You might think acronyms didn’t exist before the Internet, but that would be false. Ancient Romans and Greeks used abbreviations in similar time-saving ways as us moderns. For example, “the Roman Empire” was sometimes abbreviated as SPQR, short for Senatus Populusque Romanus.
If you text, you know acronyms are a common part of the narrative. ROFL, LOL, etc. There are so many different acronyms; it’s difficult to keep up, if keeping up is important to you. Fortunately, the magic of the Internet provides acronym dictionaries so understanding abbreviated speech is only a few keystrokes away.
This weekend, while searching for information on “how to create a weekly menu” I ran across the acronym “DITL.” I’d never seen it before. It means “Day In The Life.” Maybe it’s pronounced “deetle?” The “day in the life” notion of storytelling has become popular through social media; you can watch minute by minute accounts of celebrity lives by following stars on your preferred social media. You can also see non-celebrities “tell their story” and provide “day in the life” accounts.
Everyone is “telling their story.”
At noon a week or so ago, March 31 to be exact, Handy called me on my cell phone. He doesn’t often call me during the day; he usually texts or he just stops by. He didn’t sound like himself and it was because one of his tenants killed himself. Handy found him. It’s hard to explain what that moment was like and I don’t want to dramatize it because it didn’t happen to me. But all I could think about was whether Handy was “ok” and how I could help him. Since that day, we’ve both gone through our “day in the life” activities and Handy has had things to take care of in the aftermath. A long shadow has been cast over the daily things and I find myself counting time from that day. “It’s been a week since Bill died” or “it’s been ten days now.” I worry about Handy and I think twice before I say things because I’m trying to be sensitive to what he might be thinking.
It’s made me wonder about statistics.
Maine’s statistics are not great. Although the suicide rate isn’t the highest in the nation, it’s not the lowest, either.
I wasn’t sure how to write today’s post. It felt awkward because as my friend Mary commented to me when I wrote my review of Linda Andrews’ book Please Bring Soup, “we in the US of A are afraid to talk about death and the effect of it on the people left behind.” Talking about suicide isn’t the kind of “day in the life” activities I have been trained to handle and it’s not fun blog content either.
I don’t have any special wisdom to offer. There’s no special hashtag or app that makes any of this easy and I’m just spinning my wheels now, trying to find some graceful way to end this post.
My philosopher friend often ends his e-mails with a wish for a “gentle day” or “gentle night,” depending on the time he sends his kind notes. Wishing you that same spirit of gentle kindness today.
Very sad. I hope Handy is okay. Tell him not to rush getting over it. About a year ago someone killed themselves at my work. It took me a long time to settle back in to something resembling normal.
Thanks you, Mark, for offering this insight. There is no prescribed timetable, that’s for sure.
I’m not going to post a long screed by way of commenting. Let me just offer a couple of things about the topic of your post, today.
First, thanks for writing honestly about the death of Handy’s tenant. Suicide is merely one type of death. It is an extremely troubling one, however, often leaving many unanswered questions.
As we’ve recently talked about, there is no “formula” for responding to the death of someone. Linda Andrews’ book about grief is an excellent one and I’ve learned a great deal from reading it.
I’ll also say this. I find it troubling how Facebook and social media has thrust the overly simplistic and superficial responses to something that is as significant and often altering, as death can be, even the death of people we don’t know that well, out into the public sphere. It doesn’t make death any easier or necessarily meaningful. Instead, it allows grief and loss to be acted out via selfies and self-congratulatory and narcissistic updates, what I refer to as “grief porn.”
Thanks, Jim. The biggest learning I had from the book was to always remember how paralyzing the grief can be for those closest to the dead and act accordingly.
Well, I think you already hit on what I was going to say, LAT. Linda wrote, Don’t ask what you can do, just do it.
Just keep doing and you’ll do fine.
My condolences and I won’t ask who or if I knew him; ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.
So true, John Donne’s poem is perfect. No new words needed. Thank you.
We just attended a young friends funeral. It was a suicide. I have to commend the family! The truth was never hidden. An ongoing conversation about depression and suicide began almost immediately! That is one of the gifts he left behind. If that conversation can lead to saving one life! Be kind out there. We don’t know what someone might be going through.
That’s good that the family made a decision to be forthright about the manner of death. Suicide is traumatic; hard to grapple with and it leaves many unanswered questions for the living. Kindness and awareness are a small step to understanding and help for those who suffer. Thanks for stopping by. Sending you wishes for a better day.