Over the weekend I learned that a friend passed away. He was relatively young – in his early forties – and while I’m at an age where death pays a visit in my world a lot more often than it used to, this one has shaken me up. You see, this is a guy whose life was seemingly very much on track up until about 2 years ago. He had some physical challenges – very bad arthritis – which made his job in golf difficult. Things started downhill. He tried to start a business but it never quite got off the ground. His marriage broke up. His social media activity became less frequent as did his general communication. I even heard he was homeless at one point. While none of the obituaries mention a cause of death, it may have been as simple as a broken heart, deep depression, or as complex as a suicide. I don’t know that it matters.
I wrote something on this topic a year and a half ago:
We all know a person who displays symptoms of things not being right in their lives. Those symptoms could come in the form of substance abuse or a big weight gain. Maybe their personality has changed – gone from light to dark. If you care about that person, you probably think about a way to say something that asks about what’s going on. It’s hard – people have feelings, after all and they are probably just as aware as you are of what they’re doing. Probably more so. The ensuing discussion can be hard for both of you. Sometimes it can derail a friendship. More often, it begins a healing process, but only if you care enough to say something.
I tried to follow that advice with this friend. I tried to help with the business start-up, doing the digital work and marketing. I invited him to come cook with me (he had professional training and loved a kitchen). Other invitations to meet up went unanswered. In short, I tried. And yet I feel as if I could have done more. I didn’t really “say something.”
It’s easy to say that his family should have been helping – he has a lot of family in the area. Who knows – maybe they were estranged. Maybe he wasn’t keeping them informed. How many of us tell our loved ones all is well when the reality is that our world has fallen apart?
I’m sorry to start the week on a down note but PLEASE. If you have people in your lives who seem to be lost, helping them find their way is really about helping you too. Be that selfish. Do more. Don’t wait and don’t be afraid. They might be gone before you overcome your fears.