Posts Tagged ‘suicide’

My brother’s death

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

My brother hanged himself this day last month, on 23 March 2015. He was 60.

He took his own life four weeks to the day after I buried my mother.

It’s a lot to take in. I haven’t had asthma for 15 years, but I have it again. Doubtless, stress-related. Grief-related. Struggling for breath as my brother did this day last month.

It’s hard to know what to say. And yet writing is therapy. A poultice. Get it out. Express. Like struggling breath.

David was gay. He had a miserable time at home. And a miserable time in Ireland.

He wanted no prayers at his funeral. He told me so 26 years ago, just after I had left my priestly path. And he told his life partner the very same thing within the last two years.

Ireland was a cold place for gay men. Let us hope that Irishmen and Irishwomen will declare to the world for once and for all in the forthcoming referendum that gay and lesbian people are equal citizens. Let us hope that the fairness and justice of the Irish conscience will triumph over those who seek to muddy the waters.

Those hideous posters that shift the debate from equality – which is what the referendum is about – to canards.

Why is it that people of religious faith so often seek to impose their rules on others who choose not to be of their faith? Who would have gay men and women believe that there is something sick with them. It is the religious mentality that seeks to impose itself on others that is sick.

Why do they not protest to their god whom they claim is in charge of the universe – omnipotent, omnipresent, all powerful – and yet he does nothing about the children who are left orphaned by parents who die. Why don’t religious folk raise their banners and posters against their god found so wanting in compassion for his creatures? And why, instead, take out their unjust ire on minorities like gay and lesbian human beings? Why don’t they protest to their gods and deities, and their priests, about the so-called all-loving god who supposedly wants the little children to come onto him ‘for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ when he inflicts cancers and illnesses upon those whom he supposedly created with love?

But rather than confront their manmade god, they seek to say onto their fellow human beings that equality is not for all. I beg you all: vote Yes for marriage equality.

And for those who seek to deny men like my brother the right to marry in Ireland I say: Shame on you! Be just to all. And be humble. Save your moralizing for your own conscience. Vote Yes!

It’s a wonderful life

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

I began watching ‘It’s a wonderful life’ each Christmas a few years ago. It gets to me every time. This year, I cried seven times during it – maybe because of recent high profile suicides. It’s a magnificent celebration of the wonder of life, to be grasped even in the midst of trials and terrors. Although an unbeliever – and possibly even more so on that account – the carefully crafted frame of the story, begun from the perspective of imagined celestial beings that look on us from an alternative viewpoint, and the opening line that the hero isn’t ‘sick’ but, ‘worse than that – he’s discouraged’ sets the tone and vantage point of the psycho-spiritual purpose of the movie: our need for hope against discouragement.
The person on the brink of suicide might find it difficult to bring to mind the positive things they have done in life, and yet that is the tack taken by the ‘angel’ who, charmingly, wants to earn his wings. And so, at the hero’s moment of despair, he is led to people and places familiar to him and he realized that he has not been all bad. Far from it. Yes, he shouted at his kids and crashed his car and money went missing from his workplace during his watch and yes he faced jail and public shaming yet, after his journey with his ‘guardian angel’ he realizes that that is not the sum total of his life. He has done good. And life is to be embraced and rejoiced in, even in the midst of trial and tribulation.
Today, the Meath Hunt gathered in Kells, county Meath, Ireland. It lashed rain but it was a magnificent event: colourful, powerful, energetic, exciting. Riders on their steeds quaffed hot mulled wine while their hounds got friendly with the crowd. I petted two fine hounds and then, after the bugle blew, I and my daughter headed off following them, along with scores of other cars. Kells was a vortex of excitement and smiles, as tourists and locals and horsey people and blow-ins like me savoured the atmosphere. And I felt just like George Bailey, hero of It’s a Wonderful Life, appreciating the moment and thrill of it all.
Before any of us were born, the world spun on its axis and the world knew nought of our non-existence. After our short span is done, the earth will go on spinning without us. Right now, we are alive! Life is wonderful. Relish it, savour it, live each moment to the full.