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.