By Jeenie Gordon:
It is devastating for a high school counselor to lose a student to suicide, as it is for that teen’s parents. Thankfully God offers comfort for grieving counselors and parents.
Joe was an extremely emotionally troubled student, who often came to my high school counseling office. He quietly waited until I was available. Over several years we spent many hours together as he poured out his heart. I listened.
When a week went by and I hadn’t seen him, I called his home to check on him. I was told he had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital ward.
Within two weeks, he was released and was again sitting outside my office. I looked into his vacant eyes. Having counseled three years in a psychiatric hospital, I immediately recognized the look of a very disturbed teenager. Why in the world did they release him? I thought. It is obvious this young man needs long-term psychiatric treatment.
“Hi, Joe. It’s good to see you. I’ve missed you,” I softly said. This time our talk was disjointed. Joe was in no shape to deal with reality nor capable of receiving encouragement. His mind was apparently in mass confusion. I felt at a loss as to how to help him
Two days later my secretary said, “Joe’s mother is on the phone and said it’s urgent.” Sadly, Joe had taken his life.
Tears streamed down my face as I related the news to my secretary, then headed to the principal’s office. He hugged and consoled me when I needed it so badly.
My mind screamed, What could I have said to stop him? What did I do wrong? O God, why, why?
That afternoon I drove to his parents’ home, a simple humble abode that was clean as a whistle. It reminded me of my home growing up.
“Oh, Mrs. Gordon, you came. You came!” Over and over Joe’s mother cried as I held her in my arms, our tears mingling.
A few days later, I felt the intense presence of God and His sweet Holy Spirit comforting me as I sat at the funeral mass. Even though it was in Spanish, my heart was in tune. As the casket was carried down the aisle following the service, the congregation broke out in praise songs to Jesus – a cappella. Without a doubt, I had the assurance Joe’s mind was no longer clouded, and he was finally set free.
This time, Jesus came.
For families of suicide victims, sorrow and emotional pain is beyond description. It leaves a destructive mark on those left. Suicide is never an acceptable path for the current pain of the person contemplating a way out.
For those left, the questions are enormous – ones which have no logical answers. Self-blame is common. Seeking out a professional counselor, speaking to a pastor, confiding in close family and friends, and possibly temporary medication can be helpful.
This excerpt was taken from Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors, and used by permission from New Hope Publishers. ©Jeenie Gordon with Susan Titus Osborn and Karen L. Kosman. (See: Our Team.)