Today is the one year anniversary of my colleague, Ken Jameson’s, death from depression. Death from depression sounds so much better than Suicide. Clearly depression kills and in this case it killed a wonderful father, brother, uncle, husband and lawyer. We will all forever miss Ken and his tenacity for life or as his wife says his “tenacity with a twinkle”.
Recently, I have spent some time with his wonderful spouse Betsy. And even a year later, I am left with far more questions than answers. Last June I posted a blog post with the help of Dan Lukasik at www.lawyerswithdepression.com about Ken’s depression and how we, his coworkers, were so unaware. At the time, many people around me didn’t grasp my intent/purpose for talking about his death and struggle with depression. My first purpose was and still is to bring comfort to those who loved and knew Ken so well. Second, my hope was to share his story with others who are in the throes of such an illness. Perhaps, it is just my acceptance of people with mental illness, but these seemed like the logical thing for me to do.
Ken’s family has indeed been grateful for the post. They miss him terribly. It is so hard to imagine what this tragedy has done to them all. For members of his firm family, I can tell you that it has been a rough year. Everyone in our office admired and loved Ken. We each had different reasons to admire him. However, we all saw him as friend first and a colleague second.
For me, getting to know his wife Betsy has been such a gift. She is perhaps the strongest woman I know. No one else would have the inner strength and power to eulogize her husband less than a week after his death. His struggle with depression was her struggle with depression. They shared everything. Her story is very powerful and only compounds the why question. I also empathize with his kids who are now viewing their father through the cloud of mystery surrounding his suicide. Despite this death, the entire Jameson clan has decided to move forward with life together and they are remarkable people.
The greatest challenge we all face when someone dies by their own hand, is not viewing them solely in terms of how they died. It is natural to question the choice and or the method and for many, it is thought of as a selfish act. There is no way to know the reasons behind Ken’s decision and viewing him through his death only overshadows the wonder that was Ken.
For me, as of today, I will remember Ken for his goodness and his life of service to others. It will be a challenge to be sure, but I think to learn from this horrible tragedy we must move past the shock and celebrate the man who was always there for his colleagues, his family and his clients. I also hope that his family has peace and comfort in knowing how many lives he touched as they rebuild from the loss they have felt.
Be well Jameson clan we are all cheering for you!