You don’t know what you don’t know

It’s suicide prevention week here in the United States. I am grateful that I have never been suicidal.

It was never something I thought about much. But having had the experience of two people in my immediate circle commit suicide in the space of months some years ago – it is now far more present. Add to that a few friends who have suffered the loss of immediate family members in this way and I realise the importance of standing up and speaking.

The loss of someone through suicide is terrible – not only does one have to cope with grief, but there is a whole gamut of other emotions – anger, guilt, fear, shame – which quickly raise their heads. And those emotions themselves cause further confusion.

I have no advice for how to deal with those who are suicidal or with those who are suffering with the loss of someone through suicide. All I can say is dare to present.¬†And recognise what you don’t know.

Offer a hand, a shoulder to cry on, companionship in the dark. If you haven’t walked those dark passages, don’t pretend to know. Dare to show up and know that you cannot fix anything.

I know enough of the way my own mind occasionally warps reality to recognise that ‘objectivity’ is an illusion. There is only compassion; only the willingness to sit in the unknowing.

5 thoughts on “You don’t know what you don’t know

  1. Excellent advice for being present with people in difficult situations. We often don’t know what to say to being quietly present is what the person needs us to do. This last sentence sums up everything so beautifully: “There is only compassion; only the willingness to sit in the unknowing.”

  2. An excellent book yielding insight on depression, often leading to suicide or suicidal tendencies is “Unholy Ghost”
    Thanks for your helpful words!!!!!

  3. My “new years resolution” for this past year has been only one word, which I have written at the top of the page of each month of my personal calendar. The resolution is “compassion” And I thank you for yours.

  4. Thank you for raising the word “Compassion”. The world so needs to be constantly reminded. The daily reminder for me was good advice. But, let us not leave God out of it. It may be embarrassing to mention God in today’s secular circles. But, I have found that compassion expressed in a simple word of prayer can provide consolation. It must be done with due respect to the sentiments of the friend.

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