My first-born son, Graham, died on January 15, 2004. He was 18 years old. He took his own life while stranded on a country road in his own vehicle.
My world took a serious tilt. My perspective on life shifted to the dark side. Everything and everyone changed as I viewed them through the eyes of grief. I didn’t know what to do with the people who surrounded me and engaged in life with me.
I was terrified to talk about the loss of my son.
Not feeling free to share feelings and thoughts hindered my grieving process. I read the Bible and books on grief and suicide hoping this would help me deal with people’s questions and comments.
Nothing could prepare me though. I had to face it alone and walk through the unknown waters of grief and let the waves splash over me.
People meant well and out of the uncertainty of what to say their comments sometimes came across the wrong way — like my son’s suicide was probably for the best if he was in that much pain!
While my husband was on a business trip, one person said, “oh, are you the dad whose son went missing and died?”
Or our neighbor, who a year after, commented that she didn’t think we should let our younger, seventeen year old son out of the house (or out of our sight).
Then there was a board meeting at my work where one reactive individual during an intense discussion said out loud, “well, I’m not going to commit suicide over it!”
I felt like the psalmist:
“My bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long?”
I was carrying guilt around with me for every ‘could have’ and ‘should have’ that I could think of.
Every comment made by friends, family and co-workers added another stone to the bag of guilt hanging around my neck. It was choking the life out of me!
At church one Sunday the minister spoke to the congregation “It doesn’t matter what you have done and feel guilty for. . YOU HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN!” She said it several times.
NO MATTER WHAT I HAVE DONE I HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN!
This marked a new beginning for me. I needed to forgive myself for past mistakes and regrets.
My soul responded like the psalmist;
“Out of the depths I cry to you, o Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O Lord, kept a a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness.” – Psalm 130: 1-4
I was talking with a mom who was losing her daughter to cancer. I shared with her my frustration and anger with the people whose comments and questions were so inappropriate.
This woman looked at me and said, “Donna, it is possible that they are dealing with fears of their own knowing it happened to you makes them realize that it could happen to them too.”
My journey with forgiveness included the people who unknowingly wounded me with their words even though they meant well.
I needed to take into consideration the fears that circled them concerning their own families. It helped me to let go and forgive them.
Louise Hay in her book, You Can Heal Your Life, states;
‘Everyone is dealing with the damaging patterns of resentment, criticism, guilt and self-hatred. We need to release the past and forgive everyone”
Understanding this has played an integral role on my journey with forgiveness to bring healing and wholeness to my life.
My tilt has shifted slightly and I am seeing things in a better light now. We don’t know what other people are dealing with in their own lives. Nothing is ever as it seems.
“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not and you shall not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)
No one’s life is perfect!