Published on: December 4, 2010

THE HEART OF CHRISTMASLast week, “Suma” committed suicide.

Suma (not her real name) was a 26 year old postgraduate diploma holder in computer science, but had been unable to go to work because she had to care for her mother in their precarious thatched hut, perched on a strip of land that, according to Government records, did not belong to them.

Suma had given up her life to look after the mother. If there was a support system to help care for people like her mother, Suma could have had a good career, built a life and still looked after her mother. But it was not to be. The medical system bled the family and forced them into abject poverty. Neighbours found the mother dead, with Suma hanging right above her.

We palliative care workers are too often overwhelmed by stories like this. We reach them too late, or when we do, our support is nowhere near enough. And, not infrequently, we are forced to reject people who need us most, because they live too far away or simply because their social or other problems are beyond our ability to solve. Some of us burn out, unable to cope with the suffering. Some of us go on, because so many of you out there wish us well and support us.

This Christmas season, we share our pain with all of you for feeling so impotent that we were not able to support Suma and her mother enough.

Suma, you lived a brave and meaningful life while it lasted. We pray for your forgiveness for not being supportive enough.

A simple “Thank You”, is all that we can say to all those who support us.

4 responses to “A Carer, Your Support and Forgiveness”

  1. priya says:

    A very touching story…
    major percentage of popululation is insensitive to these kind of issues, otherwise this incidence wouldnt have happened….

  2. Sithara says:

    At this juncture we need to ponder what we can do to prevent similar incidents in future.

  3. Sakti Das says:

    Despite all our genuine concerns, kindness and piety, tragedies like Suma happen because of our complacency, the attitude of ‘it is not our business’. But Suma is our daughter, our sister and we cannot ignore such events. After all living is not just existing, it is a lot more beyond that in love, sharing and compassion.

  4. indira ballal says:

    Actually, our society is not as uncaring as we are prone to think. This was featured in the Indian Express and within 24 hours, the public contributed Rs 17000 to the social activist who was helping out this family and this money was handed over to the daughter. An account was opened in SBT for donations from the public and although it was the end of the month, Rs 5OOOO was received in a matter of 2 days.

    Unfortunately, the daughter had reached the end of her tether and at the moment she was relieved of immediate financial pressures and by destiny, her mother too passed away leaving her with the chance to make her life again, she took the decision to end her life as well.

    In many instances of this sort, it is the lack of visibility that makes these sad cases go unnoticed.

    The inclination to help is there in many people, but, in the hectic lives we lead, we don’t look around too much. We need some one to tap our shoulders frequently to remind us of the intrinsic humanity in us.