To The Daily Sun,
Alan Vervaeke and I are polar opposites politically, but it seems we share common ground regarding human tragedy. I thought his recent heartfelt letter about his brother was nothing short of terrific. It must have taken a lot of courage to write about such a close and personal tragedy. A tragic loss that happened to him not so very long ago.
Alan's letter was brilliant because he painted such a masterful picture of the pain that one suffers in order to contemplate, let alone attempt suicide. As I read his letter slowly, since one does not read this sort of gut-wrenching message quickly, I could feel Alan's pain. He obviously had a special bond with his brother after having spent so many memorable times together. I hope Alan derives much pleasure and comfort from those memories. I'm sure he does judging by the way he described his brother to us in his Saturday, Dec. 17, letter.
Alan is correct when he asserts that depression lies to the person caught in its mind-altering grip. It can indeed create an impenetrable fortress that blocks out the light, as he describes it. It is very difficult to convince someone they have worth when their inner voice incessantly reminds them that they have no value. I recently spoke to someone who had attempted suicide. I asked this person about remembering those that would miss her so terribly if she were gone. This person said that she was at a place where she could not believe that others would miss her. She rather believed that they would be better off if she were not around to continue to "mess up their lives," as she described her thinking in those moments of desperation.
Alan is also right when he says we must not be afraid to talk about this issue. Most of us have either suffered with depression or know of family and friends who have been afflicted with its devastating consequences. No one should feel embarrassed about being depressed because, though it may be invisible to others, it can be every bit as painful as a broken bone, and sometimes more so, yet much more difficult to heal.
I wrote about depression in a letter to the Sun on Aug. 14, 2014, shortly after suicide ended the life of Robin Williams. I do not remember there being any response, which is why I wanted to respond to Alan's heartfelt letter and impassioned plea to bring this issue out of the shadows and into the open, in the hope that one of us can reach a sibling, parent, son, daughter or friend before it is too late. We must all not be afraid to reach out to someone who is feeling isolated and hopeless. His letter is a grim, yet hopeful reminder to honor, cherish and spend time with all those we care about who are still with us to celebrate life.
I would like to offer Alan Vervaeke my condolences for the loss of a brother who meant so very much to him and to thank him for sharing his pain and loss with us. I do wish him the best during this holiday season. I hope his circle of family and friends will bring him some measure of comfort and peace as we approach the new year.
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