I recently started following the Suicide Shatters page on Facebook, and today, I saw this article written by Kristina Cowan, who has experienced the death of immediate family twice in her life, the first was her mother’s to cancer, the second was her brother’s to suicide. She quotes a line from Dr. Maxine Harris’s book, The Loss That Is Forever: The Lifelong Impact of the Early Death of a Mother or Father. : “[I]t only takes one shattering event of sufficient magnitude to change one’s core beliefs about life.”
In Cowan’s own words, she writes, “They’ve changed my beliefs — for the better. I’ve learned not to ask why bad things happen, but how to cope well with such bad things, and turn them into something glorious. For me that means when I remember my brother, I’m challenged to love the people around me better, to forgive faster than I’m inclined, and to be kind when I’d rather not.” I understand and feel a lot of what she feels. I have always been a kind person, but now I’m even kinder to people, especially strangers… even the ones who bump into me on the street. But at the same time, I think I am far less tolerant of a lot of things: lack of empathy and compassion, arrogance without something concrete to back it up, and even things like people interrupting me or each other in group settings. I’m less patient with complaining and irrational worry, and I’m also far more critical of day to day superficiality that people seem to love to discuss and fill their lives with. Example: the other day, a colleague gave me a really hard time for not remembering the name of some famous actor (apparently it was Jared Leto). She said, “Yvonne, really? How can you not know this?” Chances are that someone who says something like this is probably really catty and gossipy in real life with her own friends, and she’s not someone I’d want to waste my breath on at work. I simply responded that I don’t really focus on celebrities and their lives in my free time. She got the message… At least, I think she did. And I’m sure she also wrote some nasty instant messages about me after. I really can’t be bothered by people’s stupidities and shallowness. Some might find this narrow minded of me, but I don’t want that kind of life. There’s an art to not giving a shit. It’s important to judge people not by isolated comments or conversations, but as a whole person. And she as a whole person is not appealing to me.