Sink or Swim

Lost someone to suicide? It guts the survivors like a fish. It’s as if a sharp, chef’s knife were thrust through the heart, out the back and flays the flesh into endless slices. Do you know what I mean? Have you been here? If you are, I am so sorry. I understand it too, for I am a mom who is surviving the suicide death of her son. There are many more like me and that is why I write. Perhaps we will meet here.

Somehow we learn to live, but often in solitude. There seems to be a great void surrounding suicide. We see the looks on people’s faces as they move away in apparent discomfort. Been there?

There is awkward silence in group meetings, even those especially geared for survivors. The faces around the table are drawn and sad, eyes staring down. Each is reluctant to be the “first” to pour out his heart about the ache that brought him there. But we victims need a place where we are not condemned.

This may seem repetitive, but facts are facts. There is no denying that all ages are affected by suicide. Every 15 minutes in the US there is a suicide. Not an attempt – those stats are higher – but a completed suicide devastating you, me and many more left to grieve.

So where are all these people? Who are they? Would I recognize their distress if I pass them on the street or squeeze past their cart in the grocery aisle? Unlikely. We wear masks to cover up the pain. We don’t expect anyone to notice so we keep ourselves protected from the outside world. But how lonely we are!

How nice it would be to be known and understood in our sorrow. How nice it would be for all people, whether they have faced a  similar tragedy or not, could reach out to us when they know. How wonderful if we could exchange a reassurring hug. No words necessary. Just a hug.

We may not know or see those in pain, but God sees. He knows. He wraps His loving arms around each one. If we pause to listen we can hear His heart beating – He’s that close. We can trust Him to swim  with powerful strokes to the spot where we are sinking, place a muscular arm around us and gently pull us to safety.

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