Your attempts to help him had been rebuffed, until, you finally just hoped that he’d make it through his depression on his own. Later, you will charge yourself with the crime of squandering the last moments of his life by not giving him the sage advice that would save his life.
And then you got the call. He killed himself. God forbid you find the body yourself and the deed is indelibly burned into the book that is your memory. Now, you are on the other side of a stunning reality.
Your heart had whispered that this act was possible, but your mind overthrew the idea as silly. This was obviously your heart’s overreaction to the openly tortured musings and regrets of a good friend whose life had cracked up in front of the whole world. He’ll be alright, your sound mind had cajoled, and you tentatively went about minding your own business as your friend tried desperately to get traction on the slippery rocks of his life.
You and a small circle of friends wondered together if you could have stopped this horrifying act. After all, you loved him and he loved you. Love conquers all things all ways. Doesn’t it? But the lone thought that you could have personally stopped the suicide feeds on your mind until it sickens you with the disease of what might have been.
If you had just been more available to talk. If you had just been more encouraging. If you had just spent more time with him . . . if only . . .
Put down the weight. He would still have killed himself. Maybe not today. Maybe three days from now. Maybe a year. Talking this person out of this act is only temporary if the person is intent on the deed. When a person is hopeless enough to destroy himself, he locks himself in a room where wise words cannot follow. You cannot control the acts or thoughts of another person. You are responsible before God for your life, but not someone else’s.
It is truly our personal belief that we can stop someone we love from doing this act. After all, we are close to him and he values our insightful advice above all others.
Instead of battering yourself with what might have been, commit your thoughts and your photos of this person to your amazing memory and remember him as one loved forever. You can acknowledge that this was not what you had envisioned for your friend. Above all, it is not what God had envisioned for him either. Your friend changed the date of his death. God accepted the change and signed the warrant.
When the specter of sadness and hopelessness grabs us, most of us can hold on and wait for the sun to come out after a huge rainstorm. The idea of suicide creeps into almost everyone’s thoughts during depressing times. That is a big problem. Life delivers one crisis after another. When we iron out one, three more are waiting around the corner. If you are alive, you cannot avoid them.
Job 14:1 “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.”
Now, stand up, put one foot in front of the other, and get moving. Life goes on. The sun still comes up in the morning. The birds still sing. Once you have put days, months, years, between you and this sad event, you will be able to look back wistfully and smile. The bad memories will recede, and the fond memories will become more pronounced.
Again. You could not have stopped this act.
It is not a crime to love someone and to have wished the best for him. You could not have physically altered his course. Your friend had a completely different spirit than you do. He was at the helm of the ship that was his own life.