Tuesday, April 5, 2022


                                        Edge of the Park oil on canvas 30x30 inches, 76x76 cm

 I`ve just returned from the funeral of a suicide. An acquaintance of mine, a friend and former coworker of Johns`. If the subject wasn`t so dispiriting, I would educate myself better. Without real knowledge, I can only guess there are a multitude of reasons why someone would do this. I`ve heard the actual deed is often an impulsive one. We are warned not to leave guns accessible, keep an eye on our medicines and that having fenced off bridges is wise. Many years ago I was cautioned about sudden positive changes of mood in my troubled loved ones, as that might be a sign the decision has been made. Once a plan is in place, the hard part has been determined. 

There have been times in my life I wish I wasn`t here, but I`ve never looked for a way out. I can`t speak of the turmoil that would precede such a choice. Obviously it must be horrific. Worthy of an effort to understand as remote as that may be. I read an interview once with a survivor of a leap off the Golden Gate Bridge. There have been several. He said as soon as his fingers left the railing he knew it was a mistake. He mentioned the others had that exact response as well. What does this mean? That all problems and predicaments actually do have a possible resolution? That life itself is worth any struggle? Why does this keep happening? Statistics show a pronounced rise in the rates. The issue is a bottomless rabbit hole of questions.

I expected a room full of pain today and it was there. What I wasn`t expecting was the spiritual suggestion that we cannot let this lead us to fear. The death of anyone dying 'before their time' is extremely disorienting. If the beloved is the source of their own death, how in the world can life ever be trusted? Well, I learned how it might. I saw one quivering person after another rise to their feet and speak of their experience with the departed. Their courage was summoned to honor their dear friend and sister. Not to allow the tragic end be the story that is remembered first. Each recounted extraordinary kindness and generosity. Some of them had their lives reordered and restored from her attention. I have learned to never underestimate a nurse, they wield their authority with great wisdom. And so she did. 

What`s most painful is to know at least 20 people in that room would not have left her side had they known what she was capable of. Would have walked with her toward health until she had it again. We are a tribal people, why would we hide such terror inside? Not ask for help? Anything is more bearable if we aren`t alone. We are all broken one way or another. What is so shameful in letting that show? It`s a slogan, a cliche, but worth remembering; We are always better together.

                                  New Mexico Remembered oil on canvas 30x24 inches, 76x61 cm

                                    Clifftop-Neahkanie oil on canvas 15x30 inches, 38x76 cm

                                             Canyon oil on canvas 48x36 inches, 122x91 cm

I was unexpectedly offered an August slot for a show at the Hanson Howard Gallery in Ashland OR. I said yes then realized I needed to get busy. Because my pandemic foray into abstraction was serious, not many landscapes were produced. I now believe again that landscape painting is where my interest and talents are best explored. So I need to do some! I always have lots of work on paper I can frame up for a show if need be but that is an expensive project.


Click HERE for work for sale in my studio


Unknown said...

Merci pour votre témoignage, il est fort beau et me touche beaucoup ainsi que votre empathie pour ces gens qui souffrent en silence. Vos peintures aussi me touchent, j'admire la beauté de la nature à travers elles, vos couleurs douces,,, Merci pour votre partage. Belette sauvage

RH Carpenter said...

I have been in that place where there doesn’t seem to be a way out of the pain other than death. One: the person who is going to take her own life doesn’t want you to know because you might stop her and she wants to go. Two: the person who is going to take her own life will stockpile pills - for just in case the time comes when it’s time to go. I know men are more likely to use a gun or do something violent like crash their car. Women, I think, prefer to go out softly, gently, without more pain. Would I ever go to that place again - maybe. I think I have a depressive mindset and anxiety goes with that and fear - fear of being judged, fear of getting it all wrong, fear of no one really caring. It’s a tough loop to get out of but it can be done and it’s often small things that break through the loop. I don’t know if everyone feels the same way but it’s not about the people left behind, it’s about the suffering of the one who goes, and that suffering can seem unbearable in spite of family and friends. We live in a hard world and it’s been getting harder, it seems, these past few years. But if you ever think that someone you care for is thinking about leaving this way, just show up - make contact by showing up on their doorstep or calling them until you get through and letting them know that you care. It may be enough to make them rethink their decision.

Donna Thibodeau said...

Yay to liking to do landscapes! You are a master and unique.You see what others do not.

As far as suicide, I read that to just do the thing that is scaring you or disappointing you. Walk out if that is it, quit if that is it, ask for help if you feel alone. None of those things are harder than choosing to take your own life. Think of the people who are bystanders. Is that you intention to hurt them? Probably not. You are avoiding some hurt.

Dorit said...

Depression hurts. It is just as painful as a physical illness. When it begins - either one - you will talk to family and friends. And you will get all the support they can offer. As the disease progresses, you will feel your family and friends getting helpless, and you will try to not worry them any longer, just so you can stay among them. You may try therapy and medication. But if these don’t stop the progression of your illness, eventually you will realize your suffering can only end with death.
I’m sorry, Randall!

Randall David Tipton said...

My response to Rhonda;
In the many years of comments you’ve gifted me with, this one was an education. I thank you profoundly for being so honest. I know my blog is seen by very few but you speaking publicly like this moves me. And I feel like I understand so much better. Among your insights is this most important one; the survivors focus on their own pain, puts at great risk their relationship with the deceased. What is important, even if unknowable, is the anguish which produced the act. If the sudden absence of the beloved is what is remembered primarily, then all joys and connection and meaning with the person may be lost. That is the greater tragedy. That is gold Rhonda. It shows a way to live beyond the event. It is exactly what those brave nurses insisted on at the funeral. I feel like I grew up some more. RT

Randall David Tipton said...

To Dorit;
Thank you for this clear statement of what can happen with depression. You have seen things I have not. My own depression has been treated successfully. I appreciate being reminded that I am lucky.

Anonymous said...

Randall, thank you. Thank you to those who responded.
Each suicide has a common thread, yet differences in how and why.

This friend of mine, was so much more than a “friend”. We had a connection most people in life won’t ever experience.

I don’t blame her, I’m not angry, I know why…. But I feel that I failed…. Because the safe haven I offered still could not stop the grief she experienced by losing her “child”.

Those that have experienced true clinical depression know the cycle- how your brain chemistry isn’t working optimally.

My life without this BFF, soul sister will be forever changed.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about the loss of your friend. Love you,Jeannie

Marla said...

I'm so sorry. My heart aches for all of you. Your words are so moving and brought me to tears. Peace to all.

E.M. Corsa said...

Rhonda, you said it all exactly as I would have. Thank you for your brave words. No one knows what it feels like if they haven't been there.

And Randall, I'm sorry for your loss of someone dear to you. I also think I got booted off your list since I never received this blog post. I'll try to get back on.