I rarely write about my oldest son’s death.
It’s not because I feel shame over his suicide (as one church leader suggested to which I kindly corrected him). It’s because I do not want to build a platform as an author or directly profit monetarily through writing about suicide. I would have to say more than I care to. The circumstances surrounding it was very personal and I want to protect my son.
However, I do feel free to write about how I have felt as a mother. I know there are so many mothers (and fathers, siblings, friends) who have their story. I know mine. And I know I share similar feelings with other moms.
I think the number 1 problem surrounding suicide is how people deal with you and your loved one after they’re gone. Every mother is proud of her child. As I write, I’m listening to an interview with the mother of Aaron Carson Vaughan, a SEAL Team Six soldier who died in a Chinook chopper accident in Afghanistan.
The mother is grieving. Yet, she has one thing I don’t have.
Her son is regarded as a hero.
My son is not.
People who die from fatal accidents or terminal illnesses, well, it wasn’t their fault.
People who take their own life, well, it was there fault.
I’ve been told, “Well, people don’t know what to say”.
“Oh, you poor person who doesn’t know what to say to me. Well, excuse me while I go mop up the blood seeping out of my heart so I can help you feel better.”
Insane, isn’t it? But this is a common response.
You can’t slap a forgiveness scripture on this kind of thing. Responding to suicide requires you to reach deeply within yourself and go the extra mile.
If it sounds like I’m bitter, I’m not (please.. don’t add that to my repertoire, too). The thoughts that have accumulated need to be said. Not just for me, but as a mouthpiece for so many hurting mothers who write blogs about their experiences.
I have spent 9 years processing and I have experienced strength, hope, and joy as God has led me through this valley of the shadow of death. The people who have made this worse for me are not my enemies. There are things that have been said and done that should never have happened. There have been good things said and done, too. The pain of suicide is tender to the touch. We know how to be gentle with a person who is paralyzed. But we don’t seem to know how to be gentle with someone with a paralyzed heart. We don’t expect the paralyzed person to get up and walk. But we expect the paralyzed heart to quickly recover because “Jesus heals”.
My son, Christopher, is a hero. Not in that he took his life. But because of the life he led. He loved God with all his heart, soul, and strength.
He embraced what he was taught and was fearless. God is big enough, loving enough, good enough, to understand – when others do not.