When the clock moved to 12:01 January 1,2010 my first thought was” is this the year that I am going to loose my mom?” She had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and had been told she had 6-12 months to live four months ago. I was broken hearted when on January 15,2010 she died suddenly of a heart attack due to complications of her first round of chemotherapy. I could have never imagined that just eleven days later I would be planning another funeral for my dad.
On January 26. 2010 I came home from work, and mentioned to my husband that I was going to call my dad. I had been working all day on a speech to get him to move in with us. My husband took the phone from my hand, hugged me, and told me that that morning my dad had shot himself dead. My father had left instructions for the police to call my husband with the news. My dad picked his spot, got out of his truck, called 911, and told them where he was, and what was about to occur. He left us a detailed note, and things in as much order as he could get them in less than two weeks. Apparently he had been planning on killing himself after my mom died from the moment he heard the words ” terminal cancer” leave the oncologists mouth.
I took the news well at first. I didn’t even cry. I was just numb, and went into crisis management mode. There were people to call, and arrangements to be made. My dad’s brother and his sister turned right around and drove back ( about 8-10 hours for both) to help me. The rest of his family got snowed in, and couldn’t make it back. My mom had a nice traditional funeral service with all our family and friends. My dad got a grave side memorial with a handful of family. I bought a new dress for my mom’s funeral, but wore jeans and a sweater to my dad’s. I was just trying to survive at that point. Don’t get me wrong I don’t feel guilty for my dad’s sake. He was gone, and didn’t care. I just feel like his suicide robbed us of going through a complete funeral process of saying good bye to him. It’s true what they say about funerals being for the living, not the dead. It seemed like we said good bye to my mom, and just sort of buried my dad as an after thought.
A lot of our family felt really angry once the shock wore off. I was a little mad that I was left behind, and I was completely overwhelmed with the seemingly endless amounts of calls and paperwork to settle their affairs. Every time I made a call to a stranger telling them out loud that my father killed himself widened the hole in my heart a little bit more. I sometimes even felt guilty for laying it on unsuspecting clerks that were just answering phones at some business. There were a couple of times i thought the person on the other line was going to cry. It was awful, but with my husband’s help we got through it.
I was sad to loose my dad, and I miss him daily. However, I never get the feeling that he should still be here. If I am really honest with myself I knew he wouldn’t last long after my mom’s death. I really expected that he would be one of those men who just sort of wasted away after their wives passed. You know, the type that just gives up and dies of some unknown medical ailment, but who really die of a broken heart. I hoped that my children, his only grandchildren, would be enough to change that. Obviously it wasn’t .
I never felt like my dad left because he didn’t love us. I have always been a ” daddy’s girl”, and he adored me and my kids. Everything my dad did in life was for my mom, my brother, and I. He felt like my brother and I were grown, and my mom was gone. He knew I had my husband to lean on, and my brother had a great job. I think he just decided his work was done here, and he desperately wanted to move on to the next stage in his journey. He was also very independent, and the thought of aging without my mom to care for him, leaving it to us, was out of the question. Although it is a task I would have gladly accepted.
I knew there was nothing I could have done or said to change his mind, but the thought of him standing alone in that field haunts me. I wonder what he was thinking in those last moments walking into the field, and putting the gun to his chest. Was he lonely or scared? Did he cry because he was leaving us, or was he excited to soon be in heaven with my mom? It was probably a combination, but I guess I’ll never truly know. What I do know as surely as I am sitting here writing this is that my dad is now with Jesus in heaven. I am certain that if God was not yet prepared to accept my father into heaven his suicide would have been unsuccessful.
There are some Christians that believe suicide is a unforgivable sin. However the Bible teaches us that God has mercy and forgives all sins of those who accept the blood of Christ as atonement. It further teaches that all sin is equal in the eyes of God, and NONE of us are worthy of salvation. God freely gives us salvation through the death of His son on the cross. My dad believed and trusted in Jesus, and I know that I know that I know that he is walking in heaven today, and that someday we will all be together again. Until then I will just have to rely on the truth that whatever he is missing here with me pales in comparison to the amazing, and awesome wonder that he experiences in heaven to such a level that it is completely beyond my vocabulary or understanding to describe.
I hope that if you have lost someone to suicide that you can have the same since of peace that I have found in the gospel of Jesus. If not, I hope that you can find someone to talk through your feelings with. Many churches have grief groups or counselors and pastors that can help you deal with your feelings, and understand what you’ve been through. I know it is not easy to heal, but I’m here to tell you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it often starts with forgiveness. Until you can forgive that person and harbor no bitterness in your heart, you cannot be open to healing. This is a basic truth for anyone looking for peace and healing from a hurt or injustice.