Monday, January 25, 2010


Today, in the midst of a sky-high pile of academic demands, I paused to remove my name from a parents-of-suicides email list.

I've been on the list for several months and, even though I receive the mailings in digest form, there are 10-20 of them a day. Sometimes many more.

I haven't read them often, but I've read them enough to learn a lot and realize a little beyond myself how much pain this kind of loss produces.

Discoveries of bodies. Autopsy reports. Clueless and insensitive family, friends, and co-workers. Depression and despair. Financial and legal disasters. Physical pain. PTSD. YEARS of immobilizing anguish.

I have been more fortunate than most.

Such an odd thing to say. Most of that inventory I know from personal experience. I came to a baffled and angry halt for several hours on Saturday, and woke up today in a state of almost complete despair. But before, in between, and after, I had productive periods and good conversations with friends ~ all of which I consider major triumphs.

I have realized over the past few months that I have had a huge thing in my favor. Despite my waiting and expecting it to happen, not a single person has confirmed my worst fears to my face by saying, "You can't do this. You couldn't even keep your child alive; for sure, you cannot be a minister. In fact, you can't be anything at all, ever."

No one has said it. (Of course, maybe they think it all the time. But it seems not.)

I have become grateful for some of the silence that has surrounded me; it seems to underlie an assumption on the part of others that I can, in fact, move forward in my life.

And so: I'm off the list.

The fact that I am the mother of three beautiful children and one of them is lost to me remains the predominant factor in my daily existence. I struggle all day long to accomodate it, and, as far as I can tell, I dream about it all night long as well

But I can balance other things at the same time now, and that's what I want to do.
(Painting: Anthony Pegg, Woman at the Window)


Karen said...

The human struggle leaves a trail of broken hearts and crushed dreams and disappointments that cannot be counted. At the same time, there is courage, faith, hope and grace--they keep us moving forward past our fears and doubts. You have all those in abundance and you give them out generously... and you are so very fit to be a mother to a precious broken boy, and a compassionate minister to us all. You are a gift and I am grateful for you.

Cynthia said...


Quotidian Grace said...

Good news!

You will be a most excellent pastor. I wish we could get you down to New Covenant Presbytery!

Carol said...

I have never, before or after your son's death, your ability to be an incredibly compassionate, caring, insightful, and loving minister. His death simply added another layer to your skills; it did NOTHING to diminish them. Please don't doubt yourself as you move forward on this path.

Magdalene6127 said...

Much love from here, my friend.

Ellyn said...

You have brought much hope and insight through your despair.
I believe you capable of being one of the best ministers ever.
I admire you so very much.
I continue to keep you in my prayers.

Rosa said...

I've "talked" elsewhere about the things you have helped someone like me start facing into. As I read this post,I realized that you make so much more real what it means when Scriptures insist "be not afraid." Of course there must have been/will be times of fear for you. But at the spiritual core of what you have written in this past year plus, there is such fearlessness. Pretty amazing...

Mompriest said...

seeking balance...maybe that is all we really can do. grateful that some days you find too, on occasion!

when are the exams over? my prayers continue...

Rev SS said...

you are already a Master Pastor! (and continue to be in my prayers also)

Presbyterian Gal said...

What a hard road you've bulldogged through.

I pray you find as much blessing as a pastor as the blessings you will, without doubt, bestow.

karen gerstenberger said...

Yes. Yes.