And while there is nothing one can say to bring back Matthew Warren, there is something to say to his despairing family in this moment of public vulnerability. Block out all the noise and all the hate and acknowledge the anger so that you can grieve properly and get to love. Comedian Bill Mahler quipped that, “Suicide is a way of saying to God, ‘You can’t fire me, I quit.’” But when someone quits unexpectedly – because every suicide even if it is anticipated is still a shock – family and friends experience anger. They feel guilty expressing it because anger can feel like another form of betrayal. “How can I be angry at someone who lived with so much pain?” You can be angry because someone who takes his own life has also taken a piece of yours. You can be angry over the moments you will not have together.
The philosopher C. G. Prado writes that although the person who takes a life – an elector - has usually made this decision after much agony, those on the receiving end may resent the conclusion. Matthew said as much to his father, as Warren reported in a letter to his staff last Saturday, “Dad, I know I’m going to heaven. Why can’t I just die and end this pain?” He lived ten years beyond this but, even so, his family will never be the same. Many psychologists believe that grieving can only begin once the anger and confusion is properly articulated and understood. That’s harder to do when you’ve got the static of public cruelty.