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From the Desk of Rev. Richard Jakubik
Tuesday, March 01, 2016 by Rev. Richard Jakubik
Facing suicide with Faith

“Nothing seems to matter anymore since my loved-one took his life,” said a client in a past therapy session.  “My job feels empty, my connection to family is shaken, and any past sense of well-being has been shattered.”   “I’ve lost my sense of purpose and I’m drifting away from everything and everyone that used to anchor me.” This survivor of suicide is going through what has been defined by psychotherapists as complicated or deep grief.  Losing someone you love to suicide cuts into your heart and forever redefines you and the world you live in.   Though not all survivors grieve the same way or for the same length of time, it is still essential that a survivor comes to terms with the loss and finds inner healing in their life.

Sudden outbursts of tears are common in complicated grief, triggered by memories or reminders of their loved one.  Grieving is an individual process.  Some may feel numb and disoriented, anxious, have trouble sleeping, or perhaps dwell on the words they wish they had or had not expressed to their loved one.   A suicide death intensifies emotions, and often leaves family members feeling isolated, shunned, and broken.   Survivors face unanswerable questions. Almost everyone who is touched by suicide wrestles with "Why? Why did this happen? Why did it have to come to this? Why couldn't it have been stopped?" No matter what the reasons, you are left with questions that can't be answered because the person who ended their life is gone.

One survivor asked the question, “Is it possible to reconcile my faith with the reality of the suicide?”  This survivor taught me that faith often means giving up control and accepting that there will always be mystery and the unknown.  Though some survivors may find comfort in their religious tradition, others may be angry with God and stay angry, while others may get angry and later make their peace with God.  Some have expressed a desire to find a deeper meaning to their loved one’s suicide, or a spiritual explanation that may not be available by other conventional or familiar means. 

Spirituality and faith are extremely intimate and personal. Exploring your spiritual side can help you discover resources and pathways that help you in the healing and recovery process.  Bringing up spirituality in therapy can sometimes create sparks of instant connection and understanding or may trigger the fight or flight response in a survivor.  Recently, a client told me about his spiritual experience on the Appalachian Trail this past summer.  He explained that the purpose of the trip was to see if he could connect to some kind of higher power and make sense of what he had been going through since the suicide of his loved one. 

He hoped that by meeting the physical and spiritual challenges on the Appalachian Trail, it might help him believe that anything was possible and that he could survive this loss.  To him, this hike was more than just a hike in the woods.  He was hoping it would become the most spiritual experience of his life, an existential awakening to the beauty and splendor of the natural world around him.

During his journey, not a day passed that he did not undergo a significant challenge; the weather had been brutal and the water scarce.  Several falls, a terrifying lightening storm, and torrential rain rounded out the first few days of the hiking trip.  As the weeks progressed, his body-ached, he had blisters on his feet, an aching stomach, irritability, frustration, and finally full-blown anger.  He tried to look at his emotions as messengers, asking “what is my anger, sadness, and pain, telling me about my current situation?”  At times he felt full of hate, even calling his hike a ‘hating hike’:  He hated the rocks, the weather, the bugs, and even the weight of his backpack. Many days and weeks went by on the trail without much significant pause or spiritual awakening.  He felt overwhelmed, forgetful, and wanted to stop and go home on many occasions.  He said it was almost impossible to feel any deep clarity or inner awareness.   

He contrasted the experience to that of being in a fog.  The moments he had allowed himself to meditate, bask in the sun, or make afternoon tea, allowed him to feel alive and refreshed.  He started to cry when he realized that his ability to appreciate the beauty of nature and mystery of nature had not been extinguished by the suicide.  Though his life had been on hold, nature had continued on.  He was grateful to his loved one for helping him open up his spiritual side and consider new dimension to life.  After several months, he ended the trip and traveled home.  He reflected on having walked the same path as other hikers on the same days, but had engaged with different spiritual aspects on the trail.  

His spiritual intentions kindled an internal fire as he explored how intention changed the space differently when his intention was simple. Even though he tried to hold on sometimes, he experienced that it was much easier to embrace and accept this fluidity then to cling.  Sometimes he feel lost on the journey, at other times he said he felt found.  In the end, he came to four significant truths: stand tall, stay deeply rooted in the ground, trust the process, and believe that you have more to do.  His adventure helped him greatly.  He persevered and found that meeting these physical and spiritual challenges made him feel that anything was possible.


Archives:

From the Desk of Rev. Richard Jakubik
Tuesday, March 01, 2016 by Rev. Richard Jakubik
Facing suicide with Faith

“Nothing seems to matter anymore since my loved-one took his life,” said a client in a past therapy session.  “My job feels empty, my connection to family is shaken, and any past sense of well-being has been shattered.”   “I’ve lost my sense of purpose and I’m drifting away from everything and everyone that used to anchor me.” This survivor of suicide is going through what has been defined by psychotherapists as complicated or deep grief.  Losing someone you love to suicide cuts into your heart and forever redefines you and the world you live in.   Though not all survivors grieve the same way or for the same length of time, it is still essential that a survivor comes to terms with the loss and finds inner healing in their life.

Sudden outbursts of tears are common in complicated grief, triggered by memories or reminders of their loved one.  Grieving is an individual process.  Some may feel numb and disoriented, anxious, have trouble sleeping, or perhaps dwell on the words they wish they had or had not expressed to their loved one.   A suicide death intensifies emotions, and often leaves family members feeling isolated, shunned, and broken.   Survivors face unanswerable questions. Almost everyone who is touched by suicide wrestles with "Why? Why did this happen? Why did it have to come to this? Why couldn't it have been stopped?" No matter what the reasons, you are left with questions that can't be answered because the person who ended their life is gone.

One survivor asked the question, “Is it possible to reconcile my faith with the reality of the suicide?”  This survivor taught me that faith often means giving up control and accepting that there will always be mystery and the unknown.  Though some survivors may find comfort in their religious tradition, others may be angry with God and stay angry, while others may get angry and later make their peace with God.  Some have expressed a desire to find a deeper meaning to their loved one’s suicide, or a spiritual explanation that may not be available by other conventional or familiar means. 

Spirituality and faith are extremely intimate and personal. Exploring your spiritual side can help you discover resources and pathways that help you in the healing and recovery process.  Bringing up spirituality in therapy can sometimes create sparks of instant connection and understanding or may trigger the fight or flight response in a survivor.  Recently, a client told me about his spiritual experience on the Appalachian Trail this past summer.  He explained that the purpose of the trip was to see if he could connect to some kind of higher power and make sense of what he had been going through since the suicide of his loved one. 

He hoped that by meeting the physical and spiritual challenges on the Appalachian Trail, it might help him believe that anything was possible and that he could survive this loss.  To him, this hike was more than just a hike in the woods.  He was hoping it would become the most spiritual experience of his life, an existential awakening to the beauty and splendor of the natural world around him.

During his journey, not a day passed that he did not undergo a significant challenge; the weather had been brutal and the water scarce.  Several falls, a terrifying lightening storm, and torrential rain rounded out the first few days of the hiking trip.  As the weeks progressed, his body-ached, he had blisters on his feet, an aching stomach, irritability, frustration, and finally full-blown anger.  He tried to look at his emotions as messengers, asking “what is my anger, sadness, and pain, telling me about my current situation?”  At times he felt full of hate, even calling his hike a ‘hating hike’:  He hated the rocks, the weather, the bugs, and even the weight of his backpack. Many days and weeks went by on the trail without much significant pause or spiritual awakening.  He felt overwhelmed, forgetful, and wanted to stop and go home on many occasions.  He said it was almost impossible to feel any deep clarity or inner awareness.   

He contrasted the experience to that of being in a fog.  The moments he had allowed himself to meditate, bask in the sun, or make afternoon tea, allowed him to feel alive and refreshed.  He started to cry when he realized that his ability to appreciate the beauty of nature and mystery of nature had not been extinguished by the suicide.  Though his life had been on hold, nature had continued on.  He was grateful to his loved one for helping him open up his spiritual side and consider new dimension to life.  After several months, he ended the trip and traveled home.  He reflected on having walked the same path as other hikers on the same days, but had engaged with different spiritual aspects on the trail.  

His spiritual intentions kindled an internal fire as he explored how intention changed the space differently when his intention was simple. Even though he tried to hold on sometimes, he experienced that it was much easier to embrace and accept this fluidity then to cling.  Sometimes he feel lost on the journey, at other times he said he felt found.  In the end, he came to four significant truths: stand tall, stay deeply rooted in the ground, trust the process, and believe that you have more to do.  His adventure helped him greatly.  He persevered and found that meeting these physical and spiritual challenges made him feel that anything was possible.