“Into each life some rain must fall.”
This well-known quote is taken from a poem entitled “The Rainy Day” written by American poet and educator Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. At the outset, the tone of the three-verse poem appears to be rather gloomy.
The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.
The second verse is not much better. In fact, it seems to only get worse.
My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.
By the time he had penned this poem, Longfellow had already experienced his fair share of grief, having lost a young wife during a miscarriage late into her pregnancy only six years earlier. In the midst of his intense grief, he managed to find a silver lining behind the cloud in the final verse.
Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
This poem was first published in 1841, yet the sentiments held therein are as true today as they were when its author first put pen to paper. As long as we sojourn on planet earth, there will be moments of loss, sadness and grief in our lives. It is the common fate of us all. However, during these difficult times, it is imperative to remember that it is just a season, and seasons are subject to change.
There have been several high profile suicides in recent times that have shocked the world.
American fashion designer Kate Spade took her own life on June 5th much to the dismay of her family and close friends, and just three days later, celebrity chef, author, travel documentarian, and television personality Anthony Bourdain who starred in programs focusing on the exploration of international culture, cuisine, and the human condition, caught everyone by surprise when he too took his own life.
They were not alone in their thoughts of ending it all. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 800,000 people die due to suicide every year globally, which is about one person every 40 seconds. In 2015, more than 78% of those global suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries. The science behind this phenomenon is multi-faceted and complex – some argue that it is a result of a chemical imbalance, others believe it is caused by emotional instability, and there are those who consider it a symptom of spiritual bankruptcy. However, there is one underlying common denominator, and that is, feelings of hopelessness that haunt suicide victims.
There are many reasons which could cause a person to feel hopeless. In the examples previously mentioned, it would appear from the outside looking in, that Spade and Bourdain “had it all”. And yet, the level of their despair was enough to lead them to commit the unthinkable act.
For many others, ongoing perceived economic hardship often serves as a precursor to hopelessness. In fact, studies have clearly shown a direct link between job loss, credit problems, foreclosures, and other economic factors and an increase is suicide deaths. These losses often result in feelings of shame, humiliation, and despair for individuals, and can lead to isolation and despondency – a doorway for many to increased substance use, addiction and depression.
“For some people who may already have significant risk factors or fewer personal supports to draw upon, economic hardships may lead them to suicidal thoughts, attempts or to taking their own life. Thus rather than causing suicide on its own, economic factors can combine with other risk factors and become the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back. ” ~ Kenneth Norton
People are hurting, and many of them cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Mind you, the light is there. But because many people are so buried under the pressure of an uncertain future, it is too dim to see. It is the responsibility of us all to help guide them to it.
During these difficult times, we all need to be aware of the wide ranging impacts that economic hardships have on individuals and families, and recognize that these impacts can contribute toward increased risk for self-harm.
Rather than feeling embarrassed about their feelings or humiliated about their circumstances, people should be encouraged to stay connected with family and friends. Most importantly, they should be empowered to seek out professional support before situations become critical.
The Department of Social Services, the Bahamas Crisis Center and Great Commission Ministries are among several institutions in this country that are there to help persons in crisis. There is no shame in needing a helping hand.
At any given time, while one side of the world is experiencing winter, another is experiencing summer. Simultaneously, while some have to bundle up from the cold, others are trying to cope with sweltering heat. Same planet earth, yet different seasons happening all at once. During times of winter when the ground is cold and hard, the gardener knows that if he waits long enough, spring will follow winter. No matter how harsh the winter, flowers will eventually bloom again, followed by lots of sunshine in the summer and cooler temperatures in the fall.
Such is life.
As it is in nature, life consists of ever-changing seasons; seasons of plenty and seasons of lack; seasons of joy and seasons of pain; seasons of giving and seasons of taking away. Your ability to make the most of the season you are experiencing is essential to living life to the fullest.
The book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
A time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace.
Whatever difficulty you may be facing, remember that tough times don’t last forever.
It will get better if you just hold on long enough. It is just a season.