This is a photo of my brother, my best friend in life. He lost his battle with bipolar on February 25th of this year… Less than a month ago. My brother was also my hero, and we loved to rib each other. I miss him so much every day. As a Death Midwife – one who helps others transition (to “birth” them) from life in this mortal realm to the Spirit Realm – I'm even more beset by questions with respect to his choice to end his life than what would likely be considered “normal”, and I want to address this from a Death Midwife's perspective.
I suppose I should best begin by telling you a bit more about me, for through that, you'll see that I live a very different life than most people. Much of my life is spent dealing with death in its various forms. A retired paramedic (who saw more than my share of death on-the-job), I now serve in a number of roles as my health and time allow. I have served as Death Midwife to a handful of clients, sitting with them and their families as they make the transition to Spirit. I also do house blessings and am a professional tarot and oracle diviner. And, from time to time, when Spirit wishes, I serve as a medium, helping others connect with their departed loved ones… or troubling spirits who may be residing in their homes. So, you see, I truly am connected to … well, as warped as it may sound to you… I'm connected to death.
I'm not saying I'm some sort of a banshee or death magnet… I'm just stating that I'm continuing the women's lineage within my family, that we tend the dead or dying. And, to be frank, I really love what I do. That's what makes it so hard that I didn't catch the little hints that my brother was, for all intents and practical purposes, dying inside. I heard him say he was so tired, so exhausted, and I misunderstood. He was tired of life, and I missed it. More aptly put, I hoped I misunderstood what he meant. I hoped that I was misunderstanding him when he would say he couldn't “do this” (ie. life) much longer. That stings me the most. Even though I advised him – begged him – to see his medication management doctor… his therapist… I offered to call a crisis hotline, to have him “get away” by coming up to our home for a weekend or more… I was too busy hoping to do what needed to be done… call a spade a spade and talk with him about what was on his mind. Dying.
I do not write this particular post out of survivors guilt. Instead, it is serving as a retrospective look at my brother's journey the last six weeks of his life. I hope that it also serves as a wake-up call to someone who happens upon this particular blog – this particular post. But the fact of the matter is, Death Midwives help the dying make their transition as comfortably and easy as possible, and when I think back over our conversations of the last six weeks of my brother's life, I just didn't do that. I fought him every step of the way. He joked about his problems being nothing that couldn't be taken care of by dying, and I scolded him and told him to think of his son… to think of his wife, hell! To think of ME! That's the “normal” thing to do when someone starts talking in “gallows humor”, and by the gods, I followed the invisible “script” for talking with an individual who is suffering from bipolar, from clinical depression, to the letter. And it did no good. What good could I have done for someone who was actually preparing to transition from mortal life to the Spirit Realm?
I know what I wish. I wish I could have heard the resolve in his voice for his decision when he reached it. I wish I could have said… anything. Something more than I did, to let him know I would love him forever and miss him until I see him again, be it in this lifetime or the next. I wish I had the compassion, the strength, the courage to confront him as he was, day by day, losing the will to live. Because this is “blogger anonymity”, and I just REALLY need some place to be brutally honest about all of this, I will even say there is a small part of me that wishes he would have asked me to go with him. Alas, he did not. I am left with the knowledge that I did everything a person is “supposed to do” when someone is talking from a Dark Night of the Soul – from a bipolar depression that is sucking your loved one away from you – and yet… I feel I did not do the compassionate thing. Right now, I'm not sure what that compassionate thing would look like beyond jumping in the car and driving down to take my brother to a hospital and have him checked in (he would have refused)… Or holding his hand for a few hours before …. I just don't know.
I came, then, to wordpress, looking at other posts about suicide. I'm not sure what I was hoping to find, beyond someone who, perhaps, could somehow understand some of what I've written these last several days… But imagine my surprise and horror to hear the harsh, unforgiving (and to me, unforgiveable) commentary by one particular blogger who was verbally bashing another person's choice to end their life. This blogger called the person a coward – and far worse. I was appalled.
Where is the compassion for someone who has lost the resolve to fight for life any longer? How can you say anyone is a coward, who goes against millenium of ages of hard-wiring within to do everything at all costs to live? I am not saying people who choose suicide are heroes or full of uncommon valor, but for the love of all that is good and right, don't kick a person when they are so far down, they are capable of doing such an act of desperation and despair. I, in no way, am giving tacit approval to anyone thinking about suicide (myself included, when it weighs on my mind, as it does from time to time)… I am not glorifying their actions in taking that drastic step. And though to some suicide will always seem the ultimate failure, I cannot ignore the fact that the 32,000 people who choose to end their life every year do so with calm resolve that it will finally give them some peace.
As for that peace, as a medium, I know it often brings regret from the person who choses their time to die. We are spiritual beings having a human experience, and that means the thoughts and feelings we have go with us, while material things and those we love remain behind. I know those who do so miss the years that have been erased as much as we do. I know, because I've heard it from Spirit – you can take that for what it's worth to you, but there it is.
I wish my brother were still here. I wish the grief of suicide never touched another person again, though I know it will… daily. I wish there were adequate health insurance coverage, no deductibles, adequate mental health care coverage, therapists, medication management doctors… But wishing won't make it so. Becoming a greater advocate for these things is what is key for me at this point in time. And, frankly, I have so few “keys” left on my proverbial keychain since my brother's suicide, I've got to go with what I've got left.
So, dear reader, know that I'm rooting for you. I'm working behind the scenes to make things such as insurance and physicians more readily available for you, so that you don't have to make the decision to take matters – and your life – into your own hands. You've got a friend in me, and if anyone reading this needs to talk, you are most welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.