Journaling After My Son’s Suicide

By Karen Kosman:

 Journaling after my son’s suicide helped me cope with grieving.

 

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

 

Two years after the loss of my son I found my grief once more resurfacing. I thought I had moved on and tried to push the feelings away. But, the tears flowed anyway, and I realized that grief has its own time schedule. “Lord, give me the courage to go on.”

I began dreaming about Robbie. In one dream, cliffs stood high above the beach where houses overlooked the ocean. Beautiful pine trees surrounded the houses, and a wooden staircase led down to the shore. Below on the beach I sat on a log. In the distance my son approached. I called to him, “Robbie, I want to tell you something.”

Instantly he vanished.

A few weeks later I shared my reoccurring dream with a close friend. Cynthia was an author and inspirational speaker who dealt with human emotions all the time in her ministry. I knew she would understand.

“Karen, I believe this is part of your grieving process. Tomorrow is your day off. Why don’t you call a Christian counselor? Therapy can help you deal with your feelings.”

Cynthia thought for a moment before continuing, “I have a condo in Oregon. Why don’t you and John spend your vacation there this year?”

“We’d love to, Cynthia, and I’ll think about the counseling.”

The next morning I made the call to begin my counseling. In therapy I found permission to express my fears, anger, and doubts. I also told of my hopes for the future. My counselor suggested I keep a journal.

Between therapy sessions, I journaled. Then I wrote about my dream, only I changed the outcome: I sat on a log and watched Robbie approach, but this time he sat down next to me. I looked into his eyes and said, “I miss you. I felt angry at you for leaving the way you did. I even felt angry that God hadn’t stopped you. I didn’t understand the depth of your pain, and that made me angry at myself.”

As I wrote those words, I felt my anger being lifted. Tears fell as I continued to write. Goodbye, son. I love you. I’m not angry anymore.

But, in my writing, unlike my dream, Robbie stood up and smiled. Then he walked back down the beach. He stopped and turned to wave. I waved back and felt the freedom to let go.

During my next session, I shared my story with my counselor. A few days later, over lunch, Cynthia read my journal. She smiled and said, “I think you’ll find that beach when you visit Oregon.”

I didn’t understand what she meant until John and I arrived at Cynthia’s vacation home. The condo was surrounded by pine trees and sat on a cliff, overlooking the ocean. We climbed down a wooden staircase to the beach below.

“Lord,” I prayed, “this is the beach in my dream—but I’ve never been here before!”

A gentle breeze touched my face, and I relaxed as the waves lapped onto the shore. I realized that God knows all things. He knows my coming and my going, my thoughts and my dreams. He sent me my dreams to help me to let go.

 This story was taken from Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors and used with permission by New Hope Publishers.

 

Grieving the Suicide of Family Members

By PeggySu Wells:

At a family reunion, we grieved the suicide of family members, causing two people to be permanently missed.


Does this symbolize your own broken “family tree”? Who will be missed at your own family reunion?

Last weekend was our annual family reunion. Because of the suicide of family members, there were two important people missing. Because of suicide, several of the people in attendance were deeply hurt, and all of us were affected.

My cousin is two years older than me, and the most beautiful girl I know. When we were kids, her dad committed suicide. Today my cousin is a grandmother, and we still do not know why her father took his life. It was a shock. His wife and my cousin never recovered.

Last year, like his grandfather before him, my cousin’s son took his life. Very calculated, he did this in a fashion that his mother would be the one to find him. It devastated her on many levels. As the days go by, she merely learns to live with the gaping hole in her heart. Life for her is forever altered.

I cannot begin to fathom what these two men were thinking that led to their decisions. Her father. Her son. But from an outsider’s view, I see this as a selfish act because of the sad impact these choices wrought on those left behind. The close loved ones. The wives and mothers who loved these men.

When they thought about suicide, was this the legacy they wanted to leave on their family? Is this what they envisioned the family tree would look like for their children?

Suicide doesn’t appear to have been the answer to any problem. To have solved anything. Suicide certainly has proven to cause generations of unanswered questions, family members left feeling abandoned and shamed, and an unquenchable sadness that blankets their hearts.

We can learn from the experience of others. Perhaps this father and this son believed their situation was dire. Unfixable. Without alternatives. Yet, today their family members live at a different address, in a different state. Settings and people change.

I understand that suicide may be filling your thoughts. And there are other options. Please make a choice that is healthy for you and for those around you. Get the help you need. People are available to support you through the rugged times. The number for the suicide hotline is 1-800-784-2433.

(I Believe, Help Thou My Unbelief by the Gaither Trio in their studio)

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 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…