Have you ever thought about how long it takes to really get to know someone? I recently read a interesting article that said if you want to get to know someone, you’re going to have to put a lot of work into it, not just a once in while meet up. I was surprised to find out that it takes 50 hours to make a casual friend, 90 to have a real friend and over 200 hours to become close friends. That’s a lot of hours! But no matter how long we know someone, or think we know them, we really don’t know what is in the dark recesses of someone else’s psyche. That’s what I learned from my mother’s death. I never in my wildest dreams could ever imagine I would be a suicide survivor. My mom, jumping off a balcony, was such a violent and incomprehensible act. How could that be possible? She would never do that (the way I thought I knew her). How well did I really know her? I came to realize that we never get the full story from those we think are closest to us.
Suicide, unfortunately, is not that uncommon. In this country, someone takes their own life every 40 seconds. It’s a topic we seldom want to think about, or discuss, understandably. “How could those who seemingly have a great life, do something like that?” people wonder. Even today, with the recent loss of celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade it’s still a fairly taboo topic.
When I started a suicide survivors group (see March 31st blog post) in our community, I realized how much more common it is, but how little people ever talked about it. That is, unless you’ve been through the shared misery. Wives had lost their husbands, parents lost their children, friends lost their friends. Even today, many people I know have been touched in some way by the tragic loss of a friend or relative by their own hand. But no matter how much you hear of or talk about it, you still wonder, “Why Me?”
For example, when you read the news, have you ever thought, “Thank goodness that didn’t happen to me?” It happened to someone else and occurred far away in the distance and we’re in the safety of our own home. There is comfort in knowing that. Things can seem random until you look at the big picture, such as small isolated events leading up to a larger event. Maybe we can’t pinpoint the reason for it, but we want to try to understand why it happened. This makes it all tremendously difficult. We can rack our brain some more, or finally decide it is what it is, but no amount of trying can change it back. How do we get to the place of acceptance?
Being wrapped up daily life at the time, I just didn’t see my mother’s suicide as possible, but my deepest self knew something big was coming. We don’t easily go to those deepest places within ourselves. But my paintings knew. They definitely knew.