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.

Help Others Mourn Loss of a Loved One

By Jeenie Gordon:

Mourning the loss of a loved one: how long does it go on? How can we help someone who is grieving?

 

Mourning  can be an especially painful, long process for those who have lost someone to suicide.

 


Image: Salvatore Vuono/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Two years seems to be a typical time of intense sorrow and numbness for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Over and over I have seen the time frame played out with students and clients in therapy.

It takes about two years before the force of reality hits home. Truth knocks the mourner down with a blow similar to a heavyweight boxer hitting him in the gut. The person understands the great loss will last the rest of his life, and he hates it. Often I hear the expression, “I despise my life and I can’t stand the pain. It’s eating me up inside.”

Family and friends, who gathered close for the first few months or a year eventually go on with their lives. Rarely do they give the mourner’s loss another conscious thought. For the most part, there is no longer a human source in which to find comfort, thus, loneliness and isolation, can become overwhelming.

Talking things over with God helps the grief-stricken person to slowly begin to move on with life. Journaling is also a valid, healthy way to start to resolve the issues.

I’ve made it a practice for many years to have a daily prayer list for those who are grieving the loss of their loved one. At the end of the year, I write them a note. Generally I begin: Each morning I have prayed for you and your family during your first year of mourning . . .

I have received numerous return notes telling me how my prayers have impacted and comforted their lives. One mother at my high school wrote: If my daughter would have had you as her counselor, she would still be alive today.

We have a responsibility and privilege to continue to support those who mourn. Romans 12:15 states, “Weep with them that weep” (KJV).

If  you, a friend, or family member has experienced the loss of a loved one to suicide, grief is often complicated: see our article Guilt in Survivors after Suicide of a Loved One.

This excerpt by Jeenie Gordon ( licensed marriage and family therapist) was taken from Too Soon to Say Goodbye, Healing and Hope for the Suicide Victims and Survivors, and used by permission from New Hope Publishers.

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:

 

Worry About Teen or Child Suicide After Loss of a Loved One

By Liz Cowen Furman:

Are you concerned that a young person in your life may attempt suicide while grieving the death of a loved one?

Help is available to help prevent teen or child suicide after loss.

 

Teen or child suicide after loss of a loved family member is feared by some parents. The Dougy Center can help grieving families.

After Papa’s death our kids were very upset; partly because they didn’t get to say goodbye. They planned to go to the hospital the next day to see him. We all thought he was coming home in a day or two, not going home forever.

Papa lived with us so our children were very close to him. Our oldest was 14.  I was worried about him, so I called a local church (we had just moved and were between churches) and asked if my son could see one of their counselors. He only went for one visit, yet it seemed to help him immensely.

Sometimes just getting it off your chest is a very helpful thing. After a significant loss teenagers sometimes have a very difficult time coping. If you are helping a child through the loss of a loved one, especially if you are worried about teen suicide, below are some things to watch for and some helpful hints.

The death of a parent or other important person while the teenager still needs them can be devastating. At this age, their faith can be a big help. It is important that your teen has the chance to talk with adults who are also grieving. Expect that your teen will have things to say that are difficult. Be open to the possibility that they feel anger toward you or the one who left. Give them plenty of chances to talk about their feelings and be accepted.

Symptoms of Teen Suicide Risk After a Significant Loss

Seek help if your teen:

  • Withdraws for more than a week or two.
  • Doesn’t seem to care about school or other activities that were  important to them before the death.
  • Has trouble sleeping, does not eat, or starts having behavior problems such as destroying things.

Seek professional help immediately if your school age or teen child seems to be making plans to join the dead person and:

  • Gives away treasured possessions
  • Expresses desires to hurt or kill themselves.

A great resource for grieving children is the Dougy Center: The National Center for Grieving Children and Families. At their website you can search here for support groups in your local area ( Grief Support Programs) and find additional help. They have special webpages on the site specifically for children and teens.

Tell your child: “Hold on to hope! You will get through this time. Grieving is hard work, but remember we are walking THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, we aren’t to stay there.”

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me.  (Psalm 138:7 NKJV)

My prayer for you today:

LORD I lift up the person reading this and ask You to give them your heart on how to help their child deal with the loss they are facing. May Your words be their words and may they all come out on the other side of this trial whole and closer to  You than ever. In JESUS Name we pray. AMEN

Lift up to God any fear of child suicide after loss, and find support for your child if necessary. Here’s a video with more information about the Dougy center:

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: