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Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by SaggyWoman, Jun 19, 2007.
How do you minister to a woman who's husband committed suicide?
in what respects?
Comfort her, of course, but do not tell her her husband will again see her in heaven.
unless he was saved.
Cry with her, sit quietly nearby. And remember dates for future reference
Try especially, if you're able, to be there during those "special days"--anniversary, holidays, etc.
She'll ask about whether he's in heaven, and probably be confused (for instance, if she's Catholic...suicide's a "mortal sin.") Obviously, we cannot answer where he is. We can have an idea based on the fruits evident, but we're not God. We don't know his heart. We don't know what he did in those final moments.
It's not easy to minister in this situatio...but boy, is it powerful.
Well, I am answering this based on the information you told us in the private forum.
If I were her dear friend, I would stay at her home with her for a few days. There are people, with screwed-up "good" intentions, who ask waaaaay too many questions at a time like this and the local and even regional press might be hounding her via the telephone or personally.
Right now......today.......and for the next few days, she needs a personal shield of a couple of intimate friends to keep the busy-bodies at bay.
If you can stay with her (if she doesn't have someone who can do that) that would be wonderful BECAUSE she will be numb as she can be. She will need someone to tell her what to do. As Scarlett said, she well need someone to protect her from some of those well intentioned and not so well intentioned (who are just nosy).
If you get cornered and she forces an answer to this question you have several options.
That is between him and God we cannot know. This goes both ways of course, no matter how holy a life he lived as far as we could see (outward appearance) God looks on the heart and he may have been lost. But the other side of that, no matter how wicked he lived God can forgive any sin and if he turned to God, even in those last dying moments, well you never know.
Specific to the suicide, suicide is not the action of a healthy person. It goes against the self preservation instinct God put within us. If he had dyed of a physical disease, say cancer, would you let that be a deciding factor in his eternal fate? He died as a result of a mental illness and the method of his death has no bearing on the state of his soul.
There is only one suicide that I know of in scripture and that is Saul and his armorbearer in I Sam 31 and I Chron 10. The bible does not condemn Saul for his actions. Of course you could say that the crucifixion itself was a suicide for Jesus gave up his life, it was not taken from him.
There is no easy answer. If you truly want to minister you are going to have to pray and let the spirit lead your conversation.
Been there: Done that!
One other suicide mentioned in the Bible is with Samson. His final prayer was answered, and God gave the blinded Samson the strength to pull down the pillars on the Philistines, though it also meant his death. His death had meaning.
A friend's husband ended his life by gunshot in their car, in the driveway of their house and she found him after her full day at work. Her work supervisor (with whom she exchanged a 25 mile commute, took her into her home for a few days. Though my friend had family (no children, just parents and siblings) she found it was the best thing for her. In the immediate shock of things all she could think about was 'doing the next thing' i.e. call a pastor, schedule funeral home, financial arrangements, and think through how to emotionally and rationally resolve the issues which may come to her mind, and the nightmare of finding him.
Family would have been too emotionally connected. She might have been bomb-barded by 'helpers' trying to plan for her.....which would have added to her confusion. She might have had others bringing up their own questions and personal issues adding confusion to the issues she might face, and building problems instead of allowing her to come to her own resolutions.
Why suicide? is the biggest question of all....but a very personal one to those closest to the deceased: Each one may have their own reasoning regarding why and what it means for them and how each resolves the issues of sudden loss within the framework of the relationship which each had before. It is a time for carefullness in sensitivity communicating when such may tend to be lacking due to the emotional charge.
Those closest are most likely feeling betrayed by an act and decision which did not include them in confidence: There's likelihood of feelings of abandonment, 'he solved his problems by leaving me to solve my own......alone.' There may be feelings of regret or rejection......signs which mean nothing before now, takes on meaning but are too late....... a remembered event or discussion gets replayed like a circular film that doesn't end and takes on added significance, where there should have been nothing to note. None of these are healthy feelings to harbor without resolution, but it is a personal process which takes time for the healing, and the patience of others to continue listening....even when the stories get tired, until the 'victims' no longer feel the need to talk.
This friend realized there were many things which were really beyond her/their control: Storm damage, sudden loss of employment, surgery, chronic pain issues. But sometimes there seems to be nothing which so easily resolves the 'why?' question: One must move past the self pity and self blame.
Who is judge?
We are not to judge.
My salvation was paid for about 2000 years ago: There is nothing I can add to or take away: When Jesus said 'it is finished' it was the shout of triumph and there remained no more debt to pay. I don't care about church doctrine that agrees or disagrees with this, because our confidence is in the word of God and not some catechizm taught by man.
One sad thing about suicide is the family and friends are often touched so deeply that they sometimes become at greater risk: Children, especially, have difficulties resolving these issues. Foundations are very important: From a young age I was raised with the unfaultering belief system that God made me for his purpose and his will will be done in me whether I'm fully conscienable about it or not: That removes my right (in my way of thinking) from purposely considering ending the life he gave. For some the 'logic' of this may be lacking and they think 'all my problems will be solved.' The real question is "how do you know 'all your problems will be solved?' Have you known anybody that has been to death and returned from the grave to tell you that it is better? What if you're wrong, and it is actually worse..... and you decided to end it in a few moments .....rather than wait for the day, the week, the year to come where things might get better?"
I remember sulking about something and unable to make a decision: A friend asked me 'what's the worse thing that can happen? If you can accept that then you can live with it.' It was really another way of saying don't make any decision you can't live with: If you find you have made a decision which you can't live with, admit it, confess it, repent and change the decision. We may not always be able to reverse the consequences of a choice, but we can still choose to make new choices. Soloman said there's nothing new under the sun. There is no new temptation to man: It is so sad when some suicides may be cause by some entrapment of sin when recovery at the cross is so available. It is also sad that some depression may be caused by a chemical imbalance, and it does interfere with rational thoughts and perception of events which may not be understood by others who never have more than a 'blue mood'.
Some things are not compatible with depression like praising God. Depression may make it difficult to enter into praising God.... but singing hymns, praying the Psalms, can lift one's spirit even when the mental and physical energies are weak.:godisgood:
Intercept the calls of the media. Then, try to sell them vinyl siding until they go away. It comes in mauve (mau-vay), taupe (taw-pay), tan, and white.
Many years ago one of my uncles committed suicide and his wife quickly realized that it was an extremely act on his part.
Oops, brother....I think that you left out a word between "extremely" and "act". Did you not?
It would seem to be the critical word of the your post. :saint:
It should have read Many years ago one of my uncles committed suicide and his wife quickly realized that it was an extremely selfish act on his part.
I was hoping you would add an adjective in there, because I was confused.:laugh:
I agree that it is a selfish act, and usually cowardly. But, I don't think you need to tell the survivors this. At least not at that moment. I think most of them understand that eventually.
It takes a while to process the grief to realize how selfish an act it is - To leave everyone behind to face what they've done.
She realized it was an extreme action on his part: A desperate act for someone unable to think rationally of other possibilities.
In otherwords, whatever reason he was 'in pain', emotionally, physically, mentally or spiritually, he made the extreme or final decision in that moment his reasoning was impaired and he could not think of other options.
To help the survivor in this situation, be supportive which means:
Shield them from questions (yours and others).
Listen and be willing to listen some more.
Take time to spend time, don't have tight engagements flanking your visits with your friend.
This is her crisis, and a crisis demands immediate relief.......which cannot happen....(whatever created it cannot be undone........ but it can be intensified by hasty decisions) realize it is in the small normal 'everyday things' in which life moves forward into tomorrow: Together make and share a cup of coffee or tea: One make a salad and another tends something else connected with a meal: Important to remember of any crisis, as intense as it feels, it is only temporary and is resolved by time.
Listen to her: Not every remark or statement needs an opinion or judgement.
Reinforce to her that this was not her decision. Even if he made threats....... it was not her decision, she didn't "make him" do anything: It was HIS choice, not hers.
To this end, in the bond of love and marriage, there is also a 'trust' factor where each partner respects and believes in the other to make decisions which are good for the whole....... and honors each other with these rights. There is the human factor where we cannot know for certain everything which is occurring in the mind of another, and are limited in our personal ability to intervene: Some things we must release to God, and accept that the best was done at the time within the limitations of our understanding.
When food is coming in, if too much, it may be therapeutic making individual plates and taking to a surgery waiting room at a nearby hospital, or taking a meal to a neighbor or friends' home where you know the relief from the kitchen would be appreciated. Be receptive and supportive to those in mourning to have the possibility of ministering back to others in some small way.
Other things which may be helpful: Assembling notes and addresses to write thankyous to those who send flowers, food, cards, and condolences and comforts: Even writing 'as a friend of the family' is helpful. Offer to help sort, fold, and package clothing which may go to others to be uses or tossed.
Remember the deceased in naturally occurring moments, with antedotes, as one would remember the death of any loved one. Refer to the occassion as 'when Paul died' rather than 'Paul's suicide'. Thus the emphasis is changed from the method of death to the loss which is experienced by those left behind.
Let the knowledge of your friendship cue to you the importance and regard for special dates. To a very sentamental person, these remembraces will almost be a necessity through their struggle.
As a minister, preaching the funeral, there should be no reason (the law of love) to bring up questions of the deceased's character. Help the living accept the reality of death and loss, and the necessity for going on, and their responsibility for living in the moment, neither looking back too much in the death of memories gone, nor trusting that 'tomorrow' bears a promise for the things not done today.
The best thing you can do has already been said. Be there for her, pray with her, and most importantly, LISTEN! LISTEN! LISTEN!
I cannot stress that enough because too many times, we don't listen to the other person, but think of what to say while they are talking. Sometimes, people just need someone to listen to them.
You are so right on! Thanks!
I would appreciate your prayers for Sunday Morning. I will be preaching on this very subject. I don't know why God wants me to preach this, but there is someone who is needing to hear this message. raying:
We are going to look at why the people committed suicide and how we should handle things.
Let me encourage you to read Acts 16 about Paul and Silas being put in prison. The Phillippian jailor was ready to kill himself. Look at how Paul handled the situation. Paul with the other prisoners could have just ran away, but they stayed right there. I believe that when the Phillippian jailor saw the compassion of Christ and the love of Christ through Paul, the Phillippian jailor was saved.
Due to finances, I was not able to fly back to visit with her, but I have been on the phone very frequently with her.
I will be flying out in the future to be with her.