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Ostomy Memories of an Old Man

 
This is the best website for people with an Ostomy. So much understanding.

A little man in town died recently. I don’t know his name but he and his wife had a son who runs a local business. I had seen them in a store last week, the little man moving slowly, not out of care or doubt but due to the fact that he could not move any faster. He was perhaps in his early seventies with a thin, dull face and slow eyes. He slouched forward noticeably at the shoulders as if from the effort of having to move. His wife took from his hands a package of beef jerky which he had picked up to purchase and put it back on the rack. “You don’t want this,” she announced, and they proceeded to check out. She had newly coifed, curly white hair and a round face carved with lines. Her face was like much of the American West, covered with dry washes everywhere, arid, monochrome, expressionless.

As we were headed for my truck, my companion commented about the old man. “He looks like he’s about to cash it in,” my friend said. Less than a week later, the old man was dead.

Now, in the mornings when I walk past the old man’s house, I’ll think of him trying to buy that beef jerky. Perhaps it would have been his last pleasure before leaving this earth. A little beef jerky doesn’t seem like too much to want. His tastes were simple, manly, unobtrusive, a small measure of satisfaction for a life well lived, despite his wife.

 

Hello Henry.
Sometimes the accounts of your brilliant and vivid memories conjure up a host of memories of my own. The talk of someone’s death is always a trigger for the many personal losses we feel and the memories they evoke. Perhaps even more so on this ‘Remembrance Sunday’, when we recall all those who fought for what they believed in an died as a consequence.
My own memories of death almost always take me back to those (far too many) individuals who sometimes literally ‘died in my arms’, or at least when I was the only one there to comfort them in their dying moments.
Quite often my memories take me back to the events prior to their deaths, when I question whether there was anything else I could do for them, to ease their physical, psychological or emotional pain whilst they were still alive. Some of these were what were described as ‘natural’ deaths and could not have been prevented, no matter what was done. However, many of them were suicides, where there seemed to be so much that ‘should’ have been done and maybe ‘could’ have been done if we only lived in a more kind, caring and morally accountable society.
There are so many sad deaths I recall, but the one which always springs to mind when I relapse into this melancholy memory mood, is the lovely lady who ended her life by jumping in front of a train.
She did this entirely out of ‘love’ for her family, who not only did not reciprocate her feelings, but they made her feel that she was unwanted, unloved, and they wished she did not exist.
Needless to say, I felt that she was ‘pushed’ into committing suicide and I said as much in my evidence to the coroner. I also penned a poem as a eulogy to someone who epitomised the concept of ‘laying down one’s life for love’.
Best wishes
Bill

DID SHE JUMP OR WAS SHE PUSHED?

Someone near did die today
but who was it took her life away.
The lady’s greatest love in life
was as a mother and a wife.

Once these precious things were gone
why would she want to linger on.
As her world turned upside down
her sweetest smile turned to a frown.

This lady didn’t want for much
a little love – a tender touch.
A kind word whispered in her ear
from her family held so dear

Her wish for love was oh! So strong
without which, life was simply wrong.
From family she just could not part
so sadly died with broken heart.

This lady always said to me
marriage was her destiny.
The last line of the marriage vow
led to where she is right now.

Those words resounded in her heart
nothing less than death us part.
Her family said she could not stay
so, who really took her life away.

One of her family even said
‘They’ may be better – if she was dead.
So, from her family came a shove
towards her final act of love.

An age-old question comes to mind
the answer’s always hard to find.
As that train on mainline swooshed
did she jump – or was she pushed?

                                    B. Withers 2009.

(in ‘Contemplation’ pp 68)

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Bill wrote:

Hello Henry.
Sometimes the accounts of your brilliant and vivid memories conjure up a host of memories of my own. The talk of someone’s death is always a trigger for the many personal losses we feel and the memories they evoke. Perhaps even more so on this ‘Remembrance Sunday’, when we recall all those who fought for what they believed in an died as a consequence.
My own memories of death almost always take me back to those (far too many) individuals who sometimes literally ‘died in my arms’, or at least when I was the only one there to comfort them in their dying moments.
Quite often my memories take me back to the events prior to their deaths, when I question whether there was anything else I could do for them, to ease their physical, psychological or emotional pain whilst they were still alive. Some of these were what were described as ‘natural’ deaths and could not have been prevented, no matter what was done. However, many of them were suicides, where there seemed to be so much that ‘should’ have been done and maybe ‘could’ have been done if we only lived in a more kind, caring and morally accountable society.
There are so many sad deaths I recall, but the one which always springs to mind when I relapse into this melancholy memory mood, is the lovely lady who ended her life by jumping in front of a train.
She did this entirely out of ‘love’ for her family, who not only did not reciprocate her feelings, but they made her feel that she was unwanted, unloved, and they wished she did not exist.
Needless to say, I felt that she was ‘pushed’ into committing suicide and I said as much in my evidence to the coroner. I also penned a poem as a eulogy to someone who epitomised the concept of ‘laying down one’s life for love’.
Best wishes
Bill

DID SHE JUMP OR WAS SHE PUSHED?

Someone near did die today
but who was it took her life away.
The lady’s greatest love in life
was as a mother and a wife.

Once these precious things were gone
why would she want to linger on.
As her world turned upside down
her sweetest smile turned to a frown.

This lady didn’t want for much
a little love – a tender touch.
A kind word whispered in her ear
from her family held so dear

Her wish for love was oh! So strong
without which, life was simply wrong.
From family she just could not part
so sadly died with broken heart.

This lady always said to me
marriage was her destiny.
The last line of the marriage vow
led to where she is right now.

Those words resounded in her heart
nothing less than death us part.
Her family said she could not stay
so, who really took her life away.

One of her family even said
‘They’ may be better – if she was dead.
So, from her family came a shove
towards her final act of love.

An age-old question comes to mind
the answer’s always hard to find.
As that train on mainline swooshed
did she jump – or was she pushed?

                                    B. Withers 2009.

(in ‘Contemplation’ pp 68)

Bill,

This story is a very sad one, and a reminder to all of us to consider how we treat people every day. My only concern about it is, having worked for so long in the area of suicide bereavement, I understand that the more volatile emotions, such as guilt, are always likely to arise after a suicide, making the work of grief so much more difficult. We humans are funny creatures in that we want things neatly tied up - we don't like unanswered questions. Therefore, we will sometimes see ourselves as responsible for things we aren't responsible for - rather that, than no answer at all. A death by suicide is one of those things. It takes people years to work through the grief of a death as complicated as suicide is. Guilt, anger, and blame usually follow a suicide, making it doubly hard for those left to come to grips with it - those who may have been walking on eggshells for years, trying to prevent it. I often said that working in suicide bereavement is actually working in suicide prevention - such is the despair and pain felt by the bereaved. Yes, we need to be mindful of how we treat others, but we also need to recognize that a death by suicide isn't the fault of the family. It was a sad choice made by the individual, who perhaps wasn't able to see that he/she had a choice.

Laurie

 

Hello Laurie. 

Thanks for your wise words and observations, which I agree with wholeheartedly in those cases where there was no deliberate provocation to go down that route. The above rhyme was composed because, over several years of working with the lady concerned,  I felt sure that she was being gaslighted into believing that all the problems were her fault and, that the only way she could relieve the family of the responsibility was to end her own life.

Sometimes, those who are abusive and bullying perhaps deserve to feel the blame and guilt at the consequences of their behaviours. I have several examples of this which have left an indelible mark on my own consciousness. One lady recounted several occasions when her husband poured petrol over her and threatened to light a match - simply to show that he had the power to do so. Another sometimes held his hands tightly round his wife's throat until she passed out. At which time he would bring her round and convince her that her life belonged to him to do exactly what he liked with. Interestingly, to the outside world, these men had a facade of respectability and very few people knew what they were really like behind closed doors. Some of them would even make appointments with me so that they could try to explain and persuade me how difficult it was trying to 'care' for their partners, whom they described as 'emotional', to the point of being mentally ill. Needless to say, I found their accounts very hard to believe and, as soon as these women left their abusive situations, their emotional instability quickly began to resolve itself. 

The women who committed suicide were the ones who had been persuaded by their abusers to 'blame' themselves. I found it very interesting that when a few of them came to realise where the problems actually lay, and they blamed the abuser, they then, either left the relationship or they killed their abusive partner. Either way, they managed to escape the abuse. 

It is indeed a complicated field of study and work. 

Best wishes

Bill. 


 

Bill, you once again have reminded us of the devastating effects that bullying and abuse can have. I have no doubt that you provided some comfort to the women in the tragic stories you have shared. I am glad you were able to bear witness to their experiences, although I am sure that doing so has left its mark on you. That mark would be a tribute to your compassion, which we have seen, time and again on this site.

Laurie

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