This was written for a dear friend-- who recently lost someone beloved to him. It is what I wish I could have said to that beloved friend of a friend and many more of which I do not know. And perhaps, unwittingly, it is written for you.
We all need to hear your story. If you’re thinking of killing yourself, this is exactly why you shouldn’t.
You’re a person who has the capacity to feel deeply and that is an asset in this world of people who often don’t feel anything, anymore. Stay and teach us how to feel, will you? Stay and show us that we can survive what you almost haven't. Tell your story.
How many have toyed with the thought of ending their own lives? How many will eventually follow through with it? Most people suffer greatly in this life. It is the ones that suffer in silence that grieve me the most. They tend to leave us without a word. Had they stayed, their words could have, would have, had so much power.
Once, ancient people shared their expertise on the inner aspects of human life by telling stories. They had many myths, allegories, symbols and metaphors to communicate things that are universal in our human experience. These things tied us to nature and most importantly, to each other. We call some of them teaching stories.
The Raven symbology is just one unique example; it reminds that “all is suffering here.” When one goes to a priest or religious elder to confess things they are ashamed or guilty of, the official wears a black robe like the Raven. It says, “You are no different from anyone else who is suffering.” It says “Life is about learning from suffering." Without it, you would not understand morals, different choices, or how to be. Suffering teaches by example. On the other hand this symbol says “You can rise above the suffering.” A Raven might be wearing a black frock but it can fly into the sky world and see a new grand perspective, then return to us.
Today, we think of these ancient people as superstitious and unscientific. We do not share their teachings anymore “out loud;” they are esoterically based and our world endorses exoteric thinking. We should, however, share their teachings. These people were masters at understanding the psyche. They created teaching stories which guided many a suffering soul through the storm we call “life” and taught those people to weather the storm, and in some cases become the storm. These stories were designed to guide one through the perils and pitfalls of the subconscious and the ego and the deep pain and sadness which often overtakes the human heart and mind. They gave us a wealth of experience with anecdotes.
With that said, there is an idea that taking your life ends the pain and sadness. Whether you feel you exist eternally after physical death, or are returned to life in a new body, or whether you think it is the end of consciousness, doesn’t matter. You choose to end your life in a silent, secret way, because you are suffering and or, are saddened beyond what you can bare. And you don’t want us to suffer your suffering with you, or after you. But we do. And, perhaps, you’ve been told there is nothing after death but a deep, dark, unaware sleep. You choose not to exist and you consider leaving us as a relief to the suffering. Besides the agreed upon phrase “Life is a gift,” besides the agreed upon you can always find help or support, besides the fact that the reality is “Someone loves you,” there is still more to consider before you go. The ancients had something to say about it. There is always another side to the story; a flicker of light on the other side of darkness.
It is about accepting and owning your shame, pain, guilt or sadness because it valuable—to the world. Your experience is worth everything, I said everything, to others just like you. Your story is an epic teaching story that can give hope and take the pain from others in just the telling. Pain is something that is isolating. Sadness feels as if it is yours alone. Taking your own life is about “aloneness.” It is about not finding the strength to feel the pain or the darkness or the sadness of one’s own soul—alone. In ancient times we told stories about it. In ancient times, unlike today, we talked about it openly. We were never alone in our pain or sadness. We taught how to remediate inner pain by sharing tales of our own with each other. Caring was not on the internet; it was face to face. The stories were told first person, not on the evening news or via an example in a television series or movies.
Rather than leave us now, consider first, giving what you didn’t feel you could find—to others. You are a mythic journey in the making, stay and tell us your story. Tell it to family and friends and in public forums-- or even to just one lonely agonized soul. Stay and help us know, we are not alone in our sadness and pain. Do as the ancients did and tell your story for others to learn from, and find comfort in.
Because you will find comfort in the telling.
You will meet yourself in the telling and you-- are magnificent. If you could only see yourself through my eyes.
This is what the ancient versions of The Hero’s Journey, or epic tales, are all about. These are stories of men and women in so much pain, so much sadness and desolation, they almost took their own lives, but didn’t. And they became the people who told their stories which live forever in our collective unconscious; the mythic journeys. We all have a mythic story to tell. Meaning, you are not alone in your experience. Millions before you, have experienced exactly what you are experiencing and the stories are there for you to see. You are, in fact, not as alone as you think. And to find purpose in sharing your story with others, and I promise you will, is to not be alone ever again. The sharing of sadness and pain is what humans excel at, we love to share our stories of epic survival in the darkest of times. We often compete to see who has the worst story of “life” to tell.
Once, I heard a common man “casually” tell his story on a lunch break at work; no shame, no guilt, just told it casually. This ordinary man, not a man of means, not a man of physical beauty—just a man—told of drug dependency, criminality and failure as a friend, husband and father. I don’t capture the depth of it here, I can’t. But it was one of the most wretched stories you could imagine. He came near to taking his own life more than once. This ordinary man had suffered a terrible existence, fighting with himself and others. He was alone, he was confused, he was saddened and in tremendous pain. He wanted to die and end the suffering. The world was once an ugly place to him filled with ugly people.
He said that one day he woke up and couldn’t go on, after he’d just experienced the end of a new and promising relationship with a woman; it was the final blow. He’d become conscious of the world outside the pain and sadness he lived in for a brief moment with this woman— and that is what happens with people who wish to end their life. A ray of sun breaks through for a moment, then they’re catapulted back into darkness again. And once they’ve seen that ray of light, they cannot go back. They cannot comprehend living with the pain and sadness-- again. Instead, they end it once and for all.
But here was this man innocently testifying casually, without shame or guilt or sadness or pain. And his story changed me in that very moment; his story had a purpose-- to me. I do not even remember his name, but I remember his story. And what was his secret? What had stopped him from taking his life? What lesson did this man have to teach?
He said just when he was about to end his life, he found himself telling his story to a teenager. Telling his story to stop another from doing the very thing he was planning for himself. You see, what he didn't realize in that moment was he was now a person of wisdom.
I realized in that moment the power of these kinds of stories. They allow us to realize we are not alone in our pain or sadness, and or our shame or guilt. These ugly things have been felt or experienced by billions of others just like you. Just like me. I asked him what happened to the teenager.
He said “He’s well. He works here in the kitchens and has a wife and two children now.” Think about it. Take all the time you need.
Two children who now grace this planet who wouldn’t otherwise-- if.
Don’t take your life, instead find meaning and save a life.
It worked for the ancients; their stories, just like yours and mine, still live on in myths, legends and grand epic tales where they became heroes in the end-- because of their suffering. You may not know it, but for some, you are a hero. You are a hero to me.
So I beg you, tell your story and it will transform it into something else—another’s example of an epic journey. Because you are able to say “I am human” like the millions who have come before. I am no different in my pain, sadness, shame and guilt. I am a person who feels deeply and that is a valuable asset in today’s world. You survived the storm, perhaps you become the storm, and that is epic.
So if you’re thinking of killing yourself, this is exactly why you shouldn’t. We all want-- and need to hear your story.
Stay. Just stay.