My friend Stephen Woodworth has written tenderly about a subject too easily avoided. Subject isn’t quite right; suicide is an experience, a moment, a tragedy, an ending and beginnings. Last week I heard that a former coworker had taken her life. It’s a confounding event that most of us have brushed up against and Stephen has written personally and insightfully about it.
At the close of last week I dressed early in the morning in order to attend the funeral of a friend who took his own life. The event causes me to come to the keyboard confused this week, feeling as if I have been turned inside out, my soul and my body somehow switching places. I dare not say I am feeling “sad” or “depressed” or even “melancholy” for that matter. Suicide has a way of giving a truer value to those words much in the same way Westerners are apprehensive to call themselves persecuted after hearing about the martyrs. I will, however, admit that I do feel quite vulnerable and fragile, like a sailor who has emerged from his cabin after a storm to find that the mast has been ripped from the deck. Disoriented. Not because I don’t know the right answers, but simply because I know that now is not the time for them to be given.Stephen Hightower was a pastor, a husband, a friend and a fellow brother in the faith that we both share. And despite the fact that the news of his suicide was given to me a week ago, the words still seem to hang in the air like a thick fog that has no intention of lifting.I have been confronted with suicide before. I have even written about it previously through this blog. I studied it during my years in seminary, read books and articles dedicated to it throughout my time as a pastor and I have counseled numerous people who had either attempted it in the past, or would attempt it in the future. Academically, I can interact with it. Theologically, I can wrestle with it. Emotionally, suicide leaves me feeling stripped and crushed, the weight of its darkness almost too much to bear.