When Someone is
Too Bruised to be Touched
Fr. Ron Rolheiser
July 7, 2002
God loved this person too and, like us, could not, this side of eternity, do anything either.
Finally, we shouldn't worry too much about how God meets this person on the other side. God's love, unlike ours, can go through locked doors and touch what will not allow itself to be touched by us.
Is this making light of suicide? Hardly.
Anyone who has ever dealt with either the victim of a suicide before his or her death or with those grieving that death afterwards knows that it is impossible to make light of it.
There is no hell and there is no pain like the one suicide inflicts. Nobody who is healthy wants to die and nobody who is healthy wants to burden his or her loved ones with this kind of pain.
And that's the point: This is only done when someone isn't healthy.
The fact that medication can often prevent suicide should tell us something. Suicide is an illness not a sin.
Nobody just calmly decides to commit suicide and burden his or her loved ones with that death any more than anyone calmly decides to die of cancer and cause pain.
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There isn't much one can offer by way of consolation, at a moment like this, when everyone is in shock and the pain is so raw. Few things can so devastate us as the suicide of a loved one, especially of one's own child.
There is the horrific shock of losing a loved one so suddenly which, just of itself, can bring us to our knees; but, with suicide, there are other soul-wrenching feelings too, confusion, guilt, second-guessing, religious anxiety.
we fail this person?
What might we still have done?
What should we have noticed?
What is this person's state with God?
What needs to be said about all of this:
First of all, that suicide is a disease and the most misunderstood of all sicknesses. It takes a person out of life against his or her will, the emotional equivalent of cancer, a stroke, or a heart attack.
Second, we, those left behind, need not spend undue energy second-guessing as to how we might have failed that person, what we should have noticed, and what we might still have done to prevent the suicide.