Frozen Feelings: Denial in Grief

Susan Titus Osborn:

For some who have lost a child to suicide, denial in grief occurs.

It can be a struggle to cope initially with the reality of such a tragic death.

 

 why-live-if-everyone-is-out-to-give-me

 

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

 

“Sarah committed suicide. We are having the funeral service at a church near your house. I hope you can come.”

The voice on the answering machine sounded mechanical, void of feeling. My heart went out to my friend, Ann. I could not even imagine what she was going through.

Although Ann’s daughter, Sarah, lived half an hour from our home, we hadn’t seen her since our wedding nine years before. She was pregnant at the time, and I suddenly realized she was leaving a nine-year-old daughter behind. We had tried to get together with her and her husband, Hiro, but they never seemed available.

When I asked Ann how her daughter had died, she replied, “I don’t know. I don’t want to know!” Ann’s family were committed Christians, but their adopted daughter, Sarah, who was Korean, had adamantly stated, “I have no use for the white man’s God.”

I thought of her words as I stood over the open casket, staring at the body of the 30-year-old woman who had committed suicide. She looked so young. I saw cuts on the edges of her wrists; her hands were folded in front of her. I drew the conclusion that she must have slit her wrists on that fateful Saturday night, but none of us will ever know for sure….

After the funeral, Ann said, “We are leaving tomorrow for Hawaii.” I stared at her in disbelief. She continued, “We already had plans to go there, and I don’t see any reason to change them.”

I continued to stand there speechless, but my mind screamed, Don’t you want to know how your daughter died? What if her husband played a part in it? Don’t you want to greet his parents when they arrive tomorrow from Japan? How can you just pick up and go on with your life as if nothing has happened? All these thoughts swirled in my head, but I said nothing.

I wondered how Ann would ever gain closure, and what would happen to that precious nine-year-old, who seemed to have been swept away in the current of the storm? How would she be able to deal with her mother committing suicide? Who would be there to help her?

After the loss of a loved one, it is not uncommon for a survivor to bottle up feelings and simply try to carry on, but those feelings must be dealt with eventually. It is our prayer for people like Ann, who love the one they lost, that Christ will help them deal with their grief, not by hoping it will go away, but by His walking through it with them.  But we also understand that for some, dealing with the reality of the loss of a child is so terribly painful that some need to process that on their own timetable. If you know someone who has had a suicide loss and is not dealing with it, let them know there is help available to walk them through that pain when they are ready.

The Effect of Suicide on a Mother

By Susan Titus Osborn

 The effect of suicide on a mother who’s lost a child is complex; while grieving she puzzles over how–or  if–she could have prevented that loss.

 

Image "Heart Jigsaw Puzzle" by digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image “Heart Jigsaw Puzzle” by digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

If you are depressed and considering taking your own life, please stop for a moment and think of the effect suicide has on loved ones, your loved ones, who are left behind. The following story sums up the feelings of a mother and the devastating effect her son’s suicide had on her.

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.

In this story Dr. Balodis, a Christian psychologist, was able to help a heartbroken mother who wondered if she’d ever feel whole again after her son’s suicide.

The Puzzle Pieces

by Dr. Jacqueline Balodis

The phone rang, and a hysterical voice on the other end cried, “I just found out that my son shot himself. How could God let him die?”

It took me a moment to pull my thoughts together to respond to her. Then I replied, “I’m so sorry. Brenda, why don’t you tell me exactly what happened?”

She took a deep breath. “My son was going to college and living with his grandmother in Illinois. I just received a call from Grandma. She had just returned home from a shopping trip. When she opened the door, her grandson’s golden retriever met her. The dog was shaking all over and looked distressed. Grandma knew something was terribly wrong and started walking through the house. When she reached Jim’s room, she saw him stretched out on his bed with a gun still gripped in his hand.”

Brenda started sobbing again. “I should have been a better mother. I shouldn’t have let him go to Illinois. He should have stayed in California with me. Where did I go wrong?”

“Brenda, I’m through seeing patients for the day, so why don’t I come over. I’ll be there in half an hour.”

I knew Brenda blamed herself for her son’s death. She also blamed God for letting it happen. On the drive over to her house, I prayed and searched for the right words to give this hurting mother.

Brenda greeted me at the door, and I hugged her, holding her in my arms for several minutes. We went into the living room and sat on the couch. I held her hand, and we were silent for several minutes. I realized my presence was what she needed more than anything.

Finally she spoke. “Why did he do this to me? Didn’t he know I loved him?”

I realized at this point that Brenda blamed her son as well as herself and God. I knew it was going to take a long time for her to work through the pain. Brenda came to my office twice a week for seven months.

Sometimes I let her pour out her feelings. Other times we sat in silence. Often there is strength in quiet solitude. Every session I gave her homework as we worked on various issues she needed to deal with. That way she could progress at her own speed. Ultimately I had her write a goodbye letter to Jim.

I could see that this was the beginning of her learning to forgive herself. The letter was filled with her good memories of special times she and Jim had shared together. The more she wrote, the more her love was strengthened for Jim and the more she grew herself—loving unconditionally, dealing with and erasing “what ifs,” and forgiving Jim.

During one session Brenda announced, “I understand now that Jim’s death is not my fault. I couldn’t have prevented it. More important, I don’t blame God anymore either.”

Finally, all the pieces of the puzzle came together. Once she forgave herself, her son, and God, her faith was again strengthened.

Although a mother may eventually be able to forgive herself and have her faith sustain her, and counseling indeed can help with that, grieving in many ways lasts a lifetime. The loss of a child usually causes recurring pain with each holiday, birthday, and many events that remind them of that lost son or daughter.

If you are depressed and contemplating suicide, please stop for a moment and think of the effect suicide has on loved ones, your loved ones, who are left behind.  There are a number of resources available as near as your telephone. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center to you.

How Suicide in the Family Hurts Loved Ones

By Susan Titus Osborn:

If you are depressed and considering taking your own life, please stop for a moment and think of how a suicide in the family hurts loved ones who are left behind.

 

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.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /  FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The following story sums up the feelings of a mother and the effect her son’s suicide had on her.

In this story Dr. Balodis, a Christian psychologist, was able to help a heartbroken mother who wondered if she’d ever feel whole again after her son’s suicide.

It shows in a devastating way how a suicide in the family affects those left behind.

 The Puzzle Pieces

by Dr. Jacqueline Balodis

The phone rang, and a hysterical voice on the other end cried, “I just found out that my son shot himself. How could God let him die?”

It took me a moment to pull my thoughts together to respond to her. Then I replied, “I’m so sorry. Brenda, why don’t you tell me exactly what happened?”

She took a deep breath. “My son was going to college and living with his grandmother in Illinois. I just received a call from Grandma. She had just returned home from a shopping trip. When she opened the door, her grandson’s golden retriever met her. The dog was shaking all over and looked distressed. Grandma knew something was terribly wrong and started walking through the house. When she reached Jim’s room, she saw him stretched out on his bed with a gun still gripped in his hand.”

Brenda started sobbing again. “I should have been a better mother. I shouldn’t have let him go to Illinois. He should have stayed in California with me. Where did I go wrong?”

“Brenda, I’m through seeing patients for the day, so why don’t I come over. I’ll be there in half an hour.”

I knew Brenda blamed herself for her son’s death. She also blamed God for letting it happen. On the drive over to her house, I prayed and searched for the right words to give this hurting mother.

Brenda greeted me at the door, and I hugged her, holding her in my arms for several minutes. We went into the living room and sat on the couch. I held her hand, and we were silent for several minutes. I realized my presence was what she needed more than anything.

Finally she spoke. “Why did he do this to me? Didn’t he know I loved him?”

I realized at this point that Brenda blamed her son as well as herself and God. I knew it was going to take a long time for her to work through the pain. Brenda came to my office twice a week for seven months.

Sometimes I let her pour out her feelings. Other times we sat in silence. Often there is strength in quiet solitude. Every session I gave her homework as we worked on various issues she needed to deal with. That way she could progress at her own speed. Ultimately I had her write a goodbye letter to Jim.

I could see that this was the beginning of her learning to forgive herself. The letter was filled with her good memories of special times she and Jim had shared together. The more she wrote, the more her love was strengthened for Jim and the more she grew herself—loving unconditionally, dealing with and erasing “what ifs,” and forgiving Jim.

During one session Brenda announced, “I understand now that Jim’s death is not my fault. I couldn’t have prevented it. More important, I don’t blame God anymore either.”

Finally, all the pieces of the puzzle came together. Once she forgave herself, her son, and God, her faith was again strengthened.

If you are depressed and contemplating suicide, please stop for a moment. I hope this story has caused you to think about how suicide affects loved ones who are left behind.

There are a number of resources available as near as your telephone. See the numbers below for a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center to you.

If you lost a family member to suicide, consider reading the book Too Soon to Say Goodbye. Request it at your local library, read more excerpts from this book here on our site, or download the Kindle (or Kindle for PC) version to read right away.

Who Cares: A Poem by Charles R. Brown

By Susan Titus Osborn

 

If you are depressed and thinking about suicide, please stop for a moment. Think of the effect suicide would have on loved ones, your loved ones, left behind.

 

Image by Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The following poem, Who Cares, by Charles R. Brown may sum up your feelings at this time.

Who Cares

by Charles R. Brown

 Indigo days.

Dark, deep sea nights,

Layer upon layer,

The grays of life

Are pressed into strips

Of midnight black.

 

Dilated irises stretch wide,

Thirsty for the smallest flicker of light.

Can’t see.

Can’t see any purpose in it at all.

I can’t tell if my eyelids are open or shut.

All I know is my life is shut.

 

The door has closed, the key thrown away.

Cold dungeon walls

Leave bruises on the mind.

Silence offers no peace—only fear.

The slamming in my chest

Rattles any semblance of sanity.

 

Why?

Who cares anyway?

No one will miss me.

They’ll be better off when I’m gone.

 

Is anyone listening?

 

You can indeed find someone to listen to you, if you are feeling this way.

God has a purpose for you—a purpose only you can fulfill on this Earth. And He is there, waiting for you to reach out for His help and healing.

Who cares? God does. We do. If you are depressed and thinking about suicide, please stop for a moment and consider the effect suicide has on loved ones, your loved ones, who are left behind.

There are a number of resources available as near as your telephone. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center to you.

You can also dial the following National Suicide Prevention Hotline numbers operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services:

1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

1-888-SUICIDE (1-888-784-2433)

1-877-SUICIDA (1-877-784-2432) (Spanish).

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

The Effect Suicide Has on Loved Ones

By Susan Titus Osborn:


Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 If you are depressed and considering taking your own life, please stop for a moment.

Think of the effect suicide has on loved ones, your loved ones, who are left behind.

The following poem sums up the feelings of a brother and the effect his sister’s suicide had on him.

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

Pamela

by Gary Sumner

 

The sudden loss of one I loved

Brought shock at first—she can’t be gone.

There must be some mistake!

The minutes, hours, days that passed

Were blurred by numbing grief and loss,

The details lost to time.

My mind shut down; I could not hear

The words of comfort friends would speak

To pull me out of pain.

I spoke of Pam and who she was.

I questioned why she took her life

And what I could have done.

She could have called and talked to me.

She did before ‘bout many things,

But never gave a hint….

So anger came, it overwhelmed.

I wanted so to scream at her

For such a selfish act.

Through time and prayer, forgiveness came.

Yet oft my heart will ache and cry,

I want my sister back.

If you are depressed and contemplating suicide, please stop for a moment and think of the effect suicide has on loved ones, your loved ones, who are left behind.  There are a number of resources available as near as your telephone. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center to you.

You can also dial the following National Suicide Prevention Hotline numbers operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services:

1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

1-888-SUICIDE (1-888-784-2433)

1-877-SUICIDA (1-877-784-2432) (Spanish).

 

Kathy’s Story: Anger and Suicidal Thoughts

By Susan Titus Osborn:


Stock photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Satan was out to destroy Kathy’s life—her children, husband, and future ministry. She almost fell prey to the lies he fed her through her suicidal thoughts and emotions.  However, our God is more powerful than Satan: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 NIV Bible)

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

Kathy’s Story:

As the train rumbled past the East Coast countryside, my thoughts were as piercing as the screeching wheels of the train. Why did Greg kill himself? He was a distant relative whom I rarely saw, yet the news of Greg’s suicide made tears fill my eyes. Oh, to be that full of despair.

In the past I’d struggled with suicidal feelings. I glanced over at my 28-year-old sleeping daughter. If I had acted on those feelings, I wouldn’t have the fabulous mother-daughter relationship I now enjoy with Darcy.

But 26 years earlier, my depression and life had careened out of control:

Larry and I had celebrated our seventh anniversary, but it wasn’t a happy occasion. Unwisely, I asked again, “Larry, why do you work so many hours? Having a two-year-old and a newborn is hard work. I need you to help me.”

“Kathy, I try to help you. Being a policeman is demanding. I’m working all those hours to secure our financial future.”

I knew I’d spoiled our time together. Silence again surrounded us, and a fog of hopelessness encircled me. My thoughts turned inward. Kathy, you never do anything right. Larry hates you. Then in my own defense, I mentally screamed, I hate him too. Doubts and fear haunted me. Will we get a divorce? Why can’t we talk? We used to be in love. Then I prayed silently, Lord, we’re Christians. We’re not supposed to act like this. What’s wrong?

Often I prayed for my marriage and my angry reactions to our two-year-old daughter. My anger towards Darcy escalated when I felt rejected by Larry. Her strong-willed nature resisted toilet training and resulted in constant temper tantrums that wore me down. Constantly I yelled at her. But that wasn’t all. My reactions had deteriorated into angry spanking, kicking, and pushing, and I felt totally powerless to stop my behavior.

“Oh God, help me,” I cried. When my rage increased and prayers went unanswered, I concluded God had given up on me.

The day after our disastrous anniversary dinner, I caught Darcy playing in the fireplace ashes. I exploded, “Darcy, how many times must I tell you not to play in the fireplace?” I ran over to her and screamed again and again as I choked her. In my frenzy, it was as if I left my body and was watching a horrible movie of a crazed woman, choking a little blonde-headed toddler.

Then within seconds, I was back in my right mind, and I jerked my hands away from Darcy’s throat. She gasped for air and began screaming. I ran down the hall, trying to escape the horrible scene. “Oh, God, I don’t deserve to live.”

I slammed my bedroom door behind me. I’m a terrible mother. I can’t believe I did that.

Then I remembered what Larry had said before he left for work. “Kathy, I’m leaving my off-duty service revolver in the top dresser drawer today because I don’t need it. Don’t let Darcy get close to it.”

That’s the answer—Larry’s gun. A tiny voice in my head sinisterly whispered, Take your life.God doesn’t care. Otherwise He would instantaneously deliver you from your anger and heal your marriage. There’s nothing for you to live for.

With trembling hands, I opened the top dresser drawer, and the gleam from the shiny barrel of the gun glinted at me invitingly. Darcy’s crying from the other room wrenched my heart. She’s better off without me. I’ve ruined her for life.     

I stared at the gun and began to reach into the drawer. But then a new thought suddenly entered my mind. What will people think of Jesus if they hear that Kathy Miller has taken her own life?

My hand stopped. The faces of the women in the neighborhood Bible study that I led flitted before me. My family members who didn’t know Christ came to mind. I thought of my unsaved neighbors whom I had witnessed to.

O Lord, I don’t care about my reputation, but I do care about yours. I call myself a Christian, and so many people know it. What will they think about you if I use this gun?

The concern for Jesus’ reputation saved my life that day, and I knew it was prompted by the Holy Spirit. I didn’t have any hope at that point, but in the following months, God proved Himself faithful by revealing the underlying causes of my anger. He gave me patience to be a loving mom and then healed my relationship with Larry.

Suddenly, my reverie snapped back to the present as the train began slowing for the next stop. I looked over at my daughter who had awakened and was gazing out the window, and I smiled. The thought struck me forcefully, If I had taken my life, I would have missed: Darcy’s wedding three years ago and our son’s graduation from college. I wouldn’t have had the opportunities to speak in 29 states and five foreign countries or to have written 47 books.

The list went on and on. I thought of Larry who is my best friend and our 35 years of marriage. If I’d used the gun that day, Larry probably would have remarried. And I knew my daughter and son would have grieved over a missing mother who seemed to be more absorbed in her own pain than about their welfare.

Yes, I understood how Greg could have so little hope that he took his life. But I wish I could have shared with him that there’s always hope, and God is faithful if we will hold onto Him and His promises. I’m so grateful I did.

My daughter turned to me and said, “Mom, I’m so excited we’re spending a vacation together in New York City.”

If you are depressed and considering taking your own life, please stop for a moment and think of all the special times you will miss out on as well as the effect suicide has on loved ones, your loved ones, who are left behind.

 ***

If, like Kathy, you have had suicidal thoughts, call for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center to you. You can also call numbers operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433); 1-888-SUICIDE (1-888-784-2433); 1-877-SUICIDA (1-877-784-2432) (Spanish).

If you fear that you will hurt your child, you also desperately need help. Here is one article contributed to by Kathy on controlling parental anger: Learn How to Cope with Anger. Here is an article describing how Anger Management Hotlines can help.

Resource: Too Soon to Say Goodbye (Osborn, Kosman and Gordon: New Hope Publishers)

Posted by Laurie Winslow Sargent:

 

I’d like to call attention today to the book Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Victims and Survivors of Suicide.

The authors, Susan Titus Osborn, Karen L. Kosman, and Jeenie Gordon (with New Hope Publishers) have graciously allowed us to post excerpts from this book, here on our suicide prevention blog.

Here’s the book description from Amazon.com:

Written by three women all uniquely affected by suicide, this compassionate perspective offers renewal of courage and faith for those grieving this tragic loss of a loved one. Grounded in Scripture and illustrated by true stories, Too Soon to Say Goodbye shows the magnitude of God’s love in times of heartbreak and offers tested wisdom for allowing Him to heal the pain. Additional insights shed light on depressive illnesses; and for those considering suicide, the authors offer encouragement to choose life over death.

Here are links to some of the excerpts we have posted so far. We hope they will encourage you and your loved ones.

Help Others Mourn Loss of a Loved One by Jeenie Gordon

Face of Death: Suicide in Youth, Dying Too Soon by Susan Titus Osborn

For Those Considering Suicide by Susan Titus Osborn

A Suicidal Man in God’s Emergency Room by Karen Kosman

Comfort for Grieving Counselors and Parents: You Came! by Jeenie Gordon

Release from Shame and Thoughts of Suicideby Karen Kosman

Deeply Depressed by Jeenie Gordon

[NOTE: The Kindle edition (also can be read as Kindle for PC) of Too Soon to Say Goodbye, this month, is being offered at a discount to readers.]

The Effect Suicide Has On Loved Ones

By Susan Titus Osborn:

Rosen Georgiev / FreeDigitalPhotos.netIf you are depressed and considering taking your own life, please stop for a moment and think of the effect suicide has on loved ones, your loved ones, who are left behind.

The following poem, To Our Sister by Gary Sumner, sums up the feelings of a brother and the effect his sister’s suicide had on him.

We hate that thing you did.

It did not solve one thing.

We doubt you thought it through.

How could you plan such pain?

 

Your life was not just yours—

A part of it was ours.

The ones you left behind

Cruel emptiness now know.

 

We’d plans and hopes and dreams

Of times with you, dear one.

Events need not be grand—

Your presence was enough.

 

A future filled with joy

And days of happiness,

With loved ones all around

Were always wished for you.

 

Now do you hear the tears,

That come to us unbidden?

We ache to think of such

A future swept away.

 

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

If you are depressed and contemplating suicide, there aren’t number of resources available as near as your telephone. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center to you.

You can also dial the following National Suicide Prevention Hotline numbers operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services:

1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

1-888-SUICIDE (1-888-784-2433)

1-877-SUICIDA (1-877-784-2432) (Spanish).

Here’s a video that takes a look at the heartbreaking effect suicide has on loved ones.

 

Susan Titus Osborn is the director of the Christian Communicator Manuscript Critique Service. She has authored 30 books, her latest being Wounded by Words and Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors, co-authored by Jeenie Gordon and Karen Kosman. Books may be ordered from New Hope Publishers.