Nothing can ever prepare you for the moment when you discover that your loved one decided to take their own life. Words such as shock, sadness, and despair are inadequate in their attempt to describe the barrage of emotions you are left grappling with after receiving the horrific news. In addition to the grief you would typically feel if someone you loved passed away from natural causes, your pain is quickly compounded by the trauma surrounding the experience.
Trauma complicates loss, and it leaves you with a feeling of horror, helplessness, and intense fear that is difficult to shake. In the case of suicide, you can also feel robbed of the opportunity of having closure. Unanswered questions such as "I wonder if I could have done something to stop them?" or "How did I not see this coming?" can leave you in a perpetual state of regret, guilt, and sorrow.
After receiving such news, it is normal for you to feel like an emotional wreck. One minute you might feel angry, and the next minute you feel completely numb. It's also not uncommon for you to have bad dreams or suffer from insomnia due to the loss. As I said before, trauma complicates an already challenging situation. You will need time to not only grieve but to heal from the trauma surrounding the painful circumstances. This is where most people go wrong.
Due to the various pressures of life such as school, work, children, and ministry, it can seem nearly impossible for you to find the time you need to care for this deep heart wound. In addition, many of us have been conditioned to put the needs and desires of everyone else before our own. Maybe you've been taught to believe,
"I got to be strong for my family," "I just don't have time to grieve," or "I just need to keep myself busy and move on."
With these cliches serving as your internal mantra, it can be very tempting to place your grief on the shelf and plan to deal with all of the pain at a more "convenient time."
Don't fall for that trap. There is never a convenient time to grieve. You must make the time, or else it will show up as an uninvited guest in your life in ways that you won't be able to control.
God wants to heal your heart, but it requires that you make your healing journey a priority. Get support if you or a loved one has experienced this type of loss. Consider reaching out to a pastor, counselor, or a support group that will provide you with the space you need to express your grief in a safe way. God never designed us to carry our burdens alone, and we must learn to embrace the arms of a supportive community so we can heal.
If you are looking for a Christ-centered community to help you begin your healing journey, Faith on the Journey offers free monthly workshops and a team of Christian counselors available to support you. Learn more by visiting faithonthejourney.org/counseling