I found out a few days ago a friend of mine died and worse, although details are sketchy, it appears he committed suicide. To say this was a colossal shock is quite an understatement.
This man was around 40--in the best years of his life. He was already successful in his field and clearly going places. He was bright, fun, a natural leader, attractive and ALWAYS POSITIVE.
I worked with him long days and even longer nights, and he was the glue that held a large group together. Understanding, patient, with a quiet air of authority that didn’t need to scowl or bark orders, he was something special.
I know it is normal to talk about how “everyone loved him” when someone dies, but everyone DID love him, and we all respected him.
What dark hour caused him to snuff out such potential? What loss or slight or betrayal or fear or or hopeless situation would cheat us of such a coworker, such a friend? Did he silently suffer with secret depression? How did his friends miss it? And how could such a leader and lover of life end it all when the hour of hopelessness came?
Had he not lived long enough to learn “This, too, shall pass?” Did he somehow not know how much he was loved and appreciated? Did all the happy greetings when he entered a room, the many selfies with him and expressions of appreciation not bear the message clearly: “We love you! We love being around you! You are important to us!” Did he not know people would rally around him if we knew he was in such pain? Did he not know how much he would be missed if he took his own life?
I have known others who have left us way too soon at their own hand, well loved, respected, and now so missed. What demons drive the much-loved to take their lives, leaving sadness and loss behind?
Suicide is not confined to the unloved and unfriended. It takes those who are so deeply loved by so many as to make others envious. But rarely is anyone truly unloved. Always there are those left behind who must cope with the loss, and, yes, the betrayal of suicide.
Sometimes the media glamorizes suicide through movies and TV shows that paint suicide in appealing colors. (See Should Teens Watch '13 Reasons Why?' Focus on the Family Weighs In)
Suicide is often contagious. We lose someone we love, and that somehow propels us down the same sad path.
But there is ALWAYS another way.
I must confess, I once had some temptation in that direction, when I lost my parents back-to-back, for whom I had cared for ten long years during their terminal illnesses. And sadly, my mother choked to death on water I was trying to help her drink.
My father died after I begged he be given painkillers when he was suffering so much in his last days. The doctors wanted me to pull my father’s feeding tube and let him starve to death but they wouldn’t give him painkillers which had a 20% chance of stopping his breathing. After several days of suffering I insisted on the painkillers, and he died.
I felt so guilty. I felt so lonely. I felt so hopeless.
But I had a brother. How could I leave him to suffer with another loss while I checked out? I couldn’t do it to him, and I don’t think I would have done it even if I didn’t have a brother. It was a temptation, and like all other temptations, suicide can be overcome. I just made the decision to swing my legs over the side of the bed every morning and get up again. It was as hard and as simple as that. One painful step at a time, I faced each day, knowing each one would be long and full of loss and self-recrimination.
I also had a secret weapon -- I knew there was a God who loved me even if I didn’t love myself. I knew there was a God who would never leave me even if those I most loved left. I knew that if I kept getting up every morning this, too, would pass. Now my life is richer and more full of joy than I ever thought possible. What a life I would have missed if I had taken the easy way out. I would have cheated my brother, my friends and myself had I made the sad decision to take my own life.
If you are hurting after the death, loss, suicide, or betrayal of a friend or loved one, please don’t give in to temptation.Yes, life can be almost merciless at times and harder than we think we can bear, but keep swinging your legs over the side of the bed each morning. Get up. Don’t give up. It gets better.
God promises He will never leave us. He promises things work together for good for those who love Him. Sometimes it seems like a long, dark road, but one thing I have learned: God always keeps His promises.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
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