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After the Storm

On February 17, 2017, my life and the life of those she loved changed forever.  My wife had been battling clinical depression and lost that ...

Monday, February 27, 2017

Good Days and Hard Days

People have been telling me that there are going to be good days and then really hard days.  Today was a really hard day.  I had a lot of emotions well up with me today.  Feelings of frustration over finances and how I am going to deal with a different amount of income moving forward.  Feeling of abandonment.  Feelings about how for many people, life is continuing to go on, where for me and those close to Elaine, we are still grieving, and it will be a long road for us.  Wondering about my future and what I want to do with my time that I have been given to heal.  Wondering about my future family life and if I will ever find someone again, and the subsequent guilt I have after I have those thoughts (even though people tell me this is normal).  I constantly am thinking about her and wondering if this is still all real--I keep moving into denial states and back out again when I realize it is in fact real.  I am finding it hard to focus in social situations when people are having conversations with one another, I drift off and start thinking of her and the past-some positive memories and some guilty feelings about what could have been done (I am human and I still have these feelings even though I know God was in complete control).  I get anxious in these social situations and want to remove myself from them quickly.

I started day one of the curriculum I am going through with my church and it talks about really relying on God on the day to day and not worrying about the future.  Not worrying about the details of everything that will happen in the future and trusting that God's got my back day by day.  I just need to worry about what he has for me to do in that given day.  Being present in God's moment, so to speak.  This has given me some comfort and I look forward to what that experience will be like as I try to stick to focusing on the day to day walk with Him.

Someone who had been reading my blog put it so well in their sympathy card-they said that there is a 4th reality, God's Reality (See my previous post: Three Realities).  I feel like God's reality is the reality I want to strive to be.  It's a reality where not only the three come together, but is the only reality that I enter into.  Not worrying about the logistics of things in the future-being able to be open to what God has for us in our daily lives.  What choices can we make today that are in line with what God's has for us to do?  Being able to discern God's will for us day by day-easier said than done for me right now. 

I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me, and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.  John 15:5

I feel that this verse really spoke to how I was feeling today and God wants to remind me to not worry about the details of the future but to really rely on him day by day and remain in him.

Wanted to leave you with this:

I received a text from a coworker today with a link to a song that I had really liked listening to this past month or so.  Many of the lyrics are very fitting for what I am going through right now.  In particular these words: 

"I know you're good, but this don't feel good right now."

Sunday, February 26, 2017

If only I could have...

I have as many of you have been struggling with "If only I could have..." in preventing what happened.  I feel the most responsible to have done something since I was closest to Elaine.  I was her husband.  I was supposed to be fully committed to her.  I was supposed to be the one she could turn to when she was feeling her lowest.  And I felt I had failed her.  Maybe I should have been nicer to her.  Should I have asked her about her day more?  Maybe we weren't moving fast enough on finding out about medication and treatment.  Did I miss a cue from her that she wanted help?  Was there something I overlooked?  These thoughts have been racing through my head constantly.  There were several things I said and did in her last weeks that looking back I wish I hadn't said and done--maybe this could have changed her course of action.

However, I have come to the realization that by me thinking that I could have changed things, it's almost as if I am trying to play God.  As if I had some divine power over the outcome of everything.  As If I had power over Elaine.  But I'm not God.  I don't have any divine powers coming from my own strength.  I didn't have power over Elaine's final moments.  I could not love Elaine enough to match the love that God had for her.  I have come to a place where I realize I couldn't have controlled the outcome.  Even though I had a difficult time getting there, it has lifted a heavy burden off of my heart.  For me, this verse is bringing me comfort:

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

We don't have to be burdened by our guilt anymore.  It was never our place to be able to change things.  Ultimately, it was Elaine's time to come home.  Into the Father's arms-one who could love Elaine utterly and completely.  What matters now is that we no longer dwell on the guilt, but focus on her legacy of love.

My hope for you is that you can come to a similar place of understanding and peace, in your own time of grieving, as we all continue to heal.  I believe it was God's plan and will for her to leave us, as painful as that still is for me to accept as I remember the memories we shared together and the plans we had made for our future.  In this life, I may never fully understand the timing of her death, but I continue to be encouraged by the stories people share with me about how Elaine touched lives, how selfless she was, and how much she is impacting people beyond her life here on Earth.  Many of you have shared with me how you have been motivated to action and I look forward to hearing more stories about how her life is transforming yours.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Is there anything you Need?

I am very drained so this post may be a bit shorter than others.  I do have a lot to share however, so I will be able to share about those other topics over the next few days.

Today's memorial was a beautiful tribute to who Elaine was and what legacy she left behind.  I heard so many stories from the tribute speakers that I did not even know about.  Elaine touched many lives in tremendous ways.  Stories of her compassion and empathy.  Stories of her putting love into action for those who needed it most.  I was overwhelmed with the love of my community when I found out that close to 400 people were there to pay their respects (we had estimated 150).  It just speaks to the fact that Elaine touched so many different lives in so many different circles.

The question I keep getting from people who send their condolences is "Do you need anything?" And oftentimes I don't really know what I need at that moment.  Sometimes I remember that there is something I need such as someone to come by and clean up a bit or to pick up something from the apartment or pick up food or just come over to hang out with me.  

But I realized another more vital need.  

I need you to be transformed from this tragedy.  

And many of you already have been.  I need you to see the beauty that was Elaine's life.  Just as her business partner so eloquently put in her tribute, I need you to continue Elaine's legacy by loving people.  Love those around you.  Love those that are close to you.  Love those that are even hard to love.  Love those that may not love you in return.  Love those that are passed over.  Love those that no one else will love.  This is the legacy of Elaine, this is what she lived out in her life.  She embodied sacrificial love up until the very end.

43You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Matthew 5:43,44

Here is a quote that I have always liked, and now more then ever has a new powerful meaning in my life.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” 

(Quote adapted from Palto or Philo)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Good and Faithful Servant

Today was a very difficult day.  (I blogged about what my family and I experienced in my previous entry).  I also gave the last pieces of information to the mortuary-Elaine's SSN, final resting place, etc.  My dad accompanied me to the cemetery so that we could finalize Elaine's plot.  Travis who helped us was amazing.  He was so very patient (just like the funeral director Kurt who helped us on Wednesday).  Everything felt right about it, we found a beautiful location next to a tree that should bloom with some beautiful purple, pink, or white blossoms.  I look forward to when I can visit her and share with her the beautiful stories of how she loved people and how many people adored her.  The disease never let her fully experience and grasp how much of an impact she really did have on people.

On last night's blog, I shared, "I need God more than ever now to be my ultimate comforter to get me through this painful journey and come out on the other side ok and ready to live the full life he has in store for me.  Give me an eternal perspective."

Earlier that day, I received a text from a good friend of mine and Elaine's who I was on worship team with.  She shared with me "Hold Me Now" by Hillsong.

I listened to it on loop last night as I was going to bed.  This was only the second night that I was able to get to sleep without someone else in the room being with me.  The lyrics truly comforted me and brought me back to one of my initial responses to Elaine's death--No Weakness, no hurt or pain, no suffering, you hold me now.  I will see her again in heaven someday and I will no longer be in any pain as well.  It gave me peace in that moment so that I was able to get some sleep.

For those of you who read my earlier post, have a glimpse into how painful it was for me to discover Elaine at my apartment.  The same friend who sent me a link to "Hold Me Now" had also been working all week on a painting as she had been praying for Elaine, myself, and my family.  I have to share it because it captures so much truth.  

The truth of Elaine's personality, her style embodied in her hair color, the sweetness in her smile, her kindness, and ultimately the truth that God is finally holding Elaine in his arms.  She is free from suffering, the pain, the hurt.  Just like the image from my first blog has helped me replace the graphic images I have, this image will help in the healing process in eventually forgetting those horrible images that had been etched in my mind.  I know God over time will heal those images from me, and I need to continue to hold on to his truths and the truths people speak into my life and the truths that have been revealed through stories of those who knew Elaine.

Elaine's cousin shared about her on his facebook:

She lost her battle with clinical depression. But because of her faith in Jesus, death had no sting nor victory over her life. She lives on, and while the rest of us on earth only see in part, she now is fully awakened and dazzled by the utter beauty of Jesus Christ.  Elaine, what does Christ's voice sound like? How radiant is His face? How did you feel when you heard God's commendation over you; "Well done good and faithful servant. Now enter my rest."

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:21, 23

I look forward to celebrating your life tomorrow my sweet sweet Elaine.  You were faithful to the Gospel and loved with all of your heart until the very end.

F%@k*ng Sh@t#y Things!!! (Rated R)

I would warn anyone who doesn't like foul language or graphic descriptions that may invoke your imagination of Elaine's last state to maybe skip this entry.  I'll put some space in between this paragraph so you know to not scroll down if bad language and graphic descriptions are not for you.  Just know that I am going through many emotions right now and this singular post isn't indicative of how I am feeling in whole, but is a piece of the many emotions I am feeling.  I will probably do another post today, because there are other things I want to share that don't go along with the tone of this one.  With that being said, please scroll down if you would like to continue.

Fucking shitty things!  This morning, something triggered me (I believe I have PTSD now) and I went into a state where I wasn't responding to my family as they were asking if I was ok.  I snapped out of it when my mom said they better call 911. I went to my laptop to look up PTSD for suicide survivors and came across a blog that talked about how PTSD is particularly prevalent for those that were witness to or discovered the body-I had discovered her.

Fucking shitty things!  I think I needed to share the graphic details of Elaine and exactly what I experienced when I discovered her body and what I went through up until the authorities arrived.  It was the first time I had shared it with anyone and my Mom, Dad, and sister broke down crying when I gave them the details.  My sister had asked me if it felt good to be able to finally share it and I told her that it did.  My sister yelled out "This is a fucking shitty thing."  We were all crying out to God that this is a fucking shitty thing!  Why did Elaine have to die the way she did, she must have been feeling so much physical pain and there was so much blood and a complete distortion of the Elaine I knew as I saw her in her final moments.

Why do fucking shitty things happen to good people and amazing and incredible things happen to complete asshats?  

My whole family is struggling with the nature of her death.  Why couldn't it have been something else?  Why couldn't she have passed peacefully?  I feel like we had a collective grieving moment as a family much like we have been having some fun moments here and there with each other.

Although I am coming to peace with her actual death, I am still struggling with God's will and why this all happened in the way it did.  There was no hospice period for Elaine, no time to make things comfortable for her before her passing, no treatment or comfort for her in her last days.  This is what is painful for me especially-no husband wants their wife to experience that pain.  And just imagining it takes me down a very dark place-a place where I can question God's goodness and mercy.  However, David in the psalms shared similar sentiments and frustrations.

"1Save me, O God, 
for the waters have come up to my neck. 
2I sink in the miry depths
where there is no foothold. 
I have come into the deep waters
the floods engulf me
3I am worn out calling for help; 
my throat is parched
My eyes fail
looking for my God. 

Psalms 69:1-3

This struggle is not new in the history of humanity, but have come about through different circumstances as the centuries pass.  I feel like in our time specifically, mental illness is bringing us to a place of struggle similar to feelings David may have been feeling.  

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" Romans 8:28

Trying to really understand this scripture from Romans...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Five States of Grief

States of Grief

I say the five states of grief (note, not the five stages. Just because we move out of one stage, doesn't mean we won't ever come back to it).
  • Bargaining
  • Depression (Sadness)
  • Anger
  • Denial
  • Acceptance
I intentionally changed the order in this list because there is no set order.  No official document that states that you must grieve in a specific order.  It also is not like a stage in a video game, that once you have beaten the boss or final challenge of the stage, you move onto the next never having to go back.  

I find myself moving in between acceptance and denial on a regular basis and the process is very emotionally draining.  I have also been in the depression/anger phase, where I feel the guilt of feeling like there is something I could have done differently.  I am learning that these feelings are all okay and normal through the wise words of those I am surrounding myself with.  This quote sums it up nicely.

Overcoming my Guilt

The prior week, Elaine had been struggling and had felt overwhelmed.  I shared with a family member tonight about how on the night before she passed, Elaine had told me at dinner that she wanted to live and I told her I was happy about that.  Things seemed like they were on the right track.  We were going to go into the doctor on Monday morning to check on medications.  She seemed like she was doing better.  We had also visited the Verizon store to check on our upgrade availability before dinner (Elaine had wanted to go out which I was happy about).  We got home and Elaine was working on her work and I was able to get some work done to prep for the next day of teaching.  Things felt right-normal.  Elaine even paid for her driver's license renewal and had ordered some things on Amazon.com for her business.  Every indicator seemed like she was okay.  And she probably was okay in those moments.  I still think about if maybe I should have asked her if she wanted to watch a movie together on the TV (something she enjoyed), something, anything that would have changed the following day's course.  This is the tragedy of depression-that things can seem all right, and in a sheer moment, for that person suffering, it can hit so painfully that it doesn't matter anything else that is going on.  And this is something that is so misunderstood about depression.  Depression is not something that someone can be talked out of with positive thoughts.  It's not something that anyone could fully understand unless you actually have experienced it.  It is so frustrating trying to understand what happened.

Through my sharing tonight with her, the family member reassured me that I did the best I could to love Elaine in the best way I knew how and that is what mattered-that I loved her up until the end.  I would appreciate continued prayers that God will protect my mind and that the enemy will not take a foothold in my thoughts of guilt.  Help me be reminded that it was not me or anyone else that caused it, but it was the ugly disease that she struggled with.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. 
     -Proverbs 19:21


Project Semicolon is a group that is a sounding board for people touched by the tragedy of suicide and depression.  I wanted to share a video from the site where a brave young woman named Maci shares her story.  What is similar is that she describes herself in the beginning much like many of you knew Elaine-bright, happy, fun-loving.  I hope this gives you a glimpse into what people might be experiencing with depression.


The site also talks about the meaning of the semicolon.  "A semicolon is used when an author could've chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life," from their website.

Death by Suicide vs Commited Suicide

So there is a difference between stating that someone committed suicide and someone died by suicide.  Committed implied they had a choice in the matter, but as I talked about in one of my previous posts, this is not the case.  Death by suicide is more appropriate and respectful.

Honoring Elaine

I went to lunch to Raising Cain's with my sister and also a good friend who flew down for the memorial-neither of them had tried it yet, so I wanted them to experience it-I know Elaine would have wanted them to as well.  As I was getting my sweet tea, I remembered that Elaine liked to mix the sweet with the unsweetened teas-so I did the same.  The small memories of her like this is helping me cope, to know that she is still here with me experiencing the small joys of life.  

I thank you again for your fervent prayers and generosity.  There have been many stories shared, but one segment that was shared was so poignant:

"I am dealing with my loss from a position of confusion to some joy because I know the light she reflected and beamed, and it is not gone, just different now."

 I know in my heart that Elaine's death is bringing so much transformation in people's lives and this gives me joy, but my heart still aches-the hope of a future with Elaine shattered into millions of pieces, what we might of had, the children we might have raised.  All of this gone in a single moment.  I need God more than ever now to be my ultimate comforter to get me through this painful journey and come out on the other side ok and ready to live the full life he has in store for me.  Give me an eternal perspective.  Lord, I cry out to you, help me see the broken pieces reformed into a tapestry so beautifully and wonderfully made.  Help me to embrace Elaine's legacy, so that I may truly honor her death.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The New Normal

Tonight I had some time to talk with my sister as we were catching some of the new Pokemon from Pokemon Go (haven't played it in a few months, nor had the desire to this week, but thought it could be good for me to get out of the house and get some exercise).  I told her that its so weird that now I won't be living in that apartment at all and how its so weird that I won't get to live a life with Elaine in that apartment anymore.  It was our home for one and a half years, and we had both recently talked about how we really liked where we lived and could see ourselves there for a while.  My sister shared with me that it sucks because its like a big change that anyone goes through in life-moving into a new apartment, going off to college for the first time, buying a new car.  However this change-I had no time to prepare for.  No time to think about where I would be moving to (thankful my parents are nearby), no time to figure out how to get rid of stuff, no time to really think about a final resting place for Elaine-of course we had some physical time with this, but we didn't get time to prepare mentally or emotionally like people do when they see a loved one on their death bed and they know the inevitable.  Everything was stripped from us without us being prepared for any of this change.  So I am now living the new normal.  The normal that is still raw and weird and unfair and hurtful and painful.  The normal that I will have to eventually embrace as time goes on.  I will eventually reconcile the painful parts of this normal, but only with God's help and a community around me.  I ask for continued prayers as I try to blend my three realities into one life (see my previous post, "The Three Realities"), where I can not feel jarred anytime I transition from one to another.

My family and I are having a rough time with everything this week.  So much to do logistically (this is just the stuff that we can't delegate to friends and family wanting to help), snapping at each other for stupid reasons and then crying about it right after.  Through all this we are still able to have fun.  Let me share a post my sister shared on Facebook as we were in the car last night.

I have been very touched by all the posts/e-mails/messages I am receiving and even more so for the one's that have given me specific accounts of how beautiful Elaine was to them in her interactions with them-these are keeping me going and help me focus on her life rather than her death.  I thank you for that.

I am also touched by stories of renewed faith as a result of my sharing.  What I intended to use as a grieving tool has been used by God is so many ways that I could not even think of.  It has allowed people to feel empowered to share about suicide awareness and to hear other people's stories of pain reminds me that Elaine was not alone in this illness.  All the more reason for her story to be shared.

Today was also our visit to the mortuary and I made decisions that I didn't think I would ever have to make for another 30 years if you had asked me about it last week.  I did a lot better than I thought, and I believe the decisions I made would have been honoring to Elaine.

We also visited several cemeteries and I broke down crying at the first one we stopped at.  I had an overwhelmed emotion of not knowing what I wanted in a cemetery.  This wasn't like buying a new car.  This wasn't like shopping around for new apartments.  With no time to prepare I felt like I was going in blind.  I am grateful my family was there to console me and reassure me that the people at the cemetery are trained to walk us through the whole process.  After our visits today, I feel as though this was the first day that I took actions towards letting go (my heart cries that I do not want to let go!)  I am living in the new normal, and it will be a long and tough journey.

I also learned today that the semicolon " ; " is the symbol of suicide awareness.  I am thinking of tattooing it but am not sure exactly where.  I feel like I need to do that so I have a permanent reminder of how I eventually healed from such a tragedy and also to keep me accountable to the cause of awareness.  The day that I can live a semi-normal life may be far off, but I know it will come eventually.

My sister profoundly said to me today, "Grief looks like laughing, doing something fun, and then breaking down.  And that's okay."

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Happy and Sad That You Are Here

Tonight my parents, sister and I went to a Suicide Survivor support group.  I think that this was a great decision-without divulging details--there were different stories yet similar struggles.  When people greeted us, they told us they were both happy and sad that we were there.

We had time to go around the room and share about our loved ones, and I could really feel the pain that everyone including myself was going through as we shared about our feelings of guilt, feelings of if we could have done something differently, as if there could have been a different outcome.

The topic of discussion for this week was the "Broken Brain." Now keep in mind, this does not mean that the person was deficient in any way, but there were physical parts of the brain that affected emotions that were not functioning as they would in a normal healthy brain.  Much of the stigma around the taking of one's life or "death by suicide" is because of a lack of understanding and awareness.  Much of what will be in this post has to do with the physical realities of the brain.  Through it all I am starting to learn about what Elaine may have been feeling, but I don't think I could ever truly understand fully what she was going through.

Part of our time tonight was reviewing some of these truths:

Suicide is NOT...
...about love or a lack of love
...about religion or a lack of faith
...about morality or a lack of morality
...about logic or rational decisions
...a choice
...a selfish act

Suicide IS...
...an act born of desperation
...the only way to end the pain
...the result of a broken brain
...a sequence of actions they cannot stop
...an irrational act that appears as the only possible option
...a tragedy

We talked about how a broken brain is similar to a "brain cramp", in that much like a leg cramp, all you can experience is the pain right in that particular moment.  It is because of that pain, that our loved ones feel they have no other choice but to end that pain.  It stated in our handout, "Survivors [should] regard the act of suicide as a result of their loved one being hopelessly Immobilized by their mental/emotional pain, totally absorbed, trapped, inert, overwhelmed, without hope, and in desperate need of relief.  Seeking relief in death does not translate into a wish to be dead, but rather as a need to be free of pain."  Elaine did not desire death, yet desired to be free of the pain that I will probably not come to fully understand.  But the mysteries of God are not for me to understand.  And this helps me realize that me trying to figure out an answer to the question, "Why this happened?" is futile.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah. 55:9

Another thing to remember is that suicide is not rational, but is rational to our loved ones in that moment of intense pain-it is the only way out.  It defies logic, reason, and understanding from our perspective.

I do hope we continue to attend (unfortunately my sister will be back in TN when the next meeting occurs).  Going through grief as a suicide survivor brings with it unique sets of hurts, guilts and feeling of "what-ifs" and it will be important to have this support as I continue my journey to healing and recovery.

I am weary-today I really only spent about 10 minutes in my distracted reality (refer to my previous post about the three realities).  Much of today was spent in the logistical and actual realities.  I pray for rest for my family and myself and for strength that comes only from our Lord so that we can continue to press on and get things done we need to get done.  I need to continually pray and be in the word to find this strength that comes from Him.

My soul is weary with sorrow;
    strengthen me according to your word. Psalm 119:28

Tomorrow we begin the process at the mortuary and also will be looking at final resting places.

I will remember this statement: "Her life took her.  Not the other way around."

The Three Realities

I have been moving in between three different realities since her passing on Friday.  The logistical reality, the distracted reality, and the actual reality.

The first reality is the place where I am having to start thinking about logistics.  Logistics of getting things from the apartment.  Having to figure out when, who, and what will be at the memorial service. Working with Daniel and my bible study guys on making sure I can get accounts in order and helping to make sure the cremation to burial process goes smoothly.  These are all things that must be done and it could be easy to let these things fall by the wayside if I didn't have so much of my community surrounding me.

The second reality is what I call the distracted reality. This is where I play/teach a new board game to someone. Where I watch an episode of Battlestar Galactica. Watching a movie with the guys.  Where I am able to enjoy the ways in which I let go-to relieve stress-the things I might do after a hard day of work after coming home to Elaine and telling her about my day.  Anything that can and will take my mind off of things.

The third reality is the actual reality, where Elaine is no longer here. This is where I think about us and what we had together.  This is where my thoughts can run wild with how I could have changed what happened or what I could have done differently.  But this is also where I have been able to share and also hear stories of how beautiful Elaine's heart was here on Earth.  This is also the place where I am prayed for and I am reminded of God's love for all of us and how much he loves Elaine.

Sometimes these realities bleed into one another.  For example when trying to get things from the apartment (logistics reality) I garner up feelings about experiences I had with Elaine especially if there was a certain object that we shared a lot of time with such as the TV or the cast iron skillet that we cooked together on. (Actual realities).

I have difficulty as I transition from reality to reality and even broke down on the floor crying yesterday as I recalled a memory of a funny text I received from Elaine last week.  These moments I can't predict, and come and go without warning.

I also am encouraged by the members of my church who have been surrounding me.  Last night, they came over to eat, share feelings about the whole thing, and also come up with a game plan to practically help me take care of the logistical realities.  My sister shared with me this morning that this is truly the body of Christ being the body of Christ.  Not just a "We are praying for you" (not that prayers are not appreciated!), but an actual call to action.  I am truly grateful for my community.  And a miracle from God--my parents have two cats.  Three of the guys who have been surrounding and supporting me at my parents house have really bad allergies to cats.  None of them have experienced any symptoms whatsoever and they have been here hours at a time.  God knew that they needed to be here right now to help support me--it's the small things.

One last thing wanted to share about is about the church and suicide and what God's truths are about suicide.  As christains, many of us have an incorrect assumption about what happens to someone who takes their own life.  Suicide is a sin, and so a traditional viewpoint (not necessarily founded on scripture) is that a person who takes their own life cannot go to heaven.  This is due to the fact that they never would have an opportunity to repent for this sin.  However, we all have many sins in our life, and those who die natural deaths have sins they carry with them to the grave-sins they may or may not have been aware of.

Romans 8:38

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love.

I am sure that Elaine had a personal relationship with God through his son Jesus Christ.  He loved her so much and she loved him.  And not even her final act would separate her from him.  God's love was fully realized in her life when he took her home.

I continue to listen to "Come to the Altar" by Elevation worship.  One of Elaine's songs she listened to in her last weeks.  Listening to the lyrics, I can understand why she would take hold of this song.  I have overwhelming emotions as I listen to it, but I know it is important for my healing process. She had posted this image on her instagram in January.  I encourage those of you grieving Elaine to listen to this.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Survivor's Guilt

I am feeling all sorts of guilt and shame right now.  Been thinking about specific ways in which I might have not done or done something especially last Saturday when I called in the missing persons report and she felt like everyone was up in her business.  I know that God's truth is that it was his perfect timing but I still feel the pain of the unknown of all the "why?"and "why her" surrounding her death. We knew she was not well. Why did I not do more to help her? What I thought was helping could have actually been hurting.  I thought she needed some time to think or just be alone but maybe she needed a shoulder to cry on or just someone to talk to or someone to wait up with her.

I still can't believe she is gone from this earth but will continue to hold fast to the truth that she is now in no more pain and suffering.

I also feel guilty for having thoughts about my future life. Will I ever love again? Will I even be able to get past this pain so that I am capable of loving another person as intimately as everyone deserves in a marriage? How are these thoughts honoring to Elaine's memory? Also, will I be able to function at my job, will I lash out at the kids, will I be able to even function in that stressful environment? How will I respond with the flood of well wishes that are inevitable and not knowing what I need when people ask "Do you need anything?"

Through all this I have been able to comfort those grieving with me.  God's word has always been alive but I just never experienced it the way I am experiencing it now.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:3-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This verse brings me peace beyond all understanding.  That Elaine's death is bringing life in so many others' lives.  That God is becoming more real than ever-that he has to be real at this moment for us to properly and healthily grieve.

Even as God is sharing all these truths with me I continue to break down at the thought of Elaine  and all the good times and what we had and what our future might have held.  My prayer is for continued healing and the Peace of Christ to continue to pour over me and those grieving with me.  We will only get through this with his love and understanding.

This is the last picture we took together on my phone.  I don't know what pain she must have been going through even in this moment.  But her pain is now no more.  The truth of God's promises of no more tears I will hold on to.

The Monday After

Today we were supposed to go into the doctor to find out about medication.  Thoughts keep running through my head about what I could have done to prevent Elaine from taking her own life.  Could I have said something differently or not said something that might have hurt her.  I keep reading about how one of the unique things that a suicide survivor deals with its the guilt of not having been able to prevent it.

I take comfort in the fact that Elaine is no longer suffering from the depression but the images of her graphic state she was in when I found her keep entering my mind.  This image is what I keep sharing with people who offer their condolences.

Revelation 21:4 is a reminder that she is sleeping with Christ and I will see her again when my time has come.  No more tears...

God has also placed on my heart that suicide awareness and survivor recovery is going to be a huge part of my life in the future.

A few God moments I had yesterday.

1. Survivors of suicide website: I registered and found that there weren't many posts - the last one had been from August of 2016.  Except for one that was posted on Friday-the day of her death.  It was from a woman who had been dealing with her husbands own suicide by hanging from 15 years ago and how she still is recovering from it.  I felt like God gave me this opportunity to pour out my heart and get some things off of my chest.

Posted by Paul on Sunday, February 19, 2017 at 12:25PM :

In Reply to: My heart aches posted by Jimmysgirl on Friday, February 17, 2017 at 3:30PM :

Hi Jimmysgirl.

I am so sorry for your loss. I know that pain all too well of disbelief and shock and of the guilt that follows. And I know it is a long road of grieving and recovery.

My wife of almost 4 years took her life this last Friday in the same manner. I discovered her in my apartment and the images are hard to get out of my head. I am feeling guilty, as if there may have been something I or her friends and family could have done to prevent it. I am not sure if you are religious or spiritual, but I take comfort in the fact that she is with our Lord in heaven and is able to fully experience the love that her depression prevented her from fully realizing. Jesus took her at the right time and wanted her to be able to experience that love. He knew that her act of suicide was her final desperate cry out to him and He was ready to embrace her.

Religious or not, what has helped me too is to reminisce about all of the great things that happened while she was on this earth. How much she loved and cared for others and also how much she was loved. You have to hold on to that for your husband as painful as that can be to remember him.

As far as people telling you to get over it, they are way off base and cannot understand the unique pain that a survivor goes through.

I am not sure if any of this is helpful for you but I will try to remember you and yours in my prayers.

Remember the great times with him!

P.S. I posted an image that is carrying me through (it's uncanny as to how much it looks like her) and I will be using it at her memorial service.

All the best,
Paul - Husband to loving wife Elaine RIP 2/17/17

: I lost my best friend and the love of my life almost 15 years ago. I was at his mother's house when he called me to tell me that he loved me and always would, and to tell our 4 year old son that he loved him. I was so frantic to make him tell me where he was that I never got to tell him how much I loved him. He wouldn't tell me where he was, and the phone company couldn't trace the call. The police came and started looking for him and two days later they came to tell us that they had found him. I was so happy..until they told me that he was gone. He had hanged himself in his favorite spot in the woods, by a waterfall. All I remember is falling to my knees in the snow. I dont remember being cold. I just remember being numb. I have cried and screamed and the ache is still here. Everyone has always told me to stop, that I just need to move on. It's been 15 years, and I'm still having a hard time. I feel so guilty, like maybe there was something I didn't do..or say. Something, anything. This is killing me inside, eating me up. I just can't get past it. I wish he was here so I could hug him one more time, tell him how much he meant to me, how much I loved him. I miss him so much.

I am not sure if she will even see it but I was crying as I was typing and God knew I needed that time to be able to share.

2. Elaine's friend phone call

For some reason Elaine's friend had just found out the news on Sunday.  She was devastated and completely out of sorts and bawling.  She told me about how guilty she felt and how sorry she was.  Having the same feelings I am experiencing of guilt and shame for what happened.  I was able to lean on God's truth that Elaine was no longer suffering and that she was with Jesus in heaven.  And to be able to share this with Elaine's friend and be able to console her.

I know that the strength I had in that moment in order to support Elaine's friend in her grief comes only from God.  I will be making aware of and helping survivors go through the grieving process.

I also had a surreal moment when I registered for Experiencing God-an intense bible bible study course at church.  I had to choose " widowed" for my marital status.  It's the first official marker of my new phase of life I will be going through.  All sorts of emotions are coming back as I talk about this. The unfairness of the whole situation and what had happened.

There are so many logistics to go through but my friends and family are amazing and will be helping me through the process.

My heart goes out to Elaine's business partner who is grieving in her own unique way.  She is not only grieving the loss of her best friend but also her business.  It was something she had built with Elaine so I can't imagine the thoughts related to that that she is going through.

Prayer requests:

1. The enemy does not twist the truths that God has for me.
2. My strength remains in Jesus alone and I do not try to do things on my own.
3. Everyone who is grieving.
4. Logistics of the memorial and of all the practical things with bills, etc.

Elevation Worship-Come to Altar
I believe Elaine leaned on this song prior to her death.

I miss my beautiful Elaine so so much and still break down every day as the good memories of us together flood my mind. I know this will be a long process of healing and I may never truly forget the pain of it all but my prayer is that I continue to hold on to God's truths as I know that is they only way I will get through this.

Rest in peace my beloved wife Elaine 4/5/83-2/17/17

Friday, February 17, 2017

After the Storm

On February 17, 2017, my life and the life of those she loved changed forever.  My wife had been battling clinical depression and lost that battle.  In an effort to go through the grieving process, many have told me to journal my thoughts down.  I am a Christian, so much of my experiences and thoughts come from that perspective.  I am hoping that no matter your religious affiliation or spirituality, my experiences can bring you hope.  That day, the weather was extremely dark, windy, and rainy.--this is the birth of my blog "After the Storm."