Hey All, Sorry I've been away from writing here so long. Work is killing me...but what else is new? I blog for my company also and that makes it difficult to keep writing, although I prefer to write independently and very much enjoy the conversations we have here. I am always happy to answer your questions about the biotech industry and careers. You can contact me @suzyscientist if you would like advice or feedback and I'll try to reply to you as soon as I can. Many thanks and kindest regards to all!
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This morning, enjoying having a day off from work, and thinking about all the friends I shared gifts with this year, I was suddenly hit by a feeling of ...something between pain, absence, and sorrow. I remembered my friend who is not here any longer.
I became friends with *Greg through acquaintances at work about 3 years ago and we hit it off instantly. Meeting Greg was like finding a long lost best friend and just as if we had known each other our whole lives, we were fully at peace when together. Or so I thought.
A wonderful man and father, a talented musician and one of the sweetest souls I'd ever met, for a while, at least in that first year after he committed suicide, a day did not go by when I didn't think of him. My kindred spirit vanished from the planet without a goodbye or even a sign. Well, there were signs. I just didn't open my eyes to see them.
Greg and I talked about everything that was going on- and a lot of things were going on in his life. He was in the midst of personal turmoil with his marriage, serious financial issues, and on top of it all, had lost his job because the company he worked for went out of business. At the time, all of his problems seemed manageable and not that serious. I felt he had everything under control. He smiled all the time, was hopeful. I never really fully comprehended the depth of his pain and fear. Yes, we talked about suicide in abstract terms but I never ever expected that he was planning it the whole time.
I thought by talking to him, giving him a shoulder to lean on, and cry on, and even lending him money to help with the financial crisis was enough. I could not be more wrong. How could I have misjudged this situation so badly????
We were going to meet up so he could show me the new apartment he had found. He said it was wonderful and he couldn't wait to move. I gave him the money for the first months rent and a deposit so I was sure this was all really happening. We talked about all the fun things we would do once he left his (second) marriage. His kids (from the first marriage) would be fine, I assured him. His kids would not see this as a failure. They would love him for taking care of himself. They would understand later. He seemed especially stuck on the idea of being divorced twice and what his kids would think.
When I didn't hear from him on the Friday before he was to move, I didn't think anything about it. He's busy. I didn't hear from him on Saturday either. Sunday came and I texted him about how I was looking forward to seeing the new place. On Monday a mutual friend called to let me know ..."I'm not sure if you knew Greg, but, he died this weekend in a car crash." Of course I knew what happened. I knew it wasn't an accident. No one accidentally does what he did. But for insurance purposes, it was an accident.
I don't think about Greg every day anymore. His memory and his smile flit in and out of my mind when something reminds me of him. Seeing people we knew, hearing music he recommended for me (Avenged Sevenfold), the song he was supposed to learn to play for me on the acoustic guitar (the solo by Neal Schon from Journey's "Any Way You Want it"), and when I think about the people who I love and loved most in this world. He will always be on that list.
Today I have two messages. First, if someone you know and love is having a hard time with life, please take it seriously. Most people do not commit suicide but some people really have convinced themselves that this is the only or best option. That their family is better off without them. That one Christmas with money from a life insurance policy is worth more than a lifetime of Christmases with Dad.
If you don't have money for Christmas gifts this year, it really doesn't matter. YOU are the gift. Your life, your presence, your happiness is more than enough. It is all that anyone who loves you really wants. If someone mentions suicide or jokes about it, help them to get help. Talk to them, let them know they can tell you anything and you won't judge. If I could go back in time and do things differently, I would. I would have handcuffed him to me and never let him out of my site.
My second message goes out to all the people who lost someone precious to them this year. The first Christmas without that beloved person is a hard one and holidays are full of good memories that make it even more difficult. If you lost your mom or dad, grandma or grandpa, sister or brother, or anyone that you held dear, my heart is with you and I wish you only peace and comfort for the holidays and also in 2011.
Thanks for this opportunity to share my thoughts with you. I wish blessings and love to all you struggling scientists. Keep your chin up and keep your eye on the prize.
Tons of us know what you're going through. Don't be afraid to reach out to your favorite blogger/tweep when you need support.
*Not his real name
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This post is really touching. Sorry for the loss of a friend.
Thank you GR- and thanks for reading.
Odyssey- I can't help feeling responsible. You just really don't know what's going on in someone's head. When I gave him the money he was adamant about paying it back by a certain time. That time was after he had died. He left a note for his sister to pay me back out of his life insurance. She would not accept my refusal to be paid back because that is what he wanted. I can't express how angry it makes me feel that he thought I actually cared that much about the money! If he had only said something, if I had only had a half a clue, I would have told him it was a gift from the beginning!
I took the money I was repaid and gave it to two friends who were struggling with their bills. One needed money to move and the other couldn't make a mortgage payment.
My new rule is: if you give someone money, don't ask for it back. If you can't live without it, don't give it. I don't give loans anymore.
Beautifully written Jade. You know it's not your fault, no matter what you would have done, it would still be his choice at the end. I imagine he cherished his friendship with you as much as you cherish his.
I lost someone to suicide this year, we were not in touch very often, but there certainly was a connection there, he was an old math professor. One of the very best professors I ever had, and one of the coolest people out there. I really appreciated him as a person, and was so happy to have met him. I always had only the most positive feelings about him. It was a shock to me when I found out. His daughter msged me on fb with the news.
It's never only one thing that drives a person to truly believe that is the only way out, and often it is not something you can see. He was always upbeat, positive, optimistic, smiling. I am sad I won't get to visit with him and hang out. But on the other hand, and you may completely disagree with me, he did what he felt he had to do for himself. All the unimaginable pain that he carried, regardless of whether or not he had to carry it, is now gone. He is not suffering any longer.
I have no way of ever knowing what another person is feeling or why. It's silly for me to think that I could ever comprehend what he was going through. In spite of my own sadness for his loss, I am happy he is no longer contending with that pain.
Thank you Evie. No one ever explained it to me that way before. It brings me great peace.
I went for a run and am feeling a millions times better. Thanks again for the DM and your comments.
I lost my mom to suicide many years ago. I spent many a day on a counsellor's couch. In the end, time was my best friend.
Thank you for posting. I know it is true, though it doesn't feel that way at the moment. I hate the feeling of powerlessness that lingers, besides everything else.
Greg told me "stop trying to solve my problems. I just want you to listen." Maybe that was his indirect way of letting me off the hook for what he would eventually do? I keep trying to figure out how I missed it.
Thank you again for stopping by. It means a lot to hear from you.
Jade, you did everything that a good friend would do. It sucks that this it ended that way, but it was certainly not your fault. Sorry for your loss. Glad your run made you feel better.
Thank you Gerty. Not too many things can make me feel as good as a hard run. My body is aching though from the last three days of strenuous exercise so I have to take it easy today. I only wish my body could keep up with my heart.
BTW- Awesome win for Denver yesterday!!!
Such beautiful words. This December I lost my grandma and my best friend, so this has been an extremely difficult Holiday season. But your words gave me light, it´s true, life should go on, and we got to keep on working, since it's what we do best. Happy New Year
Thank you for reading and for leaving a comment. Peace be with you in 2011. Better times ahead.
There are so many uncertainties in our life. I'm deeply touched by your story and could understand what Greg felt. I have been through hard experience in the past three years. Sometime the S word jumps into my head when I feel desperate. However, as a father of two angel-boys, and the only one earning bread for my family, I have to be strong. There is no way back if you are on the road taking your own life.
I will not blame Greg for hurting his children, parents, and friends by taking his own life. However, people DO need to learn to behave more responsibly. Just remember, you are not alone. Go find someone who you trust, share your feeling and find a way out.
May him rest in peace in heaven.
MC- so true. I know how overwhelming things can get or seem to be. I think talking about it, like you said, is the only choice. And really talking- not holding back. Find someone or get a therapist.
Your children need you and love you no matter what is going on in life. They'll adapt to whatever changes you need to make to support them. It will make them stronger to see you persevere and succeed.
My parents went through enormous difficulties while we were growing up. I have huge respect for them. They inspire me to be strong all the time. So will you be an inspiration to your boys.
Thank you for sharing and posting.
Your story touched me to. I had a daughter pass away while I was at work and my husband was watching her. She was born with a problem keeping her heart rate up although she grew out of it after a month. she still would drop her heart rate every once in a while. i left for work at 5am when my husband woke up he found our 6 month old daughter dead. He is constantly blaming himself for her death however there was no way to tell when she had died. Its hard for me because he is constantly wanting to end his own life because of the death of our daughter. he says that he feels like he failed as a fauther. He will not go back to work he droped out of school and I am seriously woried for him. we are going to terapy and all sorts of things and I am hoping that in time he will be healed and know that he is loved and needed her on earth.