When Mark went down to the pine forest and hung himself, it was a great challenge for me. Lovely, whimsical Mark. Such a nice guy. I really liked him.
I could not believe that a loving God would ever punish him for what he had done. Indeed, since then I never have believed that killing yourself was some special sin that had you excluded from the presence of God.
Years later we have been wakened at 6am by dear and old friends whose son had killed himself. Pain, shock, guilt, and exhaustion. Then at 6pm that same day I open the mail, to find that Toby, too had taken his own life. Toby was incredibly kind to us at a time when we were alone and suffering. He went on caring for us. He was dead. I was stunned.
And now. Now I look at all the animals. They grow old, or are injured, and suffer until they die of exposure, or are torn apart and eaten by another. Only we humans seem to be able to decide to say enough, and end it. There are surely times when we do it wrongly- when there was another alternative,- or to hurt people in one last, bitter protest of despair or anger. Surely it always leaves people behind hurt and guilty.
But when I remember gentle caring Toby, and whimsical and yet earnest Mark, and knowing David's pain, I can only say that taking our own life is God's last great mercy. If, in the end, it is just too hard, we can go home. Perhaps it is some small compensation for the agony that life can become.
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