Fri., Oct. 12, 2018
Psalm 42:11 – Why, I ask myself, are you so depressed? Why are you so upset inside? Hope in God! Because I will again give him thanks, my saving presence and my God.
In the last two weeks, I have become aware of two middle-aged men who committed suicide.
The first man’s story was shared with me by a friend. I did not know him. My friend and her family saw this man at a wedding just a few days before he took his life. He shared that evening about the financial difficulties he was experiencing. In spite of these challenges, my friend was shocked when she heard of his death.
This week, a man Hubby Rick and I know took his life. For years, Rick stopped at his farm and picked up the milk his cows produced and delivered the milk to a processing facility. When Rick stopped hauling milk, his son continued hauling this man’s milk until they sold their cows. This man struggled with depression for years. He had gone through lots of treatment and therapy. But the disease was more than he can handle.
Honestly, I cannot say that I know how the family members of these two men feel. Unless you have journeyed closely with a loved one who has struggled with depression and took their life, it is IMPOSSIBLE to know how the family members left behind feel. The last thing I would say to a loved one who has lost someone to depression? “I know how you feel.” Because I don’t. End of story.
In both instances, it was shared with me that the men’s struggle with depression which eventually led to suicide was a part of the funeral service. This is so important. Unless we recognize that depression is a disease, just like cancer or heart disease, the stigma will not go away. Like other potential terminal diseases, sometimes depression can be managed. Other times, it can’t.
My heart goes out to the families of these two men, and the countless other families who have lost a loved one to suicide this year. I do not have adequate words to say to you. Too often, suicide leaves in its wake a wide path of struggle, confusion and sorrow. We want to know why the person chose suicide. We think, whether aloud or silently, “Didn’t they think about their loved ones left behind?” The training I’ve received related to suicide says this: once a person makes the decision to end their life, it is the only choice that makes sense. Thoughts about how others will react are always overshadowed by their own thoughts which convince them suicide is the only option. A peace comes about the person. They just have to carry out their plan.
It is nearly impossible for outsiders to understand how the depressed person can see suicide as the only possible solution. This is where the disease side of depression is so difficult to understand.
I pray these two families, and countless other families who are walking a similar path, find God’s presence in their lives as they journey the anguish of life after suicide. I pray that we, as Christians and the church, will love them and be present with them. Words aren’t necessary. Only presence is. Our role is not to “figure it out” or “try to help make sense.” Our role is only to be present and continue to have hope in God. When loved ones may not be able to have hope, I pray we can be conduits of hope for them.
For people willing to journey with those struggling with depression and those whose lives have been radically affected by a loved one who struggles with depression, I am thankful.
Lord God – surround the families and loved ones who have a loved one that took their life with your loving kindness. Please bring into the survivor’s life people who will simply be with them. We pray advances towards understanding and possible cures for this disease are found. Amen.
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