November 12. Today would be Cory's (my brother) 37th birthday. Hard to believe that he has already been gone for 14 years. 14 birthdays spent missing him, wishing he was here to celebrate.
Suicide is a vicious choice. It is something that leaves the family, friends and loved ones in stunned shock and silence. Wondering what they could have done differently, how they missed the signs. Asking why their love and care wasn't enough.
At the end of May, 1998, Cory was having a tough go of things. Life had not gone the way he wanted, planned or dreamed. Work was not where he wanted it to be, his relationships felt like they were falling apart, he wasn't feeling well and it became too much for him. He drove his car to a secluded place and killed himself with carbon monoxide poisoning. He wasn`t found for a full week and that week was full of torment for us, not knowing, not wanting to know, holding onto hope....
There were a lot of things that tormented him. We were raised in an abusive home, his father left on his 8th birthday and killed himself when Cory was only 11. The suicide of our dad left the entire family stricken and shaken. Things were difficult, we were dealing with the knowledge of unknown abuses by our dad to our sister, and each of us lived with the trauma of it. Mom was struggling with the ability to forgive men in general and raising a teenage son. Looking back, I believe now that each of us were dealing with PTSD in our own way.
Most of the time Cory and I lived in denial about what had torn our family apart, struggling and failing to understand the pain our dad has caused throughout his life and death. We wanted to be normal teenagers, we wanted to fit in with the world around us. We didn't know what to do with the pain, so we ignored it, we denied it and we did our best to enjoy our teenage years despite it.
What we didn't do was heal from it. Cory had great anger and frustration with life and against mom and I. We were just scapegoats, not the real problem and I knew that. We fought a lot, but we were still close. After I left to go to college, the fighting stopped and we became good friends. Over the years we became as close as possible. Spending holidays together, traveling together and talking often. Though he was younger, Cory was always my protector. He could beat me up, but heaven forbid anyone else tried to do it!
He was only 22 when he died. Not a long enough life, not long enough for us to be friends. He would never meet my children, never attended my wedding. We have missed much because of his short life.
I have heard suicide described as a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The reality is that to the person suffering, it does not feel temporary, it feels permanent.
The day after Cory disappeared he was offered the job he`d been wanting for years, and would have found out his girlfriend had only asked for some time to think instead of breaking up with him as he thought... knowing these things might have paused his suicide. It would have given him a boost of hope and given him something to live for, but these things weren`t the cause of his despair, only the last straw in his struggle.
Two things were spoken to me and our family that brought comfort after his death. One was that in the Bible there is no condemnation of suicide. The only way the Bible speaks of suicide is with fact, not judgment. The second thought was that suicide is an act of absolute insanity. The strongest human instinct is that of survival. To commit suicide is in absolute contradiction of that instinct, thus it must be an act of total insanity. In moments of total insanity we are not and cannot be held responsible for the decisions we make. This brings me comfort and hope, not believing my brother to be insane, but rather that suicide is not the end, there is still a promise of resurrection.
I miss him a great deal. I wish he was around to laugh with, to talk with, to share my children with. I`ll never get over missing him.
What I wish for is that others will reach out for help before they get to those last moments of insanity, before they reach the point of no return. There is no shame in asking for help. No shame in admitting that life is becoming too much to handle. Life can be too much to handle, and often is, on our own. Without the support of friends and family, without the strength of God to hold us up through those horrible, difficult times we can reach the point where life just doesn`t seem worth living.
I, too, have often felt the desire to just stop. I have felt like I could not handle another moment of pain, like life was no longer worth living. It is not in those moments that the decision can be made to live. We must choose in advance, we must make a pact with ourselves to make suicide impossible. Take it off the table when your thoughts are clear and you have not reached the bottom of the pit. Decide for yourself, for your family, for your friends, that you will not succumb to Satan`s attempt to destroy you.
If you are prone to suicidal thoughts, depression, write down the blessings in your life. Write down the names of the people you love, that love you, those that will be hurt by your passing. In our darkest, deepest moments, we don`t think that our passing will hurt anyone, that it will make life easier for them. Trust me, the opposite is true. I have lived through the suicides of two family members close to me. I have suffered extremely from both of them. My dad killed himself to stay out of jail. He had done horrendous things to me, to my sister, to our family and still we grieved him exceedingly, unable to understand how he could put us through the pain of his suicide after everything else. My brother couldn`t take it anymore, couldn`t handle life anymore and I still suffer the pain and anguish of his death. I still hurt knowing that I was not enough, my love was not enough to keep him alive. I know he loved me because he told me so the day before he died, I just wasn`t enough to keep him going one more day. It was a decision, or non-decision, he made because he felt he was not enough. He felt his life was too messed up to be redeemed. It wasn`t true. It was a lie that Satan repeated to him, over and over and over until he couldn`t hear anything else.
I beg you, if you feel despondent, if you feel that life would be better off if you were dead, if you are reaching the point that the love of your family and friends and the thought of their suffering should you chose suicide don`t matter any more, seek help!! Before it is too late, don`t leave your family and friends to wonder and to grieve. The grief after suicide is far more intense than any other type of death because of the guilt left behind for those wondering if they could have done something to change the outcome, wondering where they failed.
Life is a dance and sometimes the steps slow down and sometimes you can`t find the beat of the music. Don`t give up dancing, just find a new partner - a counselor, a pastor, a psychiatrist, a trustworthy friend. Reach out, make it a group dance but please, please, please never give up moving your feet.
The Canadian Suicide Help web page is HERE
The American Suicide Help web page is HERE
Never give up. Tomorrow is a new day and you can choose for life to continue and to improve. If you don't know my Saviour, please seek him out. Contact a church near you or contact me and I will help you as much as I can. Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6-8; Joshua 1:5)