As most families have to, ours experienced tragedy last week. My 18-year-old cousin decided to take her own life. When I found out, I was, of course, heartbroken. How could a girl barely out of high school think things were so bad before she even lived a quarter of her life?
Though sad, I didn’t cry when the news came to me. I just sat in disbelief, and then prayed for my aunt and uncle, as their loss of a child was much more devastating than my loss of a cousin. When I later got home for my lunch break I told Lisa, “Well… my cousin committed suicide today.”
Then I broke.
Saying it out loud was a whole lot different than reading it in a text message, and the tears just wouldn’t stay in. My heart ached. Fighting through the water-works, and trying to talk to my wife, I realized my pain wasn’t necessarily rooted in losing a family member (though that obviously was part of it). I was hurting because suicide struck my family again.
My grandfather attempted to take his life multiple times before I was born, and several times after that. He finally succeeded when I was about five. Being so young I don’t really remember it. But unfortunately other family members and friends have attempted since then. This may have been the first time someone close to me succeeded, but part of me feels like a pro in hearing news that someone has tried.
And that’s the place my tears were drawing from. A handful of phone calls or text messages saying, “So and so is in the hospital. They tried to commit suicide” building up over the years, and culminating in somebody I love actually succeeding in their attempt. The bulk of these tears weren’t of a lost loved one, these were tears of unanswered questions.
God, why does my family hate themselves so much? Why are they depressed? Why do they turn to alcohol or drugs? Why do they turn to suicide?
Ironically, three hours after receiving the text message saying my cousin was dead, I was running sound at a memorial service. This man looked to be in his seventies, and had died of a heart attack. Quite the contrast from the memorial my family was now planning. But seeing the family pour into the chapel, hugging each other, sharing stories and tears, warmed my heart a bit. In the pain of losing someone we care deeply for, you get to see all of the lives they touched and affected when family and friends gather to celebrate their passing.
An older lady sat down at the piano and started playing lightly as people found their seats. Tears started to gather in the corners of my eyes again when I recognized the tune. I prayed, “Dear God, please don’t let people notice the weird sound guy crying by himself in the sound booth.” But I quietly sang along with the pianist, letting the Holy Spirit wash over me, and remind me that God is still God. Whatever I may face in life, it is well with my soul.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows, like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.