The other day my daughter said that my blog wasn’t famous or popular, and there was no chance of anything I wrote going viral. That stung a little, but only because it’s true. (And I’m a prideful writer, after all.) She said that it was more of a personal journal where I worked things out and wrote about them. I don’t know about the personal part (um, it’s on the internet) but it is true that I write to figure out what I think. (Not an original idea, but that of another writer. That’s pretty much what writers do; we like to rehash other people’s ideas. What a concept.)
Anyway, after writing about Brittany Maynard the other day, and lying awake stewing over my inadequacies and failure to be understood (another common trait of writers) I decided to write again, even though I’m sure to continue to be inadequate, offensive and misunderstood. (That’s not because I’m a writer. That’s because I’m human.)
After I (or what I wrote – same thing) was called disgusting, lacking in compassion, bizarre and judgmental (of course) I decided to come back for more abuse, because I still have unanswered questions that are plaguing me. I still need to make it clear: Brittany was not brave. Why? Because we want to emulate the brave. They are our heroes. And perhaps, I’m terrified of what it means if suicide – physician assisted or otherwise – is what it means to be brave.
I’m thinking of the thousands out there suffering with depression. I know, Brittany had a brain tumor, not a mental illness. But she ended her life to end her suffering, and that of her family. She wanted to “die with dignity.” For those of us with mental illnesses, shouldn’t we emulate this hero of bravery? Wouldn’t we be doing a great service to others by ending our lives?
Our message to those who suffer, whether from physical, mental, emotional or spiritual sufferings, cannot be that it would be better to end their lives.
I was thinking again this morning of Robin Williams, who ended his sufferings by suicide. I wonder for how many years he struggled. How many mornings did he wake up and decide to be brave for yet another day? He likely did this for years – even decades. And when he couldn’t be brave any more, he gave in to the pain, and took his own life.
He was very brave for very long. I will hold on to that image. I will try to be brave too, by living, and writing, and being who I am, each day, for as long as I can.
Let’s help one another be truly brave. Let’s help one another live in the midst of our sufferings. Let’s explore new ways to overcome illnesses and heal them. Let’s be open about pain relief and care for the mentally and physically ill. Let’s remember that we have dignity not because we have control of our bodily functions, our pain, or our emotions, but because we are members of the human family.
If you’re the praying type, pray for me, and all who suffer for any reason. Help us to be brave.