I went to a funeral today. I shouldn’t have. The boy who took his life was only 21 years old and he had a whole life beckoning him. He was smart, caring, funny, and had a million friends.
As I sat in the sea of black, I noticed the faces – about 800 of them – with hardly a wrinkle on them. Kids in the prime of their life saying goodbye to their friend.
I felt anger at the silence. Because it was too silent. In fact, one girl sneezed and everyone looked her way.
Why weren’t they screaming and wailing. I know that’s how they were feeling, because I witnessed it early last Sunday morning when my daughter slammed into my husband’s and my bedroom. Howling, clawing at her face, knees curled up, screaming, begging. Her face was white and she ran into the bathroom to vomit. She spent the rest of the day in two states: numb and wrestling the questions with mutual friends; realizing she would never find a sufficient answer.
I witnessed all week as the kids replayed their love for their friend through endless phone calls and dinners. I witnessed my daughter’s lack of energy as she packed up for her junior year of college. I witnessed the eight-page letter she wrote to her friend asking why he didn’t tell others he was hurting so badly.
Her friend was gone in the time it took to pull a trigger. All that was left was a FaceBook status: “Is finally free (6 hours ago)”
He found peace, but his friends and family will forever be stuck with the loss. I’m certain their pain surpasses the pain the boy was feeling the moment he took his life.
Sitting behind my daughter at the funeral, I watched her stare blankly at the proceedings. I saw her head bow to look at her friend’s picture on the front of the funeral pamphlet. I watched the smooth tan shoulders of her friends inch towards her as they shuddered in unison.
Tonight I feel angry. Angry that he chose this way to deal with his pain.
Who hasn’t considered suicide? Who hasn’t been tempted to consider it as a way out? Wondered who would come to their funeral? Weep by their grave?
As someone who has been on both sides of the counseling chair, I know there is true help for those who are so depressed they want to take their life.
But depression is one of the most treatable psychiatric illnesses!
Talking helps. Medication may be necessary for some. Coping skills are put in place. Boundaries are set up. Feelings are processed. Slowly, the neural network gets rewired. And then the sun begins to come out again. I’ve watched it happen time and time again.
The sad fact is that when you take your life you say goodbye to the pain but you also say goodbye to the incredibly beauty life holds.
You say goodbye to future generations of babies, and sunsets, and rainbows. You relinquish laughter, warm conversation, and knowing hugs. You relinquish the sound of a church choir, the smell of autumn, the sound of rain.
Most importantly you say goodbye to all the love life had to offer you.
New Life speaker Steve Arterburn says, “Go ahead, consider suicide, just don’t do it today.” And then tomorrow, say the same thing again.
If you’re feeling suicidal, find the strength to tell one person. Reach out. Ask for help. I promise, someday you will find life worth living again.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made (from Psalms 139)
*Need to talk with someone? Call 1 800 suicide