Life’s dark journey

Life’s dark journey

Imagine yourself in a dark tunnel, so narrow you can barely turn around. There are no turns, no deviation in altitude – just a long, straight, pitch-black tunnel that you have to travel. When you scream out, your voice bounces back joining the cacophony of voices echoing in your head. You see no way out, no way in, no relief in sight.

Now, picture this subtle nuance of your dark journey – you can see the smiles of those on the outside. You can hear the laughter, witness the successes and jubilation. All those things you long for are right there – just on the outside of your personal hell. Try as you might, you can’t reach out and join the celebrations, but you can experience them all from the outside looking in. Stop and think what a life like this must be like.

I am not a counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist. I am just another face on this big planet of our’s who was shaken by the recent tragic deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. While I may have never met either of them or have any idea what they were going through, the subject of suicide is one for which I have strong feelings. For you see, I imagine these two amazing people were traveling down their own dark tunnel. And as is normally the case, I have heard words to describe Spade and Bourdain which I simply think are unfair. While you may disagree with me, and I am sure many will, I am going to share some things I believe to be true.

First, I often hear people use the word selfish to describe those who take their own lives. I would ask you to think just the opposite. Many of the people who I have known – personally or by reputation – who commit suicide are the most selfless people I know. It seems they are constantly doing things for those around them to make them happy or to assist in making life easier. As has been said before, I think this is because people contemplating suicide know how miserable life can be, so they do everything the can to make others happy so they never know the misery of traveling life’s dark tunnel. Selfish? No, these people are many times selfless to the point that they exhaust all hope that their life will ever be better. So stop and think about those around you who seem to spend their lives trying to make others smile and laugh – maybe they need someone to help them do those things.

Second, you will hear that people who commit suicide are chicken or cowardice. Those words anger me no end. Put yourself in their shoes. Stop and think what it must be like slogging through that dark tunnel never feeling the joy and happiness of those around them. Imagine what it must be like to drag yourself out of bed every morning just hoping beyond hope that one little thing goes right. I believe it takes an immense amount of courage and strength to go through life like this. And imagine the immense amount of courage it must take to end your own life. It’s one thing to ponder ending your life; but a completely different thing to actually go through with it.

Third is the thought that suicide is a sin for which there is no forgiveness. I will never be one to sit and believe I know the Lord’s mind and plan for anyone’s life. I barely know what is going on in my life, so why would I have the gall to judge someone’s actions. I prefer to think that God approaches each and every life individually. Just because a person was rich and famous doesn’t mean they were happy. Their tunnel could have been long, lonely and horrible and the only person who can know that is God. I believe He will judge these people knowing all the facts – something none of us can do.

For many people, contemplating suicide is all they do. They think about it, pondering what life would be like if they weren’t in it. Some will even go as far as to plan how they would go. But these people still have a sliver – albeit small – of hope. It’s that slight hope of things getting better that keeps them shuffling down the dark tunnel. The thought that the one person they want to acknowledge them might just smile or talk to them. The hope that all the hard work they do will be recognized and they might be appreciated for their efforts. So that slim chance of something good coming keeps them going.

However, there comes a time when depressed and hurting people reach the end of the tunnel. There is no door to let them out. There is no hand reaching out to help. It’s at this point that people lose all hope. Those people who they desperately tried to impress, love, help, influence paid them no mind. All that work they did in desperate need of getting some affirmation simply led to more and more work with no one really appreciating it. All their efforts were for naught. Life for people at this point is like a candle that slowly has burned itself out, and the only thing they know is bringing it to a sad and tragic end.

For a lucky few, their hope perseveres and someone reaches out and helps them get the help they desperately need. These people escape the tunnel and are able to see their slim hope begin to flourish. But the truth is the tunnel never completely disappears. Even for those who never reach the tragic end of suicide, they still remember the journey. They can still be haunted by their past – the dark feelings of failure, emptiness, pain and heartache. Each day is a new journey in hopes of never returning to the tunnel.

The one thing I know to be true is you never really know what a person is going through. You can never know the depth of pain, heartache and anguish a person is suffering. For you see, many of us try to hide those ugly things. You don’t want people to see you as “weak” or “cowardice.” While the real hope is that at least one person sees through the veil of fake happiness and reaches out to help.

Is suicide the answer? I think what we need to ask ourselves is – what is the real question? If you were traveling down your own dark tunnel with no help and merely the slightest sliver of hope would you know anything else? Suicide is an ever-growing reality in our society – one for which I don’t have the answers. The tunnel is dark and long, but we need to find a way to help those who desperately need it before their tunnel comes to a sad and tragic end.


3 Replies to “Life’s dark journey”

  1. It easy to judge others when you haven’t walked in their shoes. I hate when I hear the judgement but then I’m also thankful that’s a person who hasn’t had to experience the pain of struggle of it. As a parent of a bi-polar child and another in recovery, i know the struggles of mental illness. It is real and it is a day by day journey. We have changed our definitions of success and we focus on makng memories, not plans because tomorrow is not guaranteed.

  2. I too Chris was in that dark tunnel at one time, contemplating suicide. I was feeling so much pain inside that I could not stand the though of living any longer. If it was not for the love of my family and the love of God and my relationship with Him, I would not be here. I feel heartbroken for people that do not have a solid family relationship. This world is very lonely without that. Money, friends, social status just does not cut it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. We each have a path to walk. Some paths are smooth and easy to walk. Some paths may be rocky. But there are even some that are climbing up cliff faces. As you said, we do not know the path others are on. If you see someone struggling offer them a hand. If you feel as if you are in that dark tunnel, please let someone know.

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