Last month I wrote a post called The Stigma of Suicide and meant to do a follow up post within a few days, but never got around to it (or maybe I was avoiding writing this post altogether because of the content).
This is a topic that I don’t usually talk openly about. In fact, when Barry died by suicide in May this year, it was two months before I even discussed my thoughts with Gary. But it got to the stage where I needed an answer and I went to Gary for three reasons: firstly, he’s my partner; secondly, I knew he’d be honest with me; and, thirdly, he used to be a pastor and I trust him.
Before I go any further, I have to say this. As you read this post, please be aware that this is a sensitive topic and as a mother of someone who took his own life, the things I’m about to discuss tormented me more than you’ll ever know. It’s something I’ve never discussed with other parents who have lost a child to suicide so I have no idea what other people think, and to be honest, it no longer matters.
Anyway, these are the questions that I desperately needed an answer to: “Where has Barry gone? Because he took his own life, has he gone to hell?”
Can you imagine the torment this was causing me? If it wasn’t for the stigma of suicide, I wouldn’t have had the nasty thoughts that tumbled around in my head. The stigma alone can cause a family to suffer much longer and harder than is necessary.
Gary said that it was complex. I doubt I’ll give his words justice but I will try to put his explanation across in a simple way. Gary told me that no one could approach God directly, He was much too powerful. Gary said that Jesus had given his life for us and that Barry would have to go and stand before Jesus and Jesus would approach God on his behalf. There was more to it than that, but that’s all I can remember. My memory of those first two months is vague. But I do remember him saying, “I don’t believe there is a Hell.” Those words alone eased my mind a great deal. When asked why God would allow this to happen, Gary told me that God allows us to make our own decisions, if He didn’t, we wouldn’t be free.
Gary knew that his explanation was confusing to me and without my knowledge he went elsewhere and asked this question:
During May, 2006 we lost our 18 year son (my step son) to suicide.
This has brought grief and devastation and there are no words that I could use to express how this has affected his mother, elder brother (who found him) and myself.
Could you briefly explain, if it is at all possible, life after death for those who commit suicide.
Two days later, Gary received a long reply, which he forwarded on to me. Unfortunately, I didn’t check my email that night so I was at work when I read it. After reading the words, I couldn’t stop crying and I had to walk out of the workplace and walk the streets for a while. I remember how bleak the day had been, but I welcomed the cold, winter morning biting into my skin. It reminded me that I was alive. Meanwhile, my mind absorbed the words and a weight lifted from my shoulders.
Now, I’m not saying what you’ll read in a moment or so is true. How would I know what is true and what is not? How would anyone know? All we can do is make an informed guess. I can only say that I found comfort in these words, even though I don’t agree with all of them. They allowed me to push those thoughts I had been having to one side, and move on and for that I am grateful.
If you don’t agree with what is said, that’s fine. Please don’t try to make me debate the issue, because I won’t. I’m placing the words here in case someone else can find comfort in them. I don’t mean to offend, upset, or preach. Take what is useful to you, discard what is not.
This is the reply received:
First of all, my deepest condolences for the tragic loss of your son.
To be very honest with you, there are many teachings concerning what happens to suicide victims once they pass into the Spirit, and most of it is wrong.
To be sure, taking one’s own life, regardless of reason, is contrary to God’s Law. Suicide is the most tragic event which any family can endure. So many questions and guilt issues come up. For your son, taking his earthly life is an issue which he must, now or later, confront and deal with. For the suicide victim, awakening into the Spirit brings to light two realities: one, life did not end with the killing of the body; and two, whatever emotional issues caused or contributed to such an act did not die with the body. Intrinsically, your son is just as he is, now, as he was prior to taking his earthly life. But, now, he must confront the pain and anguish which his action has caused within the family and sphere of friends.
This can be very painful for the individual. but, here is where I MUST ask you to believe me. Your son has survived. He is alive. Taking his earthly life does NOT mean:
He is lost in limbo somewhere.
He is trapped or earthbound.
He is in Hell.
He cannot be helped.
In fact, things for your son are quite the contrary. Very often, when a victim of suicide first enters the Spirit world, the effects of his act become so upsetting that he needs a bit of quiet time to adjust to what has happened and to “gather his thoughts” so to speak. PLEASE know: there are special Angels of Love and Mercy who come to such unfortunate souls, and they offer love, healing, light, and comfort. Your son is not alone. Even though it has been a short time since he passed, I am sure your son has already met his Spirit loved ones and may be assessing what he must do, now, in order to “make right” this tragic deed. He is not excused from what he did. The Great Law of Karma demands that he face this act and work through a process of healing and transformation.
God still loves your son and continues to cradle him in His Grace and Light. God knows exactly why your son did what he did, and God will not punish your son. God does not punish any one of us. God gave us free will and the right to make choices in our lives. In giving us this wonderful gift, God set into place one very simple law: We are each responsible for the choices we make. Your son made a choice, and, yes, it was an incorrect choice. But, God does not condemn him, nor judge him. Your son will, at some point, judge himself. Furthermore, your son and the whole family will, again, at some point, determine how best to deal with this choice and how best to work through a process of forgiveness and healing.
The healing of your son must first begin with his forgiving himself for what he did; then, the healing must move into everyone involved forgiving each other. This may not be easy, and it may take years. But, we are eternal and we always live. Eternity is always on our side. This does not give us an excuse to sit back and not begin the process of healing and forgiveness. But, it does assure us that, in due time, all involved in this tragedy will come to see why your son chose to do what he did; and all involved will walk through the oftentimes painful pathway of healing through forgiveness.
God may not be pleased with what your son did, but God has already forgiven your son. This is what is meant by God’s UNCONDITIONAL Love. No mater what any one of us does, God continues to love us all, with total equality. God is a Respecter of NO person; we are all one in God’s Heart and Love.
So, where is your son? He is in exactly the same place a saint or a sinner would be following death: Spirit. Is he happy? I presume not, because of the repercussions of his choice. Is he given hope? Yes, most assuredly. Is he alone? Absolutely not. He is being bathed with Divine Love and Healing. Is he ware of the family’s pain and grief? Yes, he is. This is unavoidable. Does this pain him? I am sure it does. Can he hear your prayers and thoughts of love? Most assuredly, he can. Is healing and forgiveness available? Yes, they are. Is this going to be a painful process of transformative healing? It always is in such cases, and it is hard spiritual work for all involved; not just your son. Can he communicate to you through a medium. Yes, if he so chooses. Will he endeavor to make his presence known to you? Very likely, he will. Do your grief and tears inhibit his progress and healing? No. I remember working as a medium, with a young boy who killed himself, communicating to his mother. He said to her: Do not worry about all your tears. Every time you cry, it is like a greeting card sent to me, letting me know you still care and love me.
You may come across books and people who will say that your son is in some awful place because of what he did. PLEASE dismiss those and believe what I am saying to you. We are all children of God. We are all loved by God. And we are all One with God. I place my faith in FOUR basic things: the eternity of the Spirit; God’s unconditional Love for us all; our right to make choices in life: and personal responsibility for the choices we make.
Healing is always there for us and for your son.
My intent is not to take away your pain and grief. No one can or should do this. It is your pain and grief, and you, along with your family, must deal with it. But, I do hope I have given you some comfort in knowing that your son has survived this tragic act, and is, in fact, bathed in Love and Light.
If I can be of further assistance, please let me know. I place you, your family, and your son in our prayers.
In God’s Love and Light,
Rev. Simeon Stefanidakis, Pastor