For the third time in the 8 years I have been a peer specialist a consumer with whom I have been associated has died. Each time there have been warning signs and each time I tried to offer support. As an atheist I see death as a finality, the nothingness into which we will all vanish at some point. It is not something to rejoice in hoping to overcome the sorrows of life. I do not look forward to seeing anyone in an after life. Which is why I tell people cling as tightly as you can to the one, wild precious life we are given.
But sometimes their grip on life is loosened by circumstance beyond our control. Often by the time I meet consumers they have experienced trauma, neglect and abuse. Often they have lived on the street and endured frost bite, extreme heat and everything in-between. You try and tell people to take better care of themselves but ultimately the decisions they make are theirs. And whether and how long they survive is up to them.
Thinking about this I posted reminders to my facebook friends about doing something fun. The time is now to create positive memories for one another. I would hate for us to part in anger and then learn that it was too late to repair the hurt feelings.
Even though I know instinctively we are not going to be able to bring everyone with us on the road to recovery it is always hard when someone leaves us far too early in life. Let those of us who remain redouble our efforts to live healthy and productive lives.