Recently a high profile celebrity was in the news. The report wasn’t about a recent acquisition of more accolades, but of his demise. His death was ruled a suicide. We do not know what was running through his mind in his last moments and perhaps he wasn’t sure either. He apparently only knew that his emotional pain needed to stop.
This could be the recounting of a number of people of any gender. The person need not be famous and known worldwide to mean something special to someone. There are plenty of statistics to quote regarding the suicide issue, but I want to focus on the people left behind and how they can care for themselves during a tragedy such as this. The person who has taken their life may be a family member, friend or well-known personality. It seems strange to feel so deeply for a celebrity, but with our ever increasingly connected world, we often feel close, sometimes closer than family to those in the public eye. We identify with the persona they project, and we believe them to be that person we see. In private, just like you and I, their lives are very different.
In a world where social media is an important connection point for folks, we are so used to seeing the smiling faces or the political rants and forget that those people are more. People are complex, and their lives are more nuanced than we realize at times. Behind the vacation pics, sporting events, birthday dinners, baby photos and pet snaps are also crabby children, bored parents, indigestion, dirty diapers, and vet bills. Celebrities are no different, but their lives are captured more often on film for all to comment on. Imagine if your day-to-day happenings were recorded in perpetuity. It would not even make the cut on Reality TV at my house.
When someone we know or perhaps idealize dies in this way, what do we do? There is the grief process of course which has varying degrees of emotion depending on how close you felt or the aspect of their life you identified with most. In that grief, you may feel anger, sadness, remorse, guilt, regret, a sense of hopelessness or even relief. Feel the feelings as they come up. Don’t judge them as good or bad- they are just emotions that need an outlet. If you need to scream or cry or clean your house- do it.
When you feel a particular emotion for more than you would like, talk with someone who will listen. For some folks, saying words out loud gets them out of their head and also out of their body. Other people may want to write their words. Art is another form of getting feelings out of the head and body to deal with. I have known people who clean to relieve themselves of the emotions they feel. However you can work through the pain that is there, you are taking care of you. Your actions may benefit others, but that need not be your priority.
Remember the person who has gone in a way that honors them but does not exclude other activities from your life. You are still here, and some people would feel sorrow if you neglected them. One of the best ways to celebrate the person’s life or legacy is to go on living. Your extended seclusion will not help you or anyone else. In the 1997 movie Titanic with Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack tells Rose to go on living.
Jack: Winning that ticket, Rose, was the best thing that ever happened to me… it brought me to you. And I’m thankful for that, Rose. I’m thankful. You must do me this honor. Promise me you’ll survive. That you won’t give up, no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless. Promise me now, Rose, and never let go of that promise.
Rose: I promise.
Jack: Never let go.
Rose: I’ll never let go, Jack. I’ll never let go. I promise.
~Titanic, 1997 Writer & Director James Cameron, Twentieth Century Fox
Dare to live. Dare to continue your life’s mission. If you had no purpose before, perhaps now you have one. You might become involved with a cause that person supported or give time and energy to one you help in their name. You can also continue the life you are living as it is, but now you can have a greater passion for each day. Use the energy this loved one left you to live an expanded and joyful life. This can be your gift to them.
~ Dr. Catherine Denton, Metaphysician, Reiki Master, suicide prevention trainer and workshop speaker. Author of Metaphysical Girl: How I Recovered My Mental Health.
Paperback & e-Book on Amazon. Dr. Denton’s website www.willowpondspirit.com