April 30, 2011

A Storm Called Suicide

Thursday was a strange day to begin with.  I woke to the sound of a weather warning on my radio.  " Find shelter immediately,"  the disembodied voice was stating.  Outside the wind was howling and all the windows were shaking.  I glanced out my bedroom window and saw the trees bending.  An ominous darkness was quickly coming our way.

I woke everyone in a hurry and we scrambled downstairs with important documents, our bibles, and our pets.  I felt a terrible sense of dread.  I thought at the time it was because of the dangerous storm.  But even after the danger had past and I headed to work, that awful feeling lingered.  I was unsettled and I couldn't understand why.

As soon as I stepped onto campus I knew something had happened.  I passed by a small cluster of students.  The girls were in a huddle, talking in hushed whispers.  Some of them were crying.  The office itself was silent.  I couldn't find any fellow professors and the secretary had stepped out for a few minutes.

I still had time before class began so I visited the powder room to freshen up.  I felt harried from the morning events and wanted to make certain my appearance didn't reflect my state-of-mind.  As I was doing this a young woman entered.  She was holding a tissue to her nose and her shoulders were shaking.  But I could tell that she was trying to regain control.

I asked her what was wrong and she explained that a fellow student had passed away earlier that morning.  She didn't give me a name and I didn't feel it was wise to push her to say more than she was ready to share.  So I simply gave her a hug and told her I was very sorry.  When she had calmed down we left together and then headed separate ways.

That feeling of dread was stronger. The " storm" was coming. I needed to know who had died.  And after a few hours I finally had my answer.  As soon as her name was spoken the pain began.  I had known her... I had spent two years working with her and watching her progress and mature.  She had been married a little over one year and had hopes for the future.

Which is why it was such a shock to learn she committed suicide.

Family and friends can't understand it.  She always seemed happy, or at least content.  She was around people all the time. She wanted a family of her own.  She was a Christian.  At least... that's what she said and her outward life reflected.

A fellow professor shared with me that she felt guilty, as if there might have been more she could have done to notice something was wrong.  But I shot down that argument.  What happened was not her fault, or mine, or any of her friends or family.  Ultimately, as far as we know, it was her choice and we may never know why.

What I do know is that the grief comes in waves.  Sometimes I am strong and able to comfort others and other times I can't stand the pain.  This is natural in grief.  And unfortunately I am familiar with the trauma of suicide.  It has happened to people I know and loved a few times before.  I know what to expect but that doesn't make it any easier. There is a part of me that will always hurt when I think of someone I knew who died this way.

But God's grace is sufficient for all my needs and I have to believe that even when terrible things happen He will take the grief and suffering and transform it into something beautiful. May His name be glorified.

There was a terrible storm on Thursday.  But it was not a tornado that caused the damage. There are no radio warnings for the coming of death.  You cannot be fully prepared for the event even during terminal illness.  The blow is always hard.  We were never meant to suffer the pain of separation. That came into being because of sin.  And it will continue to kill until Christ returns which is why Easter means so much to me.

If you or someone you know has suffered the loss of a loved one through suicide please, please do not bottle your feelings inside.  You must speak about it.  Even if you didn't know the person directly but you see the terrible pain your friends and family are going through... talk about it.  Many times witnessing the suffering of others can be just as traumatizing.  Most of all talk to God.  Do not push him away during this difficult time.  You need Him now more than ever.  Believe me. I know.

" Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn: for they shall be comforted."  Matthew 5: 3, 4

" Blessed is the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." II Corinthians  1: 3, 4


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post though I am sorry for the tragic loss of that woman's life. We can only trust in God and hope for His grace for her.


Mr. LGS: Yes. I believe there are many mysteries in life that we will never fully understand until we meet Jesus face-to-face.

I will continue to believe that she was a Christian and is now resting in the Lord. And I will continue to lean on God for strength and healing.

He is so close to the brokenhearted.