To those left behind.

The only guarantee we have when any of us are born, is that one day we will die. We all hope that there are many years in between the start and the finish, sadly all too often there are not enough years for any of our liking.

Today marks another funeral. This is the second funeral for someone I know this month, my uncle passed away just before Christmas, it was very sad to lose him, he was the last remaining member of my mums immediate family. He was a lovely man who will be missed by many, he had made it into his seventies leaving behind a wife, sons, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and friends.  Although we never want to say goodbye to our loved ones we have to sometimes and my uncles body could not carry him on any further. He didn’t want to leave any of his loved ones, but it would seem that it was his time.

Today marks a different sort of loss. Today many of my friends are having to say goodbye to someone who chose to leave, who over rode the fates and decided the day that she would go. I am sad to say that this is not the first time that someone I know has made this choice for themselves. 

For those left behind by the people who chose to leave it is so much harder than having someone taken from you.  Usually when someone goes you know that they didn’t have a choice, that if they could they would still be there with you, processing the fact that someone you love made the choice to leave you is so much harder to make sense of.

My first real experience of death was when my mum died. I was seventeen years old, the eldest of four children, the youngest of us was just eight years old.  My mum had bowel cancer. We watched her go through treatment, slowly shrinking away before our eyes, in pain, heavily medicated and miserable.  It will be twenty years since she died this year, her loss still hurts me but not as often as it did. Now it is just the happy times that I wish she was here for like the birth of my children but I know that she would have been right by my side if she could. 

Most of the time the people who chose to leave us are just as sick as the ones with cancer or heart disease, some of them may even have a diagnosis from a doctor to say how sick they are but unlike the other sick people who get all sorts of treatment to try and keep them here with us, they don’t seem to get much help at all.  Maybe they will get a prescription for some medication that is a plaster to cover over the problem. We all know that plasters are good at first when you cut yourself but very quickly they stop being good. The first time you need to have a wash they lose most of the sticky effectiveness and fall off, or they stick for too long and the wound underneath can’t get any air to breathe so it starts to fester and may become infected instead of healing.  Plasters are only good for a short time, the cut underneath either needs to be exposed to the air to heal or have regular replacement of plasters while a doctor checks the injury to keep an eye on the healing.

When it comes to mental health we are not giving so many people the healing treatment that they need to be able to live here with the rest of us.  How many more of our loved ones must we have to say goodbye to too soon before some sort of change is made? 

I know there are some people who view suicide as an easy way out.  It is not.  I have sat by a hospital bed while someone I love as much as you can love a person cried because they hadn’t realised how hard to was to kill themselves and they had failed.  I was so relieved that I still had them, that they hadn’t gone, but they were devastated to still be here. It broke my heart.  Luckily that person is still here, but not because they got proper help after that, they still have to fight for support from doctors, but thankfully they continue to try to battle against the invisible illness that makes them suffer.

We have decided to think that it is ok if someone is sick that we have to watch them slowly wither away in a hospital bed until they can no longer cling onto us.  

I don’t agree with that at all.  I believe in the right to choose.  If I am diagnosed with a terminal illness, if there is no treatment for me, then I will be buying myself a ticket to my nearest dignitas centre.  I don’t want to die like my mum did. So if there is no treatment offered to someone in crippling mental agony should we blame them for deciding that they no longer want to suffer?

I don’t think we should.  

I wish that mental health services were better, that everyone received the therapy that they needed to get better, I will continue to try and support my loved ones who are suffering with these kinds of problems, to tell them that I love them and help when I can.  

But if they can’t get help, can’t get better and do decide that the pain is too much to bear, I understand. 

We are the ones left behind, we hurt because we miss them and we loved them.  They don’t hurt anymore though. We can remember them with love and although it will forever be tinged with sadness and anger that we lost them, they are at peace, a peace that eluded them in life. 

It won’t make sense because they had a mind that couldn’t make sense of things anymore.  

To those of us left behind, hold each other tightly. Tell people how much you love them today, because it might help to make them see a way to still be here tomorrow.  

To all those who had to go, sleep well and know that you will be forever loved.

2 comments

  1. As always a beautifully crafted and eloquent post about a difficult subject. I’m sorry that two people dear to you have left. You squeeze my heart and thank you so much for championing those with mental health issues.

    Liked by 1 person

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