You Want to M*A*S*H It Up?

The sword of time will pierce our skins

It doesn’t hurt when it begins

But as it works it’s way on in

The pain grows stronger… watch it grin, but…

‘Cause suicide Is painless.

It brings on many changes.

And I can take or leave it if I please…

Who among us has never sung, wailed, hummed or screamed at some time or another to a song written by a fifteen year old hormonal teenager and which would become the soundtrack to the film M*A*S*H?

For it was on Tuesday June 19, a cloudy day in 1962 that the loved ones of Clarice Tibbett would experience the heartbreak of knowing that suicide is not painless with the awful news of her death at the age of 48 AND by her own hand.

Her suicide would bring on many changes for our family, not least those harrowing feelings of sadness, bewilderment and regret which can weave their way inside the narrative of every death leaving no surviving loved one immune.

However, with Clarice, there would always be a touch of disquiet, a subtle tone of pity, shame tinging every fond recollection when she was brought to mind and always a stubborn reluctance to talk about the reasons for her death.

For I knew almost nothing of Clarice, other than her name, until my early 20’s when I began my history sleuthing and discovered that it was she who was this unexplored branch rooted to MY family tree!

As I quickly realised that not every member of my family shared my excitement for this genealogical gem – I had to annotate my research notes with those interviewees with whom I must ‘proceed with caution’ at the mere mention of Clarice.

And although I eventually managed to ‘win over’ several tight-lipped members of my clan, who I might add, were never known for their recalcitrance on many other topics – others have died taking all that they know along with their personal feelings and memories about Clarice with them.

Although I do like to imagine that they are now taking it up with the lady herself!

In an interview for the Daily Mail prior to the publication of his poignant memoir about the suicide of his mother, the author Jeremy Garvon stated that:

All suicides leave some degree of confusion.

Suicide is the hardest human act to understand because it challenges the fundamental assumption by which we lead our lives – that life has meaning, value – but also because it leaves no one to explain…


Sources Used:

Oh My Brilliant, Beautiful Mother… WHY? ~ Jeremy Gavron The Daily Mail (November 19 2015)

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