I didn’t know. Deep in some personal issues I answered the phone. It was a former parishioner who said, “I need to talk with you.” I was so caught up in my own situation that I pushed the abrupt button, “I cannot talk now,” at which point I clicked the call off.
Talk about “pastoral effectiveness?” Flushed down the drain. What I didn’t know until a few months later the purpose of the call was to tell me good-bye, adios…suicide was the game plan, the former parishioner simply wanted to tell me how much I was appreciated. Hanging up made the parishioner so mad…even furious…that I had no time to listen…the suicide notion was pitched. That was 40 years ago. Suicide didn’t happen.
Why start out this way on a Wednesday morning, the day to wish a dear, dear friend a Happy Birthday, the day to reserve flights for a preaching time at a friend’s church, the day to fasten down a flight for one of the Broncos games and some fly-fishing in Colorado?
The “because” comes from fellow clergy who share with me they are, at least emotionally, reaching up to touch bottom, a couple of them in such embattlements with fatigue and pain they are not telling the truth when they answer “just fine” to the “how are you?” To other former parishioners who never seem to escape the emotional Good Fridays of their life.
I’m no authority on ending life. And don’t want to be. Yes, have experienced it from others when serving churches. Don’t want to narrate this experientially. Just know it fractures everything, especially when a family is shocked and never learns the why.
To all this, and hopefully this blog reaches no one who’s in terminal intent, I came across a writing this morning, when zipping randomly through the net, of a woman who wrote about considering there was no way to cope with the endless fatigue and pain. I now share. For there are lots of us/you, who may not be in the worst situation. Yet, still need some purpose in life when the clouds refuse to leave. To that end I now share this…if it helps? Great. If not? I understand. And offer this prayer, “Dear God, may we never be stranger to you and may we know your promise to be with us is never broken. Amen.”
“The horror of a chronic pain life can only be understood by those who live it. The despair decade after decade pulls us down into a hopeless abyss, an experience our life-long caregivers join us on in shared-isolation and suffering. Surviving is the difficult and seemingly more unnatural choice. I think it’s normal to think about taking our lives. When the hope of regaining well-being is long gone, we have to find control. For me, the fantasy of suicide oddly provides comfort and is sometimes how I get myself out of bed.
In order to survive – and this is the hardest part – we must accept that our pain is most likely not going to go away and our lives are forever altered. We must re-invent ourselves, finding deep purpose and meaning. We must also realize new expectations. John and I no longer seek a happy life. We seek a purposeful life that provides satisfaction and contentedness.
Bottom line, life is always the best choice. We with pain have “the strongest souls forged by the hottest fires.” We have wisdom and courage most people can’t imagine. Pain has gifted us extraordinary qualities the world desperately needs.”