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A Prayer for the Unanswerable Question of Suicide

A Poem brought to the dedication of the International Suicide Memorial Wall in Nashville, Tennessee, held in May of 2019.

The original poem has been revised to reflect all who have lost a loved one to suicide and who now must live with the ongoing and forever unanswerable “why?”

A Prayer for the Unanswerable Question of Suicide
 
Oh God, why? Why? Why?
It’s the unrelenting question.
It’s the soundtrack to our days; playing over & over again. Why?
With what shall we answer this painful word?

One simple & tiny word, why, encompasses so much pain.
It seems so easy to simply say:
We didn’t do enough. We didn’t love enough. We weren’t enough.

The guilt, the regret, the blame that we take on is crushing.
We bow under the weight of it. Our knees threaten to buckle.
Day by precious day we seek to explain the explainable.

If only we had known more. If only we had done more.
If only we had better understood the danger signs.
The questions must be asked.
Our minds seek answers so it attempts to make sense of such senseless loss. . .

But it hurts. Oh God, how it hurts.
The looking back hurts. The missed signs hurt.

So what can we pray for? We pray that you will be with us on this painful journey.

We, the survivors of suicide loss, want to feel your presence.

Help us Oh God;
To see and to know. To find a way to believe
That we are not to blame. It was not our fault.

We loved with all that we had.
We met their pain with compassion, their suffering with comfort and their despair with kindness.

We listened; we were present.
We reminded them that they were not alone.
We did the best we could with what we knew.

And God, in the depths of our own grief, don’t let us forget
They did love us with their full hearts.

We were enough. We mattered.
They didn’t really want to leave us.
And surely they didn’t want us to hurt as we do.
They’re so very sorry. Help us to know that.

Help us find a way to live with the question that will never be answered.
Help us to understand that it may have been an illness that took them from us-
An illness of soul & of spirit.

Unknown factors within caused them unbearable suffering, so darkness descended upon them.
They saw no hope in that moment. They saw no promise of better days.

They saw death as the only way to end the pain...
That was the hopelessness and anguish taking hold. It wasn’t the daughter or son, husband or wife, father or mother, grandfather or grandmother, brother or sister, or others whom we loved and who loved us in return, turning away from life.

It was chronic despair.
And that is the only tangible answer we’ll ever have.
Help us oh God, to find peace with that.

And one day, to free ourselves of the crushing weight
Of that one little word, why, which encompasses so much pain.

Help us to forgive ourselves enough to do that. Help us to forgive them for the question that will never be answered.

The poem as it was originally written:

A Prayer for the Unanswerable Question of Suicide

 Oh God.
 Why?
 It is the unrelenting question.
 It is the soundtrack to our days, playing over & over again.
 Why?
 With what shall we answer this painful word?
 One simple & tiny word encompasses so much pain.
 It seems so easy to simply say:
 We did not do enough.
 We did not love enough.
 We weren’t enough.

 The guilt, the regret, the blame that we take on is crushing.
 We bow under the weight of it.
 Our knees threaten to buckle.
 Day by precious day we seek to explain the explainable.
 If only we had known more.
 If only we had done more.
 If only we had better understood the danger signs.
 The questions must be asked. Our minds seek answers; so it attempts to make sense of such senseless loss.
 But it hurts.
 Oh God, how it hurts.
 The looking back hurts
 The missed signs hurt
 So what can we pray for?
 We pray that you will be with us on this painful journey.
 We, the survivors of suicide loss, want to feel your presence.
 
Help us Oh God,
 To see
 To know
 To find a way to believe
 We are not to blame.
 It was not our fault.
 We loved with all that we had.
 We met his pain with compassion, his suffering with comfort and his despair with kindness.
 We listened.
 We were present.
 We reminded him that he was not alone.
 We did the best we could with what we knew.

 And God, in the depths of our own grief, do not let us forget, 
 He did love us with his full heart.
 We were enough.
 We mattered.
 He did not really want to leave us.
 And surely he did not want us to hurt as we do.
 He is so very sorry. Help us to know that.
 Help us find a way to live with the question that will never be answered.
 Help us to understand that it was an illness that took him from us; illness of soul & of spirit.

 Mental illness caused him unbearable suffering and darkness descended upon him.
 He saw no hope in that moment.
 He saw no promise of better days
 He saw death as the only way to end the pain…
 That was the illness taking hold.
 It was not the husband, father, grandfather, brother & friend that  we loved and who loved us in return, turning away from life.
 It was the illness.

 And that is the only tangible answer we will ever have.
 Help us oh God, to find peace with that.
 And one day, to free ourselves of the crushing weight
 Of that one little word, which encompasses so much pain.
 Help us to forgive ourselves enough to do that.
 Help us to forgive him for the questions that will never be answered and the way that he left us.
 

By Beth Brown

Rememberer of dreams. Whisperer of gardens green.
At the whim of "Most Beloved" and a hot cup of tea.
I live life between, straddled here now and then,
My continuity through writing--
Pen dripping ink, mind swirling confused,
Love lingering still, and Most Beloved's purring soothes.

Blogger at "Gardens at Effingham" (where cats do the talking) and "My Forever Son" (where a mother's heart runs deep after losing her son to suicide)
Musician. Writer. Literary Connoisseur.
At the whim of a calico cat and a strong cup of tea.