~No human has more clarity about the scourge of suicide than the survivors who are outliving their loved one who died by this shocking, dreaded killer of our young~
Suicide is NOT shameful, but society has been saturated for generations with the belief that somehow suicide is shameful and it is reluctant to give up this stinky thinking even in the face of indisputable truth. “The shaming of suicide” in my humble opinion, is a product of society mores and historical traditions, festered by the daily use of the word to provoke emotion. It is society’s intent to pack a punch with this inflammatory word, and the media is hugely guilty when they jam their rhetoric full of phrases like: political suicide, financial suicide, sports suicide, etc.
I will attempt to speak particularly to the heart of those of us who are outliving a child, and worst of all, from a death of suicide. But hopefully, all of us who mourn will take away something. And to each of you, I am so sorry for your pain.
Is there anyone who does not like chocolate? If you happen to prefer, let’s say, bananas, then I know this won’t “appeal” to you, although I happen to think a banana dipped in chocolate makes a nice treat. Please stay with me here. I haven’t “gone bananas” but I want to see if a comparison can be made. You decide.
Chocolate is fragrant and silky smooth and beguiles the senses. Place a piece of milk chocolate on your tongue, let it melt, and then describe the experience. It’s rich and flavorful and screams, “more” does it not? Far too often I reach for chocolate every time I feel bad. It may not be wise to feed the pain, but chocolate helps me forget the problem for a few delicious seconds before it settles permanently on my hips (sigh). And the reason it’s not “hip, hip, hooray” is because of the volume of fat and sugar that goes into that divine piece of chocolate to make it the sensual experience that it is.
I suspect I have swallowed shame just as easily as I have swallowed chocolate. In my young and developing years, I was criticized for my “flats” ~ flat this and flat that (on my body). It was totally humiliating when my mother, just trying to help, would say to the clerk, “Do you have anything to fit my daughter? She has flat feet.” It sounded to my heart like she had been handed a megaphone and everyone in the entire store heard her. I wanted to crawl under a display, or better yet, drop through the floor. Perhaps even back then, chocolate was my friend, smoothing out the frayed edges shame spawned in my heart.
Is it possible that shame hides in suicide like sugar hides in chocolate? I read the lines and between the lines on social media grief sites. Some mention shame directly, but many more don’t say the word, but I think I know what they mean. When people tell us to “move on” is it because they are tired of thinking about the cause of death? Does it make them feel uncomfortable? Some attend church and it’s in this intended “safe haven” where they might feel shame after some saint speaks some thoughtless words within earshot. I could go on and on, but you know what I mean. And if you personally have felt shamed by others, I am so sorry for the extra pain inflicted on your already shattered heart.
Darkness breeds lies and shame so let’s bring this bad boy out in the open. Let’s treat it like the dirty cockroach it is and shine the light on the darkness of shame, scattering and zapping it’s lies like scurrying insects. May I suggest that we don’t have to hide. We have done nothing shameful. Our child or other loved one did nothing shameful. They died. It should be just as acceptable to tell our cause of death, as if it were by any other cause. There is no difference in my opinion. It’s time to tell the world to back off or spread the truth. Give us some breathing room and we will tell you what it’s like to lose someone to suicide. Their lives are worth talking openly about and others to respectfully listen.
I hope I did not sour your love affair with chocolate by comparing it to shame. But shame is slick, slimy, scummy, and can stick like glue, but it’s also as smooth as chocolate the way it coats the tongue of someone appalled by the way your child died and “shares the shame” with their gossipy friends. Think about it and let’s spread the truth.
Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed. Proverbs 12:19, NLT