I had a heavy heart and felt that I was close to tears for most of that day, but I wasn’t sure all of the reasons why. I could identify some of them. It's been a rough month for our family in year's past. My grandma was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in February of my Freshman year of high school. A loved one suffering from depression needed to be hospitalized for the first time that month to stay safe and remain alive. Both of my grandmothers' funerals were in the beginning of February: one when I was 11 and the other just two years ago. My grandmother who had cancer lived to the ripe old age of 89.
Last year February was pretty miserable unfortunately. What's worse, three years ago, the sadness seeped into March with news that my cousin John Niermeyer had taken his life. The last time I had seen John was at my dad's funeral in 2009.
Tears didn't start streaming down my face until I read on Facebook that 13 years ago on February 8th was when a friend of ours lost his son to suicide. The message below and photo above are from Robert's dad, whose last name is also Potter. (He and his wife are siblings in Christ to Kevin and me, but not blood relatives, as far as we know).
"It was 13 years ago you chose to leave us. Miss you and love.
Thanks to the great people that I saw today at Church of the Sacred Heart and St. Edward's, though you may not have said anything today, seeing you reminded me of all the good in this world.
A special thanks to Chris D for the tears of joy he brought me this afternoon.
May God continue to bless all that have lost a loved one to suicide."
We are blessed that Galen and his wife Janet have shared their faith journey with us. We know them through Cursillo, but we've gotten to know them even better as they are in our Spiritual Direction class with us. The four of us are paired up as spiritual direction partners for this year. Seeing this Facebook post reminded me of the heart-to-heart we had during our Spiritual Direction retreat in September when Galen shared with me about what had happened with his son.
Last spring, I served on team with Julie, whose son Daniel took his life in 2013. During our team overnight at Richmond Hill, I asked to speak with Julie after people had retired to their rooms. I told her that I have experienced bouts of depression for years, including periods of wishing my life would just end. I asked her to pray for me. I know that she did and has been.
I still don’t know what to say to someone who has lost a loved one due to suicide or some other tragic and unexpected death. I’m sorry for your loss isn’t adequate. I’ll hold you while you cry seems more appropriate. I can do that. I’ll pray for you is the best I can offer, so I do. I know I don’t have the ability to take away someone’s pain, but I will be present and prayerful in the midst of their hurting.