Death Be Not Proud (Death, Suicide, and How it Makes Me Feel)

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

John Donne

Last week was a real thinker.

I got a message from my grandma that one of her friend’s sons had died. Killed himself in the bathtub. Wrote in the note, “I will now shoot myself in the tub, so you won’t have to spend too much time cleaning.” That has been stuck in my head all week. I don’t know if it will ever quite leave me. She mentioned he sent a 5 page E-mail to his parents and that it was what he thought was best.

And, she said, “If only you [me, the granddaughter] could have met him and maybe taught him all women aren’t bitches.”

“Well, I am a bitch,” I replied.

“Not like his ex-wife.”

That was so unfair of her to say to me. I go from feeling empathetic to being absolutely pissed off. How dare you act as if I could have prevented this? And if I couldn’t, what then? I’m a goddamn 24 year old website manager, not a therapist. Then I’d have to have that personal guilt of being used as a tool to try to stop somebody from killing themselves…

It was nobody’s fault but his own that he killed himself. But, maybe “fault” isn’t the right word. Because what do you tell yourself when somebody commits suicide? Clearly, there was more than I was told: I didn’t know his life, his situation, if he was on medication or ill, if he’d tried before, if he was under threat. All I know is that it is what he thought was best, and I cannot condone it, but I cannot prevent it.

So, since I work for a company that sells cremation urns, my grandma gave his mom my cellphone number because I could help her get an urn. It was the strangest, most peaceful, call I’d ever received in my life.

She was so polite, but she wasn’t quite there. I don’t think I really was, she was this connection to death that I seldom saw since I don’t do customer service for my work (I look way too into it, as you can tell). I was having issues with the computer, she was patient. She was so thankful when I told her I’d make sure it got to her on Friday, shipped to her son’s house, billed to her address, 20% discount. She was just so thankful. And it felt nice, but it still felt like I had stage fright. I was frightened. I couldn’t do anything more than sell a nice urn to this woman who was probably going through one of the worst times of her life.

She said she knew her son didn’t want to burden her, he made it super easy to prepare for his memorial and funeral. What he did was so kind for his family, but what he did was terrible. If you’re religious, it’s an act against God [don’t quote me on that, it’s what I hear. “Tragic, but he’s going to Hell.” Not something you’d tell a grieving mother.]

As somebody who is a manipulative control-freak, I’d rather take my own life by my hands than allow somebody else to do it for me. And it makes me feel empty when I see people do this, but I don’t know exactly why. Because, as an ultimatum, it would have to be such a great force or threat where I would take my own life to spare me the torture of dying. Quick and painless.

Oh you’re so cold, Liz, you’re just a bitch. How can you take somebody else’s suicide and make it about yourself?

Because, he is me. I am him. And everybody who has ever killed themselves or thought about it, are each other.

Some cheesy, peace-love-rock’n’roll, rhetoric, but it’s true. We all live with that same fear, that somebody who has never considered or will ever consider, or has even jokingly said, “Oh, man, just kill me. This test is too hard./ My casserole got burnt./ I ran out of gas./ We’re out of milk. I could just die.” It’s why I joke. It’s why there are studies that say people who divulge in humor most likely suffer from some type of depression or illness. Deflecting and focusing on others is oftentimes the best way for me to deal with my own life. When people ask me how I am doing, I never, ever will tell them the truth. Because what can they do but sit and stare in awe, the magnitude of my situation more than they can handle? They leave. Or they offer me unsolicited advice. Or if there is a day when it is too much and I say I’m feeling depressed, they ask fucking, “Why?” Because the sky is blue and your face is asymmetrical. Leave me alone? But don’t leave me alone. I don’t know or maybe what I do know stems from 10 years of trauma? Same reason as always, why do you keep asking?

I only ask and willingly receive advice from 2 people: my doctor and my psychiatrist. Even they cannot fully understand, they just treat the symptoms. There is no way to treat the cause, until time machines exist. Which then brings in this whole other fear I have – the existential crisis of my own hypothetical alteration. (This is probably why it takes me 2 hours to fall asleep every night.)

So, if reeling from the self-doubt and anger I have over this stranger’s death wasn’t enough, I find out that one of my former high school classmates hanged herself. I didn’t know her well, but I knew her. She was the epitome of somebody who would do anything for her friends and family, and she always made everybody smile. I liked her, we just never had classes together, so maintaining a friendship seemed out of a question in the high school jungle. And, unlike the other guy’s death (which I don’t mean to minimize by not saying his name, it’s that I don’t know it) there were a lot of people I knew who knew her. So it was a week of Facebook Goodbyes, tearful to read. In spite of knowing people with depression who are hilarious, I never pegged her for one of those people, even though she and I shared some similarities that should have made me realize. Again, I couldn’t have stopped her. I feel no guilt except the guilt that she’s not here when she totally could be.

I have to say, though, I feel particularly guilty about the death of Robin Williams, as if I knew him like a father. He was a key comedic presence since I was a baby, with Aladdin, Jumanji, and moving up and along the ladder to his love of The Legend of Zelda. It was like losing a family member. Especially since I knew he was depressed and he remained so funny, occasionally doing movies that were less than happy such as Patch Adams, What Dreams May Come, and Father of the Year. Find a guy to make you laugh, he was one of them.

His suicide has left me with doubt in myself, but still almost 2 years later (at this point, about a year and a half), I am here. It terrifies me to think that somebody who had become sober from all his addictions and had  been receiving help (and at his net worth, it would’ve been financially awesome help) would still commit suicide. Whether or not it was because he had dementia or was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. It still sucks.

I, with so few resources sometimes I go months without medication, am still here. There are people who may need or don’t have access to health care for their depression who may or may not kill themselves, is terrifying to me. All hypothetical ideas involving this.

What little we can do as people for others, isn’t being done. Or it’s so much trouble, they don’t think it is worth it. It reminds me of this, which is from Tumblr (but was posted on Facebook, because why don’t you just get a Tumblr?)


Definitely not to belittle the life of somebody fighting MS or Cancer or any other disease, but the entire notion that people cannot be disabled in a non-traditional sense (ie. paralyzed, physically, developmentally, in a way other people can clearly see) is BS. Like, my friend who can have such intense flare ups she can’t even walk – she has a pass to park in the handicapped spots – but when people see her walking on a good day (without a cane or in a wheelchair) she becomes subject to a Salem Witch Hunt.

It’s been a rough week, there isn’t too much else to say. I’m running low on energy.



One thought on “Death Be Not Proud (Death, Suicide, and How it Makes Me Feel)

  1. I don’t want to judge from this piece, however, I don’t understand why family members feel the need to burden their own with the problems of others of which you can’t solve! This poor man killed himself. He was obviously distressed, depressed, felt hopeless etc., BUT and I don’t mean to be cruel, not every person who feels these things kills themselves. And from your piece, you may be a classic example of that. You mentioned from another piece (I think) on how your doctor said how was it you weren’t on meds since you were 12 years old for depression? And you mentioned due to lack of resources you often skip your meds and you try your best to manage. Like your tumblr screenshot about someone fighting MS v someone fighting depression, we view people with physical pain as brave but mental and psychic pain as a wall of silence or shame. Both are equally brave. And you are the proof of that, even when you don’t take meds, you can an do push through and make your best life. There is courage and strength in that. Sometimes, the outdated views the older generation really gets on my last good nerve. Just soldier on sister. For those who are troubled and afflicted by depression, we can only worry about our own mental state. Xx.

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