As Told By Manette Kay

Trigger Warning: this post contains topics of suicide, as part of Suicide Prevention Month.

Suicide. . . Grief, Healing, and Hope

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. I have an all too intimate knowledge and experience with suicide. It has left behind an ugly trauma that rears a hideous head from time to time, attempting to erase life and suck away joy. As a therapeutic exercise for myself, I wrote the bulk of the post you read today on Thanksgiving 2020. That day marked 13 years since my son made a dreadful decision to end his life.

Recently, a dear loved one sustained life-altering injuries when struck by a truck as she bicycled home from work. Four days later a cousin died, minutes after arriving at the hospital with Covid-19. These events have caused a resurfacing of grief and trauma responses in me. Thus, the return visit to my Thanksgiving Day writing.

Help
First, if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, people who care and want to help you are available. In the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline day or night at 1-800-273-8255 and talk with someone who understands. Get online support at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or to learn more. For helplines in other countries click here.

Suicide is a terminal choice of hopelessness. Those that end their life by completing suicide are unaware of the tragic ripples they set into motion. An implosion of shock stuns family, friends, co-workers, and others into immeasurable pain. A forever altered life seeps into the pain of the survivors who are left behind. It’s not our choice but a reality we are forced to enter.

Sleep Struggles
The horror of waking to another day with life marching on all around, while my feet were encased in the quicksand of grief. I really didn’t know if I would or could survive another day. I wanted to scream at innocent people going about their life, “This can’t be!! You cannot be living as if nothing has happened—stop the pain is too great!” 

Nightmares and dreams stole much-needed rest. This caused an involuntary fear or avoidance of sleep oddly, intertwined with the desire for eternal sleep. Hoping against all hope that maybe, just maybe I would wake up from slumber to find this new reality was only a figment of the mind in the most hellish nightmare ever. (Psalm 22:1-2)

Agonizing Questions
I went through periods of accusatory thoughts and mind tormenting questions. They circled like a wake of vultures ready to pluck away the raw wounded parts of my psyche. What if. . .? Why. . .? I should have. . .? If only. . .? Essentially pointless questions that will remain unanswered.

Sacred Rumination
I was compelled by a desire to cling to my son by touching what he touched, reading what he read or wrote, trying to make sense of what does not make sense. I spent hours in reflection, going back in time via photos, videos, and stories to mentally relive a time when he was still here.

Not Again
During the same month, six years later my husband made the same irreversible decision. This led me into anger and questioning God (Psalm 28:1-2). I felt alienated, a bit shunned, by society. I was “that” woman, the one nobody wanted to be around or talk to because of their own discomfort. If they were to get too close maybe they would hurt too.

Healing Comes
Eventually scarring in the heart began—the knowing, the resigning to the new normal. The post-traumatic survival behaviors began to wire themselves into my system whether I wanted it or not. Then came a day when I smiled or laughed, causing juxtaposed emotions of feeling good or normal for a brief moment and guilt about the sentiment. 

Scarring and healing will come when we lean into our Maker and Redeemer. Our emotions can heal just like our physical bodies can. It’s not a perfect metaphor but our bodies heal with proper treatment, time, and attention and so can our emotions. If we break a bone, our body heals again with medical treatment or corrective surgery, time, and aftercare attention to the injury, be that restrictive use, rest, or therapy. In the best circumstances, returning to the previous state but in some instances, there may be lingering after-effect. A person may be left with some residual pain, loss of motion, and a scar.

Hope
In my experience, I can attest to residual pain following healing grief. The loss of motion or something like a limp can be equated to the altered state of life. I’ve learned to view my scars as a gift from my Lord. I wrote about that in Beautiful Scars. God knows unimaginable pain. While grieving my son, I was comforted by the fact my Heavenly Father’s son died too. He knows my pain. I had a choice to make. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I knew in order to survive, I needed to trust the One who knows my pain even when I didn’t understand.

Today is a good day! A day to count blessings. 

“Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard the sound of my pleading. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart celebrates, and I give thanks to him with my song” (Psalm 28:6-7, CSB).

Prayer
Dear Father God, I thank you for the continuous healing you offer to all through Jesus. Lord, I pray for any who are struggling with thoughts of suicide. Send your Holy Spirit to their rescue, squelch that thought and plan of desperation. Open their eyes to see You. Give them the strength to reach out for help. Surround that person with loving, caring people. 

Make us like You. Teach us to see others through Your eyes and hear others with Your ears through the power of the Holy Spirit. May Your love and grace flow through us. In the strong name of Jesus. Amen.

© Manette Kay

September 6, 2021

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Thank you so much to Manette Kay for this informative post. Suicide prevention month is of course vital in spreading awareness. If you are affected by anything mentioned, please make use of the links provided. You are not alone x

You can read more from Manette Kay, by clicking here.

12 thoughts on “As Told By Manette Kay

  1. I’m so sorry for your losses Manette. From knowledge I just wanted to add that those who contemplate and complete suicide are sometimes aware that there will be a period of pain and loss for those left behind but that burned inside them is the belief that people will be better off without them. that they will somehow be less of a drain on their energy and/or worst of all that their life has has the happiness sucked out of it. It’s very rarely a deliberate act aimed at punishing the ones left behind. But when it is, it is very often a skewed view of life brought on by a deep depression. I can only imagine that your husband must have mourned the loss of his son in a different way and lacked your strength to cope.
    I’m happy that you have found your strength through your belief system as many people who don’t share those beliefs must try and find their strengths some other way. Invariably they do. As you say, many countries have their help lines for those contemplating the act, or for those affected by the act so that some can find professional counselling. Some retreat behind a wall of self blame and some turn to other things to blot out the pain. The one thing that’s usually for sure is that there is plenty of pain to go round.
    I would reiterate your plea that if you know someone who is contemplating self harm you contact someone who can offer you advice and perhaps get help for the one affected. But if it’s after the event, please don’t feel you can’t speak to the experts and get advice so that you can start to understand and start the healing process.If by any chance you are contemplating the act then please phone and talk to someone who understands why you’re going through and may be able to provide you with alternative ways to sort your problems. If, like me, you’re a non-believer it doesn’t matter, no-one will suggest that as a path to take unless it’s perhaps a path you’ve followed before.
    I hope you continue to get your strength.
    Hugs

    1. David, thank you for reading my story and sharing your thoughts and insights. I agree with your comment, “that those who contemplate and complete suicide are sometimes aware that there will be a period of pain and loss for those left behind…”

      Upon reflection, I could have expounded better. When I said, “Those that end their life by completing suicide are unaware of the tragic ripples they set into motion.” My intention was not to imply the person making that choice never considered or gave any thought to the pain of others. But rather that they themselves could not know to the fullest extent, the pain a survivor endures, as they are not experiencing it. I believe in their final moments of disillusionment with life, internal pain, hopelessness, or whatever they are struggling with also leads them to minimize or disregard what others will feel after they’re gone. Similar to your inference.

      Thank you for reiterating encouragement for people to seek help when wrestling with depression or suicidal thoughts. I appreciate your kind soul and hugs. Blessings!

      1. You’re so right Manette, they could never envision to the fullest extent the pain a survivor endures because they see no value in themselves and thinks the world will be a better place without them. The exception to this of course is of those in great physical pain wishing to escape it and any more to come. I have to assume they think everyone will understand their act. That being so, doesn’t in any way lessen the pain of the survivors and possibly the suicide understands that.
        Your experience may have been a good lesson for those who are looking for a way to find support and understanding as a survivor or perhaps to those who are suffering such a loss of self-worth that they have thought of suicide and now understand what the act might cost others.
        Huge Hugs

  2. Manette’s blog is well worth following: https://musingsofmanettekay.com/.
    I love your generous spirit and open-heartedness. Too many think they have the exclusive on what is true. It is true that “Believing something does not make it true. A thing is true or not regardless of whether anyone believes it.” (Paul Little) But to be open to discuss divergent views is vital to discovering what IS really true.
    love and prayers, for both of you, Katie and Evee, c.a.

    1. I agree with the apostle Paul’s words when he shared, “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” in 2 Corinthians 12:9.

      I do not feel strong and I’m painfully aware of my weaknesses yet, I am confidently assure of God’s lovingkindness and mercy. I hope it is Christ’s strength shining through my fragmented life.

      Blessings to you and all who are bereaved.

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