The past five days have been emotional.
It all started with the news of the death of my friend, Don Bishop, who also happened to serve my small township community as police chief for more than five years and as a police officer for more than three decades.
It was the first thing my husband shared with me when I walked through the door on Ash Wednesday evening. Then came the flurry of news reports — former police chief found dead in his home, police are investigating the death, it appears to be the result of a gunshot wound, it appears to be the result of a single self-inflicted gunshot.
My reaction: Noooo! I can’t believe this! My beloved Bishop (as I called him) was one of the most jovial people that I have known. Yes – he had life struggles (who doesn’t?). Oh my God! – what about his wife and children?
Full stop: “Lord, help. Please embrace his wife and children in your loving arms. Be with them in their sorrow and grief. Give them the comfort, strength, and courage that they need. Help them to know that they are not alone.”
Next: a bit of calm washed over me. Then, the question arose: Why?
Trying to answer that took some processing. I concluded that while some of my possible answers to that question made sense, I would never really know why – I chose to accept the fact that I may never know.
What I do know is that he saw no other way out of his situation, that he bore a burden that became too heavy for him to carry.
Do I wish that something could have been done to lighten his load? Yes.
I’m going to miss his smiling face, his voice on the other end of the phone, his sense of humor, his no-nonsense approach, his determination to protect those he loved and cared about. I am going to miss his very being.
Lesson: Life can be hard. We can’t see a person’s inner suffering. It behooves us to show compassion and to be kind – it could help lighten someone’s load.
I have resolved to look for ways to help lighten the load of at least one person each day. Will you join me?
(Note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that suicide is the tenth-biggest cause of death in the United States—deadlier than traffic accidents and homicide.)