Reader warning: Graphic, disturbing and sensitive content in this blog.
My sister and I had this conversation over lunch this week. She asked where I stood on the issue and out popped this blog. It is not intended to disrespect anyone. It’s just my simple opinion and my story.
A sad story of a young woman who is going to commit suicide on November 1st has been circulation the internet. It’s being called “death with dignity” but it’s still suicide. Don’t get me wrong, I have great compassion for her and the fact that she is suffering from a deadly disease. My heart goes out to her and her family and I cannot fathom what they are about to go through. But in the end, it’s suicide and I don’t find it courageous. There are clearly many opinions on this. This is mine.
I’m not here to debate if what this woman is doing is suicide or death with dignity. There’s no need for debate. Taking your life under any circumstances is suicide. Taking your life due to depression, desperation or not wanting to live with a disease is suicide. I can’t understand her choice. I also can’t begin to know her desperation and fear and pray that I never have to face it.
I don’t know what it’s like to live with a deadly disease that will eventually deteriorate my body and take my life. I don’t know what it’s like to have a family member live and die that way.
However, I do know what it’s like to survive suicide.
It is a brutal reality that no one should live with. It is something that can never be rationally explained or understood, no matter what the circumstances surrounding it were. As a survivor you can’t help but constantly feel like there had to be some sort of hope somewhere. Suicide steals that hope. It steals the chance that somewhere, somehow things could have gotten better. With suicide there’s no chance of knowing if God had greater plans. Suicide is a great loss in God’s plan and the belief that our plan is somehow better than His. There will forever be a “what if” plaguing your mind.
I have to think about my father’s suicide every day, whether I like it or not. I don’t have a choice, it just creeps up on me and fills my whole body without me having any control over it. After it’s filled me I have to visualize it over and over in my in my head.
Let me paint the picture of what I have to survive daily because my father decided that it was his choice to end his own life.
Late one Monday night, after a shopping trip to Home Depot to buy his noose, my father checked in to his hotel room. After eating and sending a few emails he went into the bathroom, tied one end of the noose around his neck and one end on the towel holder. THen he sat down. He slowly let the noose strangle him to death. There were no signs of struggle, no attempt to save himself, no last-minute regrets, no hope.
His noose was red. It’s was 3/4 of inch wide and cut on one end. Facts I can’t erase. I want to help him.
He was wearing a pair of jeans and socks. That doesn’t even matter but is still burned in me. I want to help him.
When they found my dad he was already turning black in blue around is abdomen and is tongue was dried out from hanging to the side of his mouth. I want so desperately to give him water. I want to help him.
He was sober and I can’t decided if that is comforting or if I would rather he had been completely wasted. I want to help him.
My dad suffered from mental illness. He suffered from depression, delusion, addiction and so much more. Those are diseases, some he could never escape from. No drug would cure him, no therapy would save him. He had to live with this. Did that give him a free pass to take his own life? Should we call it death with dignity because it was his choice where and how he died? Or is it only death with dignity when you take a pill and die in the comfort of your own bed as opposed to the bathroom of a hotel with a noose around your neck.
His suicide stole from me any chance to show him compassion and love through caring for him in the worst moments in his life. He robbed me of the gift to suffer along side him in support. He took from me the chance to show him grace and mercy.
I want to have compassion for him and pity that his life ended this way. I want to forgive it. I think that I’ve forgiven but sometimes I’m not sure that I truly have. I wonder if I will feel that way for the rest of my life. I want to understand that he was desperate and didn’t want anyone to suffer because of him anymore. I want to understand that he felt there was no other choice and in some twisted way he did it for us, his kids. I can’t. It was selfish. He was a coward. There was nothing brave or heroic about it. He didn’t save me from suffering through his illness. He made me suffer his illness for the rest of my life without any chance to find a way to heal with him.
God might have had great plans to use me and my dad as an example of healing and forgiveness. He might have had plans to use my dad to somehow bring someone to Christ. God’s plan outweighs my dads in every way and my dad didn’t have the right to go against God’s plan. What if God’s plan is to have miraculous healing for this young woman on November 2nd and use her to give hope to those who will one day be in her position. There’s where the constant “what if” will play in the minds of the ones left behind.
I won’t know the ramifications of my father’s suicide until I reach heaven. I know what it does to those who are left here on earth but I don’t know what happens when those who have killed themselves reach the gates of heaven. For my father’s sake I pray that the gates open and God sheds grace. I know that Thou Shalt Not Kill is a commandment and I believe that suicide equates to murder. I pray that God somehow has mercy on those who commit suicide, no matter what their reason is or how they rationalize it to be okay, the same way that He has mercy on all of our sins. God has a plan and His plan is for a reason, even if it brings suffering. He tells us that we will suffer in life but that He will never leave us. Only God should know when our time is up , it’s not ours to determine.
My prayer is that somehow this young woman will change her mind before the end of the month. I pray that she will have faith in God’s plan for her and that instead of taking her own life so publicly she will find a way to use this to somehow be an example of faith to someone who needs it. I pray that if she commits suicide on November 1st it does not open doors for others to do the same.