Talking about suicide

The news of the suicide of a lead pastor, Andrew Stoeklein, broke my heart. He was 30 years old, a loving husband and a father to three kids. Before his suicide, he was open with his battles with depression and anxiety.

 

At this time of writing, I’m still mourning the loss of this person who I don’t know personally. All the while thinking, what happened?

To a person who obviously knows Christ deep in his being and his soul.
Knows of the hope of Christ.
Knows the power of prayer.
Knows about seeking help. (which he did)
Knows how much His Heavenly Father loves him.

Yet he was in so much pain and darkness that he wanted to take the pain away. And he did.

My heart is broken for him, his family, his friends, his church.

 

Many of us may not be able to comprehend how a person could take his or her own life. But to the sufferer, they may feel that death is the only way out.

The sad and scary thing is, there could be people around us who are in danger of suicide. Either we may not know the signs of suicide (though not everyone would display the signs), or we have a misconception about a suicidal person. Saying that it’s a cowardly act is one of them.

 

Understanding more about suicide.

How might someone think or feel like to be suicidal?

Hopeless, there’s no way out.
Overwhelmed by negative thoughts.
Their pain is unbearable, and there’ll be no end to it.
They are of no use to anyone.
Desperate.

Some of the outward behaviours could be:
Avoiding or isolating from others.
Self-harm or have the intention to self-harm.
Change in appetite.
Sleep is affected.
No desire to take care of yourself.

 

Facts and Myth about Suicide

(information from Befrienders)

Suicide Myth
People who talk about suicide are just trying to get attention.

Suicide Fact
People who die by suicide usually talk about it first. They are in pain and oftentimes reach out for help because they do not know what to do and have lost hope. Always take talk about suicide seriously. Always.


Suicide Myth
Suicide always occurs without any warning signs.

Suicide Fact
Sometimes there are warning signs. (However, there might not be signs or you might not be able to tell)


Suicide Myth
Once people decide to die by suicide, there is nothing you can do to stop them.

Suicide Fact
Suicide can be prevented. Most people who are suicidal do not want to die; they just want to stop their pain.


Suicide Myth
Suicide only strikes people of a certain gender, race, financial status, age, etc.

Suicide Fact
Suicide can strike anyone.


Suicide Myth
People who attempt suicide and survive will not attempt suicide again.

Suicide Fact
People who attempt suicide and survive will oftentimes make additional attempts.


Suicide Myth
People who attempt suicide are crazy.

Suicide Fact
Not necessary. They are in pain, and probably have a chemical imbalance in their brain. Anyone could attempt suicide.


Suicide Myth
People who attempt suicide are weak.

Suicide Fact
Not necessary. They are in pain and probably have a chemical imbalance in their brain. Many people who are very “strong” die by suicide.


Suicide Myth
People who talk about suicide are trying to manipulate others.

Suicide Fact
No. People who talk about suicide are in pain and need help. And telling them that they “just want something” or “are trying to manipulate” is both insensitive and ignorant. People often talk about suicide before dying by suicide. Always take talk about suicide seriously. Always.


Suicide Myth
When people become suicidal, they will always be suicidal.

Suicide Fact
Most people are suicidal for a limited period of time. However, suicidal feelings can recur.


Suicide Myth
People who are suicidal definitely want to die.

Suicide Fact
The vast majority of people who are suicidal do not want to die. They are in pain, and they want to stop the pain.


Suicide Myth
You should never ask people who are a suicidal person if they are thinking about suicide or if they have thought about a method because just talking about it will give them the idea.

Suicide Fact
Asking people if they are thinking about suicide does not give them the idea for suicide. And it is important to talk about suicide with people who are suicidal because you will learn more about their mindset and intentions, and allow them to diffuse some of the tension that is causing their suicidal feelings.


Suicide Myth
When people who are suicidal feel better, they are no longer suicidal.

Suicide Fact
Sometimes suicidal people feel better because they have decided to die by suicide, and may feel a sense of relief that the pain will soon be over.


Suicide Myth
Young people never think about suicide, they have their entire life ahead of them.

Suicide Fact
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people aged 15-24. Sometimes children under 10 want to die by suicide.


Suicide Myth
There is little correlation between alcohol or drug abuse and suicide.

Suicide Fact
Oftentimes people who die by suicide are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


Suicide Myth
People who are suicidal do not seek help.

Suicide Fact
Many people who are suicidal reach out for help.

 

Counselling, support, someone to talk to:

Please help someone or yourself to seek help. Here are some links you can use. 

 

 


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New normal in life

New normal in life. melindayeoh.com

Even if we are born with all our limbs intact and with full mobility, I believe that—with life in this fallen world—soon enough we’ll start to live with a limp here, a bruise there, and scabs where wounds from hurts and losses were. We’ll live with a new normal for every loss and win through life’s circumstances.

 

A new normal is knowing that things aren’t the way they are supposed to be, but they are.

I’m not talking about those things that you run away from and don’t want to face. I’m talking about things that happened in your life that you just can’t change.

 

A new normal is…

A new normal is having reality popping up to say, “hello” when you see the empty room, and you are reminded that who was once there, isn’t here anymore.

A new normal is a mum, gone too soon. And you live on with a dream of a tight, loving mother-child relationship, unrealised.

A new normal is a divorce.

Where you lost the chance of having a papa and mama, loving and raising you together. And your photos will no longer have a one, two, three—a father, a mother, child.

 

A new normal is having those broken lines and missing pieces in your heart; choosing to embrace them and live on. Limping. Believing that God will heal. Knowing that one day, the broken pieces will be made whole. And only God can. Click To Tweet

 

In life, we’ll limp. But we limp not with despair and hopelessness, for those who trust in God will forever be held together in His big hands. Even if we don’t see it.

One day in His time, we’ll be able to throw away the crutches, and with abandon—run.

 

My laments end in praise. They end in hope. And I can only do that because I know and I have a God who is all-powerful. On my own, I’ll run out of strength and will.

My prayer for you is to be able to have assurance in your heart, with ultimate dependency and hope in a God that’ll walk with you, and put things together again.

 


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Featured image by Wayne Lee-Sing on Unsplash

Oh, troubled soul (poem)

Oh, troubled soul. (poem)

I wrote this piece when I was mulling about a beyond-my-control-crisis and everything that comes with it. And I thought I heard this whisper within me, “Oh, soul. Why so troubled?”

 

Oh, troubled soul

Oh, soul. Why so troubled?
Has peace left the building?
What has taken over the vacant lots?
Are Mr Darkness and Miss Ruminate the new tenants now?
Are they throwing anxiety parties in your thoughts?

Oh, soul. Why so troubled?
Going round in circles
Like a dog chasing its tail
Where are you going?
Can the world stop spinning?

Hey, soul. Look at Me.
Lift that head
Unfurrow those brows
Do you need glasses?
Can you see Me now?

Hey, soul. Look at Me.
Was I never there?
Have I ever change?
When everything is burned
What shall remain?

 

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand]. Psalm 91:1 AMP

 


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Feature photo by Anthony Intraversato on Unsplash

Tell the devil who wants to steal your peace, “not today!”

“Could this be how it feels like if my husband is no longer around?”, asked my heart, as I trod out of the church auditorium into a sea of people who were mostly chatting with someone—while I stood there momentarily lost and alone.

 

Ever since he got diagnosed with lymphoma, I didn’t ruminate on the possibilities of losing him.

However, that thought outside the church auditorium floated out of nowhere, and it made my heart grimaced in the pain of imaginary loss. 

 

This sudden reality check would surface in simple routines which I have grown to love because the man who I love dearly is in those routines.

The fear would surface when I’m having breakfast alone at our favourite breakfast corner at home; in the middle of the night when I stir and felt his warmth beside me; when he is making coffee for both of us.

Gasp! Every time it surfaces, my heart would take a sharp gasp in pain.

 

When I start speculating on the overwhelming possibilities of what would happen to him, but then I quickly ended those unhelpful thoughts, I still felt it—fear.

The kind of fear that would paralyse me if I let it grow.
The kind of fear that would render me powerless and useless to anyone if I let it overwhelm me.
The kind of fear that would steal my joy and peace if I buy into the lies of destructive imagination.

However, I refuse to allow it to go further to the path of destruction.

Though the imagined situations may not be real; my fear is real. And I want to acknowledge my fear.

 

Would I desire perfect peace that Jesus promises to those who trust in Him? Are you kidding me? Of course, I would. But, expecting to have perfect peace all the time in our imperfect world is insane wishful thinking. Hence, I’m learning to accept unpleasant emotions such as “fear” in my life.

 

So, I told the devil, not today.

Whenever an ounce of self-pity rears its ugly head, pointing out the mounting troubles in my life—still, those mess stands no chance in the face of Love. For as there are many troubles, there are even more blessings that I’ve learnt to recognise.

 

I’m made rich when I’m poorer.

In the lack of “things-going-right”, through a season of pain when I almost went into depression, I’ve learnt to be extremely thankful for little things. And the love demonstrated by people through acts of care.

When I'm tempted with all the logical, humane reasons to feel sorry for myself, I remember a thousand things that I'm grateful for. Most of all, I remember God and His promises. Click To Tweet

 

So, I told the devil, not today! You don’t get to steal my peace today. 

And I resume my journey of learning to live one day at a time.

 

This song “Not Today” is a song from Hillsong United that I sing out loud to replace my fear with praise for God.

I pray that whatever situation you may be in, this song will give you the power boost that no motivational quote can give—for this power comes from God’s love to you.

Not Today Lyrics
Words and Music by Joel Houston & Matt Crocker

VERSE 1
Trouble won’t throw me
Won’t break me
Won’t scare me
No more
Fear must have thought I was faithless
When it came for my heart

PRE-CHORUS 1
‘Cause I got a song that will never die
I know Your love is the reason why

CHORUS 1
I’ll sing the night into the morning
I’ll sing the fear into Your praise
I’ll sing my soul into Your presence
Whenever I say Your Name
Let the devil know not today

VERSE 2
Tell me did the enemy panic
As You took up that cross
Tell me did the darkness cry mercy
As You rolled back that rock

PRE-CHORUS 2
‘Cause I know Your life is the life in mine
I know Your love is the reason why

CHORUS 2
I’ll sing the night into the morning
I’ll sing the fear into Your praise
I’ll sing my soul into Your presence
Whenever I say Your Name
Let the devil know not today
Whenever I say Your Name Jesus
Let the devil know not today
Not now not ever again

BRIDGE
Your love stood down death
Crushed the devil’s head
Fear is just a liar
Running out of breath
The fight beneath Your feet
I’m standing on Jesus’ Name
So let the devil know not today
Let the devil know not today No no
Not now not ever again Jesus
Let the devil know not today

 

You may also like to read this post. 

 

 


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Thoughts from my husband’s cancer diagnosis

Thoughts from my husband's cancer diagnosis

This post is a way for me to process my thoughts—four days after knowing that my husband has cancer. It is also for our family and friends who are concerned with how we are feeling with the diagnosis. It is my prayer too that it’ll be a sharing of hope for you.


I remember I told a friend just a short few years back, ‘I hate cancer’. Because I have seen what it did to my mum. And it took her away. I have seen what it did to friends and family.

 

My hate for cancer stemmed from the fear of losing the people I love. And this fear stemmed from losing control of situations and outcomes.

Now, I’m presented with a similar situation when the doctor shook his head in disappointment and said to my husband, ‘Yeah, it’s confirmed.’

(By the way, get ready for a super-long medical term—nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL), which is an uncommon type of Hodgkin lymphoma.)

So, when the friend whom I declared ‘I hate cancer’, asked me with great concern how I’m taking this—I asked my heart. My husband and I also talk about it.

 

How do we feel about him having cancer?

Our mutual feeling remains as—we’ll do life one step at a time.

Nobody likes to hear this, but death is a default in our earthly life.

To say that the result is not pleasant would be a gross understatement. Yes. We.are.sad. But it’s not a devastating shock to us. We’ve expected either a yes (and what should we do) or no (yay!).

Whether it’s highly treatable or not—my husband and I agreed that we’d pray and seek God’s guidance. We don’t want to overthink and over-plan to the point of being anxious, and being distracted in too many directions as we are sure we’ll be presented with options to consider.

The most important thing is to remember the quality and meaning of life while we are here.

And to treasure moments.

 

As for me…

I think there’ll be emotional ups & downs for sure.

But, I’m better at navigating through this situation now, compared to if it were to happen last year.

And this is because I went through a nearly year-long ordeal of hurts and great confusion when someone we love dearly, for some reasons, left home and cut us off.

For months, I tried everything with my own strength, will and wit to ‘put everything back into order‘, but nothing works.

One by one, through situations—I experienced my perceived control being stripped away. But, I fight on. Fighting on to wanna turn things around with my own strength.

Finally. It took one incident at dinner—I remember shaking an imaginary fist at God, saying through gritted teeth, ‘God! Even this tiny bit of control you also wanna take away from me!!! ARGHHH!!!’

That.

 

The defining moment when—I finally get it.

I can't control life as much as I can't control whether the sun will rise the next day. I can't control life as much as I can't control whether I'll still be breathing in the next second. Click To Tweet

 

I got a taste of humility.

Everything can be taken away from me; everything except God and His promises.

It reminded me of this verse in the Bible:

“But everybody who hears these words of mine and doesn’t put them into practice will be like a fool who built a house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It fell and was completely destroyed.” Matthew 7:26 CEB

 

At my weakest, I got to know God—more.

The more I know Him,
the more I know how fleeting life on earth can be.
The more I know Him,
the more I know life is not meant to merely lived #YOLO but to live with purpose and meaning that is greater than ourselves.
The more I know Him,
the firmer my foundation became.
The more I know Him,
the more I’m anchored by Him.

This anchor will be the antidote to my fear of what if’s and what’s to come. And through this season—this anchor will be my unshakeable hope.

I don’t know how things would be in the coming days, months, years. But then, I think—illness or not; I would also have no idea of the next minute (there’s this control thing again!)

I just pray that we’ll go through this without our joy being taken away. That despite any possible hardships, we’ll still laugh. We’ll have family and friends around us. And that we’ll still love and be kind to people around us.

 

My prayer

Lord,
You know my heart. You know our condition.
You know everything about what’s ahead. Guide us one step at a time.
I ask You to give us peace. To let us hear You.
We need You. Lord, we need You. Give us peace, not fear.
I know You are the Healer, Lord.
But my cry to You, it’s not merely to heal my husband.
My cry to You is that You’ll be with us.
You’ll be our unexplainable joy.
That even through this, we’ll be salt & light.
That we’ll be the agent of Your love.
That You’ll be our all.
We worship You; we adore You. You are an awesome God.
We love You, Jesus.
In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

 

I also worship with songs through the pain and confusion:

I will build my life upon your love
It is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in you alone
And I will not be shaken.


Majesty, Lord of all,
Let every throne before Him, fall

 

 


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Feature photo by Thomas Vimare on Unsplash

When life gets you down…

Just keep swimming. Don't give up

“Just keep swimming”—Dory.

 

When my blended-but-I-thought-was-doing-well-family spun out of control, my world was shaken to the core.

 

There was a potent mix of rage, helplessness, and intense pain—each of the three taking turns, sometimes all at once to wreak havoc on my daily life. I was desperate to put things back into order. Back into the world I know.

Through gritted teeth, I strived, planned, strategised what I thought were sound plans to solve the problems. Nothing works. Things got worse.

I felt everything which I was holding in my hands, slipped, fell and crashed into pieces…and I can’t save a single piece.

I can no longer think straight. I just want the pain to stop. STOP.

As my inner world plunged further into darkness, I was aware that if it continues to fall, I will go into a deep depression.

The intense pain in my heart was paralysing me. Don’t even talk about relationship reconciliation, don’t even talk about healing, don’t even, anything.

I knew I have to come up for air—survival became my mode.

 

“Just keep swimming” became my daily focus just to survive the moment.

 

I need to avoid dwelling on the pain for now.

If it’s watching episode after episode of Frasier and laugh for that one hour, so be it.

If it’s eating that dark chocolate, so be it.

If it’s going out more to enjoy good meals with my husband, so be it.

Anything to avoid that dark, knife-holding grip dragging the blade across my heart, again and again.

 

I can empathise maybe one of the reasons why people turn to alcohol and regularly drink themselves into a stupor, even if they knew that it’s not a solution—they just want to escape the pain. And perhaps sadly, instead of reaching out for help, their hands reach out for the bottle instead.

 

My “just keep swimming” was interlaced between sitcom, dark chocolate, good food escapism and a newfound community of Christian brothers and sisters who I didn’t know one day I would need so badly.

Sure I have the head knowledge that it’s essential to have a support network, but it’s only when I experienced the support that I knew these people are one of my lifelines.

Were we great friends before this that ‘warrants’ their kindness? Were they part of a formal support network group? Nope. But these group of people in their own ways demonstrated Christ’s command to ‘love one another’, and they showered me with their time, a listening ear, and prayers.

 

A lot of times, it felt like I’m swimming against the current. I swam with tears in my eyes, and when I’m tired, I’m grateful that God was there waiting for me while I floated around, feeling defeated.

 

‘When life gets you down, just keep swimming’ doesn’t mean to suppress or act as if nothing is wrong. And please, it certainly is not a de-motivational ‘chin up’, ‘you can do it’, ignore your pain and get on with life kind of thing.

What it ultimately means—don’t give up. Seek help, reach out, please don’t ever give up on hope. #justkeepswimming

 

 


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Empathy: the missing link between pain and hope

Empathy the missing link between pain and hope.

We usually celebrate those who rise above the storm. Winners who thrive in terrible situations in their lives. I do too. I love champions like that.

 

But some of us find it difficult to accept that there are people who love God dearly, who don’t blame God for their terrible situations in life, would still be sad, or even depressed.

One thing I felt uncomfortable and confused with the messages I received from certain Christian articles, some sermon messages, and well-meaning Christians, etc. is—the quick downplay of one’s emotions, situations (whatever it is), and the emphasis on perspective, God’s Hope, faith…The keywords here are: quick downplay.

I know that He is in control. I know about changing our perspectives. I know about choosing our responses. I know all that. And we do need to have that and live it out.

But it doesn’t take away the emotions and pain, certainly not the situation. It’s hard to choose a good response to not cry when you are bleeding.

 

For me at my low point of life, being ‘preached’ that we should focus on God (while this is true), makes me struggle even worse. It makes me struggle with my struggles. That the sadness must be taken away because, you know, God is hope. It makes me feel guilty that I’m feeling sad when I have so many things to be joyful for.
It makes me feel—less than a Christian.

Don’t get me started that yeah, guilt doesn’t come from God, it comes from Satan, yada yada. I. know. that.

 

In our zealousness to guide people back on track—have we moved too fast to point people to the bigger picture—unconsciously downplayed the complexity of emotions, and therefore desensitised pain?

Is it any wonder that people are lonely in their pain in a world of fixer-uppers?

When we acknowledge people's pain in their weakest moment, we give them strength and hope because—someone understands. Click To Tweet

Do that often enough, chances are the person will have enough strength to rise, one step at a time.


I cried at this scene. I can relate to me, to my daughter, to the many others who are struggling. It’s one of the reasons why I never say ‘chin up!’ to people.


I have the tremendous blessings of a handful of people who were coal bearers during my current winter season in life. These are the precious people who literally and figuratively sat beside me when I have no more words and no more tears to shed. God gave me His strength through them.

Receiving comfort on my bleeding wound, I can then better hear the message of hope. So, I wanna say thank you to each of you. You know who you are.

God is giving us the opportunity to be His vessel. Can we learn to be empathetic to a hurting person in need?

 

 


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Don’t go through (and don’t let someone go through) pain alone.

We may not be able to offer solutions to people's situation, but we can be a comforting presence in the midst of their pain.

I remember the feeling when I plunged into something like depression, and I didn’t know who to turn to.

 

It felt like I’m drowning in this dark void of awful loneliness. So alone.

Like everything inside of me, my soul, just sinking into this pool of black ink. Everywhere I look, pitch-black—a potent cocktail of desperation and violent rage.

 

I’ve been wrongly taught by the world that emotions and feelings are not to be trusted. So, I’ve learnt to box them up.

 

Unknowingly, I became an expert in compartmentalising my pain. I didn’t do it on purpose, somewhere along my life, I just learnt how to function normally.

I went to work ‘normally’, I led my team ‘normally’, I went to church ‘normally’, I laughed ‘normally’.

However, I was everything but normal. I was crumbling, and my days just became harder and harder.

I didn’t know how to open up. Who to turn to that won’t:
Judge
Preach
Advise
Tell
Condemn
or worse, ask me to justify my feelings.

I tried to rationalise it away. My problems are small compared to the world.

I tried to pray it away. But the sadness stayed.

I tried to coat it with Words from the Bible. Nothing sticks.

I tried to escape it with Frasier. The laughter lasted only as long as the sitcom.

I felt guilty and weak for feeling this way. I asked myself mockingly, “are you being melodramatic?”

 

Chin up! The world says.

In fact, someone brutally commented on my blog, “try not to be too dramatic!” I felt at once ashamed that I may be emotional. But angry too, for being judged.

Herein lies the problem.

Some of us are just too quick to pass comments based on our views.

Some of us, too busy to pause and listen.

 

We have talkers, speakers, self-help, no-help, preachers, teachers. But we need more listeners. People to listen without passing judgement. Because pain is lonely. Click To Tweet

 

The shortest verse in the Bible is—

Jesus wept

He is not dispassionate. He is empathetic in our weakness. He does not tell us to be less dramatic nor fault us for feeling sad. It is ok not to be ok. We can draw comfort from knowing that.

 

Don’t apologise for mourning, grieving or weeping. God comes into our pain and feels with us. He will also bring along the right people to walk alongside with us through this wall. Please reach out.

And if you know someone who is going through a tough time in life, please reach out to them.

We don’t need to be a counsellor, but we can be a friend, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on.

We can be the one to give an encouraging smile, send an encouraging note, deliver a bouquet of flowers or chocolates maybe, or just offer help.

 

We may not be able to offer solutions to people’s situation, but we can be a comforting presence in the midst of their pain.

 

If you think this article can be useful to someone, please share.

 

 


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Does this mean I’m no longer sad?

sadness2.jpg

Today, in church, someone asked how am I doing. I gave a genuine answer, “I’m good.” Does that mean I’m no longer sad?

 

Over these past few weeks, I do wonder whether I am exaggerating my emotions, even feeling ashamed that perhaps I’m just emotional and a drama-queen.

I can’t explain why I don’t mope around with a downward turned lips, that I still can work; heck, laugh and make silly jokes. Then I stumbled upon this article—depression doesn’t make you sad all the time. I think it explained the situation pretty well.

 

Excerpt: When I’m having a depressive episode, I’m not walking around in tattered black clothes, weeping and wailing.I keep working and have friendly chats with the people I work with. Above all, I experience moments of happiness.

Read the article here.

Do you experience this situation too?

 

 


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Pain, pain, go away (poem)

It’s Chinese New Year,
A first without mum,
Didn’t know that it’ll be that weird,
To celebrate and laugh while my heart still hurts.

I’ve been thinking of her,
Her roaring laughter still ringing in my ears,
I can see her pottering in the kitchen,
Dishing out my favourite dishes that she knows I love.
These I have no more,
And it’s the heartache that’s left to endure.
Oh, how we boast about our future,
When nothing on earth is secure.

I keep my eyes on Jesus,
When all is too much to bear,
Lay my weary head on Him,
To Him, I try to cast my cares.

I know mom is in heaven,
A place she can call home for eternity,
No more awful earthly suffering,
For this, I’m thankful for His mercy.

But to this, I am but a human,
Of flesh and blood, I’m made,
And till I return to dust and back to Him,
I guess this hurts and pain will never really fade away?

 

 


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