=There is perhaps nothing more difficult for a parent to face than the death of a child. The natural order of life anticipates that a child will outlive his or her parents. When this order is reversed, the grief can be devastating, especially when the child who dies is young. Though there are no words that can “fix” or solve the loss of one’s child, Scripture does offer words of comfort and encouragement for Christian parents who endure the death of a child. Especially when that child’s death, regardless of their age, was from suicide.

There is no quick and easy solution to what you are facing. And God, in the Bible, doesn’t offer you platitudes and pat answers. He gives you something much better — in response to your sorrow, your emotions, and your unanswered questions, he gives you Himself.

You will never have an answer that ties up all the loose ends. You will never feel good about it or “get over it” in the sense that it will not hurt anymore. And you will live with an ongoing sense that “I don’t understand, and it hurts every time I remember.” The suicide of someone you love, especially a child, brings great, ongoing weakness into your life.

C.S. Lewis captured this condition of our “comprehensive weakness” when he wrote in his book, “The Four Loves,” that our need for God is revealed in our “growing awareness that our whole being by its very nature is one vast need, incomplete, preparatory, empty yet cluttered, crying out for Him who can untie things that are now knotted together and tie up things that are still dangling loose.” Experiencing the suicide of a child will put you in a place where all you can do is cry out to God, the only one who can untie the things that are all knotted together and the only one who can tie up things that are dangling loose.

You have to say, along with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69). Where else will you go? Who is bigger than the things in your heart that are tied in knots or dangling loose? After all the struggling to make sense, after all the sickening grief at the finality of the act, after all the anger at the betrayal, at a fundamental level you must be able to say, “I do not understand this and I must leave it with you, my God and my King.”

You may not feel like getting out of bed in the morning, but you need to get up and get dressed. You might have no interest in your work, but you need to keep going. Give yourself a week or so, but then get back to normal living. Doing these things makes the statement that life continues despite what has happened.

As you live in community with God and with others, and reestablish normal living patterns, you will notice, over time, that you have the ability to love other people more consistently and deeply. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthian church, said that God “comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Nothing will bring your beloved child back. But you can become a wiser person, more willing to take a risk and step in when you see something that’s hard. God will use what you are going through now to give you wisdom and tenderness as you reach out to others who are suffering. God’s comfort will flow through you so that you can comfort others in their trouble.

Your loved one chose, in his or her last act on earth, to live destructively. In response, it is important to ask God to help you live fruitfully. Living fruitfully means taking refuge in God, loving others, and running the race the whole way through. It means living each day knowing that your life belongs to Jesus and because of that continuing to take small steps forward even when life is overwhelming. As you do this you are facing the darkness that suicide brings and responding by living in the light and hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In my grief ministry work through the years, I have had many parents who have struggled with the loss of a child from suicide. The main concern for their pain has been the thought that they will never see their child again in heaven. Suicide is a sin. Suicide is wrong. It is self-murder, and that is a sin. But it is important to remember that it is not an unpardonable sin. We do not read hearts, so we don’t know what went on between your child and God in their final moments. You cannot climb back into your child’s last moments and know what he or she was thinking about, but you do know for sure that God is just, merciful and forgiving.

If your child had faith and belief in Christ, even though their last act on earth was wrong, that doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t be forgiven. God knows hearts — we do not; and He, who is both just and merciful, makes the final decision about heaven and hell.

You need to be willing to live with less than 100% closure about the answer to the question, “will my child go to heaven.” You can only do this as you are certain of God’s love. Read through Romans 8 and especially concentrate on verses 31–39. They are full of the promise of God’s mercy, His presence in Jesus Christ, and the love of God that is unquenchable and indestructible. Fill your mind and heart with the promise of God’s love and you will be able to trust Him with your sister’s life.

God of all wisdom, we cannot always understand what is happening around us, or see you at work in difficult times, but we choose to trust in You. Please grant us understanding. Through Jesus Christ our teacher and our Lord. Amen

{span id=”docs-internal-guid-d8388c85-7fff-925a-bd34-39b3a3c893df”}JoMarie Grinkiewicz is a member of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Avon Park. GriefShare sessions will be conducted online via zoom beginning in February. If you are interested in registering, please contact JoMarie at jo.marie719@outlook.com.{/span}

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