It’s a Pandemic Life

I have had more than one patient tell me that although they have no specific plans to kill
themselves, they sometimes just wish that they had never been born. They are so depressed
and hopeless and have so little regard for themselves that they feel that anyone who lives with
them or loves them would be much better off without them. In this time of the coronavirus
pandemic, these feelings have been intensified. Losses mount for some. Loved ones grow ill and
die. Jobs disappear, and with them the ability to pay for food, clothing, rent and even gifts for
the children at Christmas. Think of it. The people who count on you for their very lives and
support are the ones who you think might be better off if you had never existed. Ironically, it is
the strong attachment to those people, especially young children, that often saves us from
ourselves and pulls us back from the brink of an irreversible act of self-destruction.
Have you seen the movie It’s a Wonderful Life? I highly recommend this 1946 film starring
Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. George Bailey, played by Stewart, has spent his whole life
giving of himself to the people of his hometown, Bedford Falls. On Christmas Eve, George’s
Uncle Billy loses an $8000 deposit from the Building and Loan that George runs, which is found
by the town’s villain, Mr. Potter. When Potter hides the money, George is in very real danger of
being arrested for bank fraud if an examiner discovers that the money is missing. Thinking that
his wife, his young children and others who love him will be better off without him, he
contemplates suicide. After crashing his car into a tree, he walks to a bridge and is planning to
throw himself off. The prayers of all those people reach heaven and an angel named Clarence is
sent to earth to help George, promised that he will earn his wings if he is successful. Clarence is
able to show George what the world would have been like if he indeed never had existed, and it
opens his eyes. He is able to see all the blessings that are his, the people who care for him and
the fact that love and togetherness and a mutual respect for each other can conquer any
problem.
No doubt, there are many people who are hurting this holiday season. There are those who
cannot take care of their families, who do not have a job, and who feel that life would be better
for those they love if they had never been born. Like George Bailey, they may be thinking of
suicide. But also like George, many of these people may have a Clarence just begging to help
show them that they matter. We sometimes feel that we can do little to change the course of
history or the arc of misery that the world seems to be on. Think about this holiday season and
how you can play the part of Clarence, Angel Second Class, for someone you love. Can you tell a
story and share a memory of a good deed done? Can you offer a smile? Can you send a note
thanking them for the influence they had on your life? Can you drop off a meal or Christmas
cookies or a small bag of toys for the children at the front door? Can you give a card and more
of those cookies to the postman who brings your mail every day?
Especially in this time of pandemic, in this holy season, it is important to count our blessings
and use our time and talents to help those who need it most. Who knows, if you are successful
in making the holidays bright for just one desperate person, you might just earn your wings.