In all my years as a crisis line volunteer I’ve never had someone end their life while on the phone with me. Last night it’s very possible that my lucky streak ended.
It was a busy night at the call-in centre. Call after call after call kept flowing in. It’s often like that around the Christmas season. For some of us, it is the most intensely distressing time of year. Some of us feel the most depressed, the most hopeless, the most overwhelmed. The most alone.
All of this was true for my young male caller last night. In our much too brief time together he shared the depth of his despair with me. He used words like “have to” and “no point” and “no one”. I used words like “I am here” and “you matter” and “I care about you”. I tried my best to help him consider the word “safe”. Even more powerful than our few brief words were the sounds. I could hear his broken heart in his choked sobs and in the halting space between his words. I could feel his desperation in the wind and traffic sounds coming across the phone line. I knew he was somewhere high and lonely. He shared that he tried several times this week to get professional help but no one had noticed the depth of his pain or really heard him.
He used the word “jump” and I could feel how hard he’d tried not to get to this point.
The phone call ended suddenly at 3 minutes. My caring for him and for all of you will never end. His life matters. His pain matters.
I am crying as I write this. I felt his human-ness right down into my core and I know it’s important for me to fully feel this sadness.
As I sat in my car after the shift a truth hit me full force in the chest. Despite all the uncertainties in life, one thing we know for sure is that
WE ALL HAVE EACH OTHER.
There’s so many unknowns and circumstances beyond our control in this world.
Our ability to give love and feel the gift of receiving love is one thing that is unquestionably real and true.
Make time for true connection. Let someone know their struggle matters to you. Their pain matters to you. Your job as a fellow human isn’t to fix their life. Your job is to stand beside them with love. Your job is to give of yourself in the most intangible and beautiful ways as often as you can.
And if you need help, if you are in pain you have a different job. Your job is to know that you matter, your pain matters. Your job is to know that you are loved and whenever you are able, reach out and give others a chance to do their job. There are people just like me all over the world waiting on the end of a phone line to show you that you matter.