WHEN SOMEONE TAKES HIS OWN LIFE
An excerpt from THE
HEALING OF SORROW
by Norman Vincent Peale
In many ways, this seems the most tragic form
of death. Certainly it can entail more shock and grief for those who are
left behind than another. And often the stigma of suicide is what rests
most heavily on those left behind.
Suicide is often judged to be essentially a selfish
act. Perhaps it is. But the Bible warns us not to judge, if we ourselves
hope to escape judgment. And I believe this is one area where that Biblical
command especially should be heeded.
Nor do we know how many valiant battles such a
person may have fought and won before he loses that one particular battle.
And is it fair that all the good acts and impulses of such a person should
be forgotten or blotted out by his final tragic act?
I think our reaction should be one of love and
pity, not of condemnation. Perhaps the person was not thinking clearly
in his final moments; perhaps he was so driven by emotional whirlwinds
that he was incapable of thinking at all. This is terribly sad...
but surely it is understandable. All of us have moments when we lost
control of ourselves, flashes of temper, or irritation, of selfishness
that we later regret. Each one of us, probably, has a final breaking point-
or would have if our faith did not sustain us. Life puts more pressure
on some of us than it does on others. When I see in the paper, as I do
all too often, that dark despair has rolled over some lonely soul, so much
so that for him life seemed unendurable, my reaction is not one of condemnation.
It is, rather "There but for the grace of God..."
And my heart goes out to those who are left behind,
because I known that they suffer terribly. Children in particular are left
under a cloud of "differentness," all the more terrifying because it can
never be fully explained or lifted. The immediate family of the victim
is left wide open to tidal waves of guilt, "What did I fail to do that
I should have done? What did I fail to do that I should of done? What did
I do that was wrong?"
To such grieving persons I can only say, "Lift
up your heads and your hearts, surely you did your best. And surely the
loved one who is gone did his best, for as long as he could. Remember,
now that his battles and torments are over, do not judge him, and do not
presume to fathom the mind of God where one is his children is concerned."
Bullycide - Our Children