A Gentle Bear is Farewelled


My friend often talked to me about her boys, her voice softening in timbre, her eyes glimmering. She was so very proud of her boys, the eldest of whom, Liam, was twenty. I looked forward to meeting this young man. I had heard he was a talented musician. This sensitive, gentle giant ended his life a week ago. I went to his funeral today, and I tell you, if love alone had been enough to save him, he would still be here. There were so many young people of his age, openly weeping. There wasn’t room enough in the chapel, and the mourner’s watched on screens outside. His brave parents stood up and spoke his name; spoke of the memories he has left behind, delicately wrapped in gossamer. I talked to his friend’s parents, whom are in despair that young people have waiting lists- stretching a year or more- to even be able to access youth mental health services, such is the demand. Where to go and what to do, to keep these precious young people alive? Liam was a commendable young man. Always helpful and kind, he was due to perform with a fellow rap artist, until he heard  that he had put his partner through a violent hell. He pulled out of the gig, spending that night with friends instead.

Oh darling one, I talked with some of your friends today. I heard them speak about you. You were loved and always shall be. May I never attend the funeral of another young person taken too early. May we have an open dialogue about depression and suicide. May whole communities look after each other’s young. May we rebel against sanitation on social media. Sure, I want to look at the aspirational pictures and hear friend’s happy news, but I also want to hear and see real and raw imagery when those whom I love are struggling. As the mourner’s said their last goodbye to you, Liam, they were urged to take a can of beer with them. They were asked to take it home, and on the 8th July (which would have been your 21st birthday), crack it open, and toast you.

You are loved, young Liam, always were and always shall be. May your legacy be openness and honesty and love, as you deserve. May your legacy also contain the willingness to talk of our trials and struggles. To be able to declare when we aren’t coping, or need support, whether that be needing company in our home or to be distracted by a movie and chat afterward. We need to lead the way for our young. You are not a burden and you will be heard. Liam, you will live on, and as the celebrant advised, we will look up at the night sky tonight, and locate the stars.

Liam’s music is on SoundCloud.

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Please Hold On


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Last night, I noticed a message from a fellow blogger. She implored our community to send comments of support and love to a woman she didn’t know, but was terribly worried about. I went to the blog she was referring to and saw a photo of a gorgeous young woman. Her dark tendrils of hair and the faraway look in her eyes were reminiscent of a model from a Raphael painting. She wrote about being battle-weary, of finding comfort in the notion that she may quietly slip away. She was saying goodbye. Many people were concerned about this stranger. We need her in this world! Messages of love and support were sent. Please hold on. I have been there, sweetheart. I know how it feels to be done with this world and all the anguish contained therein. I wanted to fall asleep forever. I thought that my life would have to expire in order to slay the demons slowly killing me. I never imagined turning eighteen, let alone thirty! My attempts (plural), were executed with the help of a medical manual and many prescription pills. I had to be resuscitated, was in ICU, and in coma’s. Nobody was more surprised than I to awake. It took a long time to feel thankful that I hadn’t succumbed. Before these attempts, I could see beauty. It was presented outside of my realm. In music, art, other people and their pretty lives. It seemed inaccessible to me. I know what you felt last night, for I have felt it too. You get to a point where you feel like you are committing an act of mercy, by setting those you love free of witnessing the torment you have been facing. Setting them free to start anew. That is scary territory; when you believe that you staying is worse for your loved ones than you leaving. I am so proud of this young woman, for telling us what she was feeling and why. That took enormous courage. We were strangers at the beginning of the night, and by the time dusk had smeared the sky with cinnamon-hued light, we knew you.

Many years have passed since I last woke in Intensive Care, furious that I had been saved. Many years have passed since I felt I had no place in this world. My days are filled with wonder and mirth. I laugh at the silliness of some of my encounters. Others have me weeping in the shower. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss any of it. My daughter growing, having a beloved colony of guinea pigs, meeting friends by the river, riding buses with groomed elderly ladies, seeing in another year… The list goes on and on. There will come a day sweetheart, when you shall be glad that you are here too. Keep talking and please keep writing. Life won’t be filled with darkness forever. It is merely the background for the painter. They shall fill it with stars and swirls of blue. You will be in the foreground, in all your Raphaelite beauty.

Stephen Fry sent this response to a young lady who had reached the end of her ability to cope.