I Want to Die, I Miss Him So Much

By Dianne E. Butts:

 If your grieving reaches a point where you consider taking your own life, you need help–do seek that.

Your pain will eventually ease, despite how terrible as it feels right now.

 

I am convinced that the grief and loss we feel when a loved one dies is in direct proportion to how much we loved that person and how big of a hole they left in our lives.

When we are grieving, it’s easy to feel like we will never feel any better, that we’ll be grieving for forever. As you miss that person, do you find yourself thinking, “I want to die?”

In the article series “10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief (from Dear America), we’ve been exploring what  I learned after losing my father, brother, two grandparents and a friend, all when I was a teen. I hope what I’ve learned will help you.

Here’s the eighth thing I’ve learned about grief:

Somewhere I read the average person grieves for a full two years after the death of a loved one, so give yourself plenty of time. However, if you or someone you love is struggling after that, consider asking for help.

I remember as a teenager how losing my Dad ripped the ground from under my feet. Most of my friends didn’t understand (although some did because they had lost a parent too).

A couple years later when my brother was killed in a motorcycle accident, a friend told me I needed to “get over it” and “move on.” When she told me that, we hadn’t even had the funeral yet! It took me many years to realize that she meant well; she really was trying to help.

But the fact is we can’t rush grief any more than we can turn it off or on. Grief has a mind of its own and it will take the time it needs to work itself out.

If you try to rush through grief, you may enter into denial. But grief will come back to you sooner or later.

If you try to ignore grief, it might hide for a while, but it will be back to visit.

If you get frustrated with grief and think that it is taking too long, or if you go the other direction and hang on to your grief because it’s all you have left of the person you love, you may be headed for trouble. That kind of trouble can possibly lead to thinking about suicide.

Give yourself, of someone you know who is grieving, a proper amount of time. But if the grief hangs on, seek help.

Of course you need not wait. You can take advantage of organizations and services that can help.  To find them, check with the funeral home, a church, a counseling center, your doctor, the phone book, or the internet.  One reputable organization is New Life Ministries (1-800-NEW-LIFE) www.newlife.com.

If you’re thinking “missing him (or her) for so long makes me want to die,” check out the article 10 Tips for Healthy Grieving by Steve Arterburn, host of the radio show New Life Live.

Here is an encouraging thought for when discouraging times or dark shadows come: Video: “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” by Lynda Randle:

God Help Me Handle My Loved One’s Estate

By Dianne E. Butts:

 If as executor you must handle your loved one’s estate while you are grieving, you may cry out: “God help me!”

 

After the death of a loved one some people don’t want to think about business at all. Other people want to only think about business so they can get lost in it!

As much as you may not want to face it, you may be thinking “God help me! I don’t want to handle my loved one’s estate.”

I mention this because it might be helpful to know up front that this “business” may have to be tended to.

In my list of “10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief” (excerpted from my first book, Dear America), the seventh thing I’ve learned about grief is this:

Someone, maybe you, will need to take care of the deceased person’s estate, meaning their property, bills, and assets. It helps to know up front that this process takes a long time, often at least a year. Ask for help, especially with all that legal stuff.

In the year 2000, my father-in-law died in April and my mother-in-law followed in December. We then learned my husband, the oldest of three sons, had been made the executor of their estate. We were living in a small town at the time and my husband hired a small town attorney to help him execute their will. This attorney made things immensely easier and his fee was not all that much.

There were legal hoops to jump through, but having someone knowledgeable eased that stress. If you are the one who needs to take care of your loved one’s personal belongings or estate, you may find thoughts of suicide edge in to your thinking because you’d rather die than have to deal with this. Ask for help. Whether friends or family can help you, or hiring a perfect stranger is the way to go, there are people who can help you walk through this difficult task.

In my first book, Dear America, I told my story of losing my father then my brother when I was a teenager. Because my parents were divorced, tending to my father’s estate was a challenge.

During the same few years I also lost two grandparents and a friend at school. I wrote Dear America after September 11th, 2001, hoping that sharing my story would help someone get through grief. You can learn more about Dear America here.

If you’re thinking, “God help me! I don’t want to take care of my loved one’s estate,” then you’re asking the right Person! God is willing to help you!

Lost a Loved One? A Grief Lesson on ‘Firsts’

This continues Dianne’s 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief. Here she discusses the first year of ‘firsts’, as that can tempt some to think about suicide.

By Dianne E. Butts:

 

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In 1850 Alfred Lord Tennyson, in his poem In Memoriam:27, wrote, “ ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” But if you’ve lost a loved one, it may not feel that way, but instead may tempt you to think about suicide.

The first year after the death of a loved one is filled with many “firsts.” In my list of “10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief” (excerpted from my first book, Dear America), the sixth thing I’ve learned about grief is this:

 #6: During the first year, you will experience a lot of “firsts”—your first anniversary, first birthday, first Christmas, and other first holidays without your loved one. Other firsts may include the first time you go to the movies without your loved one, plan a trip by yourself, or dine solo. And, of course, there will come the first anniversary of your loved one’s death.

It’s hard for anyone to get through all these for the first time. And getting through them the first time does not take away all the pain or depression. You may feel grief on those anniversaries for many years to come.

I learned some people experience “anniversary grief”: feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety, or other emotions around the anniversary of the death. These may even be subconscious, as a feeling of sadness, anxiety, anger, or other emotion that you just can’t figure out why it is hovering over you.

For years I felt a vague sense of dread, like something bad was about to happen, around my birthday. I could not shake the feeling and did not understand it. I didn’t connect it with my brother’s death until a friend of mine explained “anniversary grief” to me. It was only two days after my 18th birthday that my brother was killed by a drunk driver. I’d had other traumatic events happen near my birthday when a younger teenager also, including when my parents announced their divorce and yet another year when my father was diagnosed with cancer and had major surgery.

While I hadn’t connected the dots, my subconscious had, and it left me with that feeling something dreadful was about to happen. You may experience a different feeling. These feelings can cause us to think about suicide.

When such an anniversary is approaching:

  • Try to anticipate times that will be difficult, like holidays.
  • Make plans to do something special.
  • Preferably do your special plans with friends, family, or other people around.
  • Holidays or personal anniversaries are no time to be alone.

Pastor Charles Stanley wrote a beautiful letter to grieving people on the tenth anniversary of September 11th:

We experience injustices at the hand of others who cause us overwhelming suffering. The pain gnaws at us and we wonder, Why God? Why did You allow these things to happen? Is there any hope left?

“Are you experiencing this kind of grief today? Has your world come crashing down due to another’s hurtful actions? Have you lost someone or something that is very precious to you? If so, I want to remind you that God is still on His throne…and He loves you unconditionally.”

You can read the rest of Pastor Charles Stanley’s letter here.

Seek out the comfort of friends and family. They love you and they need you, too. So don’t let the first year of firsts after the death of a loved one tempt you to think about suicide.

When you feel sad or are thinking about suicide, why not instead begin to think about things you are thankful for? God, also, has experienced pain and loss and He knows how it feels. Listen to this song with lots to thank God for: “I’ll Say Thanks” by God City:

World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10, 2012

By Dianne E. Butts:

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) is “dedicated to preventing suicidal behavior, alleviating its effects, and providing a forum for academians, mental health professionals, crisis workers, volunteers and suicide survivors.” The IASP offers a variety of events throughout the year, including World Suicide Prevention Day, which is September 10, 2012.

World Suicide Prevention Day is held on September 10th every year, with a unique theme for each year. This year’s theme is “Suicide Prevention Across the Globe: Strengthening Protective Factors and Instilling Hope.” Previous themes include “Preventing Suicide in Multicultural Societies” and “Many Faces, Many Places: Suicide Prevention Across the World.” September 10th, 2012, marks the 10th anniversary of the World Suicide Prevention Day.

The IASP says its research shows evidence that “we can prevent suicide.” In the past “education campaigns have focused on the role of risk factors in the development of suicidal behavior. In order to increase effectiveness in preventing suicide we propose to direct our efforts not only towards reducing risk factors but also toward strengthening protective factors,” the site says.

Factors considered protective against suicidal behaviors include the ability to cope and adjust to adverse life events, a sense of personal worth and confidence, problem-solving skills, and help-seeking behaviors. Social and cultural factors include religious and social integration, connectedness, good relationships with friends, colleagues and neighbors, access to support, and ready access to health care. Healthy lifestyles and abstinence from illicit drug use is associated with reduced risk of suicidal behavior.

The World Suicide Prevention Day web site has a wealth of downloadable information, including:

World Suicide Prevention Day 2012 has its own Facebook Page.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention was founded by the late Professor Erwin Ringel and Dr. Norman Farberow in 1960. The organization includes professionals and volunteers from more than fifty different countries. It is a nongovernmental organization in official relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO).

Take a few moments to stop by the site today or make professionals in your area aware of the resources available at the International Association for Suicide Prevention. Working together we can help prevent suicide. Check out the resources and see how you might support World Suicide Prevention Day, which is September 10, 2012.

Here is a short video from one group who got involved in World Suicide Prevention Day 2011:

Also cClick here to see a playlist of 7 short videos from a variety of people involved in World Suicide Prevention Day 2011.

Reminders of Loved One’s Death with Suicidal Thoughts

By Dianne E. Butts:

 Grief from Reminders of Deceased Loved Ones: Lesson 5 in 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief.

 

It’s a main thoroughfare through where my Mom has lived for more than thirty years and so I’ve had to drive it often. But for years after the drunk-driver-caused crash that killed my brother, I couldn’t drive past that spot without noticing the big chunk missing out of the curb where his motorcycle ended up.

Sudden reminders of someone we loved who died can hit us when we least expect it, and these sudden depressing reminders can bring suicidal thoughts to our minds. Do you have reminders of your loved one’s death that make you think about suicide?

Here’s the fifth thing I’ve learned about grief. (See our other lessons in the category: 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief.)

#5: Once you think you’re doing better and begin venturing out into the world again, your grief will hit you when you least expect it.  Driving past a familiar scene, hearing a church bell ring, the smell of grapefruit in the produce department—something special to you can suddenly remind you of your loved one and the intensity of grief can overwhelm you.

When this happens, you need to know this is a “normal” part of the grieving process. You might well up with tears. Try not to be embarrassed. The truth is, those around you will most likely understand—probably more than you’ll know (because they’ve been through it themselves).

Sometimes, when suicidal thought keep trying to push their way into a person’s mind, that person can see these reminders of their loved ones as a “sign” calling out to them. But they are not calling to you to commit suicide or join your loved one in death. These are reminders of the love you felt between you and the person you lost.

Sometimes we can make things seem the way we want them to seem—whether consciously or unconsciously. That can happen even when we talk to God. I once wrote an article about praying specifically in order to see answers to our prayers, but I also included some “Pitfalls to Praying Specifically.” When we desperately want to hear from God, we can not only make ourselves believe we heard from Him, we can also make ourselves believe we got the answer we wanted.  Some of the pitfalls to praying specifically are “Manipulating His Answers,” “Not Accepting His Answer,” or “Not Asking Because We Fear His Answer.” If we want to hear from God, we need to let Him answer and not “put words in His mouth” so to speak.

That article also includes some ideas to avoid prayer pitfalls, including keeping a prayer journal.

If you’re looking for a sign or want to hear from God, be careful that you’re really getting the message He wants to give you. And don’t let reminders of your loved one’s death make you think about suicide.

Video: Here is a wonderful song about Jesus’ death, breaking through darkness, and the fact that death and hell will never reign again. “Love was in the Room” by Booth Brothers.

Kill Myself? Grief and Forgiveness for Stupid Comments

By Dianne E. Butts:

 Grief from Stupid Comments: Lesson 4 in 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief.

 

Words are powerful. Words can lift us up and encourage us or make us feel so low we don’t want to go on. It can enter our minds to think, The stupid things people say make me want to kill myself!

After we lose a loved one, we’re already deep in grief. When people—especially friends—say stupid things, it just kicks us lower. But you know what? It could be they didn’t mean to say something so stupid. It could be they had no idea how their words sounded to you.

I was a teenager when my brother, riding his Harley Davidson, was hit by a drunk driver and killed. I remember one friend telling me, “You just need to forget your brother and move on.”

Forget my brother?! I thought. I don’t ever want to forget my brother! Plus, at the time, he hadn’t been gone twenty-four hours!

I really don’t think my friend intended to say something mean to me. I really think she was trying to help. She just said something really dumb, probably without thinking through how it sounded.

So here’s the fourth lesson I’ve learned about grief. (See our other lessons in the category: 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief.)

#4 Forgiveness:  Some of your friends may say dumb things…but they mean well. Other people don’t say anything at all or disappear from your life. Any of these actions can be very hurtful.

(See also grief lessons: #1 Exhaustion, #2 Guilt, and #3 Anger)

When I was grieving the loss of my brother, I finally figured something out. I discovered I did much better when I gave people a break—when I chose to forgive them for hurtful words and to assume that their intentions were good.

Some people disappeared and didn’t want to hang around with me anymore. I finally learned it was because they didn’t know what to say to me. When I decided to let it go even though they weren’t the friends I needed them to be, I could move on and find stronger friends who could help me through my sad time.

There are no magic words. If you’re trying to comfort a grieving friend, realize you don’t have to say the perfect thing. Just your presence, a touch, or a tear communicates your love and concern.

You might think a lot of suicides are caused by mean things bullies say. According to the article “Bullying And Suicide: The Dangerous Mistake We Make” by Katherine Bindley, further investigation often reveals other factors were involved in the suicide.

Madelyn Gould, a professor at Columbia who studies youth suicide and prevention, said in the article “If someone is being bullied, they should not jump to the conclusion that one of [their] options is suicide. What they should jump to is, one of the options I have is to get help.”

If you’re thinking, stupid things people say make me want to kill myself, it’s time to find a stronger friend and ask for help.

Video: Please take a few minutes to listen to this beautiful song.  It talks about thinking and sinking so low and then says “lift me up to higher heights than I’d ever known before”! Take time to listen to: “Thank Him for the Miracle” by the Booth Brothers:

Grief and Anger: Thinking About Suicide

By Dianne E. Butts:

 Grief with Anger: Lesson 3 in 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief.

 

Sometimes when we feel angry, we want to hurt other people by hurting ourselves. When grieving, some left behind after the loss of a loved one even think silently– and may feel like screaming at the top of their lungs– “I’m angry and thinking about suicide!

I’ve learned some lessons about grief: #1: Grief Plus Exhaustion May Increase Suicidal Thoughts  and #2:  Grief and Guilt with Suicidal Thoughts? Ask for Help.  The third thing I’ve learned about grief is this:

#3: It’s okay to feel both grief and anger.  Some people may feel anger towards those who caused the death of their loved one—the drunk driver, the terrorists, etc. Others may feel anger towards the illness, like cancer.  Some even feel angry with their loved one for leaving them alone, for making them face the future without them, for dying. Still others are angry at themselves for that last argument or forgetting to say, “I love you.”

Some people become angry with God.

These feelings are natural and are not wrong. Anger is not sin (see Ephesians 4:26), but what we do with it can be wrong.  Revenge is never right, and harboring anger in our hearts will lead to emotional, spiritual, and even physical problems. Instead of remaining angry, why not find a wholesome way to “vent” or express your strong feelings?

Here are some ideas:

  • Expressing strong emotions through words is surprisingly helpful. Talk to a friend, a family member, or a counselor.
  • Join an organization, such as one that fights drunk driving.
  • Look for ways to help our nation in difficult times. Volunteer.
  • Raise money for cancer research.
  • Write your deceased loved one a letter telling him how you feel, how much you love him, or whatever you didn’t say.
  • Visit her room or grave site and talk to her out loud.
  • Talk to God. Be honest. Tell Him how angry you are at Him, but don’t stop there. Ask Him to help you work through all your feelings.

When we are sad, when things are not going well in our lives, or when we are angry, we can feel far away from God. In an article I wrote titled “When You Feel Far Away From God,” I wrote this:

“How many times have I felt so close to God one day, but so far from Him the next? I wondered… Why does God feel far away just when I need Him most—when I’m in difficult circumstances or when my situation looks hopelessly impossible?

“I never intend to move away from God, especially in tough times. Yet sometimes He feels so far away. What has happened?”

In that article you can read what I wrote about how our feelings can deceive us. Just because we feel God is far away doesn’t mean that He is far away.

He is close enough to feel your pain and know your thoughts, even when your heart is crying out “I’m angry and thinking about suicide!”

Video:  If you’re feeling both grief and anger, God knows and He cares. Listen to the wonderful words of this Country Western song “God In Heaven Knows” by The New Hinsons:

 

Grief and Guilt with Suicidal Thoughts? Ask for Help

By Dianne E. Butts:

 Grief, Guilt and Asking for Help: Lesson 2 in 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief. Includes Post-Abortion Grief.

 

As I write about lessons I’ve learned about grief, you may recall lesson #1: Grief Plus Exhaustion May Increase Suicidal Thoughts where I talked about how being tired is just one symptom of grief.

Lesson #2 is to recognize additional symptoms and know when to ask for help:

Some people may temporarily experience sleeplessness, nightmares, lack of appetite or greater appetite, fear, increased anxiety, or various other difficulties. These are “normal” for people working through grief, but if they continue or become overwhelming, ask for help.

It’s hard to ask for help. I’ve also learned even when we reach out for help, the help we find isn’t always helpful. If that has been your experience, I challenge you to try again. You are too important to let a mismatched counselor stop you.

In the article, Choosing a Christian Counselor at  CBN.com,  David Martin states: “In order for a Christian to make a good decision about a Christian counseling professional, there are some important factors that need to be understood as well as the various options that are available to you.” (Click through to that article for more good information.)

For help, CBN.com recommends these organizations that you can call right now:

New Life Ministries: 1-800-NEW-LIFE (1-800-639-5433)

Rapha National Network: 1-800-383-HOPE (1-800-383-4673)

There are various reasons feelings of guilt may be associated with the loss of someone. For many women and men, that relates to  abortion.

Post-Abortion Grief and Guilt

In a guest post at Kathi Macias’ blog, I wrote about how it’s common for people with an abortion in their past to grieve and even think about suicide. (If this applies to you, click here to read more about that.) But women (and men) the world over need to know that God loves them, that He will forgive them, and that He is right there with them no matter what they have done or what they are facing right now.

At the Abortion Recovery Help webpage, the list of  Symptoms of Post Abortion Syndrome  includes depression and thoughts of suicide. Whether you are a woman or a man, pro-life pregnancy centers offer free, confidential programs to help you through after-abortion struggles. Find one closest to you here: www.OptionLine.org.

Even if this common cause for grief does not apply to you, feelings about the loss of a loved one can be complicated, and counseling frequently very helpful. If you are feeling overwhelmed, do ask for help, from a friend, any of the counseling resources previously mentioned, or:

CBN’s 700 Club Prayer Counseling Center at 1-800-759-0700

This video,You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up), may help: