Editor’s Note: If you are experiencing persistent emotional pain and/or thoughts of suicide, please call your physician or primary care or mental health provider. If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. If you are considering suicide and need to talk to someone, call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. For resources, visit 988lifeline.org. If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, it is okay to get help. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for confidential support. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
As many people struggle with pain, some believe that mental pain from deeply hidden wounds is the worst. Emotional pain cannot be compared to the physical pain. They’re just not the same.
The biggest difference between the two is that most who suffer from mental pain or depression do so silently. Some of those people struggle and attempt to stand, or stumble and are unable to walk. Because of this external expression of obvious pain, compassionate people feel compelled to reach out and help those people dealing with pain or discomfort.
But those who keep their pain hidden will usually not receive such help and attention. For those who suffer silently, there does not seem any end in sight for the internal torment. They may attempt self-correction. Some rely upon medication – legal or not. Some choose alcohol, with all the baggage that comes with it. Some seek counseling, which is probably the best option.
Unfortunately, some have tried all these things and more, and yet still live steeped in unrelenting pain.
The mind is a great and powerful thing, when it works for you. But as with most things, there is another side of this pendulum. For some the mind can be the most dangerous and feared part of their life; a door that is always open, letting the cold and misery rush in. For some the thought of shutting that door forever becomes a real choice playing in their head, for there is only so much that they can take. So much anguish, so much hate, so many dark thoughts. They start to wonder if they just close the book and end the story, will that the pain subside?
That’s the question that lies before them. But how will they know? Who will tell them the truth?
I am here today to answer that question; the question that tortures so many people. You see, this is the same question my son asked five years ago: If he ends his life, will the pain go away?
The hard truth is that pain never ends; you either live with it or not. But when you make the deliberate decision to not live with the pain, it is not only your life that ends. The pain goes on, but not as you would think.
You see, the pain only gets transferred to those who love you most. Now, your pain becomes theirs to carry. Your best friends’ pain, your brother or sisters’ pain, your parents’ pain, your grandparents’ pain, your aunts, uncles and cousins’ pain.
Now, your pain is theirs to hold for the rest of their lives.
Some people who choose a permanent solution to end their pain may believe that in doing so, they are inexplicably helping their loved ones, because perhaps they think they’re a burden to those around them.
Few mental burdens are greater than the burden of being the one left behind; a shell of what they once were. They gut themselves to make room for their loved one’s former pain, for now it’s theirs to carry.
People will ask how can you carry on, how you can live life carrying such a load of sorrow.
The answer is in this truth: They know of the transfer of pain, They know it will never go away. They carry this heavy load sometimes inches at a time. They did not choose this. Someone else chose for them. Even so, it is in their hands now, on their backs, in their stomach, in their hearts for the rest of their lives.
Some of you reading this will ask what can you do. My answer is this: If you know someone struggling mentally — as my son did — stay with them, help them, let them know it is OK. Let them know that they are loved.
Sometimes you need not say a word, but just lay a kind hand on their back or shoulder. Let them know we all make mistakes. And if all else fails, read this to them, so they can understand the transfer of pain, so they can see that the pain really doesn’t end. Instead, it remains behind with those they love the most.
A father left behind