This is my last post for National Suicide Prevention Month. The special focus is ended, but the need for #encouragement and #support goes on. #Parents who’ve been crushed by the weight of their child’s death by #suicide need huge amounts of ongoing comfort.
Today’s blog is what I would want someone to say to me if my daughter ever takes her life. I’ve come close to losing her numerous times.
Renee, now 29, has battled with #addiction, mental health issues, and suicidal thoughts since she was a teenager. Thank God she’s still alive – only by His grace.
But many other parents – thousands upon thousands all over the world – are not so fortunate. I’m dear friends with some of them.
This is my heartfelt letter to you:
Your child’s suicide wasn’t your fault.
You can’t always know everything your son or daughter is thinking or read every signal accurately. Sometimes there just aren’t any.
I’m so sorry.
God made no mistake when He chose you to be their parent. It wasn’t only for you to help them, pouring into their life. A bigger reason, I think, is for what God wants to pour into yours through your child.
It was just as much, if not more, what your son or daughter would give to you.
You loved your child well through their dark battles. You did your best. The Father is pleased with you.
Please don’t hide the truth. Choose to be real and vulnerable. Share publicly that their death was a suicide and if they struggled with a #mentalillness or addiction. When you do, you affirm it’s okay to not be okay. It’s alright for families not to be perfect. Perfect? Really? Who is? This needs to be said more and more, especially in the church.
Your openness will open the door for other parents who have kept their situation a secret. Your courage will inspire them to risk being truthful. If you can, then they can, too. They can stop hiding. They can seek the support and help they need.
You will survive. You may not think you so right now – some days you might not even want to – but with God’s help, you’re going to make it.
He can bring you through this living nightmare.
One day your loss won’t hurt so badly. The sting of how your daughter or son died will fade – somewhat – even though it will always be there to some degree. But you will learn to live without your child; to make peace with their absence.
You can find joy again. It co-exists alongside your deep sorrow. Moments of laughter will surprise you. Please don’t feel guilty in those moments. It’s a breath of fresh air, God’s gift to your grieving heart.
Accept help. Don’t isolate or withdraw. Alone is not good on this journey. Allow a few trusted friends into your life to walk with you in your grief. Find a support group when you’re ready. See a counselor. Talk with your clergy. Talking and sharing with others who understand is a huge part of the healing path you want to be on.
Read everything you can get your hands on to help process your loss. Need ideas? Send me a message and I’ll recommend a few great books that have helped my friends.
He weeps with you.
Your child’s suicide hurt His heart, too.
It’s not what He wanted for them, either.
Trust Him with all your questions, anger, rage and doubt. He can take it. He won’t be mad at you or turn away. Not now. Not ever.
Father, remind each brokenhearted parent that Jesus himself is lifting them up in prayer, bringing them to Your throne of grace, laying them and their family at Your feet. Bless them with deep comfort, supernatural strength and moment by moment courage to face each day. Pour out healing oil on their gaping wounds. May the peace of Christ fill them full to overflowing as they trust You with this grievous, unthinkable tragedy.
Hear your Heavenly Father whisper these words to your soul:
“I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel . . .” (Isaiah 45:3)