National Suicide Awareness Day was this week and I was glad to see so many people speak out about suicide. Their encouragement to those struggling with depression was the best use of social media I have witnessed in a while. I join them in pleading with anyone who is dealing with depression or is having suicidal thoughts to seek help. Talk to someone. Be honest with them and allow them to help however they can. Suicide is a thief and we can’t afford to have one more person stolen from us.
The destruction of suicide isn’t limited to the person who died. Those left behind in the wreckage and rubble where relationships once existed also suffer. I would like to offer a few thoughts for those crawling out of the wreckage.
Suicide is similar to other deaths. The grief is the same unpredictable, suffocating journey. The anger, the depression, the bargaining, the denial, they all make their presence known. But there are differences as well. Once the grief of losing someone you love to suicide begins to heal and fade, you are often left with confusion. There are questions that refuse to yield to neat and easy answers. The most difficult thing of all is the nagging feeling that you were not enough.
You were not quick enough to address the problems they were facing.
You were not perceptive enough to notice their struggles earlier.
You were not sensitive enough, didn’t listen enough, didn’t speak up enough.
Or, you were not worth enough for them to stay.
Let me address these thoughts clearly. You are now and have always been enough. More than enough.
It’s just that depression doesn’t play fair. It doesn’t play by the rules and it doesn’t tell the truth. Instead of “you feel bad”, depression sometimes whispers to us, “you are bad”. Instead of “things feel hopeless”, we hear, “things are hopeless”. Suicide wins when broken perception becomes more believable than brilliant reality. All victims of suicide were worth far more than they believed, and most of them had people who loved them deeply.
Tragically, suicidal thoughts often cause people to turn from others when they need them most. They fear that they are a burden. They believe the lie that the world would somehow be better without them. When they act on that lie, the truth is seen and our worlds are never the same. In the wake of suicide we wonder why they couldn’t have seen themselves the way that we had always seen them. Then we stay up late and wake up early wondering how we could have failed them so terribly. There are no answers, however, because loving someone does not give us the ability to save them. There are things in life we can’t control no matter how hard we try.
So as you heal, I encourage you to not lose sight of your value. Don’t allow the things you couldn’t control cause you to neglect the world of opportunities in front of you. Loving the person you lost was a great decision even if it ended in pain. Continue to risk your heart for love’s sake. Carry your good memories and leave your questions behind. We may never be the same, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.