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.
A Poem About Losing My Child: Sorrow Buried in Love Sorrow Buried in Love So swish to sway to sweet lullaby, Baby will fall in dark of the night. Rocking cradle to grave turning truth upside down: Parents die first leaving children behind. In a world topsy-turvy that cannot make sense, Sacred trust shines the […]
“Helping Yourself Heal During the Holiday Season” By Alan Wolfelt The suggestions below offer practical tips for coping with grief during the holidays. Alan D. Wolfelt, the author of these suggestions, writes prolifically about all aspects of grief. He offers practical suggestions for handling grief (including for teens and kids), and he addresses grief in […]
Living in the Glare Listen to Your Narrative It isn’t wrong, this narrative of yours. Isn’t something to be fixed. Adjusted. Changed. Rewritten. God knows you’d rewrite your narrative if you could. Consider the whole thing a tumultuous, torrid first draft. A rough sketch ill-constructed. The consequence lacking intention. Not giving words, shapes, ideas, even […]
Tending to a Broken Heart: Surviving Grief at the Holidays People say, “I can’t imagine.“ But then they do. They think that missing a dead child is like missing your kid at college or on the mission field but harder and longer. That’s not it at all. It isn’t nostalgia for a time when things […]
Surviving Your Child’s Suicide Marcia Gelman Resnick wrote “How I Survived the Suicide of My Son: 15 Tips for Grieving Parents” in 2019, 20 years after losing her son to suicide. She shares her experience surviving the suicide of her son alongside 15 tips that may be helpful to other parents grieving the loss of […]
All death unsettles us, but suicide… brings with it an ache, a chaos, a darkness, and a stigma that has to be experienced to be believed. Ronald Rolheiser Struggling to Understand Suicide Ronald Rolheiser writes a great deal about the suicide. He lends an understanding and spiritual perspective to suicide, and in so doing, removes […]
For Here Now I Stay These dark, incessant droning on of days, months, years, and most sadly of all, a lifetime, more so carve in us (should we choose and choose we must, for grief is not so clearly delineated in its outcome), a strange capacity to integrate both a lesser joy and a deep […]
If You’ve Lost a Child to Suicide, These Resources May Be Helpful Few things can so devastate us as the suicide of a loved one, especially of one’s own child. Fr Ron Rolheiser Seven Resources for Support If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. (Or 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). […]