How to Survive Suicide Loss: Walk Between the Lines

Editor’s note: Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, so we’ve invited guest author Rita Schulte to share on the blog today. Rita is a mental health professional who lost her husband to suicide, a story she shares in her book Shattered: Finding Healing and Hope in the Losses of Life. —Laura Elliott

You know about those days. Getting out of bed seems like climbing Mount Everest. You don’t want to face the pain. You don’t want to face your life, this new normal you have to figure out now. Maybe you don’t want to face yourself because you don’t know who you are anymore.

You try desperately to pull something out of your soul, something that will fill you. Nothing comes. It’s dry. But you’re drowning all the same.

The pain ravages your soul. You can’t sleep. You can’t eat; you can’t even breathe. We call it the dark night of the soul. 

It’s the fear of loss. The dread of a pain so incomprehensible there are no words to speak. The belief that we’ll be totally undone, and we’ll never make it back to life as we knew it. That’s what happens when you lose a loved one to suicide. 

The Effects of Traumatic Loss

A death by suicide is sudden, often unexpected, and violent. These factors increase the degree of shock and trauma experienced by survivors, often leaving them with post-traumatic stress. 

It can cause all tacit assumptions about life, God, and the world around us to be challenged, causing a crisis of faith and belief. Death by suicide makes people uncomfortable and uncertain of how to react, making grief even more isolating for survivors. Suicide is also rooted in centuries of stigma, causing misplaced associations of guilt, shame, weakness, and even sin. 

There can also be unfinished business with a death by suicide, and survivors can carry a lot of guilt and shame, feeling somehow responsible for their loved one’s death. They are left with the “whys” and the loose ends for a lifetime because there is no closure to a loss by suicide. 

When Answers Aren’t Enough There Is Jesus

The truth is, having all the answers to any life adversity is never enough because there is never a good enough answer. Answers don’t suffice any more than a nice, neat theology on pain and suffering. It’s amid this kind ofpain, in this dark night of the soul, that we need to walk between the lines.

What does that mean? It means we hide our hearts deep between the lines of God’s word. It means that God reveals those verses, maybe those you’ve never paid much attention to before, to anchor you to the cross, to set your soul on fire and keep the darkness that threatens to destroy you at bay. Between the lines, the God-man speaks. He makes the words jump off the page into your soul. Boom. Peace washes over you like a flood.

You don’t understand it. You can’t explain it, but your heart does, and it records those tender places that the Father reveals to you on the canvas of your soul. Your heart is hidden there, deep between the most powerful lines ever written. You're safe and secure between the most transforming truths you can ever imagine, and they comfort your soul in a way nothing else can. 

How does this happen? It happens in that dark night of the soul, when we’re screaming for relief from the pain that threatens to undo us. It happens when our hearts are open to unfailing love. It happens when we’ve got no more moves left. It happens when we believe we are utterly alone, and no one understands our pain. 

Or do they?

I’ve experienced unspeakable loss with the suicide of my husband. I’ve felt the floodwaters overtake me and threaten to destroy me. I’ve believed without question that the story was finished for me. I was done. 

Someone else felt differently. Someone else was there. Someone else had a greater plan and purpose for me. When I felt totally alone and thought no one understood, when I believed no one could help, someone did. Someone drew me out of deep water. 

That someone was Jesus, and I found Him walking deep between the lines. 

The Greater Story

What will finding Jesus there help you do? 

  • Stop toxic thinking by setting your mind on truth of God’s Word.
  • Forgive your loved one and stop blaming yourself.
  • Let go of regret. The Christian life can only be lived in the moment.
  • Practice self-compassion. Remember that being human means being subject to limitations.
  • Surrender your right to have all the answers.
  • Rest not in the knowing, but in the One who knows.
  • Be willing to be misunderstood.

I’m no different than you. And God is no respecter of persons. He shows up in the lines of our story, only He’s telling a different story through you and me. It’s a story of redemption. It’s His story, and He’s invited you and I take a small part for the purpose of revealing His glory. Unfortunately, that revelation is costly. It was for Him; it will be for us.

The world doesn’t notice, otherwise; unless you defy the odds, they aren’t interested. The God-man rose from the dead. He’s still a mystery. People still want to know if it’s true, so they’re watching you to see what happens in your dark night of the soul. Will you make it back? And if so, how? 

It has been a long journey for me. I had a lot of support, counseling, and lots of practical tools to help me heal. But in the end, there was only one real way to healing. Only one answer: walk between the lines. There’s where you’ll find healing. How do I know? Because I found Him there, and he promises you will, too, if you look with all your heart

“You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

So, when the night breaks in and the darkness invades your soul, walk between the lines, because there you’ll find the treasure that will restore your soul. You’ll find your heart again because the God-man came to bind up hearts that were hemorrhaging. His promises never fail. No matter how dark the days ahead may seem, no matter how clouded your mind, no matter how alone you feel, He will never leave you or forsake you. 

Be of good courage—the story isn’t finished yet!

Learn how to be grounded in trials at Revive ’21, our fall conference for women, live in Indianapolis and online October 8–9. Join us as together we learn to stand firm in a shaking world. Visit Revive21.com to register today. 

 

Did you discover God’s Truth today?

Our team loves sharing quality posts to help you serve Christ to the fullest in your calling. If you have been helped or encouraged by this writer today, would you consider giving a few dollars to support the Revive Our Hearts blog?

Donate Now

About the Author

Rita Schulte

Rita Schulte

Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor who specializes in the treatment of mental health disorders. In 2011, she created Heartline Radio, a broadcast show that addresses cutting-edge mental health issues and provides content to educate and equip listeners in how mental health affects our culture. Rita is frequent contributor to many publications and is the author of Shattered: Finding Hope and Healing through the Losses of Life; Imposter: Gain Confidence, Eradicate Shame and Become Who God Made You to Be, and Think This Not That: Rewiring Your Brain to Eliminate Toxic Thinking. She speaks around the country on mental health-related issues. She received her B.S. in psychology and her master's degree in counseling from Liberty University. Rita is no stranger to loss and suffering. In 2013, she lost her beloved husband to suicide and her world was decimated. She speaks candidly about this loss at her national workshops in the hope of helping others heal. Rita makes her home in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Join the Discussion