Calm, Cool and Committed

Three Moms and a Dude

Live and Let Die

on October 14, 2012

By Mamma Fratelli

Life is beautiful. It is – hands down – the most important thing we have in this world.  It is a right, a blessing, a gift and it trumps absolutely everything else.  When we hear about a car accident or terrorist attack, the first thing we want to know is how many lives were lost.  We mourn those souls whether we knew them personally or not. We feel the void they left behind and shudder at the thought that it could have been one of our loved ones. Or us.  The loss of a life – any life – is a memento mori for us. Therefore, it can be particularly disturbing when someone chooses to end the game early.  Suicide, to some, is the most egregious of all sins.  I used to call it selfish.  And, it is. But, perhaps it should not be a sin or a crime. Perhaps it is just as much of a right as life itself.

When I was young, I heard the story of two children who walked home from elementary school to find their mother’s bloody body in the living room. She had put down a table cloth so that there would be minimal mess and left this world one weekday afternoon.  The real horror is that she knew that her children would be home before her husband.  I am still angry at that woman. How could she do that to her own babies?! What could be so terrible that you just throw your hands in the air and decide to give up, sell the farm, take the early bus and not look back?  How dare you leave your loved ones in agony because you were depressed? There are people fighting for their lives every second of the day. You want to tell that soldier in Iraq that your suburban life was just too hard? That young mother diagnosed with breast cancer would gladly take your troubles – and then some! Life is tough. Suck it up. Keep on trucking. You owe it to all the people who have invested in you and count on you to be there. Or, do you?

As I get older, my anger at this woman is starting to shift into anger for her.  She was sick. She did not have the luxury of clear analysis.  Her pain was just as real as someone who was suffering physically.  She, like a prisoner, was serving a life sentence. She was rotting slowly from the inside out and every breath was painful.  She simply did not want to be here. The horrific scar she left on her children notwithstanding, she had the right to clock out whenever she wanted to. It was, after all, her life. Her right. Her blessing. Not mine. I’m sure that if you caught her on a lucid day, doped her up with SSRIs and asked her outright if she wanted her children to find her laying in a pool of blood, she would say no. Of course not. Who would want that to be the image seared into their little minds? Who would want their memory to be woven with threads of pain, loss and fear? She probably would have rathered the opportunity to sit down with them and calmly explain her decision, tell them to study hard and be happy, kiss them goodbye.  She probably would have liked to tell her husband that she loved him and appreciated the good times, to tell him to find a good woman to be a mother figure for her babies and to spin bedtime stories out of their happy memories.  Then, she would slip into something comfortable and be left alone with her last thoughts, close her eyes and drift into a painless slumber. That is not an option. Suicide is illegal. It’s a sin.  No one would have allowed her to do that.

Take a moment to remember the absolute worst pain you have ever felt – physical or psychological.  Was it a car accident? A divorce? The loss of a loved one? A failure? An illness? Did the pain become more bearable eventually? Did you take medicine or talk to a counselor? Meet a new spouse or come to terms with your loss? If so, you are fortunate enough to have a healthy mind and a strong body. Imagine if that pain never ever subsided. What if the throbbing from the broken bone was only going to get worse with time? What if you were doomed to wake up every morning and face that bad news again, as sharp and fresh and painful as it was the very first time you heard it? What if all the comforts in this world were replaced with agony, all the happiness sucked out and the hole filled with depression? Would you damn anyone to that hell? Shouldn’t it be an option to get better, even if better means gone?

I think that we should de-stigmatize suicide. We get to decide when our meal ends, when our shower ends, when our day ends, when our hunger ends. Why can we not decide when our journey ends, too? I would like to see suicide clinics.  I imagine them to be brightly lit, peaceful places that value life and strive to allow you to enjoy yours.  They would have counselors and medical doctors that try to help you through your troubles first.  When you are of sound mind, they will help you make a decision – stay or go. It’s up to you. If you choose to stay – great! If you choose to go – also great. They would help you and your family communicate and understand one another. They would help you get your affairs in order and set up a payment plan to come out of your estate for the cost of your departure.  Then, when the time was right, you would decide who – if anyone – should be present. Your family? Your priest? Your dog? You would be able to choose where your last location on this Earth would be.  Snuggled in your bed? Outside with the wind rustling your hair? Sitting by a fireplace, listening to Sinatra? Whenever you were ready, you would depress the plunger on your IV and have full control over your last breath.  Why in the world should that be a crime? A sin? A stigma? If suicide clinics existed, those kids would not have had to live that nightmare.  There would be fewer people bearing the burden of guilt and unanswered questions.  Fewer scars. Fewer fears.  There would be more people living peacefully, knowing that they are here because they want to be.

Isn’t that what life is truly about?

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6 responses to “Live and Let Die

  1. Molar Mother says:

    Her children might not have been scarred in the same way, but they still would have been scarred.

    For the past 20 minutes I’ve thought of oodles of reasons I don’t agree with you — I even came up with an analogy to tattoos — but it all boils down to one thing. You say that if a person is of sound mind they should be allowed to decide to kill themselves. Yet, is a person contemplating suicide of sound mind? No, they are not.

    (Despite the fact that I vehemently disagree with this post, it’s a good one.)

  2. sara says:

    this ia definitely a sensitive topic. with instances like this woman who clearly suffered from deep mental disorders, would it have been better for her to take 10 mood-stabilizing pills a day that numb into a zombie formally known as their mother or allow her to suffer so much mental amguish that she eventually kills her children and then herself because shes so tortured she eventually loses it.? It may not be that suicide needs to have more options, though honorable ones such as with clinic should be considered. People in general NEED to unerdstand mental illness and how devstating ot is to those who suffer.from it. also those kids suffered long before that woman ended her life due to her.mental illness. I bet she wasnt peachy and cheery. she propably ,ried.a lot, wemt through mood swings, etc. we have clinics for everything else drug addica, eating disorders, obesity and in a way when at their.worzt.each person in those.clinics.was.slowing.committing suicide

    • I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for understanding that I’m certainly not saying that we should advertise on TV, “Hey! Come on down and end your life.” Rather, if (and only if) there is truly no other option for the person, at very very least (and it’s certainly not much), we could offer them the option to go with dignity. I wish we had the answers. My husband and I have seen far too many people take their own lives (over 10 people total between us!) and the devastation they left in their wake is catastrophic. My BIL saw his father shoot himself right in front of him. He will never be the same. I got to hold my grandmother as she passed after she chose to end her medical treatment. That was infinitely more peaceful and as sad as I am about her loss, we were able to share everything we needed to and my family is at peace.

  3. Joe Borrelli. Son of Gregory Eugene Borrelli and brother of Dominic Anthony Borrelli. Try and guess what happened to them. says:

    I have to hope that, in other aspects of your life, you are a decent human being. It feeeeels like you are a nice person, or at least you think of yourself as a nice person, but your ideas are idiotic and cruel and completely toxic.

    The voice you write in sounds earnest and wholesome and heartland-y, with your images of a patriot next to the words “Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” (wow, talk about a toxic juxtaposition) and your talk of “won’t someone please think of the children” and “tell that to the soldier in Iraq fighting for something or another.” I especially liked that happy little fantasy you spun out about the suicide-to-be calmly sitting down with their family and wishing them a farewell. Do your homework, kids. Find a loving man, husband. I’m going to blissfully pass on, a pile of rose petals on the bed and a jar of sleeping pills in one limp hand.

    Leaving aside the catastrophic damage that suicide does to the people who care about the person, what you’re suggesting is that people should accept the worst possible result of a disease. By your logic, if a person who was born addicted to a drug due to their mother’s use, that child should be allowed to have the drug. Or, if a tumor was a sentient thing, it should be allowed to metastasize. It is the natural course of a thing and things should be allowed to continue.

    Depression isn’t a choice and suicide isn’t some grand Libertarian expression of self-actualization. Depression is a psychological and chemical disease with an end goal of self-destruction. Dealing successfully with depression is a herculean effort and we will lose people along the way but, if you truly believed that life has value, then you do everything you can to hold on to it. We get such a small and fragile window of consciousness in a vast sea of chance and silence and we have to find the beauty in what we are given. Yes, it is ultimately a person’s choice whether or not they allow themselves to continue, but the hallmark of healthy life is that it strives forward and the hallmark of healthy compassion is that we do our best to keep each other going.

    Bottom line, you cannot tell me that the choice to end one’s own life ever comes from a healthy or psychologically correct place. Therefore, you always fight the disease and you never ever celebrate the symptoms.

    I cannot make my points effectively. I cannot write this response without my hands trembling in anger. I already lost it on one person and I am trying to tell myself that you’re not speaking out of malice but instead out of an overdeveloped sense of sympathy. Yes, it is good to sympathize with the woman of the story, but you’re going about it in the absolutely worst possible way.

    And by the way, how fucking TWISTED of you to start your post with a suicide hotline, then end it with some bizarre Soylent Green fantasy of dying gently. Really lady, what the hell is wrong with you?

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