A few weeks ago, I traveled to another country without my twenty-eight and thirty-year-old adult children. Just a few days later, my older son jumped from a third floor and killed himself. So I returned to my country, but now I don’t have the energy to do anything at all. I would appreciate a word of advice.

Dear Friend,

We can’t even imagine the depths of despair that you have found yourself in! To lose a child at any age is sheer agony, but when it was a self-inflicted cause of death, the pain for those who are left behind can seem worse than torture.

Most western cultures have given up the kinds of mourning that we read about in the Bible. In those days, the people wore clothes that demonstrated their grief. They left their hair unkempt, and sometimes they cur it or shaved it off completely. Their outward appearance would signal their internal pain. In addition, it was common for there to be weeping and wailing for a certain amount of time. In some places, there were even professional mourners who would weep and wail along with the family and friends.

These outward demonstrations of grief may seem strange to us now, but they served the purpose of providing an outlet for the pent-up emotion and suffering. Today, most people are expected to shed a few tears and then resume their normal lives. They are forced to suffer in silence, alone, just as you are doing now.

You say that you don’t have the energy or motivation to do anything. Of course, you don’t! You haven’t had enough time to grieve. Grieving uses up absolutely all your energy, especially when you have no acceptable ways to demonstrate all that you are feeling.

It would be helpful for you to talk about your son and your emotions. We recommend that you talk often and openly with friends and family. If that is not possible, then a professional counselor would be a good option.

If you find yourself wondering whether your actions had anything to do with your son’s suicide, be aware that blaming is a part of grieving. Even after you accept the fact that you are not to blame, it would be normal to try and blame someone else.

Why didn’t God stop your son from harming himself? Why doesn’t God stop every person who tries to self-inflict injury or death? Why doesn’t He intervene and keep us from overdosing on drugs or from hurting one another? What about child abuse, spousal abuse, and violent crime of all kinds? Shouldn’t God just take away our ability to make those wrong and harmful choices?

God is a loving Father who gave us life, and then provided guidelines for how to live that life. But instead of forcing us to do things the best way, He gave us the freedom to make our own decisions. That is exactly what you did with your older son.

We wish you well,