I was jolted awake by the sound of the telephone. It made me mad and my mind screamed “who could be calling so early? Make it stop.” All I wanted to do was nestle back in bed next to my husband, Eddie, instead of waking up already.
As soon as my eyes opened completely, dread overwhelmed me because anyone calling this early would have a serious reason. With my heart racing, I ran to answer the phone attempting to focus my mind on the caller.
Eddie’s youngest brother John was speaking, his voice full of emotion. He was saying, “Nicole is dead. She killed herself.” My brain simply could not connect with his words. I could not comprehend, was he really telling me my 28-year-old niece committed suicide? What could have happened to bring her to such a decision? To leave behind twin toddler daughters? I was in shock and disbelief at what I was hearing.
John pressed me so I quickly woke up Eddie, handing him the phone. In a blur, I went through the motions of getting ready for work while Eddie gathered himself together.
When Nicole was a teenager she was tortured by lies and insecurity in greater depth than the typical teen who craves love and acceptance. She strived to be productive, to make good choices, to practice better-coping methods and still life remained extraordinarily challenging.
At times, there were glimpses of vulnerability when she was open to family and friend’s guidance and support. Yet the suffering would move in waves and become overpowering at moments in time. She kept us all on the fringe, unable to be fully transparent.
Life appeared brighter for Nicole when she became a mom, she was so proud of her girls. It was like sunshine through the clouds. Once again family and friends surrounded her with love and support. She wore a smile, posed for photos, spoke the right words, and posted her best self on social media, all the while remaining silent, keeping us at a distance and hiding the anguish that was building.
Unbeknownst to us, the internal battles continued until they were uncontrollable and in hopelessness, she made another choice.
Everyone is fighting their own battle; some are visible and others are not. Mental illness weaves into one’s life and so often does not let go. It is a challenge to drive the road of life, full of construction and potholes. Without guidance for changing lanes, navigation can appear to be impossible.
Losing a loved one to suicide leaves so many unanswered questions.
As I made the hour drive to my office my emotions went on a roller coaster ride, sitting in the seat of sadness and confusion my tears would not stop. I was moving on automatic pilot when I arrived at my office. Upon hearing the news and seeing my puffy eyes, my teammates insisted I go be with my family.
Even as I walked in confusion, God remained faithful and completely understood that I needed to be rescued from feelings of guilt.
God is greater than our feelings, and He knows everything (1 John 3:20b).
He is unchanging, supreme and our perfect creator. Our feelings shift, impacted by external influences or faulty thinking. He remains, even when we are unaware.
After arrangements and details were made there was an afternoon when I had the opportunity to sit in my rocking chair, journaling on our patio. Our backyard is my place for solitude and quiet; full of shade trees, bird feeders and an array of colors bursting from flowers. A safe haven where I could be alone to unpack my thoughts, dialogue with the Lord and dive into His Word.
God met me in this space. He understood I needed to be comforted. He reminded me Nicole was not alone, not abandoned and He did not fail her. He will not let me down or walk off and leave me either (Hebrews 13:5 msg). As waves of emotions flooded my soul once again, I was overwhelmed with peace visualizing God sitting with me.
Can you grasp the truth that you are never alone?
He further impressed upon my heart truths from Lamentations chapter 3:20-23 (NLT) and Psalm 30:5b (NLT):
I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness. His mercies begin afresh each morning.
Weeping may last through the night but joy comes with the morning.
Each of us experiences grief in our own unique ways. Jesus experienced this when his friend Lazarus died. The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35 Jesus wept. Yet it speaks volumes. Even though He knew He would raise him from the dead He responded with great emotion and deep sorrow.
Though Jesus knows and sees the joyful ending He still gets down in the middle of our sorrow and holds us close, mingling His tears with ours.
Do you feel alone or confused? Are you grieving from loss or carrying a heavy burden? Is life overwhelming?
Did you know the Bible says God is always thinking about you? (1 Peter 5:7 TLB) He watches everything that concerns you.
He already knows your heartache.
He may not deliver you from the pain but will you allow Him to be your Deliverer in the midst of it?
Even when all hope is gone, His promises remain.
He will be with you always.
He never fails.
Joy will come.