A dear friend of mine called me Friday. He told me that his wife died.
On Wednesday, the last time I spoke to her, I sidestepped something. And I want to make sure that, if you hear this one particular sentence coming from anybody you know, you take the appropriate action.
On Wednesday November 30th, my friend’s wife called me. She was pretty down. Things in her life have been a little unsteady. She didn’t have significant changes in her financial situation, and her daily routine stayed pretty much the same. But a housing project that she was working on began to overwhelm her, and she’d gotten pretty down. And, since I’ve known her, she’d experienced this kind of change in her mood once before.
Last year in August and September, I helped her out of a really tough bout of depression. She and I were on the phone nearly every day. I literally talked her way out of bed long enough to take a shower and wash her hair. We were on the phone for over an hour every time we spoke, and I made sure that she’d stay with me through her morning routines, talking to me long enough to make sure she got out of the house and over to the gym. She said that exercise was the best anti-depressant she ever had and, when she used it, it was.
She did really well all year. We spoke once in a while about life, talked to her about my books, saw one another for dinner, but we stayed pretty casual.
And then about two weeks ago, she started to call. I’d get a call about every other day.
She’d talk about changes in her husband’s work, how he sold his business, how her financial situation wouldn’t change. But she worried how things would be about three years down the road. Again, she wasn’t presenting an immediate crisis. She just felt that she didn’t have a hold on things to come, and this made her feel helpless.
She told me that she wasn’t sure she could adjust. As much as I gently reminded her that a lot can change in three years, and told her directly that her track record in business and interpersonal relationships was wildly successful, her tone began to slip. I began to hear the cadence and inflection of a year ago, when the depression began to climb into her consciousness and wrestle with her mood.
She’d ask me if her husband loved her. I told her he did, very much. She’d say she wasn’t sure how much more of life she could handle. I assured her that she’d be OK, that she’d conquered this before, and she’d already taken steps-through exercise and therapy-to handle this again.
And then she said, “I just want the pain to stop.”
Had she been my client in coaching or counseling, I would have asked the following questions: Are you thinking of killing yourself? Have you thought about a plan? Do you have anything with you right now that would help you carry out that plan?
But she was my friend. So, instead, I reassured her that, if she stuck to her previous plans, of speaking to me every day and getting to the gym, we’d get through this together. The pain would stop, just like it had before. I told her I’d call her tomorrow and we’d get back on track. She thanked me, said she’d get to the gym, would talk to me in the morning, and we hung up.
When I called the next day, she didn’t answer. Not unusual, I figured she was busy or just wanted to be alone.
On Friday, minutes before I was going to call her in the late morning, I got a call from her husband.
My friend that I had spoken two only two days before had killed herself. Her husband found her body hanging from the bathroom door.
Pay attention to those words, “I want to the pain to stop.” When you hear anything even remotely close to that sentiment, ask directly the questions I’ve placed in front of you.
Don’t miss that chance to save a life.
By entrusting us with your feelings, we help you take steps that you see necessary to begin and put forth the energy to make the needed change.
Now notice something: Trust in a coach, mentor, or guide helps you see what's in front of you. We see a Coach for Your Heart a little like an emotional Sherpa, somebody that helps you climb your mountain by pointing out where to best step along the path.
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