This is an account of my experience, my journey and my faith since the tragic evening of August 12, 2019, when my loving 17 year old son died by suicide. I whole-heartedly trusted God before that day, but could I trust Him still? I’m looking over my shoulder at the last 2 years and sharing how God has shown up in my suffering and in my questions by bringing comfort and peace to my broken heart and confused spirit.
Where Is God In Suicide?
One night after everyone else had gone to bed, I sat on my couch in the dark of night and in the midst of suffocating grief feeling empty, broken, disheveled and lost. Surrounded by tissues and books on child loss, I wrote these words:
All was well.
Life was great.
He was happy.
I saw him.
I spoke to him.
I looked into his deep blue eyes.
I punished him.
I said, “Don’t leave this house.”
I said, “I love you.”
I walked away.
I drove away.
I didn’t know.
My heart was beating fast.
I knew something was wrong.
You didn’t answer.
You were gone.
Daddy found you.
I cried out.
I screamed, “No! No! No! Please God, No!
Your life is over.
How can it be?
Why? Why? Why?
Life is drained from me.
The color is gone from my world.
I can’t sleep.
I can’t eat.
What went wrong?
It’s my fault.
I want to die.
God, where were you?!
God, where are you?!
I couldn’t see God then, but I see Him now. The moments, hours, days and weeks that followed Caleb’s sudden death in such an unexpected way were very confusing, dark and lonely. I cried out to God in desperation for answers, “Where were you?! How could you let this happen?! Why did you not intervene?!” I was angry, devastated and crushed to nearly nothing. Since Caleb was born I prayed everyday for God to lead, guide and direct his steps in a life that honored Christ. I prayed for God to keep him from harmful environments, temptations and friends. I prayed for his safety at school and while he wasn’t with me. I prayed for God to protect him all the days of his life. I trusted that God was, and would always do just that. Do I still believe that God honored those prayers from this trusting mother? I do.
Hypocrite party of one here? Until the tragic day that my son was gone and my life was upended and tossed about in a tornado, I assumed that suicide would never, could never make its way into my family or even anywhere into my life. “THAT” just doesn’t happen to children or families like mine! I thought a person only completed suicide as a result of mental illness, depression, a broken family and… insert the long list of judgements and assumptions we make. So, there I was. My son took his life. He actually committed suicide and died. It was painstakingly real and absolutely unreal at the same time. He was gone and I was left with unrelenting pain, endless tears, a mountain of questions and no answers.
If you know me, knew Caleb or have been following my journey the last 2 years, you know that there were zero indicators of any kind that Caleb could make a choice to end his life. What has brought me peace is knowing, without doubt, that Caleb did not intend or want to die. I have to rest in what I know is true about my son, he loved his life and family and would never hurt us intentionally. My husband and I have come to see that everything added up to the perfect storm that day and when Caleb was alone and at his weakest, the enemy manipulated him into believing the action would be a temporary solution to the way he was feeling at the time. How could this happen to such a happy, smart, loving, Christ following young man? Because we live in a broken world where horrible, tragic losses happen everyday. As the intense shock of his death began to subside over the following long weeks and months later, I was able to see that even though I did the best I knew to do as a mother, said all the prayers and loved him unconditionally, that did not make him nor I exempt or immune from tragedy and suffering. Family, friends and counselors have instilled in me to understand that I did the best with what I knew to be true at the time. Coming to peace with that is an hour by hour, day by day choice.
God hates death just as much as I do! He didn’t want that for Caleb and He is just as sad as I am. He weeps with me over the death of my son. How do I know this? Because God Is Life, not death. The choice Caleb made does not define him, did not take Jesus out of his heart nor did it separate him from God. God was for Caleb, not against him. I know He has met my every need and caught every tear in the palm of His hand since the moment my heart began beating fast and I felt that something just wasn’t right with Caleb. When I was running scared, crying and confused, He was right beside me carrying me, sustaining me, helping me.
How has God met my every need? His love, peace and comfort never left my heart. When He says that He is near to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit, He does it. I am proof. The people that He placed before me, next to me, behind me and with me that day and each day following have helped me get to where I am today. God and the people He used, have 100% carried me through the tragedy of losing my beloved son.
Where is God in suicide? He’s right in the midst of it waiting to show us He cares, He sees and He knows what we’re going through. I never thought I’d have to look for God in such darkness, tragedy and pain. When everything in my life changed, God didn’t. As I have sought Him in brokenness with faith the last 731 days, I have seen that He honors his Word, His Promises and He is everything He says He is.
“…The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
Thank you! I really needed to read this today!
Wow Chrisy, thank you for your real words. These words often bring some healing for me as well as I read so thank you.