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Tony Grist

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Thoughts On Death And Suicide [Mar. 13th, 2008|11:35 am]
Tony Grist
I built myself a hill of pillows and slept on the slope. I didn't suffer from reflux but I had a hell of a stiff neck this morning. 

Anything is better than nearly dying on the bathroom floor.

Did I nearly die? No of course I didn't. But I don't suppose really dying could have been any more painful or distressing.

Our next door neighbour died on her bathroom floor. I wonder if it was quick. I look out our bathroom window and see her bathroom window- it's the house where Sameena now lives in blissful ignorance- and remember her.

In the midst of life we are in death. It could happen any time. 

I've been thinking about the Manchester police chief who was found dead under Snowdon a few days back. It seems it was  hypothermia that killed him. But it was a chosen death; he left letters. The emerging story seems to be that his private life was under investigation by a Sunday newspaper (presumably the News of the World);and he couldn't bear to see his bright and shiny image publicly besmirched. That bright and shiny image was, I suppose, the thing he loved most in the world. How odd.  He was brave about tackling villains but a coward when it came to this. I'm the other way round. I don't have the guts to do a policeman's job but you can besmirch my bright and shiny image all you like- and I can say that with confidence because I've had the experience- and even enjoyed it. 

No-one is brave all the way through. It's like Macbeth; he's a fearless soldier but  afraid of ghosts.

They say hypothermia is a nice way to go. After a while you stop feeling cold and just drift away. You wonder why more people don't try it. Is taking a hike up into the mountains really so much more difficult than taking a load of pills or jumping off a bridge? Actually, I suppose it is. It's a long process. With pills or the high-jump there's no going back, but when you expose yourself on a hill-side you've got hours in which to change your mind. It takes resolution, will-power, stoicism. 

I wouldn't commit suicide myself. I think suicide is like kicking over the Scrabbleboard because you're losing. It's not a grown-up thing to do.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2008-03-13 12:59 pm (UTC)
Death has been on my mind a lot lately so this was a timely post for me and I've been thinking along similar lines myself these days. My fear of death has kept me from posting about it too directly.

It is so true that one can be very brave about one issue but scared, trembling and unsure about others. And yes, suicide is a very un-grown-up thing to do. I like that Scrabbleboard analogy very much.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-03-13 02:29 pm (UTC)
I think about death all the time these days (as my LJ probably demonstrates). My attitude is partially summed up in Peter Pan's view of it as "an awfully big adventure".

I don't fear death itself, but the process of ageing is really, really tiresome and humiliating.

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[User Picture]From: qos
2008-03-13 01:25 pm (UTC)
I think that the right to take one's own life is an important one. However, I tend to associate suicide more with making a clean and dignified end in the face of lingering, wasting illness -- especially if one faces mental erosion. I think it's a far better option than to live on as a white-haired baby being kept alive because death is too scary to contemplate.

To commit suicide rather than face the consequence of one's actions is a different matter.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-03-13 02:33 pm (UTC)
Yes, I agree. I think the seriously ill should have the right to assisted suicide.

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[User Picture]From: wyrmwwd
2008-03-13 03:21 pm (UTC)
I liked your comment about the Scabbleboard. I totally agree. I also love stories where everything seems hopeless, yet, somehow, the hero prevails. Committing suicide relinquishes the possibility of that happening. It would ruin the story.

I once experienced hyperthermia. I was in a car that slid off the road in a snowstorm. This was long before cell phones, and we had to walk 20 miles back to town. I was not dressed appropriately. There is a feeling of euphoria that sets in before you lose consciousness.

I also once lossed consciousness on a bathroom floor. I was very, very sick (not drunk at all). Given a choice between a snowstorm and the bathroom floor, I think I would choose the snowstorm as well. Especially if it could be in a beautiful spot.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-03-13 06:41 pm (UTC)
A lot of films, novels, stories end with the suicide of the protagonist. It's a tidy way of rounding off a work of fiction. Also, I'm inclined to think, rather lazy.

Thank you for confirming my beliefs about hyperthermia. Excuse my nosiness, but how did you come to be rescued?
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[User Picture]From: wyrmwwd
2008-03-13 07:26 pm (UTC)
We finally made it to the village. I was with my then husband, who was much bigger than me and not as suseptable to the cold. He kept me walking, even though I was starting to lose consciousness. If he had not have been there, I would have just layed down and went to sleep. That was what I wanted to do. I was "very tired" and "oh, the snow is so pretty". I felt very safe. I was sure that everything would be fine, if I could just lay down and take a nap.

When we got to his mom's house, they put me in a tub of warm water and brought my body temperature up that way. I was kind of delirious.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-03-14 11:31 am (UTC)
I'm so reminded of that famous poem by Frost. The woods filling up with snow and the poet not wanting to leave them. That's one of the most perfect lyrics ever written- and so true!
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2008-03-13 07:04 pm (UTC)
Ah. I'm glad you didn't die and could tell us this story.
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[User Picture]From: wyrmwwd
2008-03-13 07:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I am glad I didn't die as well!
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2008-03-13 06:13 pm (UTC)
No-one is brave all the way through. It's like Macbeth; he's a fearless soldier but afraid of ghosts.

I forgot about that. There were many many times during the last of his illness that my brother threatened to kill himself. I wouldn't have blamed him if he had, he was in serious pain and under a death sentence anyway. And as a crazy person, I can say that thoughts of that kind of thing have entered my mind.

I'd like to know how someone can say that dying of hypthermia would be a 'gentle' death, that you just sort of drift away. Who has come back from that and said so? (I'm not calling you out, that's just an observation. Kinda like is there life after death? Who has come back and said so?)

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-03-13 06:45 pm (UTC)
The thing about hyperthermia is it's slow- and many people have been brought back long after they've lapsed into unconsciousness. As it so happens, my friend wyrmwwd is one of them (see above) and confirms that at a certain stage euphoria sets in.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2008-03-13 07:03 pm (UTC)
Ah, I see. I wasn't doubting you!!!
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[User Picture]From: besideserato
2008-03-14 06:12 pm (UTC)
This is a wonderful post. I've read it twice since I saw it yesterday. I need it in my favorites to keep.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-03-15 04:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks.
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[User Picture]From: mokie
2008-03-16 09:42 am (UTC)
You're the second person in my acquaintance to discuss suicide recently (the other: naamah_darling). One very odd coincidence!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-03-16 03:04 pm (UTC)
She goes into the subject in a lot more depth than I do. In fact, she makes me seem flippant. As I suppose I am. Flippancy is also a way of getting by.
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[User Picture]From: mokie
2008-03-17 03:52 pm (UTC)
She's writing from a different perspective and for a different reason. I like circling a topic from a few different vantage points, though, especially complicated topics.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2008-03-27 07:06 pm (UTC)
When we moved into a cheap cottage near an alley in Florida, I was home all day with the children and so I'd look outside at the other houses and wonder about them.

The house I wished we lived in had a pretty screened porch, and I wondered who owned it.

While I was wondering and envying, there was an old man inside the screened-porch house who had fallen off his bed and was lying helpless and alone for day after day, and I didn't know.

The postman got worried--he knew him a little--when his mail wasn't picked up for a week, and the neighbors found him.

They knocked on our door and told us, and asked if we had crackers--he was hungry, they said, and the ambulance was coming.

He died in the hospital. He'd been on the floor for three days.
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