Title: So This Is Christmas
Format: Open Speaker Talk
©2021 Bob Cristello
Hello Faithful Reader.
My name is Bob Cristello and on August 16, 2017, my son Anthony killed himself at the age of 35. On that day I become a member of a club that no one ever wished to belong to. I now write, and speak, about the effects of suicide on those left behind.
I normally do not ask to do this, but we usually take a moment to meditate on the suffering of other parents who have lost a child to suicide at the beginning of our sharing. I would ask that you please consider a momentary reflection as you read this sentence.
Many people are suffering today. Christmas is another holiday that people take whose lives are in line with their dreams. If you are one of those people, I am truly grateful for you and your family. I pray that you never know the suffering of some people in the world. Yet, if we are going to take a moment to reflect on suffering let us truly examine the role model that we celebrate today.
As you gather today in your homes and around your trees, sharing meals with people you love, opening presents and seeing the light in the eyes of an 8-year-old as I will do with my daughter today, I ask you to remember those who are struggling today. I don’t just mean people like me who have lost a child to suicide. I mean, really, take a moment and think about the suffering of the world today. While Christmas has become a national holiday, celebrated by those who believe in its religious significance, it is celebrated by those of all faiths because it is an American tradition. It was born in the suffering of a single man who was crucified because he believed, and told the world, that he was the son of God.
I am the son of God. We are all the sons and daughters of God. Even those of us that do not believe in God, recognize God enough to have to state to the world that they do not believe in God. You can think about that one for a bit, but it is the truth. As a human species we have many interpretations and names for God, but it all amounts to the same thing if you keep it simple. There is a being, or beings, that created all of us and everything we touch. If I am missing something, please feel free to comment.
Yes, there are parents who have been up all night looking at the decorations they diligently worked to place. I know it because I sat online most of the evening reading their posts. I know because I spent the night clicking on hearts and hugs, making comments where I felt I could help and merely being quiet and reading because someone really should. People in pain are just people who are in pain. We are children and we hurt, we want to cry, and we want someone to make it better. We know there is hope, we hear it from others. We listen to their experiences and feel their strength. We open our mouths and share our own experiences and strength, and we attempt to craft a message of hope every day. Especially on the days that we are saddest and do not want to do anything other than curl up in a ball and die.
We live in a time of human history where everything is available instantly, all of the time. We are trapped inside of our homes, living out our existences behind a thin piece of cloth across our face, and we are polarized from every direction we turn. Yet, is it not still possible for a voice of truth to cut through the miasma of pain and try to send a message of hope to anyone that will hear? We think it is and feel it is our mission to open our mouths regardless of whatever may come as a result.
I walk in a world today where every 40 seconds someone in the world will die from suicide. I live in an age where 22 U.S. Military Veterans die each day at their own hand. The suicide rate in the United States alone has risen almost 30% since 1999. Finding accurate statistics that are not layered in mitigating percentage qualifiers today is almost impossible. The term ‘mitigating percentage qualifiers’ simply means that someone has been tasked to obfuscate, or hide, the information we are seeking. Eventually it will be obviated, or removed, from the historical statistics that are still available.
We have worked diligently since August of this year to return to the land of the living after almost four years in the grave with our son Anthony. Many of you have watched me for years, literally crippled with the repetitive cycle of shock that afflicts almost every one of us who has survived the loss of a loved one in such a traumatic way. Like amputees, we see that our limbs are gone over and over again, and we go into shock every single time. Those on the outside cannot see that shock, yet it is very real, and we deal with it constantly. We work a program that, at best, allows us the ability to feel the normal grief and hold fast to not allowing ourselves to be pulled into the grave again and again. We do not recover from something that we are afflicted with. We are Coping With Suicide, and we are not mentally ill, sick or morally deficit human beings. We are just struggling with ‘being’, period.
I ask you to look a fellow human being in the eyes today and tell them that you love them. Maybe they are someone who does not look like you, think like you or believe like you. Yet, you can if you are human, say I see you and I love you.
My name is Bobby, thank you for letting me share.