I've heard responses of "that's a cowardly thing to do," or "that's a permanent solution for a short-term problem" among others. Really? I guess you didn't know my friend or those like her.
First, I have to precursor this section with my friend had the biggest heart you will ever find. She was ALWAYS there. She was the type of friend that if I called her and said I needed her, she was in her car on the way. The why would be determined once she was with me and helping me with whatever I needed. I only dream of being a friend like that.
She gave generously. I went years without having to buy clothing because she loved to shop and if she got it home and didn't like it, she gave it to me. Or just decided she wanted a "new look" so I got all the "old look." Thousands and thousands of dollars I received in clothing. And I wore them proudly and received many a compliment. Many people wanted to "have a friend like her."
She also valued her friends, especially her old ones. She kept in touch and always was a part of their lives. My kids called her "Aunt." She remembered birthdays, anniversaries and "just becauses." I wish I was that good but I get wrapped around the axle and forget all those things. She didn't, despite her pain.
But she was in pain, a lot of pain. She was always "tortured." Her mother told me she was never peaceful, even as a child. She had night terrors and couldn't even sleep and find peace there. You see, her sleep was wrought with fighting for her life and if she fell asleep, she fought--literally fought--her way through it. Yet, she fought hard to help herself. She had been in every form of therapy there was from traditional to experimental. She did talk therapy, she had herself hospitalized, she even went through electric shock treatments and neuromuscular work, and spent her vacations and many months of her personal time in retreats and treatment centers trying to help herself find her way out of pain. She sought spirituality to rise above it but the pain was always too great. She tried the pharmaceuticals and gained 70lbs from some of the medicines which only served to make her feel that much worse. She tried other meds and they never worked, or gave her other side effects that only intensified her agony. She tried holistic therapies and diet changes from raw vegan, no sugar-gluten-processed food, etc. No relief.
There were times that she wasn't pleasant to be around. She struck out with sarcasm or just nastiness that hurt and those times, I found it very difficult to be around her or even be a "friend." Those were the times I loved her from a distance. I know it was only because you can keep down that pain for only so long before it comes out. It's like a powder keg, ready to go at any minute. And yes, I was the coward because I shrank from her raw pain. I wasn't always there to help her and honestly, she wouldn't let me. She cared too much about her friends to let them see the intensity of her struggle. Yet she kept fighting to get ahead of it for 44 years.
Now I ask you, how was her deciding to end her life "cowardly" or "a permanent solution for a short-term problem?" She went through hell here. Some would say the "hell" was her own choice and maybe that is so, but she fought hard to change that and I don't know much about you, but when I'm in pain, it's hard to look at things from a bird's-eye view.
Folks, this wasn't an individual who used her pain for attention seeking. Often I would find out about a previous suicide attempt well after the fact as she was trying another way to find peace, or at least some relief, so she could live her life "normally."
No, she wasn't a coward. Not a word that would ever come close to describing my friend. She made a final decision about her life that in the end gave her the peace that she could never find in this lifetime. I think she's brave, very brave.
Now the other thing I've heard that makes my blood boil is "suicide is not God's will and she will rot in hell." WTF? Really? So, an all-powerful Supreme Being creates us in his/her/it's image and gives us freedom of choice and then sits in judgment of our exercising that gift? Really? No, my dears, that's mans' laws, man's interpretation. That's how WE act. We give people choices and then condemn them for choosing against us. I believe God isn't that petty; we are.
I request, even beg, that until you've lived in someone else's skin for a period of time, don't pass judgment or condemn them for choices made. Instead, ask yourself where your feelings are coming from. I bet the answer would be fear or even a failure to understand. Now that's okay. But please don't condemn my friend for ending her own hell because you're afraid or don't understand. You do all three of us an injustice.
I don't pretend to understand but I do know, I loved her and I will defend her and the choice she made. She fought valiantly to live and I respect her for her final decision to end that pain. In the whole scheme of things, isn't that all we really have? The choice to be and do what we choose, and the belief that it's the right thing for us. Amen, then, to that.