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.

Help When a Loved One Has Died: Depression in Funeral Planning

By Liz Cowen Furman:

 Feeling grief and depression while funeral planning when a loved one has died?

 

As a writer, I am keenly aware that most of the people reading this will have recently experienced a profound loss. Let me first say I am so sorry for your loss. Times of loss have been some of the greatest tests of my faith. If  depression after the loss of a loved one has you thinking about suicide, please read on.

Remember that whatever you are feeling is exactly what you are supposed to be feeling. Nothing surprises GOD. No expression of pain, anger or despair you could muster is bigger than He can handle. So be honest with the One who has the power to heal your broken heart. Tell Him how you feel. Give Him permission to come in and heal what is broken and restore your heart to a healthy place once again.

Expressions of the grieving process are as varied as the people who are hurting. I encourage you to not let any person tell you how you should feel, even if you are thinking about suicide. Just know that although losing someone we love is painful, I discovered it won’t kill us.

Get help if you are having suicidal thoughts. (1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline).

Be patient with yourself. Take time to process the pain your heart is experiencing. That pain sometimes even manifests itself in the physical. Don’t rush the process. After experiencing significant loss it can take a couple years before you start to feel “normal.” Depending on the loss you may never go back to “normal” but you will heal and live in your “new normal.”

Even though you may be thinking about suicide now, if you can hold on and not let yourself go there, eventually you can find beauty from the ashes that currently haunt you.

If you can get outside in the sunshine, go for a walk, get some fresh air, even if you have to force yourself out the door the first time. Getting out into the light and moving can really help; has been proven to help, according to an article at health.harvard.edu. on exercise and depression.

For more suggestions of things that may help, read the grief chapters in my book How to Plan a Funeral and Other Things You Need to Know When a Loved One Dies While writing it I experienced more than one significant loss and did two years of research on the grieving process. I found many great books and ideas of things to do that helped me in my grief, many are included in the book.

Jesus said, Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28, NASB Bible.

In a time of grieving it is His strength that can see us through. Check out this song that so aptly puts it…