It was a typical Sunday afternoon. We had just gotten home from church and I was about to dive into making school lunches for the following day and prepare for the busy week ahead. In came a text from my mom. Nothing out of the ordinary as she and I text almost daily, usually so she can check in on the most adorable grandkids on earth, who happen to be my children.
But this text was not ordinary.
It read: Call me when you can talk without the kids around. It’s about Sydney.
My throat immediately sunk so quick that it grabbed my heart with it on the way to the pit of my stomach. I knew with a text like that my mom was not relaying good news about my cousin. The kids and my husband were outside playing so I took a breath and called my mom.
Right there in my kitchen, I was physically taken to my knees when I learned the news.
My beautiful 21 year-old cousin had committed suicide that weekend. There was no way to sugar coat anything about it.
A tidal wave of questions, anger, blame and denial immediately shot through my body.
The pain was too much.
Often as moms, we have to hide our emotions and get back on with our day after hiccups occur. But this was no hiccup. As my husband and kids came inside from playing, there was no use for me even attempting to hide my emotions. I went into the garage and broke down. My husband followed after. My kids luckily were too busy playing to notice me in that moment.
I didn’t know what to do with myself. I told my husband I needed some air. I drove to the end of my street and couldn’t even drive. I called my best friend and all I could do was cry because the pain was just too much.
I could barely handle thinking about the rest of the family. Her younger brother. Her mom. If my pain was too much, then how were they surviving?
The coming days brought a dull numb to my body. Disbelief still at the root. When I told my boss what happened, I stopped halfway through because something came over me that made me believe I was misinformed. That this hadn’t actually happened. I literally said “wait, hang on” as I looked back at my text messages for confirmation that I wasn’t making this up.
Things like that happen when our bodies experience too much pain. I prayed. A lot. Sometimes my prayers turned into anger towards God. But I know He understands I am only human.
My prayers and reflections shifted to focus less on my pain and more for her immediate family, her best friends and – for her pain.
Her pain was too much. I don’t think a day will go by that I don’t think about my cousin and have heartbreak for how her time here on earth ended. We will never know or understand what tremendous pain she was in. I do know that God has taken mercy on her. She is now without pain and she has been comforted. I know that God is with us feeling every inch of heartache. Comfort can be found in Him.
I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8
Our journey on earth continues but the pain of losing her will always be too much.
If you have experienced pain that seems too great, know that you are not alone. Seek resources. Pray and reach out to community. Life is painful at times but you are not in this alone.
If you are struggling with the loss of a loved one, or if the heaviness of life feels like too much to bear for you, please seek the support of a professional that can help you. Seattle Christian Counseling has offices throughout the region, and if you are not local you can find counselors here.
The Gift of Second is an online resource and a book that can lend support for those who have lost a loved one. Suicide grief is unique. You don’t have to walk alone.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or you can initiate an online chat.
If you are with a friend or family member who is in need of immediate mental health support, you can always call 911 or take them to a local emergency room for evaluation.