The Aftermath

This week is Suicide Prevention Week. I didn’t exactly know this until I came across a blog written by Carlos Whittaker earlier in the week. In his post, Los talks about his personal struggle with anxiety and depression. I encourage you all to check out his post before reading mine.

While Los comes at the issue as the person struggling, I would like to share from the perspective of someone who was left in the wake that suicide causes…the aftermath, if you will. My story may be very similar to yours. As a matter of fact, I hear more and more of people struggling in the aftermath their parents or loved ones left behind after suicide. So my disclaimer for this post is that you not come away from reading this feeling sorry for me but that you feel encouraged knowing that you are not alone.

My father decided to take his life when I was about 4. I have no valid memories of my father. Perhaps, that’s God’s protection. I’m not sure. I was told later in life the how and the many reasons why, but for most of my childhood and teenage years, I struggled with so many other questions.

Did he know Jesus?

Why couldn’t he turn to trusted friends/family?

Why was I not worth him living?

Some churches make claims regarding the 1st question, with which I tend to disagree. To say that the amazing grace of God cannot reach a person in their absolute most desperate moment is to not understand grace at all. I’ve begged, bartered, and pleaded with God to have the opportunity to meet my father in heaven. I have peace about it.

I believe that my father did turn to trusted friends/family, but understanding what mental health treatment was like back in the 80s puts it into perspective that there may have just not be adequate help for him.

The 3rd question is the one that broke my self-esteem and self-worth as a child. Why was I not worth him living? Sure, he’d lost his parental rights, but couldn’t he have just waited until I was older, worked on healing, and been my father then? Perhaps by then, it would have been too late, but at least he could have clung to the hope that maybe someday she’ll forgive me. Maybe someday she’ll see that I did truly love her. All a little girl wants is to know that she is loved by and is precious to her father.

Thankfully, at a fairly young age, I started to trust Jesus as my Savior and found love and acceptance in His arms. I learned to look at Him as Abba Father, as Daddy. Still, there were times growing up when I couldn’t feel Him, and I would be terrified that He’d left me. I still feel that way at times, especially when I fail. Then I remind myself of His unyielding faithfulness about which the Word so often speaks.

I’ve walked through tremendous anger, even to the point of being so angry at God for what He allowed to happen in my family. I’ve been ashamed, hurt, broken, rejected…all because of what someone else did that I had absolutely no control over.

About a year and a half ago, when I discovered my father’s grave for the first time, I experienced intense grief. The anger subsided, but the sadness of what he missed overwhelmed me. I started to empathize with him, to see things from his perspective.

I’m 30 years old. When will this ever not affect me? I’ve learned that this will always have some sort of effect on me, and that it’s all part of God’s plan for my life. He truly does take what is broken and make it beautiful. I have one daughter and another one on the way, and they have the father that I never had. A part of me lives vicariously through them, which is so special. Through my husband, Danny, I see how a father is supposed to love their daughters, and ultimately, I see so clearly how my Father, Jesus, loves me.

I won’t say that I’m grateful for the pain, grief, and anger, but I am so thankful that I never had to walk through it alone. There were times, I’m sure, when God had to literally drag me through it. 😉

There is a purpose to the pain. When you’re at the bottom, there’s no where to look but up, and there we find Jesus waiting with open arms to be our Comforter, our Savior. When we have no choice but to trust Him and walk, our faith turns into something unshakable.

This is one of my favorite songs right now. It fits with the season.

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