I wasn’t planning on being a widow at the age of 29. Suicide is a word I never thought I would have in my story. I thought it was a sinister, black mark. It’s the act of self-murder, of self-destruction, and it has rocked my world in the most devastating way.
But suicide has brought me closer to the Lord, who has been with me each step of the way. For those of us in its wake, suicide is not only saddening but also completely mortifying and incredibly hard to understand. We wonder if it were an act of hate toward us, whether they even thought about us or the rest of their family before they killed themselves.
Living a Nightmare
I married my high school sweetheart when I was 24. We bought a house and adopted a dog. Stress came and went, and with our busy schedules, so did his depression. Shortly before his passing, my husband told me he felt he was battling depression though he had never been diagnosed. I suggested he see a physician.
That awful day, I came home from work, and my husband and I got into a huge fight in a back bedroom of our home. With no warning he attacked, hitting me hard enough that my earrings flew out of my ears and across the room. He immediately apologized and reached out for a hug. I leaned in thinking: Don’t make him mad.
But he grinned and attacked again.
That time I was on my stomach and unable to defend myself, and there was a moment that I believed this was how I would die. I was small compared to him, and there was nothing I could do.
He tried strangling me and left me unconscious. When I woke, I stood up — and I remember feeling like I was being carried, perhaps even floating, through my house to the front porch. Then life came back to my beat-up body. I saw my neighbor walking down the street and tried to scream but couldn’t; my throat hurt too much. He noticed I was in distress. He came to me, and I told him what had happened. I called the police, but by the time they arrived, my husband had already taken his own life.
My home was a crime scene with yellow tape. Blue and red lights woke everyone in our country neighborhood, and in disbelief they comforted me and tried to help me understand. But nobody really understood. My husband tried to kill me and then took his own life, and we couldn’t even ask him why.
Barefoot and cold, I found myself sitting in a small room for four hours answering questions. It was almost an out-of-body experience. With a two-way mirror in front of me, a man assured me that this was protocol. He asked, “Did you do this in self-defense? I need to know.”
I replied, “Sir, the only thing I felt I did wrong was not go back inside and help.”
Turning his clipboard over, he leaned forward and told me, “If you had gone back inside, you wouldn’t be sitting here right now.” I was dismissed and forensically proven not at fault.
I went to live with my mother and never returned to the home I shared with my husband. The dog went to live with my dad out of state, and we sold all my furniture, clothes and every piece of life we had shared. Then, we sold the house.
Counseling began the day after my husband’s death. I could barely even form a sentence. My family urged me to continue with nursing school, so I did. I successfully passed the semester but then became unable to retain information or sleep at night. I fell a semester behind, becoming frustrated and angry.
I woke up screaming for God to ease my pain.
Searching for Hope
I knew the devil was against me and was determined to break me, but the battle was not over. I fought it every day. The desire to continue living became a struggle as life was almost too much to bear. My senses had heightened, and every little thing bothered me — even just the sound of dripping water. One day, I left for work feeling I just could not go on anymore.
The beautiful life I had worked so hard for was over. I drove home unsure of what to do next. Feeling prompted to google “losing everything,” I grabbed my laptop and sat on my bed. Most of the stories I found were good and comparable to mine, but I still had anger that would not subside.
Then I found Michael Chriswell’s story. His was the only one I read that night that credited God with providing strength. Michael had lost everything not once, but twice. Though our stories were quite different, I was touched that this man had faith in God through it all. I saw him smile in one of his videos, and I cried and cried. I wanted to be healed and happy like he was. I watched every single video I could find of him and finally emailed him. To my surprise, he emailed me back! This was a real person of success who had been through a great deal of trouble but had experienced deliverance from our God.
After the death of my sweet husband, I resented the thought of God. I resented that a powerful source would allow this to happen. But after reading Michael’s story, I wanted to give God another shot.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). I dwelt on this Scripture passage day in and day out, and though it took time for the pain to diminish, I felt comforted to know He was the one I needed to seek. I prayed and prayed to tell God my questions and concerns, and I began an extensive Bible study that helped me reflect on the people of the Bible. I studied their shortcomings and faults, just like mine and yours. I saw God’s amazing love and patience, and I began to know that my grief and anger were normal. I often pondered Job, Peter and Jesus, who gave His life for my husband, for me and for you!
I wrestled through hard questions of free will and God’s goodness, but I came to see that God is not mean. He loves us and longs for us to follow Him. I had to learn that God was not my enemy. I gained a better understanding that this world is in the hands of the wicked one. (Revelation 12:9)
God was not the cause of my husband’s suicide; we experience painful things in the world because it’s not perfect. God loves my husband; God loves you and me and sent His Son, Jesus, to wash our sins away once and for all. For a while, I thought I would never see my husband again, but now I know I will. And Jesus Himself will wipe away every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain in Heaven! (Revelation 21:4)
As I continue my journey, I rely on God. I choose not to allow my husband’s actions to be a stigma in my life but instead use my experience to help others. I know how deeply suicide affects those left behind. I long for my husband and miss him every day, and I haven’t fully recovered from what happened. But I have added God who walks next to me, teaching and guiding me. I need HIM in His entirety. And He has been there for me every step of the way.
He was there that night when I almost died. He was there when I explained to my coworkers what had happened. He was with me when I walked in the nursing hallway again at school. He was with me when I found Michael Chriswall’s story. He was there when I began to heal, making me aware of His presence when I walked past a flower or saw a rainbow. God is all around me. I feel Him in every hug and comforting word. He has helped me find the words to reach someone else’s heart with hope.
My journey with the Lord continues.