Thursday, April 2, 2009

Left behind

Recently, I discovered that an acquaintance from several years ago had committed suicide. Although we weren't in the same social circle, we didn't share any common interests, and we only really knew each other well enough to say hello and the normal, everyday pleasantries, I was very saddened to hear of his death.

Sad, not only because of his actions, but very sad for those he left behind. As one of the "left behind" people, I can totally sympathize with his family members and friends. It's been nearly eight years since my sister died, and I can honestly say that I do not think there is a day that goes by that I don't think of her in some manner. And, I think of how we failed her.

How did we miss the clues? Did she reach out to us and we didn't get it? Were we so caught up in our own lives that we were totally oblivious to the trials and challenges she was facing? Those questions have seared themselves in my mind, never to be forgotten and never to be forgiven. If we had caught on sooner, would we have changed the outcome? In my sister's case, I don't believe so. She was determined to choose her own destiny, having felt her whole life that someone else was in control. She believed that she was doing what God gave her permission to do (she probably had brain cancer and was not thinking clearly).

I think of the family times she's missed, the grandson she would have adored, and, selfishly, the things I have missed with her being gone. I can't count how many times I have wanted to pick up the phone, send her a note, go to her house, etc. Then, reality steps in and reminds me of the cold, hard facts.

For those left behind, you know we never really get over our losses. Yes, time does dull the ache and gives us remembrances of happier times, fond memories of shared activities, and the knowledge that there will be better days ahead. But, we never forget and sometimes we cannot find peace or forgiveness for ourselves for letting them go without a fight. We never have times where we don't look for things we might have missed and ways we could have changed the outcome.

So, for all of us left behind, may God give us peace and forgive us if we failed to recognize things we could have changed. Remember the good things and the painful will slowly ease. Don't ever forget, lest we become jaded to the facts of the present and others who may also need us.

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