Monday, March 15, 2010

My News

My father with Sophia on her first birthday.

NOT FOR YOUNG READERS

My deepest thanks to all of you for your prayers and support. I thought it best to let you all know about my situation, now that the shock has worn off a bit and I have figured out how to get my fingers to type out these words:

On the morning of March 9th, my father, Don, committed suicide.

I debated for the past week whether or not I would share the circumstances of my father's death or if I should just write that my father passed suddenly and unexpectedly. I decided, in the end, that speaking about the suicide was important. It is important because suicide is not like other deaths. Suicide is different. It brings with it unique questions, pains, and struggles. It also brings unique insight:

My father was not well. He was suffering terribly; no one knew how much.

I did not know that my father was suffering from this dark depression. Sometimes, all I could see was the pain he caused others, and though I guessed that there was pain in his own soul that caused him to lash out, I never knew how consuming that pain was. Yet, even in my ignorance, our gracious God taught me this lesson: "Choose love--offer unconditional love even to those who have hurt you, even to those who do not seem to deserve it, because I chose to love you when you hurt Me, when you hurt others. You did not deserve it, either."

In faith, some months ago, I did the hardest thing I had ever done in my life: I stopped challenging my father and offered him unconditional love and grace. Thank God, thank God that I did...while there was still time left. Today, I stand in awe and I weep with gratitude that I forgave my father when I had the chance, though he had never apologized, though he had never asked forgiveness. I know only now that he couldn't He could not face the reality or the darkness. How can I feel anything but pity? How could I be anything but merciful?

I often get emails from readers asking me how to deal with challenging family members or painful relationships. I share with you the sad, sad end to my father's life because I hope that it will inspire others to forgive and to love beyond what they thought themselves capable of. I acknowledge, still, that we should not be enablers of sin. Yet, I realize with new eyes that we can never know the state of another person's soul. I believe with all my heart that love and mercy are never wasted; they are never wrong, and when they are hardest to grant, there they are most needed.

I will spend every day of my life praying that my father finally found the loving hands of God reaching out to him in the darkness of his life. I will spend every day thanking God for granting me the grace to reach out to my father, though I did not see the darkness.

This will be a very long, arduous journey of grief, one with no closure and little consolation. Yet, God is Love and God is merciful, and God is stronger than my pain or my father's suffering or even death itself, and for that I am thankful, and in Him, I place all my hope.

I realize that, for some of you reading this, what I have said may raise more questions than answers. I imagine I will work out my grief the way I work out all other things in life: through my writing, and so I imagine some of these questions may be answered in time. In the meanwhile, I thank you all for your prayers and for your support and encouragement.

48 comments:

  1. There are no words, just prayers to be said. May the Lord comfort you during such a devastating time, Bethany.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bethany,
    My deepest, heartfelt sympathies to you and the family.
    So very sorry,
    d

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am so very sorry, Bethany. Thank you for sharing this, so that - if for no other reason - we can know how to pray for you better. You and your family will be in my prayers!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Deepest sympathy to you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dear Bethany, I have no words except to say that my heart goes out to you and your family, and you are in my thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lord have mercy, Bethany. May your father's memory be eternal! I am so sorry for your loss. I will be praying for all of you as you deal with this horrific tragedy.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bethany,
    I am so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine the pain you and your family are in but please know if you need anything at all that I am here. I'll keep you all in my prayers.


    Melissa Kostrzebski

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am very sorry for your loss. Please accept my prayers that the Lord will comfort you and your family during this painful time. And my prayers for the repose of your father's soul, may he be granted peace.

    ReplyDelete
  9. oh Bethany, I'm so sorry..... sending prayers for you and your family

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh Bethany, I'm so, so sorry!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oh, Bethany! How terribly sad and shocking. I know a little of the toll one person's mental illness can take on an entire family (my mother's father, who was bipolar, attempted to take his own life when I was in fourth grade) and so my heart hurts for you and your family, and my prayers are with you. Take your time sorting through your emotions and thoughts and don't feel that you have to rush through the process of grief. God is with you every step of the way, even in the dark, ugly moments. Bless you.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh, no, Bethany! I am so sorry! I will be praying for you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  13. So very sorry to hear this, Bethany. Your family and your father will be in my prayers.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh Bethany, I am so sorry. Praying for you daily---Jesus is with us in our suffering.

    Prayers,
    Chloe

    ReplyDelete
  15. Bethany, I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your father. My prayers are with you and your whole family...may God give you peace....

    -Laura

    ReplyDelete
  16. I am so very sorry for you and your family's loss, Bethany.
    Even though my own father did not commit suicide, it wasn't for lack of trying beforehand and yet I know that I cannot even begin to understand a smidgen of how you and yours are feeling right now.
    My heart goes out to your family at this time.

    Sara (from Denmark)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I can't begin to imagine how painful this must be for you. There must be a hundred emotions racing through your mind and heart right now. I admire your bravery in speaking out and am sure there will be others who will be helped by your words.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Bethany, I am so very sorry. May God bless and comfort you during this time. Our hope is in Him. I'll be praying.
    With love,
    Serena

    ReplyDelete
  19. I am so sorry for you and your family. I wish there were something I could say or do. I'm praying for you.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Dear Bethany,
    I'm so sorry for this loss your family has suffered. Thank you for sharing with us the lessons you have learned and are learning. Your steadfast faith in the midst of your suffering is a tremendous testimony to His power to work all things together for good. You and your family have my prayer support. God bless you.
    ~Beth

    ReplyDelete
  21. My love and prayers go out to you and your family. How beautiful that you accepted the grace to forgive and love your father before his death! God is truly great.

    Also, I'm sure your heart aches for your father, but remember that the Church does not condemn anyone - even Judas could have chosen hope over despair at the end.

    -Steph

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am so sorry.

    I hope that you can feel the love and prayers that you have for your readers coming back to you.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Oh, my dearest Bethany...many, many prayers are being sent your way, and up to heaven for you and yours from Wisconsin here in our home. We will most likely never meet this side of Heaven, but our deepest, deepest sympathies go out to you, your family. May the Lord cradle you while you grieve, give those around you the strength to comfort, and may He continually grant us peace and grace through His strength. My deepest, most heartfelt condolences go out to you.

    I can feel my throat tightening as I type this, but know that we all grieve with you.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I am so sorry. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I am so sorry for your loss. My husband and I prayed for you and your family right after we read this post, and we will continue to be praying for you in this terrible time.

    ReplyDelete
  26. "I believe with all my heart that love and mercy are never wasted; they are never wrong, and when they are hardest to grant, there they are most needed."

    Thank you, Bethany.
    Praying for you.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Bethany,
    I am so sorry for your loss. May God continue to walk with you and hold you close to his heart during this time of grief. We will be praying for you.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Nothing is more difficult than the suicide of a beloved family member. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. God bless you and keep you.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Our prayers are with your father and your family. We too had a family member (my grandfather) who suffered from depression and see now that he didn't know how to reach beyond it, and forgave him for the way he treated the family. We know that he suffered and couldn't see a way out of it, and for that we pray that the lord has now given him the peace he sought his whole life and never found here. I pray that your father has found the peace he could not find here as well. I believe that God sees depression and is merciful, he knows our suffering. My prayers are with you all at this time. Holly Norris

    ReplyDelete
  30. Bethany, I'm so sorry for your family's loss and pain. My dad and my husband both lost a parent to suicide, and I can't even imagine the questions and pain that must follow. God be with you and Brian. What a blessing for you to have embraced unconditional love for a flawed and hurting parent. So often we don't forgive until it's with immense regret.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I'm so so sorry for your dearest Dad. My prayers are extended to you and your family.
    Much love,
    Leisha

    ReplyDelete
  32. Dear Bethany,

    You and your family are in my prayers.
    May our Dear Lord and His Holy Mother hold you close.

    I have tears in my eyes as I write this. You do not know me, but you have been a source of strength and encouragement for me, I hope my prayers can offer you some of the same.



    Kim from Virginia.

    ReplyDelete
  33. My deepest sympathies, Bethany, and although I am a stranger to you, you and your family are in my prayers.
    May God hold you close and bring you His peace.

    ABE

    ReplyDelete
  34. Oh Bethany, I understand this all too well. I lost a sibling to suicide and it is devastating to experience. That mercy you speak of is so necessary--and you need to give it to yourself as much as your father needed it.

    Right afterward, someone said something to me that has stuck and that really helped. He said, "the God who forgave your brother's first sin will not fail to forgive his last."

    Ren

    ReplyDelete
  35. Oh Hunny, I am so sorry. I TRULY understand my dad took his life 5 years ago this april. I was 9 months pregnant with our fourth child I was only 23 years old. I am SO SO SO SO SORRY! I know this pain, and the what if's the should of's Please email me if you would like to talk.
    I am so so so sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I am so sorry for your loss Bethany. Praying for you.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Bethany,

    Thinking and praying for your family at this dark time...I'm so very sorry for your loss...

    ReplyDelete
  38. I am so very sorry for your loss. I also wanted to thank you for having the courage to talk about something so painful. It was a wake up call for me as I have been struggling with my own father who is depressed and often angry and unpleasant. I'm not sure exactly how to show love & forgiveness without enabling unhealthy behaviors, but reading your story has at least allowed me to change the way I think about the challenges I face. Thank you for that. Again, I am so very sorry for your loss. Your family is in my thoughts & prayers.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I am so sorry Bethany. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Thank you all very much for all your prayers and support. They have been lifting me up, and my family as well.

    For those of you who have suffered similar losses: I am so sorry. I thank you for your solidarity with me. It is good to know I am not alone...and yet, it is terrible to know that others have suffered what my family is suffering now.

    Praise God. He is good. In the darkness, He is good. In hope, He is good. All the time. And, I am grateful, and I am hopeful, even in the darkness.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Bethany--I am so sorry to hear about your father, and so thankful that you were able to forgive him while he was alive. God is good.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I'm so sorry and am praying for you.

    I know this isn't the same as a dad, but I lost a close work friend to suicide. She knew I'd been depressed at one time and she also knew I volunteered at a suicide hotline. Yet she did not tell me, or anyone, how she was feeling. She just did it in a very final, lethal way.

    My point is, some people don't ask for help, they don't give warnings, they just do it. It's terrible to be left on that other side, but there's nothing you could have done. (Which I'm sure you know, I'm just reiterating it because it's something I needed to hear several times.)

    ReplyDelete
  43. May the Lord bless and keep you and your family.

    Love and prayers,
    Maria

    ReplyDelete
  44. I'm praying for you and your dear family ...

    ReplyDelete
  45. Bethany,
    I'm not even sure where I should start this, so here it goes. I knew your dad. We worked together a few years back and kept in touch since then. However, I hadn’t talked to him over the last few months. I am so sorry for your loss. I do not know how it is to loss a father. In my life I've only experienced grieving death for sick and elderly family members, never a friend. When I heard the news I was in denial. The company he worked at is less than 2 miles from where I work. I wanted to go there. I wanted to reach out to you. There were so many thoughts running though my mind, but I was frozen. So I cannot imagine the pain you are feeling but I know the Lord will bring you through this. I hope you know he talked about you with so much love. When Sophia was born, I bugged your dad for baby pictures so much he gave me the link to your Hudson Chronicles blog. I know he was very proud of you. I just wanted to stop by and pay my respects. And also thank you for easing my sadness, my heart feels a little bit lighter after reading your passage. May God bless you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Oh, Bethany, I am so very sorry to hear this. Your family will be in my prayers.

    And thank you for sharing this. I think your openness -- in particular about how importance your act of unconditional love and forgiveness turned out to be -- will bless many other people. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Bethany,
    I'm so sorry for the loss of your father.
    Thank you for writing about it. I just lost a beloved family member one week ago to suicide. Your words help. Thank you and God Bless in your journey of healing.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Your words have truly touched me. I will pray for you and your family. Thank you so much for sharing.

    ReplyDelete

Hello! I'm so glad that you have come here to share your heart and thoughts. One quick word from me before you comment:

I ask all visitors to respect this as a place of peace. Disagreements are welcome, but please refrain from posting any ungracious comments. Thank you, and God bless.