Too Wounded? On the Death and Dying of an Episode in Life

I was talking to this gentleman friend, when he blurted out: “I don’t know, maybe I’m just too f—ed up to be able to do anything or accomplish anything of value anymore…” I was shocked by that thought and immediately rebuked his words by pointing out the positive aspects of his….”hanging on…” And then I began to think quietly on my own, even at home, even in the middle of the night: How many people really do feel that way? How many people really feel that life has wounded them so deeply that they are incapable of carrying on?
It is believed that many people who commit suicide do so because they feel inadequate anymore of contributing further to life. And there are many aspects of even that direct act of suicide that is a kind of suicide or “checking out” if you will, of society and life. Many people, when they feel unable to pursue things further in the frey of populace, retire to reclusivity, or become hunters or perhaps may even subscribe to a varied kind of suicide, like taking drugs or alcohol, and then there are those who decide to bow out of the limelight and just WRITE about it. A memorable author, William Styron, evidently understood very well about suicidal tendencies.
Styron is the author of “Sophie’s Choice,” a novel about a writer’s encounter with a mentally psychotic Jewish man and his psychologically wounded Polish lover, after the Nazi regime, during WWII.

BornJune 11, 1925
Newport News, Virginia
United States
DiedNovember 1, 2006 (aged 81)
Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
United States
OccupationNovelist, Essayist
Alma materDuke University
The protagonist, also the narrator, was a southern young man, who transplanted himself from the south to Brooklyn, New York.
Later, Saroyan wrote his non-fiction Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madnessabout his descent into depression and suicidal preoccupations. It is here in this book that he faces and writes about the descent and ultimate return to normalcy (as good as one can).
But in writing “Sophie’s Choice,”  having come on the heels of his great and controversial book “The Confessions of Nat Turner,” about Southern conventional slavery and its discontents, Styron told a deep part of himself in the way of seeing how universal themes can invoke one’s personal life perspective, and indeed skew one’s ability to pursue a “valuable set of contributions” for the simple fact of being depressed by the insurmountable evil on earth.
A quote at the end of “Sophie’s choice” pretty depicts this climactic acrc as to the pre-existant, or foundational “darkness” that comes into a soul after experiencing a right of passage into adulthood and ultimate fatalistic views.
“And so ended my voyage of discovery… in a place as strange as Brooklyn.  I let go the rage and sorrow for Sophie and Nathan… and for the many others who were but a few…of the butchered and betrayed and martyred children of the Earth.  When I could finally see again…I saw the first rays of daylight reflected in the murky river. This was not judgment day. Only morning. Morning: excellent and fair.” ~Stingo, “Sophie’s Choice”
What opened my view of this matter-beginning with my friend-was my little research of how people experience rights of passage that carry them through what Psychiatrist, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross introduced to us as “The Dying Process.”
In her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, Swiss-born psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross outlined the five stages of grief of someone who is dying:
• Denial and isolation: “This is not happening to me.” 
• Anger: “How dare God do this to me.”
• Bargaining: “Just let me live to see my son graduate.”
• Depression: “I can’t bear to face going through this, putting my family through this.”
• Acceptance: “I’m ready, I don’t want to struggle anymore.”
The list was praised and criticized by grief experts. Some said the stages got people expressing their emotions; others said the stages were too rigid.
And then I realized that it doesn’t always have to be a physical death that we go through, to experience these stages of dying, or rights of passage. Sometimes it is the death of love, or an ideal or concept, or even an upheaval of our belief system. Whenever we come to a crossroad we come to some kind of realization which may feel a lot like death in the making. And many times, it leads to a kind of death of part of us, but hopefully a renewal in another part…if we hold on, and if we do not react through suicide.
Life is complex. It was never meant to torture, but we do have a lot of pain while we travel through it. I believe, however, that life was meant to help us transcend from our physical to spiritual selves while we journey through it. Life is complex. We can perhaps never know everything before we leave here, but we can at least grow through the wounds to another level after scarring and healing from the pain of the experience of growth. It is a difficult thing to be alive sometimes, and yet….we cannot deny it is also the most outstanding ride in which we will ever take part.
The hardest thing, I think, is to be able to look outside of depression, or some kind of sense of fatality, and see that you will be a part of something different; something more; something that enhances life while you share in it….You will always contribute and be valuable, as long as you share your life, even in the darkness. Thanks for sharing with me this moment.


Popular Posts