Grief and Suicidal Thoughts: Loss of a Baby

By Karen Kosman:

Sometimes grief and suicidal thoughts go hand-in-hand, and the loss of a baby may seem too great to bear. But God is there to comfort you.

 

grief, suicidal thoughts, moses basket

God can heal your broken heart–even after the terrible loss of a baby.

My body ached and my heart throbbed with sorrow. Surrounded by family and friends we stood at Kim’s gravesite, all eyes resting on my baby daughter’s small casket.

The wind blew softy against my cheeks as my tears cascaded down. I looked at the grief-ridden faces of my husband, daughter, and son.

How do I help them to go on? How do I say goodbye?

Briefly my mind traveled back to the first time I held Kim. I’d marveled at her tiny, delicate features and auburn curls on top of her head, highlighted with gold streaks. Back in the present I questioned, How do I go on?

As the days turned into weeks my emotions vacillated up and down. At my lowest point of grief I questioned why God hadn’t taken me instead.  Each day depression robbed me of joy. I questioned how I could believe that Kim is in heaven and feel so grief stricken and depressed.

Home alone, one morning, while cleaning my kitchen I found a package of forget-me-not flower seeds shoved at the back of a drawer. On the back someone had written Kim’s name. I immediately went outside and planted them. A few weeks later their blue blossoms filled the garden.

I allowed myself to embrace our precious moments with Kim. I realized as I listened to my children’s feelings how much they needed me to go on. We began praying together and talking about our feelings—talking openly began healing our hearts.

We stayed busy. Working on school projects and home projects brought back normal routines. The days became easier. We counted the many blessings Kim’s life brought to others: My mother accepted Christ and was baptized because of the love she’d witnessed from our church family. Friends began to tell me things like, “Kim’s short life made me ponder about my own life and eternal destiny,” or “I value life more.” But one comment really touched my heart, “Kim’s life made me realize how precious every moment is.”

The shortest verse in the Bible is found in John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” At the lowest point in my sorrow I remembered this verse.

Yes, Jesus wept for the heartache and loss Lasarus’ family and friends felt at his death.  As I thought about the compassion of Christ I felt comforted. I began to realize God understood my grief. As the oppressive blanket of grieve began to lift, joy came back into our lives. I am grateful that I had God to lean on in my sorrow and thankful I didn’t give in to my fleeting thoughts of wanting to die.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

My daughter’s life, although brief, had purpose and still does. I am grateful for the precious gift God granted us in Kim.

Overcoming Grief: Plan to Live!

One way to help overcome grief is to plan to live–one day at a time.

children walking down a road     In this series 10 Things I’ve Learned  About Grief” (from the book Dear AmericaI share my own story of loss and grief.  The tenth thing I learned (see the first eight here) about grief is this:
     #10: Plant bulbs: plan to live!
     Okay, maybe you don’t garden, but here’s what I mean: The Saturday after the Attack on America, I took my radio into the garden to stay abreast of the latest news as I planted fall bulbs for spring flowers.
     As talk shows discussed possibilities of future terrorist attacks, biological and chemical warfare, and other possible horrors, the thought suddenly occurred to me that I may not be here next spring to see the very tulips I was planting.
     After all, those people who boarded planes or who went to work at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and New York police and fire stations that Tuesday morning fully expected to be here that afternoon, let alone next spring. Will I still be here? I wondered. Will our society still be here? Will our nation still be here?
     Maybe I shouldn’t even bother planting, I thought. I paused for the briefest of moments.
     No, I determined, I am going to plant these bulbs. I am planting them in faith, expecting to be here next spring to see the flowers.
     I planted the bulbs.
     Whatever it is you love to do, make plans to do it-next month, next season, next year. With God’s help, determine to survive. Trust God to carry you through whatever this life dishes out. He won’t let you down.  (Excerpt from Dear America )
     “Lessons From Grief: Living Is About Dying” is an article by Sabrina Beasley who lost her husband suddenly in a car accident but found something to look forward to. She writes:
“As for me, brushing this closely with death has awakened me spiritually. I can see how short my time on this earth is. Like [the apostle] Paul, I praise God that it’s short. I can’t wait to know the Lord face to face, but for the sake of the dear lost souls who walk hopelessly around me, I have resolved to do everything I can to spread the Good News [of Salvation in Jesus Christ] for as long as I am alive.”
     When losing a loved one makes you want to die, do something you love. Create something to look forward to. Find for yourself a reason to live. Your loved-one would want you to live. And even if you think differently, many others in your life know you, love you, and want you to live. God has a purpose for you, and He wants you to live.
     Through this inspiring video,  “The Call” by Celtic Woman,hear God call you to something great for the rest of your life:
 

Grieving in a Different World: I Want to Kill Myself

By Dianne E. Butts:

When grieving a loved one, it can be easy to hate your new circumstances and even think, My world is so different, I want to kill myself.  Here’s hope.

 

Image: Classical Sunrise by Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Classical Sunrise by Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In this series 10 Things I’ve Learned  About Grief” (from the book Dear AmericaI share my own story of loss and grief.  The ninth thing I learned (see the first eight here) about grief is this:

 #9: Your whole world is different, but that doesn’t mean you will be sad forever. 

We talked in Grief Lesson #8 about how grief can seem to go on forever. I mentioned that many people grieve for a full two years. I wish to clarify what I mean. I know a woman who lost her husband two and a half years ago. Recently I overheard her talking with a friend and she said that people tell her it will get better but she still misses him and she doesn’t expect it will ever get better.

I felt guilty thinking perhaps I was one of those people telling her it would get better.

The other woman said she had lost her husband over a decade ago, she still misses him terribly, and then she told my friend she was right: she will never get over it and it will never get better.

How sad!

When I say grief last for two years, I’m not saying at the end of two years you won’t grieve anymore or feel pain or miss your loved one! Have you ever hit your thumb with a hammer? Or done something else physically painful? With the kind of pain that takes your breath away? At least for a little while, you can’t speak. You can’t express anything but the pain. You can’t move, except to hold whatever hurts and hang on. We learn that if you hang in there, you’ll get your breath back. That’s what I’m talking about.

I’m not saying the pain goes away. I’m not suggesting you won’t miss him or her anymore. Your life has changed and it will never be the same again. But the pain will ease gradually, and after two years you should be able to breathe again. You should be functioning again. If you’re not, you need to seek out help.

Your grief will not last forever. After the death of her husband, I once heard a woman ask her friend, “Will I ever laugh again?”

Her friend wisely and immediately answered, “Yes. YES!

This article “Living Through Grief” on CBN.com has some helpful information about the steps of grief that we normally experience. It also lists three steps to recovery: Grieve, Believe, and Receive. The article offers “Scriptures that can bring hope, strength and peace” and tips for “Helping Others Through Grief.”

Don’t let thoughts linger in your mind that make you think terrible thoughts like I want to kill myself. Don’t give up. Hang in there. It does get easier.

Video: Listen to this beautiful, hope-filled song performed by Lynda Randle: “I’m Free.”

May you find freedom from your grief.

Read other articles on this site by Dianne E. Butts HERE.

 

Filling the Void When My Son Died

By Janet Perez Eckles:

A mother’s grief knows no bounds with the loss of a child, especially to murder. Only God’s love can bring true healing and fill that terrible void.

 

Image: stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Looking back at the night in that emergency room when the doctors walked in and asked, “Are you the parents of Joe Eckles?”

I jumped to my feet. “Yes, where is he? How is he? When can we take him home?”

Those questions carried my fear that something awful had happened when we received the call that he was wounded. But nothing, nothing, no amount of faith, knowledge of bible verses, of years of attending church could have prepared me to receive the doctor’s words that shook my senses.

“Your son has not survived the twenty-three stab wounds.”

Emotions? Feelings? None made sense. No mother can begin to comprehend the horror and grief that slices the heart.

Anguish jabbed at me when my son died: thoughts that I’d never be able to live carrying that pain. I’d never be able to face a world without my Joe. Weeks dragged back with sleepless nights and with days that made no sense.

And one dark afternoon, as I held his football jersey and pressed it against my chest, I realized that the void he left in my heart, my life and in our family was what ached the most.”Lord,” I cried out. “Will you fill this emptiness that sears in me?”

In the midst of my sobs, God’s voice whispered a question, one I’d heard many times before. But now it had a different message for me:

”Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” Romans 8:35.

I had experienced the sword of pain. But I lifted my head, wiped one more tear, and looked up. I chose to receive Christ’s love to fill the void the love for my son had left. I embraced Christ’s love to soothe the bleeding wound in my heart. And it would be God’s love that would touch the heartache and begin the healing.

Ten years have gone by since that day when my son died. And  looking back, I think of many who want to know how to commit suicide, how to end it all, how they can go on living when the anguish feels too much to endure, I understand.

But now I also comprehend that God’s healing is found in the love He offers, in the promise He makes, and in the hope that soothes each wound.

See more articles and videos by Janet Perez Eckles HERE, including how she not only lost her son, but also faced her husband’s unfaithfulness and the loss of her sight. Janet continues to rest in God’s arms and rejoice in Him.

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!

A Mother’s Grief: Coping with Death by Suicide of a Daughter

By Jeenie Gordon:

Coping with death by suicide of your own child is a grief incredibly difficult for any mother to bear. Here’s how one mother, Mary copes.

 

This article is an excerpt from Too Soon to Say Goodbye, Healing and Hope for Victims and Survivors of Suicide, used by permission from New Hope Publishers. Jeenie Gordon, contributing author to that book (and many others)  is a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Mary has found that one way of coping with her daughter’s death has been to write about it.[Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net] 

One Sunday after coming home from church, I listened to my voice mail from my close friend, Mary, of twenty-five years.

“Jeenie,” sobbed Mary, “Paulette took her own life.”

Here are Mary’s words.  “Five months ago my eldest daughter, Paulette, took her own life. She had attempted this several times in the last twelve years but this time she accomplished her goal.

“It began when she was diagnosed with a mental illness (schizoid affective disorder). She was hospitalized many times during those years. Medications were adjusted and new ones introduced. One negative side effect of these psychotropic drugs was weight gain. During treatment she gained more than 125 pounds, which contributed to her depression.

“There were times in her life when the medications seemed to work and she’d feel better. I treasure the memories of those moments. We went shopping together and stopped at our favorite coffee shop. I know she felt my love as we sat and talked. I kissed the top of her head and said, “Paulette, I love you.”

“I also find peace in knowing that in fifth grade Paulette accepted Christ as her Savior. During her long illness, her faith brought her through many trying times.

“Shortly after my daughter’s death, thoughts of her constantly filled my mind. Several times I asked myself, “Do you believe that Christ died for you? Yes. “Do you believe in eternal life?” Yes. “Do you believe Paulette is safe in the arms of our Lord?” Of course I do. These conversations with myself gave me solace. Many times, I could almost hear her say, “Mom, I’m O.K. Enjoy your life.”

“Several things have comforted me during with their lives has helped. As one of my friends, whose son died from suicide said, “You get through it, but you never get over it.” Another friend wrote, “No more dark days for Paulette, only happy days with Jesus.”

“Every few days after she died, God seemed to give me insight into her death.

“I am comforted as I look at the pictures of Paulette – pictures of happy times. My favorite is one taken a year ago when she visited us in Oregon. Barefooted and holding a soda, she had a beautiful serene look on her face as she sat among other family members. As I look at this picture, I kiss it and whisper, I love you, Paulette.

 “Not everyone grieves the same way. I have never been embarrassed in front of others if the tears fall. They are tears of love for my sweet daughter.

“Those same memories give me courage to move on with my life. I have set some new goals in my life. Ten years ago I wrote a book. Paulette was the only one who read it in its entirety. I have started a writers group where I live and now am working on the rewrite of that book. This has kept me focused and I can almost hear Paulette saying, “Go for it, Mom.”

At Paulette’s memorial service, Mary requested that I read a special rendition of Psalm 23:

The Lord is my Shepherd – that’s relationship.

I shall not want – that’s supply.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures – that’s rest

He leadeth me beside the still waters – that’s refreshment.

He restoreth my soul – that’s healing.

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness – that’s guidance.

For His name’s sake – that’s purpose.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death – that’s testing.

I will fear no evil – that’s protection.

For Thou art with me – that’s faithfulness.

Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me – that’s discipline.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies – that’s hope.

Thou anointest my head with oil – that’s consecration.

My cup runneth over – that’s abundance.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life – that’s blessing.

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord – that’s security.

Forever – that’s eternity.

                                                                                         –  Anonymous

Coping with death by suicide of a loved one will be different for everyone, including every mother who loses a child this way.  In addition to the Bible, one helpful handbook to walk through the grieving process is SOS, a handbook for family members who have lost loved ones.  You can find that on our Helpful Resources page and download to read. It does address mental illness, and how difficult it can sometimes be to understand the thought processes of those who take their lives. It also addresses struggles unique to parents.

How to Make it Through the Night

By Janet Perez Eckles:


Image by bulldogza / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 I tossed in bed. Those long nights, those awful nights that echoed what I lost. “If I could only make it through the night,” I thought between sobs.

But when morning light shimmered through the window, the reminder of my loss closed the drapes and to my dismay, sadness, deep sadness visited again.

Is that what people do when a child is gone? Is that what life will be from now on?

All those moments of grief plagued my days.  My family saw a Mom who dragged her feet, not walked with joy anymore. I had turned to a wife that sighed rather than laugh. And I saw myself like a discarded piece of garment in the closet of life.

But when the day came and God nudged, lifted my chin and whispered I wasn’t alone, I gave a long sigh, wiped my face, and brushed the self-pity from my heart. That was what I longed for—for company, for someone to walk with me, stay with me and give me encouragement. But the encouragement I thirst for was more than words. I wanted promises I could count on, that were solid and lasting.

And it was those promises through Jesus, which I let sink into my heart. I believed in the promise that He would provide the strength and energy to take that next step. They gave me the wisdom to know how to express my feelings and the grace to make it through the night into the next day.

Looking back, the fear I was alone in my pain was what brought added darkness to my grief. But when God’s promises danced in the sun rays coming from the window, my world changed.

The sun that shone was warm with God’s Word, His true Word that reassured He would be enough. His guarantee that He would not let me sink, let me drown in sorrow, nor stay down.

Instead, He would lift me up, and in a gentle voice, repeat what my soul hungered for—“you will never be alone.”

Fresh morning of freedom—His promises that prevailed brought down powers that pressed me down. And His constant companionship, counseled me with comfort. New confidence marked my days– joy trickled through, peace settled in, and laughter visited again.

For another article about Janet and the loss of her teen son (including a video) see Finding God in Grief When My Son Died.

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: