Some helpful considerations for living on after a suicide
By D. Clay Perkins
Saturday, January 5, 2019
“Pain and sorrow may last for a night. But joy comes in the morning.” — Hebrews 13:4 (The Bible, New International Version)
Suicide has visited way too many families, including mine. The ripple effects of pain and confusion linger for years for family and friends because of the irrevocable choice of one person. We ask ourselves, why does someone do this? How can all hope be totally gone? Why did no one see this coming? We have so much confusion and so many questions.
Here are some helpful considerations for those who live on after the suicide of a loved one. Some things are too intimate to broadcast publicly. Realize that no one is defined by one action, no matter how ugly. Renew your commitment to love and to life. God is present in your chaos to comfort and guide you.
Privacy is a lost art. Some things are so intimate that you need to give yourself permission to not air your pain. You are under no obligation to post your pain in social media. Of course, it will serve you well to ponder and share with close family and friends. Safe places like Bible study and prayer groups can be of great value, even paramount, in the coping process. But there is no value added when the art of discretion is neglected. You need space. You need life beyond turmoil. Give yourself permission for privacy so that you can have space and rest from turmoil.
We are all human. We all have pain and suffer from poor choices. When a loved one chooses suicide, do not allow that one moment to define your memory of that beloved one. Choose to remember the good. Make the decision not to deny the reality that a loved one intentionally ended life, but also do not negate the rest of that person’s life story. Remember the love, the joy, the smile, the laugh, the quirks … the whole life and person of your dear one. Celebrate life. One moment in time does not define an entire lifetime.
In life are both delight and sorrow. While we all would prefer smooth sailing, that is no longer an option. The action of someone you love has interrupted life. And it pierces the heart. This pain is the price of love. Yet we realize that love is worth the deepest of discomfort. So, renew your commitment to life amidst the pain. Your family and friends matter. Say “I love you” often. Forgive. Be there. Keep those traditions alive. Start new traditions. Live. Explore. Listen. Live life in all its fullness.
And never forget that God has not abandoned you. He is faithful. He offers hope in the most hopeless situation. He offers a way when there is no clear path. God did not abandon your loved one. God now holds your loved one in His arms.
The tough reality of life after suicide is definitely complex. There are so many other things that this writer could have said to guide those who are aching, but please remember that life is meant to be lived. And maybe in our living we can prevent someone from dying too soon.
Dr. Clay Perkins is an adjunct faculty member at Mid-Atlantic Christian University.