Suicide…such an awful word. Such a hopeless word. Such a desperate word. I so wish I could undo the suicides I have been impacted by. None of them bring me joy. All bring me grief. A few years ago, a neighbor in a nearby house committed suicide. One Sunday morning on our way to church as we passed his house, we saw the police on the scene and crime tape up. We later found out what had happened. I had never even spoken to him, but now as I pass his house (which I must do every time I come and go from our home) I am often reminded of what he did and am still saddened.
I don’t even want to talk about the suicides of those I know personally. The devil, prowling around like a roaring lion, successfully devoured them (I Peter 5:6-11). The grief we bear may lighten in years to come, but I doubt it will ever completely dissipate this side of Heaven. For all of you who have lost someone to suicide, I am so sorry for the pain you have experienced, are experiencing, and will continue to experience.
How do we bear this tremendous heartache?
One person I know did not successfully commit suicide. By God’s mercy and grace, this precious life was saved from very near death. I was able to learn something valuable afterward when talking to this dear friend.
Despite my best efforts to repeatedly encourage this friend through the many trials God had given her over the years, it hadn’t been enough. But, she told me I had done enough. The pain consumed her, and she just wanted it to end. But, I had done enough. The words echoed in my ears and brought me great comfort. I had done enough. She wanted to no longer feel the pain. I understand. I wish my encouragement could be enough to save every struggling soul I encounter. But, the reality is, I am not the Savior and neither are you. We are merely a tool in His hand that He uses as He sees best. But, we don’t have the power to save anyone. That truth is freeing and yet also unsettling.
Did you see your loved one, your friend, your co-worker, your neighbor in pain and reach out to them? Did you seek to encourage? Then you did enough. You did enough. Hurting soul, you did enough. Could you have done more? Maybe. But, if you saw pain and reached out to that person, you did enough. As you grieve your loss, don’t take on guilt that doesn’t belong to you. Take comfort that you did enough. We are not anyone’s Savior.
But for some, you now realize your words were mean, your love was withheld, your actions were unkind. Over and over you inflicted pain on the very person you knew you should have loved. While it was still that person’s choice to end his life, you sorrowfully acknowledge your lack of love. Nevertheless, there is still hope for you. Repent. Start fervently loving others today.
Perhaps some of you stepped back and let that floundering adult make his own choices. You no longer strove to control every move he made. You no longer were with him 24/7. Perhaps it was an adult child, a sibling, a parent, a close friend. You let him go. And now…he is no longer here. You feel responsible. Watching those you love go down destructive paths is heart wrenching. But, we must also realize we are not God. Protect those you love as you are able and see fit. But, we must also let people walk free. And, sometimes that freedom will lead to unwanted consequences that hurt both them and us. They were an adult. They made the sad choice. You are not responsible. Be comforted in that reality.
The aftermath of a suicide will cause unspeakable pain for those left behind. Perhaps the temptation may be to end your own life thinking you can’t possibly bear this pain. But, Psalm 68:19 gives us truth to rebuke such a lie. “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, The God who is our salvation.” Christians have the comfort that God will walk them through this valley of pain. You are not alone. You are never alone. Cry. Cry. Cry some more. But, never lose sight that you have an almighty God bearing your burden every single day. He loves you. He is able. Keep your eyes on Him. Saturate your mind with His word. Cling to Him. You don’t know the whys behind this loss, but He does. Trust Him. Run to Him. Hope in Him. Turn to Him again and again and again and again.
I know there are other reactions and emotions you might be dealing with that I have not covered. I pray you will seek out a trusted friend, mentor, or pastor and share with them your current struggles. God has put us in community to help us through times just like these.
This has been my feeble attempt to offer you encouragement and comfort after such tremendous loss. It feels so inadequate, but I pray it provides at least some measure of balm to your aching heart. Don’t give up.