The holidays can be one of the happiest and saddest times of the year. In fact, they can often be more difficult than we could have even imagined. Holidays are a bookmark in time. We can remember past Christmas’s or Hannukkah’s – what was going on in our lives, how much or little we were struggling…if we felt lost, alone and hopeless, we remember that, too. We also remember not knowing what to say when our well-intentioned relatives ask, “What have you been up to, lately?” What we didn’t say, despite wanting or needing to, often loom just as large as the words we spoke.
And, when things were or are at their worst, we struggle to figure out who to talk to, what to say, and may even question whether it’s worth bringing up. After all, it’s never easy to talk about, even with someone you love, trust, or trained.
But, the truth is, many of us think about life and death all the time, right? Suicidality is just one aspect of a running stream of consciousness in our minds. Our story was one of life and death. We were separated from our birth parent, a high-risk situation. We had another chance, at a good life and a family that became our own. But, in my work with adoptees, I’ve heard the refrain, “I could have died. I was lucky.” Lucky… to have survived? Imagine one’s first story being one of luck, just to have made it this far. Death has been inextricably intertwined with life from the beginning.
So, when we’re at our worst, our lowest point, maybe our loneliest, we’re faced with the decision, our challenge is not just to avoid death again and again, as we did those many years ago, in the beginning. No, our challenge is to choose to life, not death, again and again. To choose to live is active, engaged, deliberate.
Of those who jumped off the San Francisco bridge and survived (2%), they all reported that they regretted it as soon as their feet left the bridge. When we’re at our worst, sometimes choosing life is enough.