Goodbye Mr Bourdain

I have always enjoyed his shows and his daring-do and crusty personality, somehow pushing us to do more things outside of our comfort zones (at least that's the way I read it, reading too much between lines being a professional affliction).

Mr Bourdain was struggling but he kept up a good front, and that somehow reminds me of the Robbin Williams. Which is sad to think, because these influential and yet ordinary men had suffered alone.

It has given me much thought (in a psychoanalytical way) about death, the drive towards it and what lay behind it. Death is one of those awkward and sticky semi-taboo issues that modern society has subverted and (in my opinion) made light of through media portrayals (e.g., just watch any action-based anime, or computer games where your avatar pops back to life after being totalled at Level 1) in order to neutralize our discomfort with it. (Ohhh, I think I actually sound a little like a psychoanalytical writer)

The truth of the matter is that confronting death head on, while putting aside our tendency to lighten it, is pretty full on. And yet, we have people like the two men above and many more thinking about suicide, and death.

I will be honest that there are times when I do think the same way too (although rest assured I haven't made any plans and have no intent of finishing myself up prematurely).

I wonder what a Focusing approach would say about death and suicide.

Perhaps we should face death head on, and look deeply at (instead of shy away from) the feeling behind the thoughts and even plans to die. Of course, it would help if we also take care of our awkwardness-fear of death (in a Focusing way - we feel it physically, acknowledge it, and make space in our awareness for it).

What I sometimes find when I do this with myself or with my clients who express their wish to die is an overwhelming sense, like a physical weight they have swallowed, that life at the moment is too hard to do. We are really, truly tired and sick of being stuck in pain.

It is actually a wish for real rest (that's from my own thoughts of death) and peace - "Sleep, sour labor's balm" says Shakespeare. Except that this time, sleep isn't enough to cut it. I believe, from what I read about their lives and deaths, that Mr Bourdain and Mr Williams felt that their life's burden had become too much.

Of course, death is also a way of avoidance for some - "oh let me not have to face the mess of life, to take responsibility for fixing it!" And that is understandable too. Maybe people who feel this way feel like there is no true help from anyone, that they have to bear an unreasonable burden alone, indefinitely. That is their Emotional Truth.

A third meaning behind the wish to end for some of my clients is the feeling that - "there's no place and no one for me in this world. This is not my world. I should leave instead of being an alien." It speaks of the strong need to find our rightful place, to belong truly and be our natural selves.

I am not saying that we shouldn't take care of people who are suicidal. What I guess I'm saying here is that looking at the feelings behind the wish to die, and hence the emotional needs implied there, would be one additional good and potential powerful way to support someone thinking of topping themselves.

Another moral-of-the-story is: don't shy away from your scary feelings. They are still part of you, and if you treat them right, they will ironically show you how you could live!

Happy Friday
Eric

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