writer: Jason is the pastor of Storied Church and feels a tad bit vulnerable about sharing this personal story about his family.
Ten years ago my Aunt Trisha committed suicide. You try to use logic to map out what happened and how someone you loved so dearly could do something to themselves.
Trying to understand suicide is like putting puzzle pieces from different puzzles together.
She was my favorite aunt. She was funny, quirky, silly. I looked forward to her visits growing up.
Ten years ago my aunt entered a very dark season in her life. She was probably wading in darkness for a while before then. I remember a few years prior to her death going with my mom to visit her and her stove and fridge looked unused and broken for years. Normal things that normal people would get fixed-left unfixed.
In this darkness, she sought out different medicines prescribed by a range of doctors that spiraled her into deeper darkness. And she attempted to take her life. She had written a long letter about how her work had taken money from her over a period of years and that she just couldn't go on. So she attempted to take her life but someone found her before she was able.
She promised never to try again. My 80-year-old grandmother at the time stayed with her and tried to keep watch over her for weeks. It exhausted my grandmother. And one day my grandmother, exhausted, went to lay down for a nap only to wake up to my aunt gone. She had left. She was missing.
For the next few days, my aunt's picture flashed on the news. I remember thinking of all the countless people missing that flashed on the television screen and I just moved on with my day like it was nothing. And yet now this new reality was that person… isn’t just another person… that was my aunt. The one I grew up riding my bike around the neighborhood filled with excitement at her arrival.
We hoped she just ran away.
A few days later search and rescue people had scoured the woods and came across her body.
She had taken her life.
And so here I am ten years later. And I still can’t put the pieces together. The truth is that you never get over it. Or that their memory doesn’t evade you.
A few months ago I went to visit my grandmother. The last time I visited was 10 years ago right after my Aunt committed suicide. Her house was frozen in time. Pictures of my aunt were in every room.
Most people who commit/think about suicide feel hopeless… and/or think that the world will be a better place without them. Both of those things are not true. My aunt was just a few months from retiring. Retiring! And her family thinks about her often and misses her so much.
I know for my own family members have struggled with depression, drugs, and anxiety. There has also been an aversion/demonization of psychotherapy. I remember a few years ago I told a family member that I was in therapy and they got very concerned about what was going on in my life. Why would I be in counseling if something wasn’t seriously wrong? I think for my family we have waited until things get really bad to seek help. So I seek counseling for my well being and I also knowing the struggles of my own family.
I don't have THE answer to suicide but I know for me and others prevention and community are key. Here are ways that are so good for our well being.
Seek out counseling regardless of your situation. And if life is going well…this is a great time to start counseling. This is so vital. Our own barriers to counseling negatively affect those around us. Leading to people in our families suffering by themselves. If you need help let us (Storied Church) know whether you think counseling will be great well-being care or if you are at the end of your rope and you need someone right now. We will help connect you.
Check-in with people in your network… and ask “How are you?” Let people know you are thinking about them.
Follow-up… so often we think a non-response personally but sometimes reaching out a second time shows how much you care.