I have never seriously thought about suicide in my whole life. I also have never been seriously depressed … until now. Of course, everyone has had times when they are sad or down, but depression was/is a wholly new experience for me. Although I have a degree in psychology and decades of pastoral counseling, I should confess that my previous sadness was only a faint hint of real depression. While I am confessing, I suppose I should admit that I was disdainful of people who were so weak that they committed suicide.
As I’ve gotten over the shock of Bill’s death, and survived the heaving sobs of initial grief, I’ve become familiar with the deep, painful ache of permanent loss. How do people who are sentenced to be in pain for the rest of their lives do it? The first suicide funeral I ever did was for someone who had been in physical pain almost her entire adult life, with little promise for relief. Although I did not blame her for her choice even then, I’m only now beginning to understand what she was experiencing.
And depression, well, I’ll admit that, as a resilient person, I had a hard time understanding how someone could be immobilized by their emotions. Now, when I can hardly get out of bed in the morning, I try to remember to pray for those souls buried under a blanket of sad hopelessness. I also give thanks for women and men like Abraham Lincoln who fought depression their entire life and still did amazing things.
As for me, my parents, who both are living and in reasonably good health; my daughters, who are just starting out in life; my beloved family of choice; and my compelling call to make a difference get me out of bed every morning. Despite the loss of more than half of my life, I still am one of the most blessed people I know. I still have a reason to live, and it is greater than simply taking care of me because, if that was all I had to live for, I don’t think I would.
Rev. Michael Piazza