On endings.

(Update:  My friend is safe and in treatment.  Please pray for her.)

~~~

In case you ever feel that your life has no value, that your kids would be better off without you around, that ridding the world of you would be a blessing to everyone. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.

Suicide doesn’t take the burden of you away from your children. It weighs them down unforgettably, tainting even the good memories, makes them question how lovable they were.  What makes a parent value a child so little that they would just leave?

Yes, at some point they’ll read about depression and how it alters brain chemistry, how it is a disease like any other, how the person was not quite ‘in’ his or her head. How it isn’t their fault.  (It isn’t!)  And the grace of Jesus can  heal wounds, even those inflicted by those who are supposed to love us best.  And unlike people, Jesus will never leave us or forsake us.  Never.

But the cold hard truth is that suicide feels like abandonment to those left behind, and every family member of a suicidal person feels the rejection.  Knows the pain.  This is leaving, not rescuing.

So don’t go.  Don’t leave.  Don’t abandon.  Stick with your people.  Beg for help.   Sit on doorsteps til you get it.  Talk. Tell people.  Dig into the Psalms.  Trust people with your pain, over and over and over.  Keep walking.  Take a minute at a time.  Trust God.   Pray.  Talk.  Walk.  Repeat.  Wait on the Lord.

Stay. Stay. Stay.

~~~

Apologies to friends for whom this post is personally painful. And friends, please pray for a friend of mine who left a suicide note this morning. My heart is deeply burdened on her behalf.

 

{ 30 Comments }

  1. My heart goes out to whoever is dealing with this loss now. My brother killed himself when I was 14 and he was 16. It changed the dynamic of our family forever. Trust in GOD. Know suicide doesn’t end your problems or help anyone out. There is always comfort and peace to be found in our savior who has felt all your pain and anguish. There is love.

  2. Praying……

  3. Mary,

    Have you ever personally experienced depression? I just think you can’t understand it without having experienced it. I’m not disagreeing with you that suicide is not the answer, and I can’t comprehend the pain of those who loved the one who left, but depression is almost indescribable. I have not ever contemplated suicide myself, but I have known the despair of depression. The dark cloud is overwhelming. It seems easy to those on the outside to say seek help, don’t give up, but I just can’t express how impossible that feels to do. I guess what I want to say is if you see/suspect someone is feeling depression, please reach out to them. Talk to them. Bug them. Don’t give up on them. There are times when you simply cannot (whether you SHOULD be able to or not) help yourself. Suicide is not ever the answer.

    • I wanted to say, too, that I am so sorry for your pain, and for the pain of those affected. My heart goes out to you so much. I am praying for all of you.

    • Yes, hugely important…we need to talk to struggling friends, ask how they are, help them along, encourage them. My husband did that for me when I was deep in the pits after our last adoption, and I will never forget that.

      • Mary, would you be willing to share a little more about this? Were you struggling with post-adoption depression? I’m sure whatever you’d be willing to share would really help others…

        • Definitely post-adoption depression. The girls weren’t bonding at first, and we were all miserable for awhile. Click on the adoption tab at the top of my blog– I’ve written some about it.

  4. So very sad. And just tough.

  5. My nephew and niece lost their step-father to suicide a few years back…and I remember hearing what a friend said at the time, “suicide is the most selfish act ever taken by a person.” That touched me the most.

    • I understand (intellectually at least) that the pain they’re enduring takes away reasoning power, but it leaves such pain behind… I guess we all need to pray for discernment and loving, understanding, wise hearts that are open to reach out gently to the struggling….

  6. My grandfather took his life many many years ago leaving behind a wife, children and grandchildren because an undiagnosed disease that affected his body at various times. The disease we all know now was epilepsy but caused such panic for him and those around him and doctors were unable to explain what was happening to him leaving him.
    My grandmother always understood why grandpa did what he did and in the years following his death was called upon many times to ‘talk with’ adults who were dealing with unexplained illness by her parish priest.
    Because of this history in my family, I have been diligent in keeping the lines of communication open with all my children and making sure they understand they can talk to me about ‘ANYTHING’. Our table talk includes such conversations as illness, politics, sex, religion, bodily functions, etc. Kids’ friends are always amazed that I will let them talk about anything and in very graphic terms. My grandmother’s words to me are my inspiration for keeping the lines of communication open, “And this too shall pass if you let it”

  7. Depression is such a complicated and sad topic. I struggled with severe postpartum depression after the birth of both of my children. The knowledge that suicide would be abandonment was the only thing that helped me through those difficult times. Through the Grace of God, I fought through the depression and am completely healthy now. I pray that others who are struggling with depression recognize that it is a temporary state. As hard as it may be, we have to push through how we feel to ensure that we are there for our children. They are what matters, and in them we find joy.

    I am praying for your friend Summer and her family.

  8. Christine says:

    One of my good friends just lost their husband to suicide . It breaks my heart for this family to suffer because of this act . At the visitation I cried for the husband but most of my tears where for the family and the pain they have to endure . I don’t understand it and may never but the pain left behind is very tragic. Please pray for Danielle and her family as I will pray for Summer and hers.

  9. praying for your friend

  10. My family has been touched deeply by suicide — and I have struggled gravely with depression, PPD, and am a former alcoholic and know well the personal struggle with it. BUT I also know there IS hope, and there is help. GOD IS there…

    I will be praying!!

  11. I’m so sorry for your friend and her family. I have a good amount of experience with these things, and have a friend very on the edge right now (and I completely get why even though she’s clinging to God with all her might, and a fighter like no other. It’s a very complicated thing in some cases.) One thing: Those on the outside should never assume that there’s “help” with every situation– sometimes the “help”, or lack of any real help despite the veneer, makes things much, much worse. Americans are prone to think that there’s a pill or a program to solve every problem. Many times those who “encourage” and “exhort” do make the isolation worse, particularly when simplifying very complicated, lifelong situations, extraordinary things that they’ve never walked through themselves.

  12. being a suicide attempt survivor myself.. meaning, i’ve attempted suicide 3 times and failed, i guarantee that pointing out what is being left behind really doesn’t matter in that moment. it’s about stopping an unbearable pain that wont stop. and the pain is unbearable. telling someone in that position or close to that position, or even believing that suicide is selfish only furthers the stigma of mental illness and the guilt that often comes with mental illness. talking about it in that term implies that we can ‘just get over it’ or that there will be a treatment that will make it go away if only we are compliant. there aren’t always treatments. i am 38 and have been sick with my illness since i was 13. starting at age 22 i began looking for treatments (my parents did nothing). i may now be getting one that works. believe me i looked hard and have worked hard, and this – i’ve lucked into.

    and the stigma against mental illness is horrible. absolutely horrible. most people don’t REALLY understand it, especially severe mental illness. there is beginning to be less of a stigma around depression – but i figure that is in large part due to the anti-depressant commercials on tv. talk about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD not caused by being in the military) and it’s a whole different story.

    my pastor knows about my illness. my illness is under control and when i’m at church and church related events no one would know that i have a severe mental illness. i have taken on big responsibilities in our worship ministry. i’ve devoted a lot of time to learning how to do these things well. i don’t serve the church outside of that, but i’m also a phd student. recently i’ve been in conflict with my pastor about a couple of things. i have used all the i statements and copping to my side of things i can, but i’m still being treated as less than by my pastor. my therapist goes to my church as well and has read the communications between my pastor and i. he suspects, as do i, that my pastor is treating me the way she is because of my mental illness.

    i really hope your friend recovers and that she finds hope again. i hope that as she does this no one blames her and people don’t treat her less than. i hope that instead people love her and work to understand. this is what people who attempt suicide need – love and understanding. they don’t need to have to deal with other’s feelings about their attempt as well because goodness knows their own feelings that they are dealing with are enough, and i am certain that the guilt about what she would have left her family with is one of those things she is dealing with.

    • Mary H. Thanks for sharing your experience. You help me move toward a place of better understanding. Since I am working from a position of seeing precious ones greatly wounded by a person who chose suicide over life, it is a struggle for me. But understanding is something I very much desire. Thank you for being open…

  13. I have been depressed, off and on, for many years, and I have to say that this post is very hard for me to read. I know from reading your blog that you are a compassionate and caring woman who would not intentionally hurt anyone, but this post is hurtful to me as someone who has struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts.

    You ask “What would make a parent value a child so little that they would just leave?”. Let me explain that from my own experience, it was precisely BECAUSE I valued my children that I considered suicide at times, and leaving my family at others. I felt that I was the worst possible parent…that they would be better off, TRULY better off, with anyone but me. That I could not do this job properly and was irrevocably screwing them up by even being around them. I was afraid that all the anger I had towards them, all the yelling and threatening and overly harsh punishment, was worse for them than for me to be gone and to have some kind person in my place to care for them.

    I now know that irrational anger and irritability is a symptom of depression, but then I didn’t. I loved them, I thought they were wonderful, so in my mind at that time I believed I SHOULD NOT be their Mom, that it was actually wrong of me to stay and torture these children further. And the overwhelming pain of that guilt, failure, the frustration of being unable to change even though I desperately wanted to, followed by the numbness of giving up trying…it made life seem not worth living. In my darkest days I even considered sending my children to heaven ahead of me so that Jesus himself would take care of them and they wouldn’t have to grow up in this broken world.

    I understand how deranged this all sounds to a normal, loving mother…it sounds like someone else’s life even to me, several years later. But the thought processes that lead to suicide are not logical. It is not as though some perfectly sane person had weighed their options and decided that suicide was the best course of action. It is the end result of messed-up thinking, messed-up brain chemistry, messed-up emotions and/or hormones. Suicide is NOT abandonment in the same sense as a baby being left on a doorstep because the mother has no money to buy food or doesn’t want the responsibility. It is the result of being sick, of being mentally ill. We do not convict the mentally ill of a crime in the same way as a sane person, so why do we pass judgment on those who attempt suicide to be abandoning their families as though they were responsible for that decision the way any other person would be? This post makes it sound like being depressed is not a person’s fault, but attempting suicide is. You cannot separate one from the other.

    I write this simply to offer you a glimpse of the other side, to share with you my perspective. I can understand yours as well, that it is incredibly frustrating and heartbreaking to see someone make these choices and you want to tell them just to stop and think. But I think that if your friend ever reads this post, she may be hurt and conclude that you just don’t get it. I will be praying that she will pull through and receive the help and support that she needs.

    • Jen, thank you for putting into words what I have struggled to explain for years. Even my friends who have been mildly depressed do not understand how deep and dark I’ve gone. I’m not ashamed, I’m not proud, I just am. I, too, thought my family would be better off without me, thankfully I recognized that we’re better off together.

      Bottom line for me? Don’t pretend to understand, just love them and want the best for them.

    • I’m so sorry for any words my hurt caused you, Jen. I wrote you privately, but here I just wanted to explain my intent in writing the sentence about ‘valuing a child so little.’

      I was trying to describe the thought process of someone newly bereaved via suicide, NOT to explain the actual feelings of someone considering suicide. The person who commits suicide thinks of it as a deeply personal act reflective of their own deep misery. But the bereaved loved one (right or wrong) ALSO feels it personally, as an act reflective of their perceived lack of importance in the deceased person’s value system, which of course compounds the hurt. Though, from what you explain, that was probably not the intent at all of the one who committed suicide…

      Tough, tough stuff and I don’t know if I explained my feelings and thoughts very well yet…. I am deeply sorry that my words were hurtful, and I do very much appreciate all who’ve worked to enlighten me today.

    • Thank you for writing this.

      My mother attempted suicide in 2007, when I was 17. My Dad came home early from work and found her in a coma and the doctors were able to save her. She spent 1 week in the hospital and was in a medically induced coma for 2 days. I didn’t sleep for 48 hours. It was the most confusing, angering, heartbreaking experience of my life.

      My great uncle committed suicide in February, almost exactly 6 years to the day that my mother attempted suicide.

      And although the circumstances between the two are very different, I feel like I’m closer to understanding the “why” for having read this.

      Thank you.

  14. My sister took her life six years ago leaving a husband (abusive) and four children. There is not a day that passes that I do not think of her. I miss her terribly and I still do not know how she could hsve left her children with such an abusive man. My father passed away three weeks ago and in his last hours he still was wondering what he could have done differently. My mother takes care of her grave site monthly and has spent over $50,000 on this out of the way place (abusive husband’s family cemetery). My parents were haunted by this experience. It is a terrible thing to do to a family tainting them with guilt and shame. I agree, there are better options. Get help or you will leave your family with endless guilt. PTL for Jesus who pours out His grace.

  15. Wow~ I am so sorry to hear that someone you love is going through this!

    I know from personal experience, that when you are the one in that place, the one who is hurting, the pain and hurt is illogical and indescribable – and there are times (however misguided and wrong that you may be) that you do truly feel like you would be hurting others less if you were gone.

    I have been there myself – and it is never all the way gone (at least for me).

    Jen, and Jill – Comments 13 and 13.1; you ladies put it better than I have ever been able to myself!

    I will be holding you and your friend’s family up in prayer!

  16. Thank you for this, Mary. In March 2010, my father committed suicide. Even though I am grown and have two children of my own (I am 26), I feel the awful pain of abandonment. It is devastating, and you are left with so many questions that you cannot receive answers to this side of Heaven.

    I will be praying for your friend and for her family.

  17. Oh. My. This is a subject I know alot about. The subject being “hold to go on living when your loved-one doesn’t”. There is a stigma, a lasting life-long residue one has to deal with when someone they love chooses to leave this world by committing suicide. I have lost someone from illness, from war and from disease. But nothing, NOTHING equals the pain of losing someone from suicide. Suicide is the most selfish act anyone can do. And I don’t say that in criticism. One cannot be in their “right mind” when they do it. I realize this. Suicide takes no one else into account, so for that reason I see it as the ultimate act of selfishness.

  18. Survivor of my dad’s suicide over here – it was 3 years just last week. It NEVER goes away, it DOES taint everything, and it ISN’T something we can just get over.

  19. On Friday we lost a good friend’s husband to suicide: he left two boys, 7 and 9. Those kids look like they’ve been through a war zone, and I guess they have. I understand depression, and it is STILL difficult for me to understand how a parent could voluntarily leave two beautiful children. Praying for everyone who is in this painful, painful place.

  20. I have people close to me who have lost friends to suicide. There is often nothing anyone can do to change that person – both people close to me continuously reached out to their friends, checked up on them, told them how much they meant, how their life had worth, how much it would hurt if they weren’t here but they still took their lives. Yes, it is a selfish act, but I imagine those who are contemplating suicide can’t comprehend the selfishness – they just want the pain to end, they don’t see hope, they think those left behind will be better off.

    I think the advice to reach out is good, but I also think those who did reach out, who did try, who had dinner with a friend and learned later that night they took their life, that you couldn’t change that script – it was likely already planned, that light you might have seen in their eyes because the end of their pain was near.

    I hope your friend gets the help she needs and that her family also gets the help they so desperately need to work through this – I can only imagine the fear they have and that as the weeks and months go by, they’ll always worry – is she ok, will we come home to her gone.

  21. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Unfortunately, those left behind too often are lost in the should of/could of/would ofs. I’ve seen this tear my husband’s family apart, when all I could do was pray for the souls of the departed and those left behind to find peace. For those who need help or those in their lives who see they do, seek it through doctors, help lines, whatever, and if it doesn’t seem to be working, seek it elsewhere. Keep trying and keep praying. God bless you and give you the strength to fight your fight.