My husband came home one day this weekend looking exhausted and distressed. One of his newly-sober sponsees had received a cancer diagnosis several weeks ago, went back out drinking, and tried to kill himself with a mixture of pills and alcohol. He woke up to find himself still alive, and picked up the phone to call my husband and say, "Please help me!" My husband told him to call an ambulance, as he'd be admitted much more quickly than if the two of them went to Emergency, met him at the hospital, and spent a few hours with him, talking and listening, until he was calmed down. This man would not have tried to kill himself if he'd been sober - that happened after days of drinking, when the terrible despair, self-loathing and fear were consuming him.
My husband told me that as he was driving home, he was remembering when he used to drink himself into such a terrible physical state that he would end up in the hospital - seeing his sponsee in that state must have been like looking into an old mirror.
He's struggling with the realisation that he's powerless to help his sponsees past a certain point - he can give all his love and support, all that he has learned, and is learning, he can pray for them, but if they aren't ready, and they won't work the Steps, they probably aren't going to stay sober. He stood at our front door, taking off his coat and shoes, his face wrinkled in pain, speaking with love of this man who had just tried to kill himself.
He's visited this sponsee several times in the hospital, and is going to go take him to meetings in the hospital when he's well enough. I feel for his sponsee, and for him - he's facing the painful realisation that we cannot love someone into sobriety. Tonight, he built a big fire in our fireplace, and we talked about about what he can and cannot do.
He can express the love that fills his heart, give of his time and program knowledge, and - pray.