Monthly Archives: October 2015


Suicide and me.

It’s an uncomfortable sentence, isn’t it?

And Professor Green’s BBC3 documentary reflecting on the suicide of his Father seven years ago is undoubtedly an uncomfortable watch. Suicide has woven its way through his family, as it does in thousands of other families across the country, leaving a distinctive wreckage of grief and pain.

I am undoubtedly guilty of forgetting about the aftermath of a suicide. My suicide and me sentence ends, thankfully, in a semi-colon. It’s a pause; not an ending. But for the families of the 6000 people who die by suicide every year, the full stop creates what psychologists call ‘complicated grief’ and countless unanswered questions. My favourite writer on these issues Kay Redfield Jamison says this:

“Each way to suicide is its own: intensely private, unknowable, and terrible. Suicide will have seemed to its perpetrator the last and best of bad possibilities, and any attempt by the living to chart this final terrain of a life can be only a sketch, maddeningly incomplete.”

Suicide is very rarely a logical decision, it’s a decision based on the private, unknowable and terrible pain that someone who takes their own life experiences. Many people, and one of those featured on Professor Green’s documentary last night conclude that they are making life better for a loved one.

So how can we care for those coming to terms with their loved one’s decision to end their own life?

First and foremost it must be done without judgment. People coming to terms with the suicide of a loved one do not need to be reminded of the morality of the act; whatever our own personal views of salvation and forgiveness in the wake of a suicide must be set aside.

Secondly, is the hallmark of all responses to mental health issues, compassion. An acceptance of the various questions, the fear, the anger and the grief needs to be presented. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

Thirdly, grief needs a community. Responding to suicide cannot be done in isolation; it requires many hearts to absorb the tears of the grieving.

Fourthly and finally, suicide demands lament both individually and corporately for even those only nominally connected to the situation need to have space to present their questions and their pain before the King.

Suicide and me are uneasy bedfellows. I’ve been seduced by it and now I fight it. I urge those also drawn to the darkness to speak out; to speak of suicide – the fear and the desire and to seek help.

If you need to talk to someone, the samaritans are available 24/7, 365 days.

Redeem The Day

A while back I wrote a little blog on redemption which can be found here.

Today, I wanted to write a little about redemption in the context of mental illness. In particular, the redemption of memories and days.

So often, the memories of the most painful days and events can leave an open wound. We may be able to come to terms with what happened, but as an anniversary rolls around again, we can be doubled over with the pain all over again – as fresh as that first time. We can dread the day coming, because we fear the pain that is linked to it.

It’s nearly nine years ago since the worst day of my life. It was a day which left an indelible mark on me, and every year since it has felt like I am forcing myself to relieve the pain and shame of that day all over again.

And in the intervening years, the date has sent me reeling.

But then, as I having been reflecting on God as Redeemer, I’ve come to the conclusion that if God can redeem the worst of us, the worst of humanity – He can redeem a date.

He can make a day which nearly destroys – into a day which sparks something new – but only if we let Him.

One of my favourite passages in the Bible is found in Joel 2:25-27 which says:

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm[b]—
my great army that I sent among you.
26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.
27 Then you will know that I am in Israel,
that I am the Lord your God,
and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed.”
Here God promises the restoration and redemption of years of difficulty – even when sometimes that difficulty is a result of our own sins and mistakes.

Redemption is an act of mighty grace.

Redemption isn’t forgetting what has passed – but a payment – and the debt of our sin is transformed by the blood of Christ.

Our shame is redeemed by His grace.

Our pain is redeemed by His compassion.

Redemption doesn’t mean that we never find things difficult. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t a tinge of sadness, but it does mean being able to have hope in the future, despite all that has passed.

Redemption means not letting what has passed, spoil what is in store for us.

There is a Redeemer.

We just have to let Him do His redeeming work.