A book but also a state of mind.
I read this book years ago; I can’t remember much detail of it but I do know it fundamentally changed my perspective on human connection, everyday encounters and the things we might never know.
I was reminded of it recently when a friend told me she had passed an assignment that I had made a suggestion about.
She is training to be a paramedic and had to write an assignment on trauma. I presume there was an expectation this would be about physical trauma to the tissues of the body, but as a psychotherapist, my mind immediately went to emotional/relational/psychological trauma.
A few weeks prior to this she had been talking about the completed suicides she had attended so far in her placement. I am always alert to healthcare staff when they tell me about attending these impactful events because I am curious about (and usually now cynical about) what sort of support they are offered afterwards — usually none.
During this assignment chat I wondered aloud if suicide counted as trauma in this context. She thought it did. We didn’t talk much more about it.
Fast forward a few weeks and she has passed the assignment — Hurrah!
She’d used one of the suicide call outs as her case study and thanked me for the suggestion. The idea actually really inspired her and she found this assignment quite easy to write compared to others. My chest swelled a little with the satisfaction that I’d thought a little outside the box and it had paid off. Layer one — my suggestion led to her having an easier time writing and she passed.
Suicide has such tragic connotations and can bring to mind thoughts of regret, sadness, wasted life, ‘if onlys’… amongst many, many other feelings.
But what about being able to take positives from such tragedy?
In this life it wasn’t for this person to live any longer. Though it must have been unbearably painful for them in the time up to their death, and if they had family and friends then unbearably painful for them in the time since their death but their death…