Forgiveness for Someone Who Died by Suicide

By Jeenie Gordon:

Image by mercucio2

Image by mercucio2

Forgiveness – an oft painfulword. One to which we do like to succumb. It seems to rob us of ourselves and we try to push it in the back of our minds.

Yet, in scripture, God has commanded (not suggested) that we forgive. I wonder whether it’s because in His infinite wisdom, He knows it will bring the freedom for which we seek.

When a loved one is gone by his/her own hand, there is a need to forgive. I see four stages in this process:

Stage One.  Admission of pain. Often, around others, we pretend that the pain isn’t all that bad. We say we’re doing well. Admitting the enormity of the anguish to oneself and to others whom we trust is vital.

Stage Two. Anger. We have a reason to be angry. Although anger is a valid emotion, it can be either constructive or destructive. A passive person may internalize fury and pretend it is not there. Another person may explode on everyone around them and about everything. Both ways are unhealthy. It is important to acknowledge and deal with our anger – but we must not get stuck in it.

Stage Three. Confrontation. Even though the loved one is no longer living, there is a need to confront. A healthy way is to write an honest letter, telling the person about our anger and the pain we feel over what he or she has chosen to do.

We must also forgive ourselves. No one is perfect and everyone could have done better. We cannot blame ourselves for a suicide. Forgiving ourselves is a must for our eventual healing.

Stage Four. Forgiveness. The journey toward forgiveness is long and difficult, but the road must be traveled. It is the pathway toward wholeness. Eventually, we must forgive the suicide or attempted suicide. 

Forgiveness liberates us.

This excerpt was taken from Too Soon to Say Goodbye, Healing and Hope for the Suicide Victimsand Survivors, and used by permission from New Hope Publishers. Jeenie Gordon is a co-author of the book and a licensed marriage and family therapist.

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If depressed and suicidal, get help by dialing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline. IF IN IMMEDIATE DANGER of harming yourself or someone else, please call 911.1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or (in Spanish)
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