I recently received this email message from my brother:
"They were a couple alone, estranged from their only child, and in rapidly declining health. Everyone that knew them marveled at their mutual love; after more than 50 years of marriage their deep affection and mutual respect was obvious to all. Early this morning the lady shot her husband, called the police, and before they could arrive, shot herself.
"Murder or mercy killing, no matter; these two elderly people were apparently discarded by society and left to deal with their pain as they could. This happened in a small town here in Southern Utah and I find it unimaginably sad.
"Yes, sometimes it helps to write things down as you are wont to advocate."
I assume that this "downer" message is my brother's way of expressing his compassion and his feelings about growing old; he, too, lives alone, and as we've aged, we've communicated much more.
I don't know what conclusions to draw from this awful murder-suicide. I haven't checked for further details yet. Was the couple too proud to ask for help? Was no help available? Did they fail to prepare for the inevitable decline of old age? What were their circumstances, and what were their choices, if any?
I agree with my brother that the situation is unimaginably sad.