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May 26, 2022 6:00 am
God showed up for me along this journey in some pretty miraculous ways. But I believe with every fiber of my being that each one of those pivotal times has created a shift for me and this created a deeper trust and a deeper confidence in God that no matter where he has me I'm right where he wants me to be. That's free show to our guest on focus on offering hope for those who lost a loved one to suicide.
Stay tuned for help and encouragement.
Perhaps the most difficult circumstances on this Focus on the Family broadcast your hostess books president Dr. Jim Daly and I'm John John recent data from the CDC indicates that suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10 to 34-year-olds. Just let that said instrument really is and then for 35 to 44-year-olds the fourth leading cause of death. Statistically minimum.
Boys are about three times more likely to die from suicide than females.
However, women and girls are about three times more likely to attempt suicide. The point here is this is a big problem and it's sad to see so many who were severely depressed are struggling psychologically or in other ways. But help is available. Man is a Christian organization. We want to be there. We want to extend that hand of help in Christ, so that we can hopefully you know point you in a healthy spiritually, emotionally healthy direction.
Our guest today both experienced suicide of loved ones and my wife Jean is one of those people and she's here with us today along with Reed and you're going to introduce Rita yet really sheltie is a licensed counselor specializing in the treatment of anxiety and depressive disorders as well. As grief and loss and trauma. She's a member of Focus on the Family's own Christian counselors network grateful for that. Her book is called surviving suicide loss making your way beyond the ruins and we have copies of that here the ministry are numbers 800 K in the word family or click the link in the program notes revenging welcome to the broadcast. Thank you, Jim. So get averaging well. This is an important topic today hope that I can help bring solace to someone today. That's a go on and we agree with you wholeheartedly, Rita.
Let's start with the tragedy that you experience a suicide.
Your husband died by suicide.
I think 2013 that describe my what was happening and what happened I would describe Mike is Superman plan was vibrant charismatic dentist strong Christian godly man pilot is on airplane, real adventure. All of a sudden, things started to unravel and the last three months, he became increasingly paranoid, depressed and anxious really saddened that one morning and looked at me and he said what's it like to watch me fall apart, it's horrible. So yeah, he just started exhibiting very strange behavior and he found them. One evening I came home from work I went into the sunroom. I thought he was in bed and he was outside and I heard gunshots, and so I ran outside I mimed writing to the house screaming looking for him and I go outside and up the driveway comes my son on his motorcycle and down from the field, comes Mike with the gun in his hand and so I'm hysterical and so he was afraid you know they were gonna take ways airplane. I stands are united in one generous practice and so we Mike was such a discerning person so so wise that we just always believed that might and so I'm in the middle of this madness and not knowing you know really what Rita lets certainly big under this, but what eventually happened my well I got him into a treatment facility in Dallas.
Finally he agreed to go spend the weekend in our home in West Palm Beach. He was really bad and he agreed to go so he was going to fly out Monday and I was good. Go home Tuesday as I had my podcast and I had guess plan for that and then I was going to join him. I wanted to make sure that this was a good place this week gone somewhere else and didn't work so well. Timelessness between what you are just describing it was all within 34 months of this happening are so you know we agreed that I would fly down there now. The day after and I said I'll stay with you as long as you need me to. It will world will do this together so I left on Tuesday morning I started calling him but he never answered the phone so I was able to get on the plane right cannot do when you know I plan for this podcast that I'm talking about for grief when you lose a loved one to suicide. So I'm writing the AppleScript up my flight.
So I landed Dragon getting a cab drive to the house and pulled in the driveway and I see the cars there so I go into the house and when I got into the kitchen.
There's his bag.
Theirs is Bible and some started to panic.
I run up the stairs and I turned the corner and see the bed and I went and ran downstairs and I just collapsed and I crawled up into a ball and job he never made it on the flight that was his right in this life. Yeah Jean. I want to bring you in slightly different experience.
This wasn't your spouse but your brother describe what Craig was facing kind of the family's observation and what you experienced in his tragic loss. My brother similar to your husband was known for his big beautiful smile and his laughter life of the party life of the party And of course, in hindsight, you can see this, but I look back and see that he was changing. He had become more serious and more quiet.
He had lost weight seem like he was sick all the time seem like he had a cold all the time and those of us around him did not understand that his sword to the extent to which his business and his marriage were failing and he did have one psychotic episode that he told me about was the only one he told that to and at the time, though I I didn't know what to do with that information and really similar to what you describe as we look back, there were it. It was about 3 to 4 months. There was a time in his life where he was struggling with alcoholism. This was before he was married and he did.
He took off for six weeks and that was a very difficult time. I did think he was dead. He had planned just to start over start a new life in a different state. 10 you know that was a difficult time but we still I you know my family and I at the time did not understand depression did not understand anxiety didn't understand suicidal ideations and my brother seem to get his life on track and he got married and he seemed happy again and but then a few months before he took his life. He did have two suicide attempts, but I I and my family members. We just couldn't get our heads around you. You just can't believe that someone would actually take their life even though my brother had attempted twice you're listening to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly today.
Obviously a tough subject were talking to Rita sheltie and Jim Daly about the loss of loved ones and Rita has written a terrific resource. It's called surviving suicide loss making your way beyond the ruins we have copies of that book. Here the ministry and her number is 800 K in the word family or go to your website Focus on the Family.com/broadcast.
Let let's move to picking up. You know your lives were those things happen. Rita have had the impact of losing Mike and the shattering of the family absolutely is. Your children are involved, they got processes somehow I'm sure is a mom you're expecting you'll be able to help them do that and being a counselor and yet you got your own grieving situations was speak to the idea of surviving suicide loss. The first several months. I didn't think I was going to survive. I was pretty nonfunctional. I could barely get up get out of bed. The only way I knew I was alive was to get into the shower and to feel the water pulsing against my skin.
I didn't want I micros my life. He was my high school sweetheart we were soulmates and to lose that in such a horrific and tragic way and so little by little, I think I just decided one day that I had to live and it was at my daughters and I passed out in their foyer. We were watching this little cartoon my grandkids. They were little babies and it was about Scottish it was brave it was that the cartel brave and they were in Scotland and Mike and I just come back from this incredible trip together to Scotland and we had in England we had this amazing time and when I heard the accent I just got myself up because I didn't want to get emotional and so I walked in I felt passed out.
My son-in-law cured me up bedroom and later my daughter came in and she just looked in my eyes and she's like, please try and actually never crushes like her dad just so strong and there was a shift there I got I got to do this. I've got these people left who still need me and I I need to move forward so that created a shift for me and I think I just started pursuing God with the fervor I got involved in several groups which I think is extremely important. Suicide loss growth grief group. My friend and my assistant really push that for me to get out and do that and little by little, you know, people just came and walked alongside me, so this alongside pieces so profoundly important you know what is true that I was going to ask and genome to get your situation and how the family reacted in just a second, but you know in your spot right there at that moment.
Some people may shake their fist to God. Yes, so how could you let this happen. You could have changed the course of Mike's situation, perhaps we do have free will have to remember that, but how did you wrestle with God regarding your circumstances or did you I did but I have to trust God that he knows the answers to all those things in one day they'll be made clear. But I did. I mean, I wrote a whole section of the book on lament and I think I poured out that lament before God. I think I did struggle at first with anger got so much.
I think that came later, but I did. I wrestled with God about it and come to a place of acceptance while still holding the pain. I think that's where I am still today because loss either propels short hope or it leads us to despair right and so I believe transformation will flow from two sources. The decisions we make about how we handle our pain and our willingness to be personally responsive to how God is leading us through these journeys of sorrow and suffering. You know, if we choose the former. You know were going to have a cloudy lens here would be tempted to look to that land loss engenders of anger and bitterness and hostility and rage and all of those things.
But if we choose the latter, then we can enlarge our capacity for God to meet us at that place and we can welcome those unwanted companions of sorrow and suffering allow them to be our tutors and we can learn to embrace the darkness so that we can find the light yeah that is a process that frozen yes Jean, my observation would be what I saw in you and your family was that the what I would probably describes a typical correction. The guilt everybody like how did we miss that. Why didn't we catch it, what could we have done we have saved Craig's life. That's a very normal place for the family to be described guilty is a horrific toll from suicide and I was tortured by the guilt, the should haves could have and it is a process I came to the point.
Like Rita, where I did not want to live could not continue living in the pain that I would sit the pain and the guilt and it was decision it was probably three months after my brother had taken his life that I sought to Christian counseling and began that that journey of healing for me. I would cry out to God, which I think is so important for people to audibly express what you're feeling, bring it out into the light the darkness into the light and I recall one time. Just sobbing and saying out loud apologizing to my brother. I'm sorry I couldn't help you. I'm sorry and in working through the forgiveness of myself allowing God to help me forgive myself that I could only do what I could do to help my brother.
The time absolutely. And of course, of course, if it any of us knew that able our loved one was going to take their life we would do things very differently. We don't have the benefit of that hindsight at the moment, and you must forgive yourself. You have to find ways to forgive yourself. I had to forgive myself. I'd ask God to help me with that healing the Christian counseling. I would, I immersed myself in God's truth because the enemy uses lies, accusations, and I remember just listening to positives Psalms and reading the truth in the Gospels about God's love for my brother. And for me, and learning. You have to give grace to yourself and to your loved ones because there's usually someone also that you know could have done things differently that may have helped your loved one, but someone write a letter about the right and you could've done Rita and what Jean is describing really good place were we need to go is how you pick up the pieces. How you look forward how do you acknowledge the experience and then move on with life.
That sounds even like a horse question to ask, yeah, I remember my counselor asking me that six months out. You know what you want your life to look like in a year and I couldn't even fathom that, but in time I think we have to do this, meaning making work in a high Jean was talking about seeing the counselor and a trained therapist in grief and trauma can help you do that. What was the meaning you attach to the suicide. She and I both were drowning guilt right how to do business with that big thing that helped me to it that was. I had a me only perspective like it was all about me.
What I did or didn't do qualify to come back with him on the plane. It wouldn't happen if I should have done this and I should've done that but at some point you don't get to do it so I had pushback on what was Mike's responsibility because he did have heat. He needed to be responsive for his own care.
On some level when I had the doctor at the hospital say that he should have dealt with this long before it got to be this bad. He should've taken the medication he was prescribed he wouldn't do that. He was noncompliant so he had responsibilities as well so that helps me to have what you are saying. Self compassion and self compassion says being human means being subject to limitations.
I need a Savior. I couldn't say Mike I thought I could not stop putting in a hospital setting was the closest thing to safety for, but it didn't work out that way and I appreciate that. I think that's part of the process. Ultimately is out of your control and that's perhaps the thing that and that's the scary loading the guilt was that we could've done something but people have free will.
I want to end with, you know the Lord and God in all of this mean there's the stigma attached to death by suicide. And you know what does that mean and I think generationally. Some of those stigmas are different today than they were 40 years ago but still God in the midst of all this and how do you as survivors of a family member taking his wife or her life word is the God factor go how to talk to God about this now. Yes.
So God has showed up for me along this journey in some pretty miraculous ways and I won't go into each and every one of those, but I believe with every fiber of my being that each one of those pivotal times has created a shift for me and was created to deeper trust and a deeper confidence in God that no matter where he has me I'm right where he wants me to be and that's just a really good place for me right now to be so. My heart is to use that part of my verse to turn back and strengthen my brother, so if if I can do that. It doesn't mean like it's again is about deciding what I'm gonna do next and that doesn't mean I'm never gonna have a bad day that you know I'm going to be sick and tired of being brave. I'm not to feel like I'm falling backward. But what I am going to do is keep my focus on Jesus, I'm gonna keep my focus on what he's called me to do and hopefully for those that are listening as you do that, the road before you will widen so that you will be able to embrace the darkness while you accept the light that you can hold onto those cherished memories of your loved one, and that you can move forward in What Ever Way, God's calling you and if you choose that path, and the most important part of the story. Maybe yet to come and to that point when when talking to someone who has recently lost a loved one. When my advice is to just listen phthisis listen they it's not the time to hear all of that that you know how wonderful it is in heaven.
Even for their loved one, nor, or that God will that's the truth God will use this for good, but it's too raw to hear it at the time they just need they need you to listen and love on them.
But it is true God has use this for good was it so I do want to say it was not good that my brother took his life or Rita that your husband took his life. That was, that is not good, but good does come from it and God doesn't want the world to be the way it is.
There is sin in this world. It is fallen, we are fallen, there is death and grief in this world, we will not have this in heaven, but God is good he does walk us through those dark moments. If we allow him and because of my experience with suicide in our city.
We did have an epidemic of teen suicides and I was able with several of those families take them a meal.
It wasn't awkward for me. I asked if I could join them in the meal and I sat with them just ask them about their son or their loved one listen to them loved on them and I was able to tell them that a day will come when you think of your loved one and it doesn't feel like you've just gotten punched in the stomach day will come when you can smile when you can look at those photos and actually laugh thinking about some fond memories and I also share with them the truth that God is with God loves the brokenhearted, we cannot fathom how much God loves and loved that loved one, but I do know that he was with them that they were not alone in their last so important that someone can that's the realization that God really brought to me that he was with Mike all the time.
You never left Mike Nat was so comforting to my soul. And you're right about the comments listen to folks, don't judge where they are there grief walk. Don't tell them at least you had your brother for 30 years.
I don't say listen and just love them because all the biblical verses we want to throw out are true but they gotta be timely yet so true. Thank you for your strength. I think that's what's come across clearly do not being able talk about and give people hope because with all the listeners and the viewers. Someone has probably just experiences if not one. It could be a dozen and we want to encourage you to get in touch with us and certainly get a copy or read his book surviving suicide loss and, of course, if you can help that would be great. Will send the book as our website. Thank you. If you can't afford it. Working to get it to anyone interested others will take care of it.
The point being, you need to talk to somebody call us. John will give those details in a minute but we are here for you.
This is why we exist as a ministry because we want to help you in the name of Christ to know. Listen and hear your heart and provide hope for you so get in touch with us today, God has equipped us with some wonderful caring Christian counselors still help carry the load and to give you some direction.
It may be that you just want the book either way. Get in touch with us.
Our number is 800 K.
The word family 800-232-6459 and I will have further details in the episode notes and remember when you call or go online. Donate. As you can support the ministry as we offered life-giving messages come alongside those whose genes are heard broken togetherness beginner number 800 K thank you Jane, thank you for joining us today for Focus on the Family Jim Daly and the entirety I'm John Fuller inviting you back next help you and your family thrive. I am Jim Daly the Supreme Court will soon make a significant decision on abortion. How will this impact join me.
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