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Intersection of Life and Faith

Suicide Shatters Life

  • Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
  • 2002 7 Mar
Suicide Shatters Life
Suicide enters survivor's lives like a thief in the dark. As it robs you of someone you hold dear, it will shock you and leave you feeling violated. People aren't supposed to end their own lives, and when a loved one does so, the grief and unanswered questions you experience may make you feel as if your own life is coming to an end.

But there is always hope. If you turn to God, He will pick up the broken pieces of your shattered life and restore you in the aftermath of a loved one's suicide.

Here are some ways you can rely on God to heal after someone you love has committed suicide:

  • Don't blame yourself for your loved one's death. Ultimately, the decision to end his or her life was that person's alone. Don't waste energy and time wondering what you might have done to prevent the suicide. Understand that even your best efforts may not have made a difference, and that once the death has already occurred, you cannot accomplish anything productive by trying to figure out what you could have done differently. Know that, although suicide is often planned, it is not a rational act. Rather, it is an act of despair committed by a person who simply isn't able to handle pain at that moment.

  • Take your unanswered questions to God. It's natural to want to know why your loved one chose suicide, but accept that you may never know all the factors that led to it until you meet God face to face in heaven. Even suicide notes left behind don't tell you everything that influenced the person to end his or her life. Still, you can count on God to reveal all you need to know now and give you peace and confidence that will be stronger than any of your fears and doubts. Also, don't feel pressure to respond to curious people who ask you why you think the suicide occurred. Simply say you don't know for sure.

  • Remember that God is merciful. Don't assume that your loved one is going to hell simply because of committing suicide. While it's true that God is grieved when someone ends his or her life, many other sins also grieve Him, yet He often chooses to forgive. Think about Christ's sacrifice on the cross that made it possible for everyone to be reconciled with God, including your loved one. Also recall God's promise in the Bible that He will never leave those who place their trust in Him.

  • Share your feelings openly with God, and know that He cares. Express your shock, anger, guilt, sorrow, and fear to Him with full confidence that He understands. Then leave your feelings at God's feet so they don't control you. Ask God to renew your heart and mind so you can experience the freedom He wants you to have.

  • Preserve and cherish the happy memories you shared with the person who committed suicide. Remember the positive aspects of that person's life rather than dwelling primarily on how his or her life ended. Don't judge your loved one simply on the basis of a few moments at the end of his or her life, but instead on the overall life that he or she lived. Forgive your loved one for committing suicide; the Holy Spirit will help you do so.

  • Join a support group for people who have survived a loved one's suicide. You can receive invaluable encouragement and practical help by participating, and you can also contribute to other people's healing in invaluable ways.

  • Be patient with yourself. Know that grieving is a process that takes time.

  • Give yourself the gift of rest during your mourning. Accept all offers of help - with errands, cooking, babysitting, or anything else - and don't be afraid to let friends and family members know what you need. People genuinely want to help but often need to know specific ways they can best contribute.

  • Cry whenever you feel the need to do so. And allow yourself to laugh whenever you can. Both crying and laughing have great power to reduce the negative impact of stress in your life.

  • Get enough sleep and exercise, and eat nutritious meals.

  • Devote some time in your schedule every day to periods of silence in which you can reflect and pray about all that is currently going on in your life.

  • Spend regular time outdoors to enjoy nature whenever you can.

  • Plan how to handle holidays before they arrive. Talk with family members and friends about how traditions will be different without your deceased loved one's presence and how you can build new traditions while still honoring his or her memory.

Adapted from Standing in the Shadow: Help and Encouragement for Suicide Survivors, copyright 2002 by June Cerza Kolf. Published by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.bakerbooks.com, 1-800-877-2665.

June Cerza Kolf is a veteran of hospice work who has counseled many grieving people and written about bereavement.

Has someone you loved committed suicide? If so, how did God help you heal in the aftermath? Have you ever considered suicide yourself, but changed your mind after God met you in the middle of your despair? If so, what encouragement would you like to offer others who might be struggling with despair right now? Visit Crosswalk's forums to discuss this topic by clicking on the link below.

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