Years ago, a neighbour jumped to her death from her 15th-floor balcony.
I was taking out the recycling when it happened right behind my back. I heard nothing as the birds chirped, and traffic passed. A young man’s panicked demeanour came running around the corner and caught my attention.
Realizing what had happened, I ran up to her tangled body and looked deep into her eyes; it was evident she had just died.
A young black man living with her witnessed her jump and stood along the green grass 15 stories below their balcony in shock and disbelief as he called 911 for help.
Was she his mother, relative or a visiting friend? Did they argue? What were the moments like leading up to her leap? One can only imagine the emotional pain she must have endured before her suicide; that he must have felt afterwards.
I heard him on the phone as he spoke to the 911 operator. “she was intoxicated and jumped.”
As I heard multiple sirens approach, I asked him is he needed help. His response was ‘just leave….just leave theres nothing you can do and they’re on their way’.
I think he was trying to spare me from the trauma and needed privacy to preserve the scene and protect her body from peering onlookers.
I was impressed by his professional demeanour. He was visibly shaken yet relatively calm, given the circumstances.
If it were me in his shoes, I’d be a screaming, crying mess!
The image of her twisted body and half-open eyes is, to this day, painfully etched in my mind.
I turned and walked away in stunned disbelief.
I am keenly aware that people take their own life for a complex array of reasons. Nevertheless, whenever it happens, I am reminded of how the human condition is a paradox; One life is full of joy and gratitude while another is filled with such despair that death seems the only way out.
The paramedics attempted to revive her, but it was pointless, and they knew it. It’s a common practice to at least attempt some form of CPR. They know people are watching and recording their every action and don’t ever want accusations of not doing everything in their power to save a person. Especially where race is involved.
As the damp evening progressed, they placed an orange blanket over her body and finally pronounced her dead. For the next 5 hours, various police, detectives, and other uniformed personnel worked the scene. They were taping it off, measuring, interviewing people.
What freaked me out was seeing her cold, motionless body lie there 18 floors beneath my bedroom windows as the sunset and damp still night crept over the scene. – such a beautiful sunset — so ironic.
Why did it take so long to remove her, I thought? I’ve heard it takes a while for the coroner to show up, but 5 hours give me a break!
As night fell, I had to do something to relieve the sense that her spirit floated around my apartment.
I think that because I stood directly over her face, her spirit latched onto my presence and would not depart.
It was eerily creepy. I felt a foreign spiritual presence in my apartment that was most upsetting. It’s as if her soul was hovering and stuck in limbo.
My roommate suggested her presence was my imagination. “I can’t go to bed knowing there’s a freshly deceased suicide victim lying on the cold damp grass beneath my bedroom window,” I said.
I lit a candle and said a prayer. I didn’t know the woman. What I did know is that we are all connected on some level. She must have been in profound emotional pain that day.
Sadly I felt her melancholy permeate my space, and it was most unsettling.
What brings a person to such despair that they choose to jump to their death in front of others?
Suicide is an unsettling sense that another human was in tremendous pain and is now transitioning into the afterlife too early.
At any given moment, how many of the 7.5 billion souls on earth experience such despair that they decide to ‘check-out’ early?
My life is such a joyous contrast to the day to day suffering of so many people.
I live, love and learn to the fullest, on my terms and on my time. It’s far from always easy, and I have my fair share of ups and downs. My truth is one of profound appreciation, optimism and comfort. Perhaps those attributes are missing, for whatever reason, in some people’s life.
When it comes to death, I’ve associated burning candles as a catalyst to help my energy connect to the spiritual significance of those who have ‘passed.’
The warm flicker of a flame is symbolic of communication between the observer (me) and the spirit (them).
At times the lighting of candles is a way for me to call a spirit into the room. I light candles to get my mother or father into the room during the holidays or when I feel profoundly troubled. This practice brings me comfort and helps me gain a grounded perspective. Perhaps in knowing I can connect to a higher source.
In the case of the woman who just committed suicide, I felt the urge to comfort the one alive (me) and help the one who’s passed to continue the journey and get the hell out of my livingroom energy.
The aim of our spiritual candle dialogue has helped me feel connected to others in times of despair. During the Covid-19 pandemic, when I was in isolation for over eight weeks, I often called my parents to sit and have a chat with me.
Meditating over a flickering candle flame brings me closure to unresolved issues from the past. “Hey Mom and Dad are you proud of the man I’ve become?”
For the woman who jumped to her death, I meditated on the candle notion that she needed a little forgiveness and understanding for her terminal actions.
On my end, I wanted her energy to stop lingering within my mental space — unresolved; she needed a final nudge along her journey.
Generally speaking, you can be in my space all you want so long as you are at peace with your issues and you bring ‘good-vibes.’
Plus, it’s a boundaries issue, so you need an invite. Don’t hover in the corner like an angel perv watching me pleasure myself.
When I light a candle at Christmas to invite and encourage my Mom and Dad’s spirits to join us for dinner. — that’s OK.
Back to the woman who just killed herself.
‘This candle is for you neighbour. I don’t know you but I acknowledge your pain, and do not judge you and hope you rest in peace! The flam is to help you transition away from my life space into your own afterlife space. In a few hours when the dancing flames have dimmed you will be well on your way and respectfully no longer in mine,’ — I said.
Perhaps it was the expression on her lifeless face and twisted body that I needed to shake from my psyche; – a reframe from morbid damage to Rest-In-Peace.
Please move on is a polite way to say, ‘do not hover your pain and suffering (if you have any) around me.‘ I NEED CLOSURE to what I just witnessed, and when the candle is out, the incident will be out of my mind, and you will be gone.
Respectfully you were never a part of my life until a few hours ago. Yet, at this moment, you dominate my world, and that’s not cool! A world I did not ask you to enter.
I was distraught and needed my witness to your suicide to leave my brain. Your pain was not my pain, and my problems were never yours, so please go.
Today suicide had an impact on me, and I need to make peace with just happened. Yea, none of this was my fault, but we’re all witnesses to something horrible one reason or another, and we cope in the best way we can. For me, its candles and spiritual dialogue.
Perhaps all her spirit needed to hear as is passed near my window was I forgive you, acknowledge you respect your decision. — even though I would not do what you have just done, and I do not understand.
She could have been me!
Flashback 12 years earlier when I was also in a state of despair (I’ll spare you the details). I, too, contemplated jumping to my death. Call it a sudden shift in perspective or intervention from a guardian angel, but thank God I chickened out.
In retrospect, I did not want to jump. I just wanted the pain to go away. On some intuitive level, I knew there was a better way beyond death.
Eighteen stories below my landing target was a flower bed in full bloom. Picturing neighbours witness such tragedy as authorities shovelled my twisted remains into a body bag was all the image I needed to change my mind. I still cared for something beyond my self-centeredness; – a sign I was not ready to check out just yet.
At some point, many of us contemplate suicide; thankfully, few follow through with it.
On that life-altering day 12 years ago, a little voice inside of me (or perhaps it was my guardian angel) said…“Start over; you have an opportunity to start over. Furthermore, no ex-boyfriend or malicious person, wrong place or terrible thing is worth dying over.
The solution: Take back control and rebuild your life on your terms. Do what matters to LIVE, LOVE, LEARN a proud life. — be re-born and have fun along the way — you are free free free!
I believe my short-lived dance with the angel of death pulled me to an edge that gave birth to a newfound perspective focused on positive energy. I found that a reinforced sense of significance, connection, belonging, contribution and personal growth was possible; The five core human needs.
At that divine intervention, I knew that it was not my time to die, and that had much-unfinished creativity to tend.
Upon deeper self-reflection, I genuinely believe the little voice inside me that day was my father’s spirit, pointing me is a wiser direction!
I distinctly remember feeling his presence and seeing for a nano-second his face in the balcony corner, looking at me, telling me to step away from the edge.
Was he saying, ‘don’t think or feel Dan, step away from the edge and trust your ability to find solutions tomorrow.’
Twelve years later, I still head his advice, and hopefully, my message will make its way to resonate with others also in despair.
Do what matters to LIVE, LOVE, LEARN a proud life on YOUR terms. — Dan Trepanier
Can you relate to any of what I am saying? Have you ever had a dark period in your life whereby that little voice inside of you, around you, offered a healthy balanced self-determined solution to your problems?