Waiting for God

The community news blog I read is operated by two professional journalists with decades of experience in radio, TV and newspapers — so it goes far beyond just being a forum for local gossip, articles for sale, obituaries and lost pets. It’s a serious news service. Emergency responses are covered in full detail — unless a suicide is involved. In the event of a suicide, no names and no details are provided, but a web link is provided to resources that are available for anyone contemplating suicide.

A few years ago, I overhead a conversation at work. I work at a nonprofit that provides various social services to vulnerable populations — so we have social workers on the staff. The conversation concerned suicide — and concluded with one person saying, “No one had better ever attempt suicide while I’m around.” The remark bothered me, because it was delivered in a rather glib tone, as though suicide is something that people just do without any consideration or forethought — not what I would expect from a social worker — but that might have just been my own personal reaction.

My family has its own history of suicide and failed attempts — so I have seen the pain that family members go through and and I understand why my local news blog follows the policy of giving no details. But I do wish there was a space to talk honestly about the idea of wanting life to end — outside of the usual suicide prevention initiatives.

Last year, my doctor had me complete a short assessment. One of the questions was, “Do you ever have thoughts about ending your life?”It was a multiple-choice question, with answers like, “Never”, “Sometimes”, “Daily” — something like that.

I paused a while on this question. For the last few years, every morning when I wake up, I wish that I had not. I wrote about this in a recent post. My first thought is I wish my life would end. My second thought is how ridiculous that first thought is given that my life is rather good right now compared with what so many other people are going through. But wishing my life could just end is a thought I have many times a day.

However, that is NOT the same as having thoughts about ending my life! But if I were to tell someone I wish my life could end, they might be alarmed and fear that I am contemplating suicide.

I did talk about this in counseling at the start of this year. My therapist incorporates personal belief systems in her work, and knowing that I believe in reincarnation, she suggested that perhaps I felt I had run out of steam with this life — and would prefer to be allowed to move on to the next one. This idea has been helpful in managing my feelings.

Admittedly, I am not at all hopeful for my future. I am doing OK now, but I am only 58. Given the hopelessness and despair I see all around me, I do not see how this could be anything other than my own future. My “retirement planning” actually assumes that I will eventually be homeless. And I think that is why I would prefer to make an early exit.

I am not religious, but I do believe in God. (When you believe in reincarnation you kinda have to believe in God…if you think about it…) I think that is why my second thought on waking up is about how ridiculous that first thought is. God probably pokes me in the ear. Believe me, I am very thankful for the life I have had so far — but I am not sure I can face the prospect of perhaps as much as twenty years as a homeless old lady, especially in a world that may never recover from the disruption of Covid-19. I am not sure what would be the purpose of going through this, unless it would be preparation for something I will have to contend with in a future life — in which case, taking matters into my hands via suicide would be counterproductive. God would probably insist on sending me right back to here to experience what I had tried to weasel out of. Or God might send me somewhere to experience something far more horrible.

My sister-in-law did Death With Dignity a few years ago. Her breast cancer had metastasized and she was in a lot of pain. My ex-husband was with her when she drank the cocktail. It was a painful story to hear — but it was well timed, because this happened shortly after I had started waking up wishing my life would end. I tried to imagine myself about to drink down a cocktail that would be guaranteed to end my life within a few hours. And I realized I would not be able to do it. I would want to put if off — at least to the next day. I do that Death Cocktail mind experiment quite often — and I still can not imagine myself drinking it.

This morning, I have been reading news articles about families facing a bleak and uncertain Christmas with the threat of eviction hanging over them. Many people have had no income since last March. Food banks are overwhelmed. Hospitals are overwhelmed. Suicide rates are up — and that is hardly surprising.

But I suspect a lot of us are waking up to a passing thought of wishing life could just end. Hopefully, for most of us, this remains nothing more than a passing thought. I do not think you even need to suffer from depression or anxiety to feel this way. It strikes me as a rather rational way to feel right now.

One thought on “Waiting for God

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