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Showing items filed under “Suicide”

Free + Above | World Suicide Prevention Day

Growing up in church we didn’t talk much about our problems, much less about emotional problems. If we did, it was mostly in hushed whispers, and we said things like “She had a nervous breakdown.” I never knew what a nervous breakdown was, but I knew it was something I didn’t want to ever happen to me or to someone I loved. And nobody – absolutely nobody – talked about suicide.

But then suicide knocked on my door and I couldn’t pretend anymore that it didn’t exist. A sweet neighbor who found herself in the middle of an unwanted divorce let her suicide note on my front porch. I made frantic calls and left notes on her locked gate to let me know she was ok. But later that day the call I had been dreading came; she had shot herself and was not going to survive.

Years later suicide drew even closer as the husband of my dear cousin, a wonderful, warm and caring pastor of small churches in Texas, took his life when the shame and guilt of financial difficulties and a secret alcohol addiction overwhelmed him.

Then suicide came to my family. My funny, creative, loving and severely mentally ill son, Matthew, killed himself after decades of pain and suffering. His hopelessness almost became my hopelessness as I went down into the depths of catastrophic grief and loss.

Major depression and anxiety were present for my neighbor, my cousin’s husband and for my son. Fear and dread of perhaps a bleak future colored their thinking until they couldn’t see any other way out. Depression is not only hard to live with, it can be lethal.

With millions of people around the world living with varying levels of depression – including me – we have to get better at disclosing it, talking about it, seeking help, and continuing to offer hope to each other. Communities of faith can embrace those suffering with mental illnesses, offering solace, comfort, practical help and unconditional love – especially when depression doesn’t go away.

I have the utmost respect for people living with depression and anxiety – those who continue to trust Jesus and follow him even when it seldom feels good. Let’s admit it – when you feel good, it’s fairly easy to trust God and believe that He is in control of the details of your life, and to have hope that pesky problems will resolve themselves quickly. Praise and worship songs stir your emotions and you lift your hands in joyful abandon. But when the dark thoughts of doom, despair, anxiety, and fear become your constant companions – even though you’re doing everything you know to do to feel better – trusting God, believing better days are ahead, and retaining hope become epic feats of courage and endurance.

We honor military heroes – rightly so, because they are willing to offer their lives for the good of our country. But there are other heroes, mostly unrecognized and unsung, who get up day after day to face the deafening roar or the toxic whisper of depression that taunts them to give in; to end it all. There are beautiful heroes who refuse to surrender their joy to the voices that never stop reminding them of their brokenness, their perceived failure and unworthiness. These brave men and women have much to teach us about faith and trust and mostly, about HOPE.

So don’t hide your struggle, please. Instead, teach the rest of us how to live courageously even when it doesn’t feel good. We need you!

Posted by Kay Warren with 4 Comments

The New Year

The New Year is almost here. And amid all the news and entertainment personalities who chatter mindlessly about New Year’s resolutions, I wonder how many other grieving mothers are dreading the end of 2015? Call it denial or an unhealthy unwillingness to face reality, but I find myself mentally clutching at the fleeting seconds of 2015 the way my fingers grasp the sleeve of a departing friend, and plead “Don’t go! Not yet! I’m not ready for you to leave.”

It probably sounds weird and even stupid to say I’m dreading the New Year- but for many of us grieving mamas (and dads, brothers and sisters, grandparents, uncles and aunts and friends), the end of a calendar year means we have to emotionally gear up to face another year without our beloved son or daughter.

See, I survived 2015. I survived the year Matthew would have turned 30; the photo album I would have created and presented with joy never started. I survived the 3rd Christmas without his silly, loving presence opening gifts in my living room. I survived 365 more days without hearing his voice on the other end of my phone or seeing his name pop up in a text. I survived seeing his dearly loved Toyota truck parked in my driveway every day with no deafening raucous music playing. I survived all the birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and our family vacation without him. I made it through 2015.

But starting at midnight tomorrow night, I have to start all over again. Another 365 days without Matthew. All the birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and family vacations will occur as they do every year, but they will go on without him. Another 365 days of no texts. No phone calls. No late night “Hey, Mom! Can I come over and watch a movie with you and Dad?” No outrageously inappropriate but loving greeting cards on my birthday or Mother’s Day. No “I love you, Mom.” Of course he wasn’t perfect – not even close – and in fact, mental illness brought tremendous suffering to him and our family. But he is my son. And I miss him. And to think of beginning another 365 days without him? Can I emotionally survive next year and the year after that and the year after that and all the years between now and my own death?

Those who aren’t in the middle of grief probably stopped reading after the first paragraph. That’s ok. I understand and don’t resent them. The Bible says in Romans 12:15 (NIV) says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” For any who are in a vibrant season of abundance and pleasure, I rejoice with you! Truly! I laugh with you! I cheer you on! I’m grateful for these days of strength and well-being you are experiencing. And for those of you dear ones who are mourning, I mourn with you. I ache with you as you long to hold your son or daughter one more time. I weep – sometimes quietly and sometimes till I gag – with you. I make room in my heart for your grief. As Pastor Brady Boyd says,” We have to make room for those who can’t celebrate (New Year’s).”

And yet, like the Psalmist in his laments, I must circle around to my only hope of emotional survival as I finish 2015 and begin 2016. Rev. 21:3-5 (MSG) promises, “'Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good – tears gone, crying gone, pain gone – all the first order of things gone.’ The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new.’”

One calendar day – God knows when – everything painful and broken will end. The countless tears spilled through the millennia, the innumerable deaths, and the immeasurable pain human beings have endured will finally reach their limit. They will end. The God who “moved into the neighborhood and made his home with us” will make EVERYTHING new. Because of that, I will survive every calendar page allotted to me until calendar pages themselves are gone and I find myself in that place of never-ending newness. Grieving friends, hold on. What we long for is coming...

Posted by Kay Warren with 0 Comments

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