by Charlotte Moyler
I am appreciative to Anne Moss for asking me to write about my faith before, during and especially after the death of my daughter. I write from my heart and an openness of my soul.
Many who suffer the loss of a child lose their faith. This actually makes a great deal of sense. How was my faith strengthened rather than weakened? Sense has nothing to do with it.
Sometimes in life, events occur that fracture the very foundation on which we stand. Our life, as we have known it, is forever changed and we find ourselves in an unexpected struggle, first just to survive and then to move forward.
The night of my daughter’s death, I was at my church serving as a Stephen Minister. Stephen Ministry is a one-to-one lay caring ministry which provides confidential care to those who are hurting. Maggie was recovering from tonsillectomy surgery one week prior. If I had stayed home that night, would Maggie still be alive? One day I will know all of the answers and it will not matter.
“More than half of suicides in 2015, in a subgroup of 27 states, were among people with no known mental health conditions.” The Center for Disease Control and Prevention
It is difficult to explain my emotions when I returned home to find out that my 17 year old daughter had killed herself. It was (and still remains) a horrific nightmare, full of shock and confusion. But even in the depths of my deep dark despair, I felt the presence of God. “How?”many will ask.
Words are hard to appropriately find, but I had this tiny peace within me. This peace kept me together enough to tell my husband that his precious daughter had died and that her death was by suicide. It enabled me to be driven to the college where I also had to tell my son the devastating news that his sister and only sibling had died by suicide. I relied on God’s strength, not my own. I am an emotionally strong person, but this was bigger and more troubled than I could deal with on my own power.
All during the night, I cried out in fury to the God who had forsaken me
If He were all powerful than how could He allow such evil to happen? I was a faithful follower and had been for years. I served God’s people and studied His word. How could He have let all of this happen? Why did I not know of the internal pain my baby was experiencing? My main job was to keep my children safe. How could I have failed? These thoughts and fears could destroy me if I had let them.
Interwoven with my anger, I was crying out in desperation to Jesus to save me. I believe that God and Jesus are one, but that night I was furious with the God of the Old Testament, yet pleading with Jesus of the New Testament for comfort and healing. They met me in my pain. This is where the totally broken me and the Great Healer collided. This is where God’s glory met my suffering.
Almost immediately after Maggie died, by pure grace, God placed upon me the need to not look inward, but outward and upward. The question WHY is often common with child loss and especially suicide loss. It distracts from healing and growth. God placed upon my heart to not ask why, but how. How can I salvage something worthy from this ghastly disaster? Where can I find the hope my soul yearns for?
Philippians 4:8, became my life verse after Maggie’s death. God’s word has comforted me, and this verse helps to bring me back to life.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
I had a long heavy journey ahead and Jesus was with me every step of the way. I had heard the term “the strong name of Jesus” and never really understood the power in it. After Maggie’s death, that strong name calmed and comforted me. When the reality of Maggie’s death fully hit and the darkness tried to surround me, I would repeat Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. This brought me hope, a hope I would cling to.
God gave me grace to grow from Maggie’s death
I had to make the choice to receive it. Faith is not a feeling. It is a choice to trust God even when the future is uncertain. Through my trust, I have been able to sit alongside other suffering and just be.
One year after Maggie’s death, I was able to start a Survivors of Suicide Loss support group in my town. Surviving the Loss of a Loved One to Suicide provides healing support for people coping with the shock, excruciating grief and complex emotions that accompany the loss of a loved one to suicide. We provide resources to help you deal with, and eventually heal from, what may well be the worst pain you will ever feel. It is important to know that people can and do survive loss by suicide. They are forever altered, but they do survive and go on to lead meaningful and contributory lives.
I also manage and facilitate The Compassionate Friends support group. When a child dies, at any age, the family suffers intense pain and may feel hopeless and isolated. The Compassionate Friends provides highly personal comfort, hope, and support to every family experiencing the death of a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, or a grandchild, and helps others better assist the grieving family.
Both are secular groups, but I am able to let my light shine by not being judgmental of other’s beliefs and by letting others ask me how I have healed. When asked, it is with great joy that I can share my faith!
When people tell me they are mad at God, my reply is, “That is good because that means you believe in Him. And you do have every reason to be mad at Him”