Is death the answer to the painfulness of life?

PERFECTION asks: Shirelle, is death the answer to all problems and sadness in life? I’ve always wanted to shut myself off to the world. I’m in pain for far too long and I think that’ll be the only way to maybe at least get over the pain.



Quick answer to your question:  No.


Absolutely not, no way, impossible, forget it.


Now, now that I’ve said that, let me make one exception.  If you had a terminal disease, and were in constant awful pain, and only had a short time to live, it’s possible that I could agree that the best thing would be for you, in a way agreeable to your loved ones (and of course, only if in accordance with your religious/moral beliefs), to end your life sooner.  After all, that’s what you guys do with dogs, cats, horses, and so on, and that’s an act of love and kindness.


But if you’re young and healthy, the fact is that anything you did to end your life would cause more pain than you’ve ever experienced.  To more people than you even realize.


You see, when a person feels good about life, they feel some of the connection to everyone that we dogs feel all the time.  You open a door for a person you see needing it, you smile at little children because they make you smile, you see a car in a big hurry and let them cut in front of you.


But when a person feels depressed, empty, hopeless, or sad, they tend to feel completely disconnected.  Like no one sees them, no one cares about them, and they don’t care about anyone else.


The fact, PERFECTION, is that you are more connected to more people than you can begin to realize.


What would it do to you to find out that your neighbor killed himself?  Would you wonder if you could have done something to prevent it?  Even wonder if you were responsible in some way?


And what if that were your uncle?  Or your parent?  Or your brother or sister?


Or your own child?


I don’t know a lot about your life, PERFECTION (only that you ask great questions!), but I’m betting you have a family.  And I promise, if you were to end your life, you would alter every moment of every one of their lives forever.  Suddenly their memories of being around you would be clouded with grief and horror.  Any family events (holidays, reunions, even births and funerals) would be changed into miserable remembrances that you’re not there, and why.


And what about your friends?  Whether very close ones or more distant, all would wonder “What was it?  What could I have done differently?”


And you wouldn’t be around to answer the question.


And eventually, those people who love you, who care about you, would start to resent you, for what you did to their lives.  They’d think of you as selfish, as inconsiderate, for ruining their worlds to escape some temporary pain.


Now you might say “But I won’t be there.  That’s their pain, not mine.”  To which I’d answer… are you sure?


In the end, my friend, we live by and for those we love.  We live on in the memories of those whose lives we have affected.  Even those we may never have met (How many people have been affected by the suicides of famous actors, singers, etc.)?


Here’s wild one for you.  My human friend Handsome grew up on a charming street that was filled with families with children.  Some of the kids on that street are still friends to him decades later.  And he remembers who he played with – who was next door, who was two doors up, who was all the way up the street.


A few years ago, one of those friends told him something really surprising.  That there was another house, just up the street, that had a number of kids, that he didn’t remember.  The name rang a bell – there was a boy there who played tennis with Handsome’s brother – but he didn’t remember any of the children around his own age, including a little girl who’d become quite famous as an adult, as a designer.  Why didn’t he know her enough to remember her?


Then he forgot all about it, until a couple of months ago, when the news broke worldwide that that little girl, now known as Kate Spade, had taken her own life.


And while everyone else in the world asked their questions, he was asking his own.  “Did I not remember them because they were quieter, kept to themselves, maybe had a family tendency to depression?”


Now he’s not blaming himself for what happened to her, but my point is that her suicide affected a guy she hadn’t known since she was very very young, if she even knew who he was then.  Now Handsome’s not the sort of guy who pays any attention to fashion, and couldn’t have told you a single thing about her work.  But when he hears her name now, he thinks about suicide.  As do millions of women around the world when they look at their purses.


You are a thoughtful, passionate, fascinating person, PERFECTION.  I see it in your letters.  You have so much to offer to the world, so many lives to touch, so much love to spread around.


Let that be your legacy.  Let that be your identity.  And, hard as it is to see right now, doing that will actually make your life a lot less painful.


And in one final note: every day, when Handsome leaves me in our yard, he knows I could, if I chose, find a way to get out.  By digging under the fence, or climbing over it.  And he knows I could then get lost or stolen or run over.  So, every time, he gives me a hug and a kiss goodbye, and makes one request to me:  “Don’t break my heart.”


I’m asking you the same, my friend.  Don’t break my heart, or Handsome’s, or that of anyone else who cares about you.  At least not this way.


With love and promises of better days,


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