Not long ago, I lost a wonderful friend of mine that I have known for thirty-five years. The news that he passed away was like being hit by a crushing thunderbolt.
The greatest shock was that my friend committed suicide. Tomorrow at his funeral a very large community of family, friends, and others will be officially confronted with the reality that he is gone. It was only two weeks ago that my late friend hosted poker at his house; a tradition that our close-knit group started in 1982. That night he laughed, we laughed, and there were no signs or indicators of serious anxiety or depression. My friend loved his wife of thirty+ years and his one daughter of twenty-three years mightily. He loved his family and his friends. He was fun, genuine, caring, the center of attention, a kid at heart, and one of seventeen million adults in the U.S. with some form of depression. On Friday night a small group of ten close friends attempted through intermittent buckets of tears, unanswered questions, and feelings of utter dismay grapple with what really happened? It was my feeling that this was the first step in our healing process as we amazingly reviewed old pictures and recalled so many funny memories.
The most difficult question for many in shock involves whether to pursue answers as to why our dear friend consciously decided to end his life or do our best to support his widow and daughter to the best of our abilities. I have decided upon deep reflection and prayer to run with the latter.
As depression affects people in different ways, the following are signs according to the National Institute of Mental Health:
- Persistently sad, anxious, or empty moods
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities
- Decreased energy, fatigue, or being slowed down
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Restlessness or irritability
- Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
We have lost a true treasure and humans like this are far from being common. My faith in God and his Son, Jesus Christ is strong. Our friend is now in Heaven, a kingdom full of light, love, and free of pain.
My friends, please remember this: respect, consideration, and courtesy matter a lot. Treat others fairly, decently, and equally. Build your moral compasses carefully and always monitor them daily. You know the battle cry: do your best each day. No one can ask more or less from any of us.
All the best/blessings, Mark