My boy was gone. My friend Severine was asking God what she could do to soothe the pain. God led her to paint a depiction of Tristan the way I liked to remember him, before the monstrous pain of depression swallowed him up whole. I am holding my little boy’s hand, and we are together. It was perfect.

There is a favorite verse that the church likes to quote. But most people use it out of context:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.
 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

I’ll tell you where the victory is; it’s on my garage floor where my poor boy’s body lies lifeless.

I’ll tell you where the sting is; it’s in my heart where a sword pierced my soul the moment I saw him lying there.

We forget that the saying, “Death is swallowed up in victory” follows THIS verse:

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:”

“Death is swallowed up in victory.
 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

Only at Christ’s second coming will that saying come to pass!  Until then death is a horror and we carry the sting of it in our hearts. But God does not leave us there alone. In keeping with His salvific character, He provides His mercies. 

What does grief for a Christian suicide look like? Here is mine. I wonder if it is close to your own? Both of these columns were written with no editing. They spilled out of my heart into my journal that nobody was supposed to see. But I decided to put them here for you so you could see the two rivers flowing side-by-side. Like the father who told our Lord:

 “I believe; help my unbelief!” ‘ 

Here is grief:

I Lost

I didn’t do enough. I didn’t love you enough to keep you from leaving. I should have seen your pain. I should have pried you open and made you spill it out to me. Would doing that have made you hate me?

I should have hugged you and not let go until you broke down crying and told me your anguish.

I should have died instead of you.

I wish I could have died for you.

I asked God and He said no. God rules, trumps all.

I lost, more than just you. I lost the game.

You said goodbye. The last words you said to me, “Thank you,” with your blue eyes open wide —  penetrating into my soul. With meaning. I wish I had taken that moment and hugged you tight. I wish it would have had the gravity it meant for you.

Tristan, how could this have been better?

I wish you had known how much we all loved you.

Here is His Mercy

“All the days that were ordained for me were written in Your book when as yet there was not one of them”.

“God sits on His throne in the heavens and His sovereignty rules over all.”

Sheol is naked before God and Abaddon has no covering. He hangs the earth on nothing. The pillars of heaven tremble and are astounded at His rebuke. By His power, He stilled the sea.

This is the God who made Tristan. The God who TOOK Tristan, the God who designed Tristan to leave at 18 years, 363 days, Who decreed his illness and withdrawal for ages 12-18. 

This is the God I serve, who decreed that I would mother 4, then 3, then spend my remaining days missing, always missing. This God. Perfectly planned, woven into my history like John the Baptist or Amnon, or Jacob missing Joseph. It’s not my life, it’s His to create, guide, write, use as HE sees fit. But He’s not an impersonal, removed Director. He intimately knows my ways. He designed me for this. How can I not accept it? To fulfill this role I must cling to the One who created me. I must cling, be held, comforted, always look to Him like a handmaid to the hand of her mistress, keeping my eyes upon His face. Shelter me, shield me, cover me, close, ever upon Thy breast like John upon Jesus’s. You did this. Save me from myself.

Dear God, thank You that you put that father in the gospels that knew exactly what it felt like in the face of trauma to say, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” I think I will live in the place forever. It keeps me clinging to You and for that I am grateful. You were so merciful to leave me scriptures that tell me exactly where my boy is. Safe. Whole. Kept. Loved. I miss him so! Kiss his left eyebrow for me and so he’ll know it’s from me. Come soon, Lord. We all just want to go home. In Jesus name, Amen.

I Corinthians 15:54-55, Mark 9:24 ESV