Even in the Aftermath

man walking through darkness to lightRecently I attended the showing of a local organization’s documentary called After a Suicide—Moving Past Why. While this would not normally be on the top of my “must do” events for a Friday night, I was there with my husband to support a friend of ours who lost her son to suicide a couple of years ago, and who was featured in the documentary.

I thought I would leave that night feeling sombre after focusing on such an emotionally heavy topic. Instead, I found myself humbled by the families in the video, who had shared not only their grief, but how they have continued on their own life’s journey. I was struck by how these families found reasons to keep going despite their unbearable pain—a pain I cannot even begin to imagine.

I listened as the families described the difficult steps they took after their loved ones’ deaths. My friend assures us that she would not be here without her faith and the Church. Indeed, most of her interview is conducted inside our church. Another family began an annual charity run in honor of their lost loved one, which has allowed them to raise money for mental health programs while also connecting with others who have lived similar experiences. Yet another lady described her long and painful journey of self-destruction and ultimately of healing after many years. Another mother is now a strong and vocal advocate for improved support, resources, and access to treatment for those suffering from mental illness.

A friend once reminded me that from the darkest moments, God brings the brightest light. From the ashes of a forest fire springs new and abundant life, and from the pain and darkness of the Cross, God brings us the Resurrection. There is new life and new joy. It’s not the same life we once knew; it is different and blessed. That is what I saw in those families and, indeed, in my friend. God entered into their pain and suffering and brought new life and new light into their darkness.

Yes, it may seem difficult to believe, but it is possible to find God even in the aftermath of suicide. My dear friend, her experience, and her faith have shown me that.


  1. Our beautiful and talented 45 year old daughter died by suicide two years ago September 30. She tried many therapies, many medications and several resident programs. She found no relief other than a wonderful NAMI support group. We realize now that there are illnesses that human beings cannot heal and that God must take them home to heaven for healing. We feel that God has assured us of His compassion for the enormous pain she suffered through all her young adult life. I try not to say that she took her life but that bipolar disease took her life. For anyone living with MI in themselves or a loved one, you are on a road like no other. Be assured of God’s compassion for every sufferer and that He heals–whether here or in heaven only He knows. Just do not be afraid. God never deserts His children. The only redo I would like would be to love her more and worry less.

    • Dear Louise, thank you for sharing so generously your experience. I am in awe at how you have lived such an experience and yet look out to share a message of compassion and hope with others.
      Both of my children suffer with MI and I lurch between pain at seeing their suffering and trying to access help to ‘solve’ things – I am a born fixer but can’t fix this. I will take your last sentence to my heart and focus on the love.
      Thank you. Christina

  2. I lost my 19 year old son in a car wreck. I’m a sure that it is much more difficult to deal with a suicide, but our grief was very real and deep! I, too, said that I could not have made it through my grief without my faith! I was so buoyed up by God that I was able to carry on and had a big Christmas for for my 6 year old daughter. My faith and spirituality so increased that I always said it felt like a huge coiled spring sprang me up to an unbelievable and amazing spirituality than I’d ever had before! Through the painful process of grief, God blessed me in miraculous ways!


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