by Ken Rolheiser
Suicide victims and redeeming their memories

This poor soul cried, and was heard by the LORD, 
and was saved from every trouble. (Psalm 34:6).

I imagine that the cry of a recent suicide victim caught the attention of heaven. I choke back the tears that catch anyone close to this type of loss and pray for the grace needed by the family and loved ones of this victim.

A mother of a suicide victim once said that if she could only bring back her child for a moment, she would put her arms around her and hug her and never let her go. This mother is showing love, not judgement. God’s love is greater than that of a mother. God’s arms are always open to the lost and the victim. 

In the fifty some years I have lived in the community I call home I have
witnessed suicides that included postpartum depression, teen suicides,
adult and senior suicides, and murder-suicides. That probably makes
this community like most other communities.

It is time to have a better understanding of this most difficult way of
losing a loved one. Families of suicide victims deserve all the compassion and love we have for our own relatives. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

I know of insensitive remarks made after a death by suicide. Such
remarks are most hurtful because of the nature of this often misunderstood way of leaving this world. Let me quote a summary that sheds some light on this dark scene.

1.First, in most cases, suicide is the result of a disease, a sickness, an illness, a tragic breakdown within the emotional immune system or simply a mortal biochemical illness.
2.For most suicides, the person dies, as the does the victim of any terminal illness or fatal accident, not by his or her own choice. When people die from heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and accidents, they die against their will. The same is true in suicide.
3.We should not worry unduly about the eternal salvation of a suicide victim, believing (as we used to) that suicide is the ultimate act of despair. God’s hands are infinitely more understanding and gentler than our own... God’s understanding and compassion exceed our own.
4.We should not unduly second-guess ourselves when we lose a loved one to suicide: What might I have done? …What if? If only… The person who fell victim to this disease did not want us to be there. He or she picked the moment, the spot, and the means precisely so we wouldn’t be there… Suicide is a result of sickness and there are some sicknesses which all the love and care in the world cannot cure.
5.Finally, it’s incumbent upon us, the loved ones who remain here, to redeem the memory of those who die in this way so as to not let the particular manner of their deaths become a false prism through which their lives are now seen. A good person is a good person, and a sad death does not change that. Nor should a misunderstanding. (“Suicide – Redeeming the Memory of a Loved One”, Father Ron Rolheiser).
Despite our pain and anger at losing someone to suicide, faith and understanding should lead us to remember the lives of suicide victims and celebrate their moments of grace. Let us remember them by name and celebrate their lives.

“Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1).

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