Deeply Depressed

By Jeenie Gordon:

Families often deal with a deeply depressed member for years, which takes an enormous toll.  Fear and anxiety become a familiar part of life. As grief recovery ensues, and reality begins to take effect, people eventually realize there was nothing more they could have done. They cannot force a person to seek medical help or take medication. They cannot prevent suicide.

Let me share with you the following story about a pastor.

He was a respected leader in his denomination – a wise and godly man. Young men sought his counsel when they believed God had called them into ministry. “What are the pitfalls? How will I know for certain God has put His hand on my life? Where will I go for training?” were some of the questions he fielded. Beginning pastors asked his advice, as did seasoned men of God.

Yet, something went wrong. He became deeply depressed and lived in a black hole from which he could find no exit. Not willing to seek medical help, he and his wife struggled for years. His wife did not want to interfere by seeking help or even mentioning it to their family and closest friends. They both suffered in silence.

One cloudy day, he drove onto a long expansion bridge over a Pacific Ocean harbor, stopped his car in the middle, stepped out, and jumped.

Many pastors in his denomination believed suicide meant eternal damnation, but at his funeral, they began to realize this was an act of a godly man who was deeply depressed,  and in a moment of insanity, made an instant and final decision.

His dear wife breathed a sigh of relief because the days of deep emotional pain had ended. Yet, guilt haunted her.

I’ve explained to grieving clients that guilt almost always follows death, whether suicide or natural death. We have the irrational sense that somehow we could have prevented the death – that we didn’t do enough. The “what ifs” and “if onlys” become our nagging companions. Emotional health comes when, in time, we are able to accept God’s gift of relief – without guilt.

Often members of the family need to be in grief counseling with a Christian therapist, as well as join a grief support group to help in the recovery process.

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


Comfort for Grieving Counselors and Parents: You Came!

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.


Stock photo with teen model, by anitapatterson.

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.)