I am struggling with a couple of difficult cases (personal and professional) of young people who are feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. This time of year exacerbates any underlying depression or anxiety that some people experience.
As I walk down the street and see some people smiling at each other, I am also confronted by the deep and abiding sense of loneliness and stress that haunt others during the holiday season.
For many of the young people who I work with, Christmas and New Year’s are often times when they are acutely reminded of what they “lack” in their lives. It is a time to reflect on loss. Many don’t have close ties with their families anymore (if they ever did in the first place). They lack the financial resources to participate in the rampant consumerism of this season. They are sometimes locked behind bars, abandoned and unloved. They watch the world from the outside in.
I have spent most of my day writing cards to various people that I correspond with who are currently locked up. I am also writing cards to some people who I am especially worried about as Christmas approaches. For a couple of these young people, I am including a poem by native Chicagoan Gwendolyn Brooks in their card. I will share the poem called “To The Young Who Want to Die” with all of you too.
As Christmas and New Year’s approach, I hope that you will all take a moment to think about the young people all across the country who find themselves in conflict with the law as well as ALL of the people who will be spending this season locked up behind bars and offer them positive energy, compassion, and love.
Merry Christmas to all who celebrate that holiday. Prison Culture will be taking a few days off to recover from what has been a truly amazing year.
TO THE YOUNG WHO WANT TO DIE
By Gwendolyn Brooks
Sit down. Inhale. Exhale.
The gun will wait. The lake will wait.
The tall gall in the small seductive vial
will wait will wait:
will wait a week: will wait through April.
You do not have to die this certain day.
Death will abide, will pamper your postponement.
I assure you death will wait. Death has
a lot of time. Death can
attend to you tomorrow. Or next week. Death is
just down the street; is most obliging neighbor;
can meet you any moment.
You need not die today.
Stay here – through pout or pain or peskyness.
Stay here: See what the news is going to be tomorrow.
Graves grow no green that you can use.
Remember, green’s your color. You are Spring.
(Image by Chris Stain “Damned Right I’m Somebody”)