With the recent death of actor/comedian Robin Williams, and the revelation that he died from an apparent suicide, we all come face to face with heartbreaking questions that have no obvious answers…the biggest question is “why?” Suicide always leaves a trail of questions behind its victim.
In suicide, the most insidious tormenting is not inflicted upon the dead, but rather, the living. It comes to the hurting heart as guilt.
When suicide is committed by a celebrity or a person unconnected to us, we are sad. We will re-watch their movies, listen to their music, and try and connect with the art or memories left behind. But when suicide hits home and it is up close and personal, the most crushing blows are those of guilt heaped upon the living for not intervening more.
Listening to a news cast on the life of Robin Williams, the commentator ended his tribute with an apology to Robin for what “we should have done to be there for him, and how we failed.” That is the voice of guilt…and that is a lie.
This past July marked the anniversary of one of my closest friends, Chris, who died from suicide. Having served with him in Christian music ministry, seen people come to Christ, toured the country, and released music that changed lives, I know what it is like to hurt from the loss of a friend from suicide…I also know what it is like to battle guilt.
The reality is that I could not control the situations and circumstances that led to Chris’s life falling apart. People made choices that affected him…he made choices that affected his life…and his choice to kill himself affected all who knew him. There was nothing anyone could do…but suicide always whispers in your ear that “you didn’t do enough” to help. That is a lie.
Many times I would have dreams of talking with Chris and wake up in sorrow all over again because it was so real and he was still gone. Music and pictures would stir up sorrow and sadness. I even wrote a song called “I wish” that reflected my desire to some how turn back time and be there for him. More times than I can remember I would just cry all over again from passing memories. Suicide always leaves a deep wound for the living to deal with.
Though it has been many years since Chris died, and my wound has healed, I still have a scar, and whenever someone commits suicide I grieve a little more than most for those who are living with the guilt that rolls in like waves.
I have to say that suicide is probably one of the most selfish sins a person can commit. (This is hard to say about someone who just killed themselves, but it is true.) There is no love, no virtue, and no heroism in such an act. It is cowardly. It inflicts punishment on the minds and emotions of loved ones far past the act of death. The problems a person seeks to escape are simply multiplied upon the ones that love them and are left with shattered hearts and unanswered questions. Regardless…our love for them sees past these things.
The only hope I have found in the shadows of suicide has been in the love, mercy, and faithfulness of Christ’s comfort and care.
Jesus said of Himself in Luke 4:18,
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;”
Jesus healed me through the hearts, hands, and ears of patient, loving, and caring Christians who hugged me when I needed it…listened when I had to vent…prayed for me when I was down…and wept with me when I wept. Love does heal a broken heart.
This shattering life event has made me more prayerful and more compassionate to those struggling with suicidal thoughts and those still picking up the pieces when a loved one dies. Jesus is the God of all comfort, 2 Cor. 1:3.
If you struggle with suicide, think of the pain you will unleash on the living after you are gone. If you truly love them, talk with them for help and prayer. If you are bearing the wounds of the death of a loved one, release the guilt that binds your heart..seek godly and compassionate councel to walk with you through the stages and places of grief.
Jesus is faithful.