Saturday, June 26, 2010

Loss: Understanding What You Can't Understand

If you have lost a friend or loved one to suicide, you've experienced the horrible feeling of your mind and heart twisting and pulling in so many different directionsWhy did she do this?  What made him make this decision?  Whose fault was it?  So many questions have entered your thoughts.  Questions that will always remain unanswered.

The truth is- and you've probably heard this before- but there is nothing you can do to change the past, so there is absolutely no use dwelling on the answers.  Suicide is such a shocking and hurtful thing, something that one can't understand unless they are put into that position.  You can't hope to be able to put yourself into the mind of your loved one before they made such a decision.  Most likely, you would regret knowing. 

When your loved one made the decision to end their own life, they were most likely in a place of great darkness and confusion.  Their death was inflicted by their own hand, which- as hard as it is to convince yourself- means that it ultimately was not your fault.  Even if other people's actions and harsh words played a part in bringing your loved one to their decision, they were still the one who made the decision to end their own life. 

In order to have healing and peace in your own life, you must accept that you can't change the past and that even though you can't understand, you can find peace in yourself and in Christ. 

Changing the Past
Obviously, this cannot be done.  While you can continuously look back and dwell on things that can't be changed, this will only keep you in a place of grief and mourning.  Instead of focusing on things that should have been changed- things that you should have noticed, seen, or done to prevent your loved one's death, try focusing on the good memories of the past.  Write down happy memories between you and your loved one, make a list of little things you loved about him or her, bring out the photos and cards... and when you're feeling angry and embittered, try to dwell on what is happy and peaceful rather than the painful memories.

Finding Peace
Peace is something often longed for after the death of a loved one, especially when the death is by suicide.  Romans 5:1 says that we have peace through our Lord Jesus Christ.  John 14:27 says, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  The death of a loved one is a painful and heartbreaking experience.  You may feel like your world has shattered to pieces all around you.  When you are hurting especially, do not be afraid to pray to God and ask Him for deliverance.  Even if you are feeling angry towards Him for allowing your loved one to die, He understands your weakness and your hurt and He wants to give you peace.

If a friend of yours is struggling through the suicide of a loved one, don't be afraid to reach out to them and show them your support.  Your friend needs you now more than ever.  Send an encouraging note every so often, acknowledging that you understand their struggle.  Offer a listening ear.  Call or text your friend ever so often, simply offering a gesture of love.

If you are considering ending your own life, then please understand the emotional damage this will do to your friends, family, and even those who played small parts in your life.  Those around you will struggle from guilt, pain, and bitterness- even those who you don't want to feel that way.  If you've been planning to end your own life, then please talk to a friend.  They want to help you.  They want to be there for you.  There is an alternative to suicide, and that is life. 

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