After Hannah completed suicide, I had all sorts of questions.
Did I do enough?
Did I love her enough?
Did I find the right counselors?
Did I expect too much of her?
Was she punishing me?
Was our, my husband and my, relationship issues to blame?
Did other people know things that I didn’t?
Why didn’t God save her like He has so many others who have attempted several times but never died?
Can I forgive myself?
Should I forgive myself?
Will she forgive me?
Will my marriage survive?
Will my other children complete?
Will life ever feel peaceful again?
Am I allowed to feel peace?
Shouldn’t I be punished for losing a daughter to suicide?
Do I have the right to feel happy?
Do I have any business telling others how to help their children?
Why didn’t I find her in time to save her?
If my son had a dream that she killed herself, wasn’t that a means to prevent it? (my son did have a dream 8 months prior to her death)
Is this really happening?
Did someone encourage her to do it?
Was she high at the time?
Why wasn’t I enough of a mom that she wouldn’t call me instead?
Why wasn’t I enough for her to stay?
Does anyone really understand?
Will our family survive?
I was with a friend today. She was telling me about a speaker who said they wouldn’t change a thing about their difficult lives. It was a woman who had fallen off a cliff while hiking. The accident left her a quadriplegic. My friend was astounded that she had stated without hesitation that if given the chance, she wouldn’t change her current circumstances. My friend wanted to understand why she felt this way. I knew why. I told her that I felt that way about Hannah’s death. Shocked? I was. My reaction was organic and raw.
I know God loves me. I know He loves Hannah. With those two beliefs as my base, I looked at every single question I had and made it a matter of prayer and meditation. I expected answers and I received them.
Peace was and is my guidepost. Period. I have noticed that all truth brings peace.
After Hannah’s suicide death, I quickly recognized and honored my pain and the thoughts that accompanied it. I had every right to grieve in any way I needed or wanted to so long as I didn’t hurt myself or anyone else. Tall order. For the most part, that’s exactly what I did. I took every painful, stressful thought and asked myself if it was true. I got really still and asked questions that helped me examine my painful thinking.
Here is an example of how I processed. “Why wasn’t I enough for her to stay?” What I was really saying was I wasn’t enough for her to stay. So, I questioned that. “I wasn’t enough for her to stay.” Is that true? Yes. I wasn’t enough for her to stay. That’s what I believed. So, I asked another question, “Can I absolutely know that it’s true that I wasn’t enough for her to stay?” No.
I believed it. And that thought created enormous amounts of painful emotions. Those emotions deserved to be recognized. So, I asked myself, “When I’m believing the thought that I wasn’t enough for her to stay, how do I react, what happens in me?” I gave myself plenty of time to explore all the feelings. Some of the answers were that I feel horrible. I blame myself. I feel sick. I feel desperate. I fantasize about her coming back. I’m miserable. I think that I’m responsible for keeping my other kids alive. I think I’m not enough to keep my other kids alive. I think I’m responsible for keeping all her friends alive. I lose hope. I’m filled with anxiety about the future. I feel totally out of control. I don’t trust God. I don’t trust anyone. I don’t trust myself.
Those are all the thoughts and feelings that happen when I believe that thought. It’s the story I tell myself. Peace? Not even close. The Spirit testifies of Truth. The Spirit feels peaceful. This is not peace. It’s fear. I don’t punish myself for feeling that way or having that thought. It deserves to be heard. It’s my teacher. And, I deserve to question it. That’s my job, my privilege.
Next, I ask, “Who would I be without this thought? If I couldn’t even have the thought that I wasn’t enough for her to stay alive?” Again, I get still and really consider who I’d be. Immediately, I feel more peace, more grounded, freer. I’d be a mom grieving the loss of her only daughter. I trust my life. I’m present.
Now that I’ve honored my grief by taking the time to consider it, I can look at the same thought in different ways by looking at it from different perspectives. This is where it gets really fun as I detach from my story and open my heart and mind to seeing things differently. Growth!
Opposite – “I was enough for Hannah to stay.” How might this be true?
1. I loved Hannah with everything I am.
2. Hannah fought to stay as long as she could because of me and her dad. She said that in a note.
3. I couldn’t be anything more than what I was. I was enough.
To the other – “She wasn’t enough for her to stay.”
1. She couldn’t find hope.
2. Her brain didn’t function well enough to deal with the stress she was experiencing.
3. She didn’t think she was worth saving because she simply didn’t believe peace was possible.
Also to the other – “Hannah’s not enough for me to stay.”
1. Being Hannah’s mom is not the only reason I am alive.
2. Learning from Hannah’s pain and sharing that isn’t enough alone to make me stay.
3. I have a family and a life that is far more than Hannah.
4. If I thought only about Hannah’s suicide, it wouldn’t be enough to keep me here.
To the self – “I’m not enough for me to stay.”
1. When I’m thinking and believing that I wasn’t enough for her to stay, I’m not enough for me to stay.
2. When I’m believing I’m not enough, I’m not enough for me.
3. I can only be what I am right now and when I’m believing I’m not enough I miss what I am.
Why wouldn’t I change anything? Because dwelling on the idea that I could change the past only brings me pain. It’s impossible. Whenever I fight reality, I always lose! Yet, when I accept reality, I find peace. That doesn’t mean I’m not sad about Hannah’s absence in my life! Acceptance doesn’t erase sadness. What it does is opens the door to more peace and to be able to learn from this tragedy. That’s the difference between ‘what ifs’ and ‘because of’.
Questioning, entertaining, permitting, accepting, acknowledging, all my pain, stressful thoughts have lead me to truth and relief from suffering. It’s a practice that I live day in and day out. Why? Ultimately, I honor Hannah this way. I honor me this way. I honor God this way. I wanted Hannah to resolve her painful thoughts that drove her to suicide. If that’s what I wanted for Hannah, if that’s what Hannah wanted, then I’ll be darned if I’m not going to do it. #BeceauseOfHannah….I will learn. I will grow. I will live.