We’ve been talking about death. “We” meaning my kids, my husband, and me. And by “death” I mean the lure of it, the desire not to live anymore. At 2:43 a.m., my daughter sent me this article, I am not always very attached to being alive. It’s a candid description of “chronic, passive suicidal ideation.” At some level, the author and cited sources claim, we all do it: desire to die. Just the other day I imagined driving into the oncoming traffic. I was physically tired, emotionally drained, and thought about how easily I could drift into the other lane and BOOM! be done with it. And last night, after several particularly deep conversations with loved ones, I dove into a crying jag that left me fantasizing about how much easier everyone’s lives would be without me in them. I didn’t so much want to die as to eliminate what I perceived as the stressor (me) from the situation.Then my mind turned to all the mess: the chaos I would leave in my wake, the unsigned will, the dangling threads of projects at home and at work, and I realize I’m making lists of things remaining to do, so I cannot leave…yet.
But why stay alive? Really? I can’t come up with any good reasons to give my young adult children. The line, “it gets better,” lacks credibility. How do you know? Can you promise that? At least “I want you to stay alive” carries the truth. But can that be enough? “I created you, nurtured you, watched you struggle to learn how to be alive, so I can’t stand idly by while you throw away all of that hard work.” Too dramatic, too selfish, and simply too silly. Everyone loses things they’ve worked hard for every day.
My parents may hold the answer. Let’s ask them.