February 10, 2007

Ending It All

This has been a tough week.

My family in Florida is fine-Thank God. But, there were a few days of fear because phone lines were down and no one could be reached.

My Uncle is home from the hospital and seems to be fine. However, he came home to find his water pipes had all frozen. As of today, most of them are clear. For my readers in warmer climes, frozen water pipes is a serious concern here in L'Etoile du Nord.

Thank you, everyone, for your prayers.

As usual these days, work has been tough. To make a long story short, I've been a raging B---- most of this week. We have a new employee and I can tell she's already afraid of me thanks to my temperment. This is not a good thing and I need to just calm down.

I had car trouble Friday and had to rent a car to get to work. The car repair bill was not as bad as I feared but I was really angry that my job is so demanding that I had to fork out some extra money to get a car to get into the office. Another day of Sea Hag Cathy, hurling lighting bolts from my Skull Island of the Perpetually Pissed Off. Sorry, Popeye, even spinach isn't going to save you now!

Thanks to my car issues, my weekend plan to visit my Dad was foiled. I don't adapt well to sudden changes in my plans.

Needless to say I'll be at Confession today.

I can honestly say that as bad as my life has been at certain points. NEVER at any time have I been tempted to end it all by my own hand. In other words, I have never been tempted to commit suicide.

A family acquintance may have killed herself this week. Reportedly, she put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger in her home. I say, reportedly, because the incident is under investigation.

I think she did it.

I have only met her a few times in my life. However, it is clear that she estranged herself from her family in the last decade by her increasingly bizarre behavior and outrageous demands. As far as I know she never received counseling or was on any medication.

Her mother, who was her primary enabler as well as supporter, died a year ago. I think the loss of her mother was more devastating to her then anyone realized.

There will not be a funeral or a notice in the paper. I have no idea where she may be buried. There seems to be a decided lack of cohesiveness or, dare I say, caring about where she ends up. What is left is a lot of anger and confusion.

I think that this would be, absolutely, the worst way to die. First, you violate the 5th Commandment. Then no one seems to give a rip. You will not have a funeral Mass. Your life becomes barely a blip in the cosmos. You had no impact. You have no legacy-other then the inevevitable anger and confusion of the survivors.

That anger and confusion is something I have seen first hand.

I have known 4 other people who committed suicide. The survivors are still angry. They still want to know: Why? Why didn't she come to me? Why didn't I help? Why did you allow this Lord? Why? Why couldn't they have just "bucked up" and dealt with it? Why?

I have known many others who thought seriously about suicide and did not go through with it or they survived the attempt because they were found in time.

There are no answers in this life to the why of suicide. The uncertaingly creates more confusion and anger.

I have seen people fall away from the Lord after a suicide simply because there is no answer and the Lord, seemingly, did nothing and was nowhere to be found.

God loves us so much that he gives us free will. We can reject Him or not. Whatever happens He is always there for us.

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,

“You promised me Lord,that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”

The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”

--Mary Stevenson, 1936

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition 2280-2283, 2325 makes it clear that suicide is sinful but it also makes it clear that God is merciful, especially, towards those who suffer from grave psychological problems and take their own life. In any case, we, the Faithful, are to pray for them.

In my family, a relative committed suicide in the 1940's. The family covered it up because they were afraid that if they said it was not an accident she would be denied a Church funeral Mass and burial. In that instance, no one did right. The suicide sinned and the family sinned by their deceit.

The Church may deny a funeral Mass for a suicide. Not out of a sense of judgement on the person but in an attempt to avoid giving scandal to the Faithful and to emphasize the grave nature of suicide.

I think the Church, along with the rest of us, has reached a greater understanding of mental illness. I don't think too many suicides are denied Catholic funerals these days.

I saw a funeral notice in the paper a month ago for a high-school age young man. It said: "Helped himself to the Lord". His funeral was at a Catholic church.

It's hard for me sometimes to have mercy for a suicide. I just think they should pick themselves up and keep going.

In some cases, I think a suicide could be avoided if people would just reach out. To the Lord, to each other. Some people just can't seem to step away from themselves and ask for help. Then, it's too late and it's over.

But, I've seen dementia, schizophrenia and paranoia first hand. I can only imagine how terrifying it must be on a daily basis to hear voices or to be paralyzed with irrational fear.

I think the capacity to learn is one of God's greatest gifts. We can learn mercy for the mentally ill as well as the clinical aspects. The Church has learned too.

The National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) has a Mental Illness advocacy initiative. Read about NCPD here NCPD is a fine Magisterium-faithful organization that does not get a lot of Catholic press. Check 'em out. In the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis there are some parishes with mental health iniatives. One of the best is St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis. For all the bad press St. Joan's gets, they are way ahead of the rest of us in supporting the mentally ill.

Today, I plan to pray my Divine Mercy Chaplet for the repose of the soul of the woman who committed suicide. I, furthermore, intend to offer my remaining Seven Sundays Novena for St. Joseph for the intention of the mentally ill that they may find the strength and mercy of God through the intercession of the powerful St. Joseph.


Blogger Adoro Te Devote said...

Suicides are always difficult to handle. I've also been up close and personal with those suffering from serious mental illness, and contemplating suicide. I understand why some of them do it, and I just pray that the Lord is merciful for their goal is not to be separated from God, but to be separated from the suffering they cannot escape in this world.

My heart just goes out the the families and friend who remain to pick up the pieces and seek answers to the questions they never knew to ask before.

It really is heartbreaking.

February 10, 2007 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cathy - great post on a difficult subject. I will pray too.

February 10, 2007 3:05 PM  
Anonymous Terry said...

This speaks to my heart. A few in my family attempted suicide. My family is nuts. I've always somehow attracted people with mental illness - no - I am not mentally ill.

I have the greatest empathy with these people however. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I don't know if there is any solution, yet to speak and write about it, is huge. And prayer is better.

In my experience, the person cannot reach out - they withdraw and push everyone away. There is very little one can do.

Thanks for writing about this.

February 11, 2007 6:21 PM  

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