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From the Desk of Father Rubey
Thursday, May 17, 2018 by Father Ruby
In June, we celebrate Father’s Day. As we think of Fathers what word comes to our minds? For some, it is “caretaker.” For others, it is “protector.” Both connotations are very descriptive of who a Father is and is supposed to be. But those Fathers who are grieving the loss of a child to suicide can feel like they failed in their responsibility because they failed to care for and protect their child. Those who are grieving the loss of a Father to suicide can feel as if their father failed to care for or protect them because he died from suicide.

For those grieving Fathers, it is not as if they failed to care for or protect their sons or daughters – their sons or daughters had an illness that either went undetected, or was detected, but the lethality of the illness was not realized.

For those grieving the loss of a Father or a Father figure, the same can be said. It is not that this Father failed to care for or protect them, but that the illness had progressed so far as to render this man incapable of fulfilling his role or duties as a Father.

In both instances, survivors are robbed of their respective roles, not due to a lack of caring or protecting, but due to an illness that made their loved ones incapable of living any longer. Those loved ones who completed suicide had lived long enough (in their minds) and they could no longer fight this valiant fight any more. Their lives had become so unmanageable that suicide was the only way out.

I recently did a funeral of a man who became a part of the LOSS Family almost 40 years ago after his oldest son took his life. This man and his wife participated in the LOSS program almost from the beginning of LOSS. Over the years he had grieved his son’s suicide. He talked about his son frequently. During his final days before his death when he was not fully conscious he would cry out to his son, “forgive me, Billy, I am sorry that I could not help you”. Obviously, this Father carried guilt over the years and regrets that he could not help his Son. Literally up to his dying day he carried strong feelings about his Son’s suicide. The grief caused from losing a loved one to suicide is never over literally.

For those left behind, this is a very difficult concept to accept. Healthy minds can ask the question: What could be so bad that killing oneself is the answer? My response is that mental illness can distort reality to the extent that killing oneself makes a lot of sense and is the answer to the problems one is facing in life. Survivors struggle in trying to make sense of the suicide of a loved one. This is an important step in the grieving process, and ultimately survivors come to the conclusion that this will not make sense, and therefore will move on in the grieving process.

The important concept to grasp is that people who are left in the aftermath of a suicide did not fail in their responsibility of caring for and protecting their loved ones. If there is failure on anyone’s part, it is the failure of the one who completed suicide in not sharing the desperation that they were feeling at the moment immediately leading up to the suicide. Either they were prevented from being candid or they felt it was futile to share their hopelessness and despair. Either way, it was not the failure of the survivor, but the failure of the one completing suicide. Are they to blame? No, but the illness is to blame for not allowing these desperate souls to reach out for some help that could possibly save their lives.

As we celebrate Father’s Day, I want all of the Fathers who are grieving the loss of a child – and those grieving the loss of a Father or a Father figure – to know that I will be remembering them in my thoughts and prayers I also encourage all of the LOSS family to remember these survivors – especially those who have recently joined our family.

Keep On Keepin’ On,

Rev. Charles T. Rubey




Archives:

From the Desk of Father Rubey
Thursday, May 17, 2018 by Father Ruby
In June, we celebrate Father’s Day. As we think of Fathers what word comes to our minds? For some, it is “caretaker.” For others, it is “protector.” Both connotations are very descriptive of who a Father is and is supposed to be. But those Fathers who are grieving the loss of a child to suicide can feel like they failed in their responsibility because they failed to care for and protect their child. Those who are grieving the loss of a Father to suicide can feel as if their father failed to care for or protect them because he died from suicide.

For those grieving Fathers, it is not as if they failed to care for or protect their sons or daughters – their sons or daughters had an illness that either went undetected, or was detected, but the lethality of the illness was not realized.

For those grieving the loss of a Father or a Father figure, the same can be said. It is not that this Father failed to care for or protect them, but that the illness had progressed so far as to render this man incapable of fulfilling his role or duties as a Father.

In both instances, survivors are robbed of their respective roles, not due to a lack of caring or protecting, but due to an illness that made their loved ones incapable of living any longer. Those loved ones who completed suicide had lived long enough (in their minds) and they could no longer fight this valiant fight any more. Their lives had become so unmanageable that suicide was the only way out.

I recently did a funeral of a man who became a part of the LOSS Family almost 40 years ago after his oldest son took his life. This man and his wife participated in the LOSS program almost from the beginning of LOSS. Over the years he had grieved his son’s suicide. He talked about his son frequently. During his final days before his death when he was not fully conscious he would cry out to his son, “forgive me, Billy, I am sorry that I could not help you”. Obviously, this Father carried guilt over the years and regrets that he could not help his Son. Literally up to his dying day he carried strong feelings about his Son’s suicide. The grief caused from losing a loved one to suicide is never over literally.

For those left behind, this is a very difficult concept to accept. Healthy minds can ask the question: What could be so bad that killing oneself is the answer? My response is that mental illness can distort reality to the extent that killing oneself makes a lot of sense and is the answer to the problems one is facing in life. Survivors struggle in trying to make sense of the suicide of a loved one. This is an important step in the grieving process, and ultimately survivors come to the conclusion that this will not make sense, and therefore will move on in the grieving process.

The important concept to grasp is that people who are left in the aftermath of a suicide did not fail in their responsibility of caring for and protecting their loved ones. If there is failure on anyone’s part, it is the failure of the one who completed suicide in not sharing the desperation that they were feeling at the moment immediately leading up to the suicide. Either they were prevented from being candid or they felt it was futile to share their hopelessness and despair. Either way, it was not the failure of the survivor, but the failure of the one completing suicide. Are they to blame? No, but the illness is to blame for not allowing these desperate souls to reach out for some help that could possibly save their lives.

As we celebrate Father’s Day, I want all of the Fathers who are grieving the loss of a child – and those grieving the loss of a Father or a Father figure – to know that I will be remembering them in my thoughts and prayers I also encourage all of the LOSS family to remember these survivors – especially those who have recently joined our family.

Keep On Keepin’ On,

Rev. Charles T. Rubey