CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
By Kristine Pratt
I woke up and thought, these are the things I'm going to do today. And I looked with pleasure upon those things, and even eager anticipation. It was Monday after all. The start of a new week. The start of easing myself into a little bit of WWC work again, just 15 minutes to check email. I would then lose myself in Pride and Prejudice. And work on that sweater I keep putting off.
But days don't always go as planned. Mine certainly didn't.
It started with hysteria. Source: my daughter. Her best friend had committed suicide.
So began a day of holding and comforting and praying and counseling. Crises mode. Everything else forgotten. Everyone pulling together to help and, while not providing answers (who can?), provide understanding and compassion.
Only...well, it turned out to be a hoax. No one died. Maybe it was a test to see who cared. Or just pain and confusion and wanting to disappear so badly that the alleged victim erased herself in a disturbing cry for help. These things we don't know. These are things for counselors to figure out. Professionals.
Relief came with anger on my part. I will admit to it. After all, my daughter was hurt by this action. Those tears and that grief were heartfelt. The guilt she felt over not being in the right place to say the right thing — to save her friend — was genuine. And painful.
Later came pity. Because people who are happy, well-adjusted people don't make this kind of statement. I feel for her. I am praying for her. And I hope she can find help and answers and everything she needs.
What does it say about us though? When I posted this news on Facebook I wasn't seeing so much relief as anger. Good people were praying and upset, and their day got derailed by this news. Friends and friends of friends and even strangers stopped a moment, breathed a prayer, and held their own children a little closer.
We don't react to derailment well. We like our days, for the most part, to be orderly. Not necessarily regimented with a routine figured down to the minute and carefully color-coded in a day planner, but we do have certain expectations for the day. Most of us have at least a vague idea of what we'll be doing tomorrow and even the day after that.
But it goes beyond that. Derailment is painful. It's a little reminder that our lives aren't entirely in our control to begin with. A moment can come that changes everything. For my daughter, that moment came this morning when she read the horrible news. For me, it came not long after. For my friends, when I posted it on Facebook.
We're all so fragile when it comes down to it — frightened of losing the things that matter most. Especially in such violent unexpected ways. At the same time, those fragile moments also give rise to our greatest strengths. Like the moment when my daughter lifted her chin and let me know that she was fine, that she was stronger than this, that she would make something good come out of today's events.
We all bear such an awesome responsibility to each other, don't we? We derail each other's days by posting on social media and trust that sometimes it's OK to do just that. I think sometimes we don't realize just what an amazing and wonderful thing it is that, in an instant, we can be surrounded by an outpouring of global support when our day goes badly.
But we can't abuse that trust. I feel badly that I got so many people upset. The original post had 137 separate responses of heartbroken prayers and hugs from people whose days derailed just enough to give room to our own derailment. I regret this horribly. I can only imagine the regret that must come from creating this kind of derailment deliberately. How many lives would be impacted by a post that says, "X committed suicide last night"?
And yes, that note impacts lives. Never, never think that you're so alone that such a message would not devastate and untold number of people around you. And don't believe that those ripples won't keep traveling outwards and hurting people that you've never in your life met or even heard of.
Perhaps this is a reminder to speak wisely. And a thankfulness that, in a world filled with so much cynicism, people still love freely and are there for us when our day derails in the most unexpected and awful ways.
Most of all, derailment reminds us that we're really not alone in this after all.
If you are considering ending your life, there is help. Talk to someone — a parent, a teacher, a pastor, or another adult that you trust. Don't keep these kinds of feelings to yourself. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is always open: 1-800-273-8255
Image Credit: Frosted Peppercorn; "Brentingby Derailment"; Creative Commons
Originally Published on Life at Rest; Reprinted with permission.
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