I normally don’t write about things like this and I can’t explain why I feel compelled to write about funerals and suicides all in the same sentence. Perhaps it is because I have been to so many funerals that were suicide connected and feel that there is dire need to address the two in one story line but keeping it perspective and order. I hate funerals and I am sick of suicides.
I experienced my first suicide back when I was a teenager and my friend down the street hung himself in the garage. He left a note for his parents but no matter what it said, I couldn’t understand what it was that drove him to kill himself. I was shocked mortified and in disbelief such things happened just right there under my nose and I had no clue he was that depressed about life he would do this.
So as I scroll my mind and recalled all the deaths and funerals I have attended both personally and professionally, I can conclude without a doubt many of them were suicides. Thinking I will just leave out the names and circumstances to give them the well-deserved dignity, respect and privacy, I will summarize these events by saying they all came suddenly and they were all unexpectedly surprising as I had no awareness such sufferings were going on in their heads.
I was told I had become sensitive to funeral because of the dynamics that were involved in the process. The truth is I never know what to say, how to say it or when to say it. It all seemed so lost and unbearable to even mutter a word to someone who is grieving. The process of communicating how I felt was difficult but I managed to overcome my lack of words with the communication of body language that express the pain and sorrow at hand.
Seeing how my nonverbal communication worked better for me I learned to cope with funerals but often had deep thoughts afterwards of how the whole thing went down. I know I had to give a eulogy once and even had to deliver words at the funeral of my parents but I never quite got over how to put it all together thus I often bumbled and fumbled with my words as I tried to control my emotions.
Sometimes I just said what was on my mind and other times I had written it down so I would remember what to say at such difficult moments. I became aware that the culture within your life, your work and your surroundings often play an important role in this process. My attempts to convey thoughts, feelings and values was all based on cultural inferences, acceptances and approved methods of participating in such activities.
I was worse when we had open casket ceremonies versus the closed one. Seeing the face, the body or the person just triggered an emotion I had to deal with before I could say the words I wanted to and often denied me such opportunities.
I know this and that is very important. Grief is personal. Grief is private and not meant to be watched. Tears and choking moments are personal and should be kept out of sight the best way possible. That’s just how I feel as others will tell you just the opposite. High profile suicides bring the press and the public eye.
It intrudes on the family and the ideas, thoughts and feelings processed during the funeral. They also bring large crowds who want to pay their respects but are totally strangers to the family and I doubt it has any consoling impact except for showing the person was well known, respected and will be missed.
Not enough awareness of suicides is the answer. We need to bring our awareness up and learn to see the signs of distress before it becomes a critical moment in time and thoughts. Suicides have a lasting impact on people and I as one do not want to go to another funeral again that was connected to a suicide. I hope and pray I have attended my last funeral that was suicide related.