Randy Weeks

Published on June 19th, 2018 | by Randy Weeks

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The View from the Balcony: Suicide Is Not Painless

I did not want to write this article. I had other plans—oddly, a different take on death. But the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain last week have resurrected the pain of my own brother’s suicide a year-and-a-half-ago, and the Muse will allow me to write nothing other than this.

Robert Altman, legendary film director, tried to write the lyrics for Johnny Mandel’s song that was to be used in his movie, M*A*S*H, but he couldn’t. He turned the job over to his 14-year-old son, Michael, who wrote the lyrics in 15 minutes. Many paid little attention to the words of the song that became the theme for both the film and the television show (the TV show did not use the lyrics), but they are chilling.

To get technical about the many modes of suicide and which ones may or may not cause physical pain is to miss the point. There are precious few suicides that don’t come from some kind of inner pain, but the pain does not cease there. It touches everyone who knew the person.

Some say that suicide is a selfish act, and it can be. But it can also be a desperate act, a hopeless act, a helpless act, and—as in the case of physician-assisted suicide—a choice to enter into death on one’s own terms.

It’s normal to be angry at the person who takes their own life. Not everyone feels that, but it’s just as normal as it is to feel compassion, sorrow, bewilderment, or lostness. Just don’t judge those who choose this way out too harshly or too quickly. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life as a counselor and spiritual adviser, it’s that we never know the whole story—not even when there’s a note trying to explain it. We may know many of the why’s, but we can never fully feel the feelings.

We’re all victims of suicide. There’s suffering enough to go round. So don’t put more suffering on top of suffering. Show grace. Show kindness. Show tender mercies. Give attention to your friends and your family. The signs that are so easy to see in retrospect? Learn them now. Love others enough to be bold and to ask them, “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?” It won’t push them closer to death. It might just save them. Your courage may break down walls that they cannot see beyond and make it safe for them to reach out for comfort and help. But should they resent you and not want to talk to you for a while . . . so what? So what, indeed.

. . . and that’s the view from The Balcony. The Local Voice Ligature



Suicide Is Painless

Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be,
the pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see that…

[REFRAIN]:
suicide is painless.
It brings on many changes.
And I can take or leave it if I please.

I try to find a way to make
all our little joys relate
without that ever-present hate,
but now I know that it’s too late, and…

[REFRAIN]

The game of life is hard to play.
I’m gonna lose it anyway.
The losing card I’ll someday lay,
so this is all I have to say.

[REFRAIN]

The only way to win is cheat
and lay it down before I’m beat
and to another give my seat,
for that’s the only painless feat.

[REFRAIN]

The sword of time will pierce our skins.
It doesn’t hurt when it begins.
But as it works its way on in
the pain grows stronger…watch it grin, but…

[REFRAIN]

A brave man once requested me
to answer questions that are key:
“Is it to be or not to be?”
and I replied, “Oh, why ask me?”

[REFRAIN]

’cause suicide is painless.
It brings on many changes.
And I can take or leave it if I please –

…and you can do the same thing if you please.

Songwriters: Johnny Mandel, Michael B Altman

Suicide Is Painless lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

 

Death Has Set My Mind on Fire

Death has set my mind on fire.

He has stirred my brain with his

Long,

            black poker,

Taken dying thoughts –

                        buried deep –

And pulled them into the air.

They explode into flame,

Burn up my remembrances

And leave me alone in ashes.

Job,

What do you do with ashes?

Ragan Courtney

© Copyright 2016 by Ragan Courtney



It’s a Bitter Pill to Swallow

It’s a bitter pill to swallow; don’t think I can get it down.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow; sticks in my throat—digs deep, like a plow.

It’s hardest pill to swallow that I have ever found.

It feels just like I’m drowning; goin’ down, goin’, down.

 

You must have felt forsaken; you must have felt alone.

You must have thought dead ends concluded every anguished road.

You must have felt so trapped in that damned box that you had drawn.

You must have begged in misery for your pain to all be gone.

 

I do not condemn you for the way you chose to leave.

Neither does the one who bled and died at Calvary.

Both of us just loved you—longed for you to be set free—

but neither of us ever thought that this is how it would be.

 

I wish that I had loved you far better than I did.

I wish that I could hold you—wash away the pain you hid.

I wish you’d seen the candles in the darkness that we lit.

I wish that you’d reached out instead of going off the grid.

 

I hope that you’re at peace tonight; I hope that you’re at rest.

I hope that MamaDaddy hold you tightly to their breast.

I hope you’re clad in golden robes with all the other blessed.

I hope your fractured soul is healed by the consecrated kiss.

 

I pray you know your brother and your sisters hold no grudge.

I pray you soar upon the wings of the holy snow-white dove.

Most of all I pray that if you hear me from above

that you’ll accept this offering of tears—your brother’s love.

 

It’s a bitter pill to swallow; don’t think I can get it down.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow; sticks in my throat—digs deep, like a plow.

It’s hardest pill to swallow that I have ever found.

It feels just like I’m drowning; goin’ down, goin’, down.

It feels just like I’m drowning; goin’ down, goin’, down.

 

Randall S. Weeks

©Copyright 2017. Randall S. Weeks, ASCAP. All Rights Reserved.

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