I heard, this past Monday, about the death of a man I knew. A beautiful man.
Caring, strong, fit, father of 2 beautiful, young children. Someone I had always looked at and thought: “Happy man.”
I would call him friend, but as I have reflected on his death these past days I realise that our friendship, or what it could have been, was greater in my memory of him than in reality.
We had not spoken much since I divorced from the family he married in to. Even less since I moved to the UK with my family.
I realise, I did not know him. Not as I would have liked to, very much.
Whenever I did see him, the last time was early in 2018, the greeting and catch up was always warm and reminiscent of earlier days.
I always left conversation with him feeling seen and heard and with a sense of gratitude for the time spent; whether 2 minutes or 2 hours. He had such an earnest manner in his engagement and conversation. Such a big warm smile. I always felt he was a brother.
This man took his own life. I’ll not mention his name, out of respect, but those who knew him will know him now from this story. My love goes to you in this confusing and tragic time.
This lovely man took the time to ride a cable car to the top of a mountain, a place he loved, and once at the top he launched himself to a tragic end.
From what I was told, he saw no other way out of a life of sadness and despair. No way out other than to overcome one of our most primal fears…falling…to end his life.
I regret to say, I don’t know his story.
My greatest wish these past 2 days is that I could ask him what was making his heart so heavy…to tell me his story and to hear his plea or help…even if unspoken.
In me, Love has jostled for place with Anger and Sadness since hearing the news. Numb disbelief was my first reaction.
Concern, though, is what is now rising. Concern that with all the people who loved him he felt he had no avenue other than to jump to his death.
Concern that he did not feel safe or justified in speaking his pain…speaking even to a stranger…to allow it to emerge and to lessen the load on his heart.
How many men are feeling the same? How many men feel the toxicity toward them in our culture today and how many have been raised to not speak their pain…because that isn’ t what men do?
I don’t know how many, but I meet a number of them in the work I now do. Men at the end of their tethers. Men who, finally, find a place that is safe and find the courage within themselves to simply admit the darkness they are in…letting a crack of light in as the words of their pain emerge from their sobbing mouths.
I am blessed with a brother and, well, two brothers from other mothers. I have learned I can talk to them about anything in my heart or on my mind.
There is no judgement in these men. There is no fear in me in talking to them.
When I am quiet for too long, they check in. As do I when they are quiet for too long. We care. We love each other. We do the work and we challenge and support each other in doing the work.
The work that is needed to heal and grow strong again.
My plea to you if you know a man who has gone quiet on you…Give him a call. Don’t wait till later this morning or this afternoon or tomorrow. Pick up the phone now and call him. If he does not answer, send him a message.
My plea to you if you are a man in a dark place and do not see the chink of light you so desperately need…call someone…and just say what is in your heart.
My plea to you if you get a call from a man in need…Don’t try to fix his problems. Just be there and listen without judgement. That is all that is needed. Feel what moves in you as he talks as that part of you that is moving is the piece of you that has the same problem…and can make him feel connected, supported and less alone.
It starts with you just being there…and will end with him still being here.
Men. Speak your pain. We are here.