In the wake of the suicide of mega church pastor Rick Warren’s son there have been a lot of ignorant and mean comments made. Heartless words and cruel judgements from people who don’t understand and from people who have agendas. I pray Rick and Kay never read them. Suicide is painful enough without the added violence of callous words and harsh disregard for the painful journey of those left behind.
One of the greatest hurts in my life is the suicide of a friend.
In my life, this is my ultimate failure to date and it grieves me like nothing else. The deep pain I feel when I think about her is a mixture of regret that I wasn’t a better friend and anguish that my friend died alone in every sense of the word. I would give anything to be able to make a phone call to her or to hang out or to follow up on that last email in case having that would have given her something to hold on to.
The absolute worst pain that breaks my heart over and over again is when I think of her in those final moments where she felt so completely alone and without hope that death seemed like the only option. That destroys me. When I think of that night, I visualize her in her room. I see her in anguish and pain. I want to break through the invisible barrier of time to embrace her and remove the weapons – the gun in her hand and the pain in her heart. I would give anything to be there with her, to assure her that she is known and loved and valued. To give her some hope. But mostly to let her know – you are not alone. I am with you.
But I can’t.
As much as I want, I can’t undo what has been done. Time can’t be reversed or stopped. Everything and everyone must keep moving forward. But the sorrows of the past can be reborn into good with the help of the One who makes things new. I can’t bring her back but my friend’s story can be redeemed when I live differently in her honor.
I’ve always been somewhat sensitive to people who are showing signs of despair and hopelessness. Not that I always catch it but I think perhaps more than some. I’m also know that I am unaware of the inner pain of others as much, if not more, than I am aware. But when I do sense it, I now add action to that sensitivity. If someone says something or shows signs, I reach out quickly. I do what I wish I had done for T. I can’t tell you that it made the difference in certain situations since her death but I can tell you that those people are still here and courageously living despite moments when they felt incredibly alone and hopeless. That is all that matters.
The greatest thing I’ve had reaffirmed to me is the faithful and tender heart of our God. T. was not alone. I think she felt alone. But I believe she wasn’t alone.
Because after I can let go of some of my guilt, God shows me a different picture of that night. My friend is still in anguish and pain clinging to her weapons. I’m trying to break through the invisible bubble to get to her. And that is when I see Him. When I see our tender Shepherd sitting beside her on the floor. His arms are around her and I swear I see a tear falling down his cheek as he feels all her pain and fear and despair. She is not alone.
She is not alone because …
Our God is the God who draws near to the broken-hearted and saves those crushed in spirit.
Our God is the God that promises that nothing separates us from the love of God.
Our God is the God that walks with us in the valley of the shadow of death.
Our God is the God who is tender and kind, immense in love and never, never quits.
Even when we do.
God had dreams and hopes for T. even when she could no longer dream and hope. In her despair, she quit on life and missed so many amazing blessings that would have been a part of her future here. So many stories left unwritten that would have been beautiful stories. God and so many of us wish that she would have stayed around to live those stories.
But she didn’t. She couldn’t.
So I’ll try to live some better stories in her honor while seeing her at peace in the arms of our God who never forsakes us and never, never quits.
T. – You are missed. You mattered.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please reach out now. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK or visit their website. Another amazing organization is To Write Love On Her Arms.