Oh the Irony

Young boy trapped in a prison of pain
Success is money; it's talent and fame
He hates himself cause he's not the same
His worth is defined by his guilt and shame
And nothing will wash the deepest stain
So one cold night in the dark and rain
He points a gun to blow his brain.

And everyone cries tragedy
Why does this have to be?
Tears flow because it's sad to see
A precious life turn into vanity

Young girl now, with a rare disease
It hurts to fight, it hurts to speak
The body breaks, the spirit's weak
Cause death is a relentless beast
Better to give in, than burden these
So a doctor hands her pills of ease
She slips away on a summer breeze

And everyone applauds bravery
Why should she suffer needlessly?
Sweet tears flow merrily
For a girl who broke the chains of slavery

Oh the irony
Oh the irony
One life is tough, tearful tragedy
The other is bold, beautiful bravery
And woe are we
Woe are we
If we fail to see the inconsistency

- circa 2013

This a poem about two lives; both troubled by sickness and suffering, both ending in death by their own hands. One life suffers mentally from shame and depression. The other suffers bodily from a rare disease, perhaps cancer, of which there is no cure. Both sufferers want to escape the pain and decide take the most final action possible to end that pain – taking their own life. Whatever we say about their deaths, we ought to be able to say they are a tragedy. No one should feel so alone and helpless that they take their own life.

Yet, somehow one way of dying is perceived as more noble than the other. If you take your life by way of euthanasia you are considered heroic and celebrated. But if you take your life by suicide you will be mourned bitterly and your decision questioned.

At their core, these two ways of dying are the same. And both are tragic. A small poem like this one cannot go into all the complexities of euthanasia and suicide. What I tried to do in this poem was simply highlight the irony of two very different reactions to two very similar deaths. A spade is a spade, and taking your own life, whether by pistol or pills, is taking your own life. Woe to us if we fail to see this truth.

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