If you feel any suicidal thoughts or know anyone who is depressed check out these resources below:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
24/7/365 Crisis Hotline
Call: (775) 784-8090
Text: “ANSWER” to 839863
We love you. Stay with us.
An Honest Conversation
I know this is a topic many people refuse to talk about due to its content. Can I be honest? I'm sick of the charades. Life is more than Instagram filters, the right caption, being part of a clique or having the right clothes for church. Why do we hide behind pain and not confront it? Let's talk about it. I want to apologize in advance for any undertone of annoyance. This is not done on purpose. My frustration is rooted in a genuine need to help others. I know how it feels like when people disregard you because they cannot connect with your pain. If you have not been through this, may I submit for your consideration that the education of such situation would benefit you? Maybe not now, but if you stick around long enough you’ll meet someone who has gone through this and feel hopeless. I think the world would be a better place if we practice compassion. Pain is not a cuss word, but I understand why people avoid it; it's not sexy. It's not attractive by any means. Can I share my own experience with this and be vulnerable? If you don't want the details just ignore the following text in teal and go directly to the tips and scriptures on how to cope with the pain.
11 years ago
It was November 24, 2006, the day after Thanksgiving, when I heard screams. My eyes were not open yet, but I heard them clearly. I couldn't quite understand where they were coming from. I thought I was dreaming. You see, I was still in bed. I guess my conscious was semi active because I was aware of the voices coming from my parents' bedroom. They were reading different offers from shoppers because it was the day before Black Friday. However, the screams kept going. I opened my eyes and heard it once again. In the country house where I lived in were five people: my aunt, my sister, my parents, and me. It was located in a large property where there was two additional acres of land along with my grandparents' house. The screams were coming from that house. Suddenly I sensed how my family members rushed out running to the other house. I stayed with my sister. (If you're reading this Charlene, I love you so much.) I jumped out of bed and put on my favorite blue leopard pajama pants over my short shorts. My 11-year-old mind was utterly confused. The serene, humid, and quiet atmosphere that was comforting the beginning of my day turned into a whirlwind of chaos sent by the devil himself. I ran to the living room and cranked open the Miami style steel windows. My aunt was somewhere between the two houses and then I heard someone (I'm not sure if it was her) yell that something happened to abuelo. "Oh, he probably cut his neck while shaving." I thought. That was my most innocent thought about the situation till I had updates on what was happening. The next thing I remember is lots of shouting, frantic cries, and a lot of silence inside my mind. My father announced my sister and I that abuelo had committed suicide by hanging.
Everyone Grieves Differently
My mind was not registering at all. I might have cried, but I don't recall. I was so in shock that it finally hit me two months after. I remember squatting in one of the corners of the living room and my sister hugging me. Due to my ignorance, I thought grandpa was still alive and shouted for him to come out of hiding. The curtain beside me was golden and had an elegant jacquard print. The color comforted my eyes as I munched on Cookie Crip cereal. I recall listening to Linkin Park more than ever before during this time. I felt extremely alone in sixth grade. I was already pushed aside by the pestering personalities of my classmates, so I was used to being mocked whether it was directly or indirectly by my friends. You see, the school I went was bilingual and private, and most of the people there were rich. At this point in my life I didn't care about whether my vacation compared to their destinations: Shanghai, Paris, or the Bahamas I didn't care if they were moving to a bigger mansion. I didn't care if their parents were sick of the Mercedes and traded it in for a Porsche. I didn't care if the other girls received a new pair of Tous earrings. You see, those things mattered to me before, but I was changed after this. I carried a picture of my grandfather in my gym sweatpants, but I lost it somewhere. My depression spiraled into a massive sinkhole and every day I wanted to die." Abuse, bullying, and now this?" It was not the first time I felt like I wanted to die.
Depression and Spiritual Life
The first suicidal thought caught me off guard when I was in fourth grade. Music has always served as an outlet for me, that's why I thank God for it because it truly helps. I don't know if my grandfather had any consciousness of the grace of Jesus or if he even accepted him as Lord and Savior. I doubt it. I'll never ever know. We were not raised in church and part of my family has been affiliated with spiritism. Salvation consciousness was little to nonexistent. Just when I thought I was getting over this pain, something happened again. This year. In July 20 of this year (2017 for those reading at another time) one of the greatest inspirations of my life committed suicide as well. His name was Chester Bennington, lead singer and front man of Linkin Park. Now, this was harder because it was his voice, his lyrics, his motivation to help others really helped me get through the hardest moments of my life. He was also sexually abused and went through many hardships, but somehow managed to remarry and establish a stronger family. I thought to myself how I wanted to have a healthy family too in the future. I wept so hard. I felt like I was going insane. I only wore black for weeks. The first time I went back to church after the news was hard. In fact, the following weeks were very hard. I bawled my eyes out in the bathroom before worship. I sat during worship. I couldn't lift my arms. I couldn't utter a word. I was mad and hated the fact that I had to be around people, because I knew I couldn’t be alone. I forced myself to be around others. I distinctively remember a Sunday where I was quite irritable. I arrived late to the service. The worship band was already playing once I reached to my seat. I threw my bible, phone, and journal to the floor. I closed my eyes and lifted my arms in worship. I said: "God I don't want to be here, but I need you." "I don't care what others think, they don't even understand my pain. I am here for you. Help me."
Don't listen to those voices
My ears were consumed by A Thousand Suns and Living Things during the last years of high school. The songs helped a lot. The songs were often heard on road trips, beside miles and miles of sea. I have beautiful memories from those albums because of where I listened to them. I tried to keep my composure the day after he died during bible study, but I couldn't. I couldn't understand how someone I had never ever met could leave such an impact in my life. I considered doing the same. But, God. Thank God. I'm still here. Many were not very helpful in their advice and I felt even more compelled to eliminate my existence. Others were more gracious. To be honest a hug did more than three bible scriptures, a long prayer, and a thorough theological explanation of why this happened. Some said I was making him a god and that I had to snap out of it. Others just couldn't understand how I could mourn a stranger's death. When I expressed my feelings about how this makes me relive my grandfather's death all over again, some interjected further hurtful opinions. "I know I'll get over this, but I don't know. I think the pain will always be there, but I'll learn how to cope with it." "Your problem is that you're carrying the pain around with you and you can live without the pain, but you're choosing not to." I wonder if every time someone remembers a loved one who passed away they don't feel any pain…
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
I learned to dissociate again with people and fake a smile. I guess I was a good actress because for weeks, people believed I was okay. I wasn't. Sometimes I'm still not. I must improve reaching out to my church community when I feel like this. I tend to hide my feelings. Some told me that it could've been well possible that these two individuals accepted Jesus and no one knew. I don't know what happens between God and an individual when they die, but that sentence helped me get over my 'Jesus complex' of demanding answers from heaven. The Holy Spirit brought to my attention Psalm 131:1 and it helped a lot. Some things we will never understand, but all we can do is trust God. Sometimes we don't need the answers we are looking for because the answers may very well carry a painful truth and a huge burden we can't carry. I realized how I went through this before, and how I could go through it again. In a weird way I believed this to be true. Putting my trust in myself, as other people have suggested is out of the question. Self-reliance is auto destructive. No one can bear pain by themselves.
How to cope with pain:
1. Jesus wants to be near you.
Just because you experience pain, this is not an automatic reaction for God to separate from you.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Let us not be quick to forget that Jesus himself went through this too. Remember Judas? He also committed suicide. He was one of the disciples. Imagine the pain our Savior might've felt. John the Baptist, his friend and cousin was beheaded. He was rejected in his own hometown. Kings tried to persecute him since he was born. Among other things. Jesus knew pain. And when you cry, he cries with you. I know because I have felt him with me when I cry. Remember that God turned his back on Jesus, so that he would never turn his back on you.
2. Talk to other people that have gone through the same.
If you isolate yourself, you will feel worse. Find others that have been through the same. Don't be afraid of being open about this. There's people around you that might've gone through this and you may not be aware.
3. God can handle your questions and your pain.
Do not let people convince you that God will strike you with lightning if you ask him why. Or that he allowed this to happen for X or Y reason. (People make decisions that unfortunately are hurtful. They were not in their right minds when did this happened. Let's be gracious.) He totally understands that this is hard for you. There's been countless of times where I was angry at God and articulately expressed my disappointment and anger towards him. It doesn't mean he caused the pain, but we tend to sometimes place the blame on him. It happens. Life happens. God can handle your disappointment.
4. Playlist for grieving.
It is well- Kristene DiMarco
You're gonna be okay- Jenn Johnson
Recovering- Celine Dion
Closer Than You Know- Hillsong United
Jesus I Come- Elevation Worship
Anchor- Hillsong United
I Am Not Alone- Kari Jobe
Dappy T Keys Instrumental Piano YouTube channel
The Garden- Kari Jobe
Here In The Presence- Elevation Worship
Give Me Faith- Elevation Worship
Miracles- Bethel Music
Be- Fresh Life Worship
Saturday- Fresh Life Worship
Mon secours est en toi- Impact Band
Eres Mi Salvador- Marco Barrientos
(You don't have to understand French or Spanish in order to feel God's presence.)
Gracefully Broken- Matt Redman and Tasha Cobbs Leonard
Lift My Eyes- Fresh Life Worship
How Beautiful- Mosaic MSC
Oceans- Hillsong United
Kind- Amanda Cook
I started using antidepressants at 14. I am not on them anymore. The reason why I am no longer on them is not because someone pressured me, I just decided not to take them anymore at 16. Don't feel ashamed if you need antidepressants. They can help a lot, especially during the first months of grief. I am not suggesting that you will have to live on medication your whole life, since it's your choice of whether you want stop being on them or not. The reason why I decided to stop was because I realized that the pain wasn't coming so much from the chemical unbalances in my brain. The fundamental issues were the roots of bitterness, rejection, self- hatred, trauma, and depression. And I was personally replacing the pills with God. The pills were my savior. I was putting my trust more on the pills than him. I knew that no matter how many times they would change the dose I would be messed up if I kept running away from the roots and not confronting the pain. However, being off meds might not be beneficial for you. Discuss with your counselor what would be the best thing for you. That's my next point.
I've done my share of counseling visits since I was 14. I think this is very beneficial, because a certified therapist has tools that your extended family and friends don't have. Don't get me wrong, they might have the best intentions, but they can only help so much. Don't feel ashamed about going to a counseling place. If you feel uncomfortable with your therapist after the first visit, don't get discouraged and keep looking for the right one. You can even tell this to the therapist, and they can refer you to someone else. Remember that people go to specialists for body issues: podiatrists, urologists, chiropractors, neurologists, dentists, etc. Your brain is part of your body too. Don't forget that.
7. You have something to look forward to.
One day, on my way home the Holy Spirit whispered to me: "Don't give up. You have something to look forward to." I didn't quite understand back then, but now I do. I was feeling like the pain was going to be eternal. If you have chosen to follow Christ, then you have a promise. All of this pain won't be forever my dear.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.
A final note: The day before my grandpa passed away, someone in my family sensed that my grandfather's funeral was the first funeral they were ever going to attend. Little did this person know that the day afterwards he died. No one couldn't do anything about the situation because things like these are very unpredictable at times. I will post a blog about to help a suicidal person in the future, as I am still healing from this topic. Who has the Holy Spirit put on your heart recently? Don't just tell them the next time you see them: "You've been on my heart" because that doesn't help a thing. Call the person. Text the person. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Tell them how great they are. Invite them to hangout. Ask them how they feel. Listen.
If you need hope, click here.
Don't forget to keep Talinda Bennington, her children, friends and family in your prayers. Also, don't forget to pray for the other band members of Linkin Park: Mike, Rob, Joe, Brad, and Dave. Let's honor his memory and not dwell on the tragedy.