hope and faith that things can and will change for the better.

    ReplyDelete
  3. AK: " The cost of housing compared to wages offered is way worse now then when I first left high school and moved out..."

    (Hong Kong): "The soaring costs are putting decent homes out of reach of a large portion of the population while stoking resentment of the government..."

    Both so true. No one but the Chinese, it seems, can afford ALL the homes from Oak St to the west, UBC. We are the last Europeans on our Kerrisdale home's block. That's also true for every single house around us for miles. The last Euros get off the bus for Kerrisdale @ the Kitsilano stops. The pricing is insane.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No doubt Hong Kong has a similar problem with high cost of housing. The same in every big city. New York City too. That is part of the problem. People buy a house in Vancouver then sell it and retire in the Valley or the Okanagan. Now the Fraser Valley and the Okanagan is outrageously expensive too. Someone from a big city like Hong Kong or New York, sells their property and buys in Vancouver or Surrey. It's good for them but not for our kids. Housing just gets further and further out of reach for them. That can discourage anyone.

      I remember doing some genealogy and reading the passenger ship lists in Nova Scotia back in the 1700's. They all said the reason for leaving England and coming to Canada was that taxes and housing became too expensive. We are seeing the same thing here now only we have no place left to go.

      Delete
    2. Wow, that article in today’s Province about housing in Hong Kong is horrible. Is that where we are heading:
      http://www.theprovince.com/business/Hong+Kong+plight+poor+living+cages+cubicles+triggers/7932146/story.html

      Delete