My cousin, after a long battle with depression, took his life this past weekend. It has been, unsurprisingly, a difficult time for the whole family, but we have made conscious efforts to focus on the joys we were able to have with him, and the lovely memories we created together and that we will always have.
I had not seen my cousin for a couple of months, but every time we did get to spend time together, he was always excited, enthused about the many things going on in my life. He would ask me about work, life, love, and he would be exuberant whenever I would share good news.
Today, while I was sitting with my aunt, his mother, she turned to me and thanked me. I asked her why, and she smiled as she told me that my cousin, upon hearing the news of my engagement, had beamed in delight. He had told my aunt that it was among the best news he had ever heard, and that he was bursting with happiness for me. She thanked me because my news had made him smile, widely and genuinely, and that smile is what she remembers of him now.
This I have learned over the past two days: when someone passes away in “avoidable” circumstances, there is a propensity, an inclination, to assign blame. This assignation is amorphous and untargeted. People make up reasons to assign blame, and then make up the recipients of that blame. Sometimes that blame is externalized, sometimes, it is directed inwards. People blame others, blame the system, blame god, blame time, blame themselves.
This cycle of blame doesn’t help anyone. Assigning blame, especially when we are grasping at that blame as a coping mechanism because there is nothing to blame for or about, does not make things better. Blame does not help us grieve, help us heal. This is a reminder I have echoed to my family, to myself, repeatedly over the past few days. Let us help ourselves, rather than try to drag others down in our grief.