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Live with purpose even when life changes
Senior Moments
Rich DeLong is executive director of Station Exchange Senior Care. - photo by File photo

I’m not sure how to start this article; and I have no idea how it will end. Maybe it is best that I just ramble on and see where this all goes.

In some strange way this will probably be good therapy for me. After all, it’s incredibly difficult to talk about your best friend killing himself two days after Christmas.

I was getting ready to leave for home after a nice visit with family over the holiday weekend. My oldest daughter walked into the room with the strangest look on her face. All she could say was, "Mama needs you."

I ran into the kitchen where my wife informed me that my best friend had just shot and killed himself. My first reaction was disbelief and then shock, followed by severe sadness and then great anger. My heart was hurting with thoughts of his wife and children; the pain they must be feeling at this moment.

We went directly to their house where family was already beginning to gather. It still feels like a bad dream. I knew my friend was sick, but I did not know he was depressed to the point of not seeing a better way out. Not many people see this kind of thing coming. I guess if they did, there might be fewer suicides in this world.

I think the question that most people have when something like this happens is, why? I’m not sure anyone has a good answer for that question. I do know that my friend had battled severe diabetes for many years. Maybe he was tired of fighting. It is hard to say.

I was asked to share a few words at his service and found it almost impossible to put my thoughts down on paper. As I began to write my feelings and fond memories of all the happy times we had, I realized how good he always made me feel, along with everyone else he came in contact with. And then it hit me.

What happens to a person who enjoys doing so much for so many and one day realizes he can no longer do for himself, let alone for others? I believe the answer is clear. He loses his purpose. I can’t think of a worse feeling for a person. Men in particular, but women are catching up; identify most with their work, and how productive they can be. Take away our work and our ability to give of ourselves to others and all of a sudden we lose our appetite for pressing on.

Our drive to keep on "keeping on" comes from our own understanding of why we are here. I think my friend believed he had lost his purpose in life. At least that is what I have been able to deduce from all this. And it breaks my heart to know he felt so bad that he could see no other path to travel. I hope and pray I never feel this way.

But even more, I pray that both you and I will be inspired and encouraged to do our part to make a difference in the life of someone who needs our help, our love and our actions to let him or her know there is purpose and meaning in everyone’s life. All people need to live a purposeful life.

Live with purpose my friends!

Contact DeLong at 912-531-7867 or email him at:

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