What would you do if somebody told you they wanted to die? After the initial shock, your response would greatly depend on the relationship you have with the person who asked the question. For example, if a family member broached this question, you would do whatever you could to help them. If a perfect stranger asked it while perched on a bridge as you passed by, you would be alarmed and call the police. Regardless of the scenario, you would not ignore the question and risk the chance that they would do something to hurt themselves. You would take action.
Let’s look at it a different way. What if the person asking is old and sick? Would you feel as compelled to save them? Would you still be driven to do whatever is necessary to stop them from killing themselves? Without considering suicide, would you try to convince someone who is suffering that life is still worth living?
These aren’t your run-of-the-mill questions, but many children of elderly parents have to face this situation and find a way to deal with the heaviness of it. In my personal and professional experience, I’ve developed the following mindset when confronted by a loved one wanting death to overtake them.
Take Moral Judgment Out Of The Equation
Personally, I believe suicide is wrong. We were given our lives by the Creator, and it's not up to us to decide when to give them back. Even though I hold fast to my beliefs, it’s not my job to enforce any code of morality. Each one of us needs to uphold our end of the bargain with the Creator on our own.
There are certain situations where we are justified to take measures to protect someone from doing something rash, such as with those who are emotionally or mentally disturbed and aren’t in the right mind to make decisions themselves. But for someone who is stable and just doesn’t want to go on, the best we can do is get them some solid counseling with someone who has the skills to help them deal with their situation properly.
It’s Not About You
When it comes to dealing with emotional family issues, it’s difficult to not take things personally. When family members or friends are in the throes of despair, we often want to save them. We want to take away their pain and set them on the right path. These are noble intentions, but it's important to examine our motivation behind these desires.
It’s not a bad thing to feel desperate or hopeless. Life can get messy and cause burdens to pile up, and it’s natural for us to feel the pain of those around us and want to help. But we must be careful to determine whose pain it is we want to end. We have to put our loved ones first and not try to make them feel better so that we feel better ourselves. Our pain is our business. Their pain is their business. Our job is to give them the time and space to deal with it.
Accept The Natural Order Of Things
The prospect of losing somebody we love is agonizing. Watching them suffer is torture. And hearing them plead for it all to end almost makes you want to help them do it. But we have to remember that all lives come to an end. There is no stopping the cycle of birth and death that governs our time here on earth. At the end of the day, we have to accept it and work through it as best as we can. So when you are grappling with seeing a loved one suffer, interpret their cries for relief as them sensing that their end is near and struggling to accept their fate.
Old age can be a miserable time. Every day can bring a new form of pain and discomfort. Familiar aches return with a vengeance, and even the strongest and most stubborn of people can fall into despair and depression. Who can blame them for wanting to throw in the towel? Instead of letting your emotions take over, do whatever you can to support them in this sensitive time. While this is an intense issue to handle, know that you are not alone. Many others are also working through similar situations. If you have any questions or would like to share your story, contact me firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.