Uncharted Territory

 Uncharted Territory    Grieving a suicide is a different kind of beast. It’s big, ugly, and ferocious. It gnaws and eats away at your heart and your mind all day long. It’s a vicious unrelenting cycle of torment, torture, and pain. When I wake up my mind tries to save him. When I go to bed, the emptiness I feel in my heart and in my room is heavy.  As I dive deeper into this new uncharted territory of mental illness I now know that I actually knew nothing at all. I was too close to see clearly. I was consumed by my own: pain, co-burdening, and responsibilities to see my husband’s anguish. And, I wasn’t the only one who missed it.  I feel compelled to help those who are walking alongside loved ones facing mental illness. Although this is all new to me and I am not the expert, the pain pushes me to say something. The catastrophic thought of another young, healthy, and ambitious person taking their own life is enough.  By learning to recognize the warning signs, knowing how to start a conversation and turning to the right sources for help, you have the power to save a life.   If I could turn back time this is what I would do differently:    1. Take it seriously     My experience:   I will never forget the first and only time Andrew vaguely opened up about his suicidal thoughts. It was so vague and surprising that I missed it. He sort of shrugged it off as a thought that quickly passed through his mind and was gone, no big deal. He reassured me he would never do that to himself or to our family. It was just a thought, he hadn’t dwelled on it, he had never thought about it before, and he would never think about it again. That was the end of the conversation. We never talked about it again, and I never asked about it again. A huge regret.    If I could do it again:   I would have called the suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255), right then and there together to ask for help and solutions. I would have followed up every single day and every single night asking, “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” I would told his psychiatrist, his therapist, and his family about our conversation. I would not have treated it as “no big deal”, or just a passing thought. I would have taken action.   2. Treat it as a team     My experience:   It was a long hard summer, I barely had time to breathe, rest, or think and I was exhausted. I can only recall attending three psychiatrist appointments with Andrew. We both agreed that is was not important for me to be there every time. We were told he was on the low end of the spectrum. The doctor set out a treatment plan and both Andrew and his doctor felt confident it would work.    If I could do it again:   I would have attended every single appointment, I would have made it a priority to be there, no matter how inconvenient. I would have explained to the doctor in detail about our home life and my first hand experience with Andrew’s mental illness. I sincerely believe Andrew and I would have benefited tremendously by treating this illness as a team.   3. Read the books     My experience:   Mental illness invaded my home in numerous ways but I refused to allow it to invade my quiet time. Instead of reading books about depression and anxiety I filled my quiet time with books about: motherhood, ministry, and marriage. I used that time to fill myself up because I was so utterly drained.    If I could do it again:   I would have read every single book I could get my hands on about depression and anxiety. I would have developed a new heart, passion, and understanding of mental illness. I would have suggested that we read some of the books together to open up even more conversation. I wish I would have made the priceless investment of knowledge.  Although my list of regrets is never ending, at the end of the day I gently and confidently, reassure myself, “this is not my fault.” The mental illness caused the suicide. If you are grieving a loved one who died by suicide, you are not alone. There are resources at your finger tips ready to help you along your grief journey. There are friends, family members, support groups, therapists, and books ready to heal your hurting heart. The book “Grieving a Suicide,” has been immensely helpful in my personal grieving process. One particular quote from the book hit hard this week and perfectly summarizes my pain:   “Human Love takes us into dark places where we are taught the hardest things. Those we love suffer, and as we love them, we suffer with them. Ultimately we lose them. The hard work of love is to see each other through, in sickness and in health and often into death. We can’t mourn what we haven’t loved. Those who mourn are those who love.”   The cost of love is great. Jesus knew that all too well, it cost him everything. Although we pay now in tears and pain, we know our grief will not last forever. This is just the first inch of life. We were created for a person and a place. The person is Jesus and the place is heaven. In this life there will be trials but we serve a God who will never let us down. No matter how great the pain, no matter how deep the loss, and no matter how high the mountain. God will hold us, God will heal us, God will guide us, and God’s Got This.  Powerful worship music is a major source of healing. This song and these lyrics have the power to change your perspective if you let them.   Against all hope, I will believe    Through raging wars, You fight for peace    You have always made a way    A path of beauty, You create    And I know Your love is strong enough to meet me where I am    Hallelujah, You will never let me down    Hallelujah, You will never let me down    Your hope runs through my veins    Your love it paves a way    Hallelujah, Hallelujah    Hallelujah, Hallelujah    What lies ahead I cannot see    I know Your voice will carry me    Nothing can pull me from Your hands    No power against Your hope will stand    And I know Your love is strong enough to meet me where I am   Hallelujah, You will never let me down   Hallelujah, You will never let me down    Your hope runs through my veins    Your love it paves a way    Hallelujah, Hallelujah”     Mosaic MSC - Never Let Me Down    God’s Still Got This, He will never let me down,  Kayla

Uncharted Territory

Grieving a suicide is a different kind of beast. It’s big, ugly, and ferocious. It gnaws and eats away at your heart and your mind all day long. It’s a vicious unrelenting cycle of torment, torture, and pain. When I wake up my mind tries to save him. When I go to bed, the emptiness I feel in my heart and in my room is heavy.

As I dive deeper into this new uncharted territory of mental illness I now know that I actually knew nothing at all. I was too close to see clearly. I was consumed by my own: pain, co-burdening, and responsibilities to see my husband’s anguish. And, I wasn’t the only one who missed it.

I feel compelled to help those who are walking alongside loved ones facing mental illness. Although this is all new to me and I am not the expert, the pain pushes me to say something. The catastrophic thought of another young, healthy, and ambitious person taking their own life is enough.

By learning to recognize the warning signs, knowing how to start a conversation and turning to the right sources for help, you have the power to save a life.

If I could turn back time this is what I would do differently:

1. Take it seriously

My experience: I will never forget the first and only time Andrew vaguely opened up about his suicidal thoughts. It was so vague and surprising that I missed it. He sort of shrugged it off as a thought that quickly passed through his mind and was gone, no big deal. He reassured me he would never do that to himself or to our family. It was just a thought, he hadn’t dwelled on it, he had never thought about it before, and he would never think about it again. That was the end of the conversation. We never talked about it again, and I never asked about it again. A huge regret.

If I could do it again: I would have called the suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255), right then and there together to ask for help and solutions. I would have followed up every single day and every single night asking, “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” I would told his psychiatrist, his therapist, and his family about our conversation. I would not have treated it as “no big deal”, or just a passing thought. I would have taken action.

2. Treat it as a team

My experience: It was a long hard summer, I barely had time to breathe, rest, or think and I was exhausted. I can only recall attending three psychiatrist appointments with Andrew. We both agreed that is was not important for me to be there every time. We were told he was on the low end of the spectrum. The doctor set out a treatment plan and both Andrew and his doctor felt confident it would work.

If I could do it again: I would have attended every single appointment, I would have made it a priority to be there, no matter how inconvenient. I would have explained to the doctor in detail about our home life and my first hand experience with Andrew’s mental illness. I sincerely believe Andrew and I would have benefited tremendously by treating this illness as a team.

3. Read the books

My experience: Mental illness invaded my home in numerous ways but I refused to allow it to invade my quiet time. Instead of reading books about depression and anxiety I filled my quiet time with books about: motherhood, ministry, and marriage. I used that time to fill myself up because I was so utterly drained.

If I could do it again: I would have read every single book I could get my hands on about depression and anxiety. I would have developed a new heart, passion, and understanding of mental illness. I would have suggested that we read some of the books together to open up even more conversation. I wish I would have made the priceless investment of knowledge.

Although my list of regrets is never ending, at the end of the day I gently and confidently, reassure myself, “this is not my fault.” The mental illness caused the suicide. If you are grieving a loved one who died by suicide, you are not alone. There are resources at your finger tips ready to help you along your grief journey. There are friends, family members, support groups, therapists, and books ready to heal your hurting heart. The book “Grieving a Suicide,” has been immensely helpful in my personal grieving process. One particular quote from the book hit hard this week and perfectly summarizes my pain:

“Human Love takes us into dark places where we are taught the hardest things. Those we love suffer, and as we love them, we suffer with them. Ultimately we lose them. The hard work of love is to see each other through, in sickness and in health and often into death. We can’t mourn what we haven’t loved. Those who mourn are those who love.”

The cost of love is great. Jesus knew that all too well, it cost him everything. Although we pay now in tears and pain, we know our grief will not last forever. This is just the first inch of life. We were created for a person and a place. The person is Jesus and the place is heaven. In this life there will be trials but we serve a God who will never let us down. No matter how great the pain, no matter how deep the loss, and no matter how high the mountain. God will hold us, God will heal us, God will guide us, and God’s Got This.

Powerful worship music is a major source of healing. This song and these lyrics have the power to change your perspective if you let them.

Against all hope, I will believe

Through raging wars, You fight for peace

You have always made a way

A path of beauty, You create

And I know Your love is strong enough to meet me where I am

Hallelujah, You will never let me down

Hallelujah, You will never let me down

Your hope runs through my veins

Your love it paves a way

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

What lies ahead I cannot see

I know Your voice will carry me

Nothing can pull me from Your hands

No power against Your hope will stand

And I know Your love is strong enough to meet me where I am

Hallelujah, You will never let me down

Hallelujah, You will never let me down

Your hope runs through my veins

Your love it paves a way

Hallelujah, Hallelujah”

Mosaic MSC - Never Let Me Down

God’s Still Got This, He will never let me down,

Kayla