Yesterday I attended a memorial service of a fifteen year old girl who had taken her own life.
As I was driving to the service I asked myself “where was God as she was dying”.
The answer came back very clearly “I, the Lord your God, was right there”. I can only pray that she called on His name during that time of immense darkness and pain.
A friend put into words what I was feeling:
“The most frightening thing about this death is the fact that it could be any of our own children”
This family is not alone in their pain and their grief and their feelings of guilt and disappointment, anger and hurt – this could happen and has happened to anyone with children. Suicide impacts all our lives.
Kay Warren, whose son took his own life had this to say about suicide:
“It is a catastrophic grief. It’s messy, not a clean grief. There is so much guilt: Almost everybody ends up feeling at some point, could I have stopped it? Should I have done more? It is exhausting: this kind of grief is hard work. It is lonely and isolating being a parent of a child who has committed suicide. It opens up other un-grieved, un-mourned and incomplete losses”
The loss of a child to an accident or an illness is hard enough to bear but to think that your child willingly took his or her own life is almost unbearable. That, they were in a place of such darkness that your love could not reach them, is unthinkable.
The father of this fifteen year old said to his daughter at her memorial service: “I thought my love had your back covered”
As parents we long to believe that our love has our children covered but often depression hides that love from our children. Depression is not a sign of personal weakness it is a very real illness and sometimes, even when the depression is being treated with medication and therapy that is not enough to lift the darkness and pain. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are sometimes not enough to heal the cancer, just as medication and therapy is sometimes not enough to heal the depression.
This beautiful child’s life and her dying has reminded me of the following:
Life is fleeting, treasure every moment
Love broadly, love deeply
Keep perspective – ask the following question “in one year, five years, ten years time – is this really going to matter?”
Look after your body and your mind
Be kind to yourself
Be kind to others
Laugh with passion
Cultivate compassion and generosity
Pray without ceasing to the God who created us
Learn to be quick to forgive yourself and others
Rick Warren, the husband of Kay said: “I never questioned my faith in God. I questioned God’s plan. There’s a big difference. I know God is a good God. … But not everything that happens in the world is God’s will. Everything that happens in the world God allows, He permits, because it couldn’t happen without His permission. But we live in a world where there are free choices, so if I choose to do wrong, I can’t blame God for that. So God isn’t to blame for my son’s death. My son took his own life. It was his choice.”
Process your regrets and your guilts and then let them go.
Trust in God “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)
Above all – LIVE