When an individual is unwell, physically or emotionally, one of their greatest fears is that they will become a burden to their friends and family. The idea that others will suffer because of your struggle is overwhelming for a lot of people. It’s one of the reason people seek help from psychologists, so that they are not over-burdening their loved ones. And most tragically, it’s one of the reasons people take their own lives. They simply cannot cope with the idea of bringing others down.
We need to keep addressing the issue of suicide in our society. Yes, we need better mental health services. Yes, we need to publicise the symptoms of depression and the avenues for treatment and support. And we also need to tell the people closest to us that they are not a burden. Anyone who is grieving (and grief is lifelong) knows that they would always prefer to have their loved one alive and be there to support them than to be relieved of that responsibility. Being a carer is one of the hardest things to do in life, but not being a carer after the death of their loved one can be even harder. We need to support the carers so that they don’t burn out (something that needs a lot more attention), AND we need to understand that the burden of caring is one most of us would choose over grief.
If someone you love is struggling with a serious illness, disability or depression, tell them that they are not a burden and tell them often. And if you are the one who is suffering, know that you are loved and that your supporters want you here – no matter what.