A very dear man who was a deacon at my parish died last Sunday. His wife drove home from the hospital and killed herself. Monday morning at 7am I get a call from another parishioner that hasn’t been to mass in years telling me about this. I was annoyed that this lady didn’t even know the deacon was in the ICU but sure as heck calls me to see if I know about the wife. So I went to work and I asked my boss if this was true since he is also a parishioner and he knows everybody in our little town and while I knew the deacon, I never met his wife. He told me it was true and that the wife had been telling people for 2 yrs that if her husband died, she would kill herself. I am so mad at her friends and family for not watching her!!! I am also mad that she didn’t think about her family either… they have adult children who are burying their mom and dad this Tuesday. It wasn’t like there was no family to take care of her or help her out…but I am also torn that she will be having a Catholic funeral mass with her husband. This wasn’t a case of being overcome with grief and making a spur of the moment decision out of grief… she planned it for 2 yrs!! Am I being judgmental or harsh about this? I really feel for the family but there is a part of me that can’t understand how they didn’t see this coming.
Do you really want to know the answer to this?
God forgives the lovers.
I don’t generally ask questions if I am afraid of the answer. Just as a matter of fact… I will be going to the funeral out of respect for the deacon and no doubt I will be getting a call to make food for the funeral dinner since my bosses wife knows to call me and she is in charge. I question the Catholic funeral for the wife only because she apparently let family and friends know her intention for the last 2 yrs… Like I said in my post, I could understand it if she made a spur of the moment decision to do this after her husband died, but he has been very ill for 2 yrs now and she carried through with the suicide after saying she would for 2 yrs.
I don’t know this woman, I don’t know the parish or the deacon but just from the inference that this woman threatened suicide for the past two years, I would say the woman was battling deep depression for many many years. Her whole family, including the deceased deserve all of our prayers. They have mine.
Thank you for helping me find the perspective I was looking for. I am more upset that those closest to her did nothing to stop her than I am at her actions. To me it is so sad that it ended this way, but totally preventable.
Give her poor soul a break my friend. Yes, suicide is a sin. But, if someone has been saying for the past 2 years that she’s gonna commit suicide if her husband dies, then that’s an indirect cry out for help. She must have been very attached to her husband and just couldn’t bare the pain. I’m surprised that nobody from the parish took her words seriously enough to talk to her or refer her to some counseling. Don’t be so judgemental and I will repeat God forgives the lovers.
I hear you…Suicide seems preventable to us who are totally sane, but believe me the tortured mind of someone who is seriously depressed and even under the best managed care…something will happen, like the loss of a loved one and that’s enough to take them over the edge.
God is good and merciful…and He will be just in her judgment and those who loved her.
Keep praying and remember that God is still in control and has the bigger picture.
Just a suggestion, maybe your pastor or parish council would consider having a grief counselor come in to talk to the parish to help them cope with this double whammy. It sure can’t hurt.
Great suggestion but deacon had been sick for 2 yrs and last month we got a new young shy pastor. I like him very much but I don’t think he knew the deacon at all and everyone else is either still in shock or unsure of what to do in light of the new pastor. Chances are that the neighboring parish priest will be saying the funeral mass since he is our retired pastor of 20 some years. He and the deacon were pretty close. But the mass will be at my parish. Thankfully he comes to our parish quite often as our parishes both contribute to our parish school.
Great idea. And perhaps thru something like that, parishioners could learn how to deal with a situation like this if they are ever confronted with a similar circumstance. I’ll pray for both of them.
Sounds like you have a good parish…that needs some TLC (tender loving care) right now. A support group for survivors of suicide, or grief counseling may be the right thing for all of you. You are in my prayers.
God will get your through this…When we are weak, then we are made strong as .St. Paul teaches us in Philippians Chapter 4 that he had learned how to be satisfied to the point where he was not disturbed or anxious no matter what state his life was in. The secret of being content he says, whether living in plenty or want, is to know that we as Christians can do all things through Jesus Who gives us strength. When our life seems out of control, we must remember that God is fully aware of our situation and He is not troubled or alarmed. Our faith should sustain us when the situation around us is worrisome; our faith should tell us that God is still in charge and we need only look to Him for the strength and wisdom required to continue on. Sometimes just trudging through life, through the day to day dreariness we all feel at times, can be difficult.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t use all the help we can get to survive these very dark days.
The sad fact is, a depressed person cannot be helped against their will. It’s ironic that legally they must reach out for help and be willing to go to counceling, take medications, admit themselves for treatment, etc but the nature of the illness is that they probably won’t.
Mental health will not step in and override the persons voluntary participation unless they have been proven to be a danger to self or others. In my experience with the mental health system, threats are not enough to prove it. If she had made an actual attempt and been unsuccessful the first time, then it would qualify.
Without knowing all the facts, I wouldn’t be so hard on the family. Who knows how many times they may have talked to her to get help, or tried to get her to take care of her own needs. You don’t say what the deacon’s illness was, but if she had been his caregiver for 2 years, chances are she focused more on his needs than her own.
It is a very sad situation. Those children must be overcome with grief. But God is the one who judges and decides who is worthy or not. If it is too hard to think of the wife “deserving” a Catholic funeral, think of the confort it must give the childen.
And I will pray for all involved.
As a sufferer of depression, I know a bit about suicide…
In fact, this thread has helped me. I know that, if I lose my beloved husband, it’s highly probable that I will be suicidal again. I haven’t told anyone about that, and I need to, so that (hopefully) I’ll get help when I need it. I have a tendency to be too self-sufficient, if you know what I mean.
It may well be that the poor woman’s family looked on her statements of intent as a kind of crying “wolf.” It’s a popular notion that people who threaten suicide rarely do it. It was certainly true in my case; when I was suicidal back in 1994, I made sure nobody suspected, because I knew they would try to stop me. (Thank you, Lord God, and my guardian angel for preserving me!)
So I find that I can’t “blame” anybody in this sad story. I can just pray for the deacon and his wife, and for their families… how do you suppose the kids feel now about not taking Mom’s threats seriously? Assuming she made it to purgatory, they all need our prayers.
Sure it can, if the grief counselor is a secular psychologist. Frankly, this advice is unbelievable. Why bother having a pastor, or a Church?
If the pastor can’t console the people, let the bishop come.
Ask a priest if he is a certified counselor…I can definitely bet that 95% will admit that they are not.
They are great resources and are great listeners and wise men on many things of the soul however, not all priests are spiritual directors either…and not all spiritual directors are priests.
There are many Catholic grief counselors that are resource persons in each diocese…that the bishop will call as well.
For instance, a high school student was missing for weeks and later found brutally murdered in a parish in our diocese. Grief couselors were brought in by the request of the pastor to help the parish and its young people heal. The counselors periodically are making return visits as well.
Somethings require a real “team” effort for an effective plan of healing. Suicide support groups are one such team.
I don’t think that you are being too judgemental and I think that the family should have told her that suicide is a sin. Pray for her and hope that she repented before she died.
Why are we so wishy-washy in dealing with the sin of suicide?
Is it not a mortal sin?
“But people who commit suicide are not in their right mind and therefore do not have full consent of the will,” is the reasoning I so often hear.
Can’t the same be said for most homicides?
Father Corapi said that he was on the verge of suicide at times and it was only his fear of hell that saved his life. He said he was taught that people who commit suicide went to hell.
If Fr. Corapi was 20 years younger would we still have him?
No one knows whether is was preventable or not. More importantly there was nothing you could have dne about it but a lot you can do now-pray for the repose of their souls. You might also ask God to remove the anger you have towards the “friend” who called you about the wife. I think your anger justified but it is doing you harm. as we say in AA “let go, let God”
i don’t see where being angry or judgemental is being helpful to you, to the parish, to the family, to the mourners, or to anyone else. we can fall back on the universal laws of Christian charity. We never ever presume to judge the spiritual condition of another person. so far what OP related is not personal knowledge, but hearsay, in any case, and even the family if they knew the background, the wife’s feelings etc. can certainly not be blamed. We have no idea what efforst they made to help, to intervene, or how such efforts may have been received by this poor woman. Why not let God be the judge, and give up all resentment, anger, questions and personal emotional reactions? Let the liturgy of the Church, always so wise and to the point, guide us in such times of shock, sorrow and mourning.
That is an incorrect concept. In many cases, professional psychologist is needed. In my parish, we have a professional psychologist handling sophisticated cases. The priests have many duties. Though counseling is part of their duties, the counseling is mainly for fine tuning. For deeper and complicated cases, a professionally trained specialist is necessary.