Tag Archives: suicide survivor

He Lives!

John 20:3–18, Mary Magdalene speaks with the resurrected Christ

Today is the 42nd anniversary of Mom’s death – and also the day we celebrate LIFE. Eternal life through the saving grace of Jesus Christ, God’s son. Although in this life there is sin and war and famine and death – and heartbreak – God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved (John 3:17).

We still suffer loss – loss of relationships, loss of employment, loss of health, loss of loved ones. But through Jesus Christ, our hearts, despite loss, are healed. And we are saved. And like our Savior who rose on the third day, we can rise again – through Jesus Christ who saves us, and lifts us, and shines His light upon us, and shows us the way.

He knows us, each of us, and asks us in a very personal way to learn of Him – and to follow. He asks us to reach out to others who are hurting. He asks us to open our hearts and to simply LOVE.

But how can we love, or feel love, when our hearts are so broken, we may ask. Just as the seed is planted in broken ground, God’s love is firmly planted in the broken heart. Precisely because our hearts are broken, we can feel greater compassion and a connection to others who are also brokenhearted. Light can penetrate beyond the outer shell of our protected selves and reach into the center of our souls with a healing balm from whence can spring a beautiful flower.

God’s love.

The healing love of Jesus Christ who died, so we might LIVE.

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Thank you, God…there are no coincidences.

mother headstoneThank you, God, for reminding me today that you see me. And you see Jim. And by your love you stitch a beautiful tapestry called life, bringing together, however briefly, the tiniest scraps of fabric to create the whole. Each seemingly insignificant moment becomes meaningful when we listen to the small whisperings of your voice directing us to act. And for that, I am grateful. And honored.

Today, Jim introduced himself to me after a Suicide Survivor Day event. He had reached out to me by phone over a year ago after reading my story of suicide loss in the newspaper. He explained at that time that he had lost his mom too. He was just four years old in 1952. After the brief phone conversation, I forgot about Jim. But you didn’t, God. You led him to Survivor Day. Jim didn’t know if I would be there, but nonetheless, he came prepared with the newspaper article of my story – and the newspaper clipping of his own story of loss all those years ago. He didn’t know I would be there. But you did, God. And you led me to bring a copy of my book, Hope after Suicide. The book you helped me write. I prayed to you that I might recognize the ONE – the one who needed to know that despite devastating loss, despite the loss of our beautiful mothers, there is hope. Hope to heal our broken hearts. Even 64 years later.

Jim had never met anyone else who had lost a mom to suicide or spoken to anyone who could understand. Sixty-four years ago, his dad didn’t explain. It wasn’t OK to talk about it then. But today, it is. Thank you, God, for reminding me.

And God, please heal Jim’s heart. Help him feel his mom close as he reads words meant to help him understand, meant to share hope despite heartbreak. Help him see your hand. Help him see that there are no coincidences. Help him see that you were always there. Help him know that you see him. And you see me.

And together, we are healed. By your love.

Thank you, God.

Amen

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TODAY I LISTENED

canada2This year has been difficult. After a second flood in six months that wreaked havoc on our home, after the loss of a tooth, and after the loss of a beloved relationship, I found myself depressed for the first time in a very long time. I stayed in bed until noon day after day for several weeks, and when I did get out of bed, it was with great effort that I got ready and painted on my smile. Many days, I was unable to feel joy – even when I did all the things that I have taught others to do to help depression. I wrote my gratitude list every day, I went in the mountains to walk, I served as a missionary for my church, I spent time with my family, I wrote affirmations, I meditated, I prayed – and I retreated.

I explained to a few close friends that I was not writing or really doing anything with my already published book, Hope after Suicide, because I needed to take time for me. I noticed that I had new people viewing both my book and author Facebook pages nearly every single day, but I couldn’t bring myself to post or focus on helping others through their own losses or depression because I was still trying to get out of bed.

The past month, though, I have gotten out of bed every single day and done more than I thought possible. Our home has been in the final stages of reconstruction and my husband and I have been “homeless” and living out of a tiny suitcase. The first two weeks, we were living in a small hotel room a mile from our home so we could monitor the progress. We then decided that if we had to be away anyway, we would hit the road while we waited for the final touches on our home to be completed.

Our travels have taken us to many beautiful places, but the most beautiful experience happened today in a laundromat in Canada. I was again reminded that God does indeed have a hand in our lives. And that if we will listen, He will allow us to bless others at the same time He blesses us.

After breaking down camp and loading up our dirty car with a tent, stove, sleeping bags, and a suitcase full of smelly clothes, my husband and I walked into a tiny but clean laundromat at the end of our very full day. We were greeted by a cheerful woman who managed the store. She showed us how to use the washing machines, encouraged us to separate the light from the dark clothes, and kept us company while we waited. She didn’t shy from sharing her belief in God. I was impressed with her courage.

Once our laundry was folded, my husband and I said our goodbyes to our new friend and retreated to our still dirty car. A familiar feeling entered my heart. “I need to give her a copy of my book,” I said to my husband. I retrieved one of the copies that had been sitting in our car for the past several months and went back inside the laundromat.

“I feel like I need to give you a copy of my book,” I told my new friend as I handed her an autographed copy.

“You wrote this book?” she asked, surprised by the title, Hope after Suicide.

“Yes, it’s the story of my healing journey following the suicide death of my mom when I was twelve years old,” I repeated the line I had shared countless times in the months following the book’s release. “If you know anyone who can benefit from the book, you can share it with them.”

“Me. I will read it,” she answered. And then she shared with me that she had been depressed multiple times and had contemplated taking her own life before.

“There are no coincidences,” I said as I gave her a big hug. I knew I was meant to be there in that laundromat at that moment. And that I was meant to give her a copy of my book.

Another woman caught me just as I was getting back into my car. “Can I get one of those books, too?” she asked. “Of course,” I said. This woman who had just entered the laundromat as we were leaving shared with me that she had also struggled with suicidal thoughts. I shared my story briefly and we both hugged.

“God bless you,” the woman said as we said goodbye.

What she didn’t know is that God had indeed blessed me. He blessed me to meet two wonderful women. And He spoke to my heart.

And today, I listened.

God knows me. And He knows you. And He knows two women in a laundromat. God can put two people together whose paths have never crossed before and He can work miracles. My prayer is that we can reach out to each other and that we can listen. That we can lift one another. That we can love.

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Melancholy Memories

christmas5A week ago, my husband and I welcomed our children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, and nephews to our home to celebrate Thanksgiving. My heart was full as, in turn, we shared what we were grateful for. Family, food, mountains, and home were some of the blessings we listed. And LOVE – an expansion of heart that allows us to connect at a deep emotional level that transcends any thing that we acquire.

As I hugged my children and grandchildren and siblings goodbye, my heart was filled to capacity with that love. And I felt happy.

The next day, after all the family had left, my husband and I began the task of taking down Thanksgiving decorations and replacing them with our beloved Christmas decorations, collected over the many years that we have been married, thirty-plus years in all. Thirty-plus years that we have laughed and cried and yelled and fought and played and prayed together – and LOVED.

Through every up and down, good day and bad, we LOVED.

And on this day of transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas, as we lined up each of the thirty-plus dated ornaments and placed them in succession on the tree, I felt sad. In the midst of a heart full of love, I felt sad. Not an overwhelming sorrow or sinking depression or scary feeling of helplessness – just sad.

Sad that children are grown, that Santa needn’t stop at our place this year. Sad that we will spend our first Christmas Eve in our entire married life with just the two of us.

I thought for a minute about this sadness and realized I was no longer afraid of sad. I had spent much of my life trying to cover up sadness, run from sadness, and fight sadness. And on this quiet night as my husband and I embraced – I was no longer afraid.

Instead, my heart was again filled to capacity – with love.

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April – 40 Years

mountain retreat“I think I might be depressed,” I told my husband nearly half-way through April. The flowers were out, the sun was shining, and a thick film seemed to cover my brain – a heaviness in my heart that had persisted since the end of March.

In an effort to remove the darkness, I escaped to the mountains, I exercised more, I wrote in my journal, I soaked up the sunshine, and I meditated each morning all without relief. So I napped. And sometimes I cried. And I acknowledged the heaviness – the heaviness that came with April – 40 years since Mom took her life.

And I waited.

For light.

And the light returned. Surrounded by beautiful women in a little cabin in the mountains I shared my heart. And they shared theirs. And together we listened in silence. Together we loved.

Words from my heart fell to the page in tribute to Mom’s heaven on earth where the sweet peppermint and savory watercress return from death as they soak up the living waters, and where yellow dandelions defy the freshly cut lawn.

Mom’s haven.

I sit by the river and remember. I grow from a young girl to a mother myself. In my mind I walk with mother, while my children and grandchildren splash in the water. The river has lost its natural bend which once sloped gently to the water’s edge, now lined with rocks and pebbles carried from higher up by life’s storms. Flooding tears.

The earth collects my tears and holds them sacred. Tears from which new life blossoms.

And the watercress and peppermint poke their heads once again through the stones.

***

In recounting Mom’s Heaven, I give tribute to all women – angels who lift and love in Mom’s absence. Angels of light.

And I say goodbye to April for another year.

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