The Big Picture of Us: Life after my Father’s Suicide-Guest Blog
That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.Romans 8:24-25 MSG
Turning My Page
I have a suicide story. My loss and pain connect me to others struggling with and hurt by despair. However, it is hope that moves each of our stories beyond the chapters of despair we experience to deeper love, redemption, and joy.
My guest blogger, Christina Rose is the author of My Appeal to Heaven, and just as she chooses to share her life with you I encourage you to share yours. If you have a story of hope like Christina Rose, I would love to share it on my blog. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org You are not alone and there are many of us building a mountain of evidence that this life is worth living, come what may.
When I was 21 years old, my father leaped to his death from the top floor of a government building in Washington, DC. Immediately news reporters swarmed our home. I stood at the front door, holding my weeping mother, while my 12-year old sister looked on in shock. After a few months of being on the news each day, they forgot about us, but we never forgot about Dad.
Dad was a sensitive, introverted man and compassionately took care of others while not expecting anyone to take care of him. He kept most of his troubles to himself, not wanting to bother others. He was extremely stressed over mounting bills and kids in college and felt there was no way out. In his mind, we left him to pay the bills and did not appreciate him anymore.
The day after the funeral, Mom left for Greece for three weeks, leaving my sister and me to fend for ourselves.
She was a travel agent and started taking any trips that offered an escape. The trauma of dad’s death and my mother’s frequent absences sent us into constant PTSD and anxiety. Thoughts of suicide started haunting me. We were still in the family home with memories of dad. It felt like an ugly vulture was sitting on my shoulder, continually whispering dark, hopeless thoughts into my ears. I had night terrors with visions of dark, hideous beings running up and down the stairs. Instinctively, I would recite the Lord’s prayer, which was the only way I could get them to leave.
Dad loved to camp, and we had many remarkable adventures traveling in our Volkswagen bus. When my daughters were born, I got my own Volkswagen bus to share my father’s love of camping. I would feel his presence strongly on these trips as I pitched the tent, made campfires, and cooked on the camp stove, just as he had taught me to do. Sitting by the campfire at night, once the girls were asleep, it was so quiet that sometimes I felt that I could hear Dad speaking to me. He seemed to tell me that while he destroyed his body, his soul was still alive, and he had to go to his own funeral. He had to watch us all suffer because of what he did and no longer had arms to comfort us and a voice to tell us he was there. I felt him say, “If only I’d seen the big picture, there was a beautiful life planned for me after that storm I was in, I wished I’d had hung on and gotten through it for all of you.”
I wish he had hung on.
At the funeral, we learned that two of his friends were starting their own business and wanted Dad to join him. He could have quit the job he hated. My brother had recently moved to Colorado to marry his high school sweetheart and join their family. Our families were very close, so a few years after Dad’s death, the rest of my family joined them. Dad would have loved the adventure of living out west with our big family. He never got the chance to meet any of his 23 grandkids or the more than 40 (and still counting) great-grandkids. He missed walking each of us three daughters down the aisle at our weddings and wasn’t there to help us when we needed him when we started families of our own.
My father’s death and my struggle with despair have taught me that change is part of life, and storms always pass. If we are still comfortable, we will never grow. The most difficult tests are often a catalyst that catapults into an upgrade in our life that we may not have considered if we had not experienced challenges. If we can hang on and climb the mountains that face us, once we reach the top, we can see the view of how far we have come and trust that we need not fear the future.
Never be afraid to ask for help in this process. None of us are equipped to live life alone.
Consistent, unconditional love and support are a lifeline to someone who feels hopeless. Reaching out with encouraging words, taking walks in nature, going to dinner, to movies, for coffee, a road trip, buying a puppy – engage in simple pleasures. Life is full of joy. Position yourself to listen; people open up when they feel heard. I pulled myself and my family out of this dark hole several times. I sought the support of community and churches; they lift my spirit when I feel weak.
In the more than 40 years since my father’s suicide, I have learned many valuable lessons. The way the universe, stars, sun, and moon operate daily testify to a perfect, divine order to all of life, down to the most minute, microscopic detail. The earth is complicated. Millions of inhabitants and their diversity, the vast number of species and plants, and the millions of years that we have all existed, we must know that there is a perfect design for everything, including each of us. It is not up to us to figure out the future but to trust that the creator already has a big picture of who we will be on his mantle.
About the Author
Christina Rose is an author, trainer, and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership. She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to over 40 nieces and nephews.
Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and
freedom. Follow her at: christinarose.org
Turning Your Page
Compiling evidence that life is worth living requires placing hope in what you don’t yet see. Every single person who has ever moved beyond despair has taken that first step to hope for something different and then step into another unknown and then another. What step can you take today.
- Observation is crucial in embracing hope. What are some characteristics you see in nature that reflect trust in the unseen provision of God?
- Who in your life steps outside their current circumstances to trust in what they can’t yet see? What work or effort do they put in to maintain that hope? Do they experience set backs and disappointments? How do they get back up.
- Meditate on Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Lord, my life is a mess and I am tired of the constant fight. Help me to see your promises and keep pressing into the fact that you are with me. Amen