The memory of a lost loved one brings with it an avalanche of emotions. The bittersweet remembrance of times enjoyed and the sorrow of times no longer to be shared. For families and friends who have lost someone they love to suicide, these same emotions surge forward—only to be smothered by the suffocating shadow of guilt, anger, and a multitude of questions.
For eight years, Michele attended a non-Christian support group for families who have lost someone to suicide. As she fought to cope with the loss of her brother—who on March 24, 2004, took his own life, the support group provided a non-judgmental outlet needed for her to openly talk about the well of emotions that continued to weigh heavily on her heart. She shared her emotions of guilt and sadness, wishing that “my brother could have come to me and told me how much pain he was in.” Sometimes anger was the most overwhelming emotion. “I was angry that my brother had gone to God’s kingdom before his time and before me . . .” The anger she felt was soon swallowed by stifling depression and an immobilizing feeling of helplessness.
After attending the group for about 3 years, the facilitator asked Michele to help run the group. “For the last 3 years I have run the group as a facilitator. One of the hardest parts of the group dynamic is that I can share how I was able to make it through my grief with the help of God, only if someone else brings up God first.”
The group wants to support everyone regardless of their beliefs or background, however Michele—raised in the church, knew the importance of God’s Word, and as she has grown as a Christian, she has learned the importance of being in God’s Word daily and the comfort and power gained through embracing the Lord in prayer. One night three sisters attended the group whose family also struggled with a similar loss. Knowing their pain—the Lord prompted Michele to have the support group join in prayer. “They were very broken over their brother’s death. I wanted to say to them ‘Can I pray for you,’ but I was afraid that I would cross group guidelines. So I didn’t end up praying for them in group but did pray for them on my drive home—like I did every night after group. I continue to pray for each family that comes to that group.”
Shortly after those sisters attended the group, the Lord put it on Michele’s heart to start a Christian support group at the Rock for those who have lost someone to suicide. This also coincided with a Sunday message delivered by Pastor Mickey on the statistics of suicide. “It was after Mickey’s message on suicide that I was convicted and knew I was to start this ministry.” That day Michele approached Pastor Mickey. She shared her story of how she had struggled with her brother’s suicide. Pastor Mickey encouraged Michele to start the ministry.
In 2010 there were 377 suicides in San Diego County. In 2011 the county had 392 suicides. That is a lot of hurting families that need to know that God is there for them and will guide them through their grief. “If I didn’t have God in my life I don’t know how I would have made it through my brother’s death.” The numbers of people affected by suicide are staggering, but what is more staggering is to know that the majority of these people do not have Jesus in their lives.
Leading the Aftershock suicide loss ministry, Michele continues to support families who have lost loved ones to suicide. The difference is that we can openly talk about our faith, use God’s word and prayer to guide us through our grief.
“If you would have told me eight years ago that anything positive would result from my brother’s death, I would never have believed it. But God had and still has an amazing plan to use my brother’s death for the good of others.” God has brought Michele through much of her loss and despair and through the Aftershock suicide loss ministry she is able to share the comfort and power of God’s Word and prayer with others. “Once I started getting involved, I felt the reward of helping other people. After sitting and praying with someone; to see the transformation from hopeless to totally being loved . . . it is indescribable. Praying with others, it lets people know how important they are to God and to us too.”
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Ps34:18
For more information about the Suicide Loss Ministry, click here »