So Hard to Say Goodbye

Yesterday, September 10th, was World Suicide Prevention Day. Please take 2 minutes to view this video from the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.

So Hard To Say Goodbye  

By Diana Laskaris, Stephen Ministry Leader

I have a heavy heart today. A beautiful young woman, 29 years old, decided that the only answer to her personal pain was to end her own life. And while it’s easy to say I couldn’t have done anything to stop her, the reality is, I don’t know if that’s true.
Emma grew up in a challenging home. Her mother loves drama and cultivates it around her. Unpredictable and volatile relationships were the norm, not the exception where Emma lived. Her mother loved to feed the turmoil that accompanied each one of her troubled affairs. Emma had no father figure. Not even someone who cared enough to call himself her dad.
Emma’s mother never spent much time with Emma, and Emma was an only child so she gravitated to her extended family for companionship and connection. She loved to be silly, get buried in the sand, play dress up in the closet, show her artistic side through arts and crafts, and laugh. Emma loved to laugh. 
As she became a young woman, Emma, like many young women from troubled homes, looked for what she didn’t have. A commanding presence, someone who could take control and make decisions. Someone who wouldn’t make for a revolving door of companionship. Unfortunately, her chosen mate was a militaristic and controlling young man, who prided himself on the greatest extreme of taking charge and giving orders. This was something that ate away at Emma’s fragile inner sense of self.
While I spent time with Emma when she was a child, a variety of difficult circumstances sent her far away so that we didn’t get to spend much time together. After several years, she reached out with a card and we stayed in touch now and again, mostly just with simple updates on the most basic matters, photos of fat pussycats and talk of childhood days with happy memories of long ago. 

I wish I had asked some real questions. Important questions. Ones that may have given me a clue that all was not well in Emma’s heart or her life. If I’m honest with myself, I didn’t want to know about the present day dramas so I didn’t ask. Now I wish that I had. Maybe if she knew that I cared so much for her, beyond the surface of distant hellos, maybe she would have told me. Maybe I could have helped. Maybe she wouldn’t have put a gun in her mouth and pulled the trigger. Maybe...
There is nothing I can do to bring Emma back. But I can say that if you have anyone in your life that you care about but don’t see often, ask them about what’s going on with them. Really ask and wait for an authentic answer. Don’t be afraid if they tell you something’s wrong. As Stephen Ministers, we are here to help with the ups and downs of life. And if necessary, we can refer someone with deeper issues to the proper source to get professional help. What we don’t know we can’t help. And we are here to help.
I will pray that Emma now has found the relief and peace she didn’t have in life. And I will live with the sadness that I never knew she felt that way. All I had to do was ask.