by Ronnie Walker
During the month of February, we celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s a day when many of us stop what we are doing and take time to send messages of love to the special people in our lives. For those who have lost loved ones, this holiday, like so many others, can be a reminder of how much our loved ones are missed.
Suicide brings feelings of shock and guilt, anger and grief, and so much more – but beneath all these feelings, there is an underlying, undying love for the one who is gone. They will never cease to be deeply treasured parts of our families and our lives.
Members of our community frequently express their continuing love in messages like this one:
"The love of my life shot herself. I've never been a religious person, not even a spiritual person. However, I've found myself talking to her on a daily basis, telling her that I love her and how sorry I am for everything."
Our relationships do not end with their death.
I’ve long been a fan of Father Charles Rubey, who founded the Chicago LOSS program almost 40 years ago. His words have comforted thousands of survivors. Here’s what he’s written about love:
"Because there is such deep love for these dearly departed people, I am suggesting that survivors concentrate on the fact that their loved ones are no longer struggling but are at peace. Try to imagine them totally at peace and free of pain.
We want only what is best for our loved ones and freedom from pain for these tortured souls is a gift beyond measure. Granted there are other means to achieve freedom from pain such as medication or other types of therapy but these loved ones honestly and sincerely thought that the only way out of this ocean of pain was to take their life. They were not acting out of malice. They were acting out of desperation.
Granted that they left behind a wake of pain and disruption. They did not want this effect. Their mind was so distorted and engulfed in pain that they thought that they were doing the right thing. They had no idea of the destruction they were leaving behind."
Over the years, as I’ve experienced the loss of my parents and other loved ones, and as I’ve conversed with countless survivors, I’ve come to believe that spirit lives on – in ways I cannot fully understand now with my limited senses. I do believe that the pain of Life is lifted at death. An act of faith perhaps, that some might challenge -- but I am deeply comforted in my reality.
As we head into February, I pray that you will be comforted by the love of those around you. Love is the greatest healer of all.