It is such a privilege to share with you a post written by a long-time friend of mine, Hua. She is a gifted writer that has been sharing her journey online as a survivor of loss to suicide for the past 2 years. After reading the following post, I asked Hua if I could share her with my readers because I believe her words and message could impact many of you. Please feel free to share with others that might find it helpful as well. Thank you, Hua, for letting me share your heartfelt words.
Hua Vang Dodson lives in Rockwall, Texas with her sons and her sweet labrador retriever, Bella. She considers being a wife and mother her greatest accomplishments. In 2016, she had to let the title of wife go when her husband of twenty years died to suicide. The day he died, she took to writing as a way to cope with the grief and pain of her loss. She has a passion for studying God’s Word and for leading women to desire a deeper walk with God as they connect with His heart through Scripture. In quiet strength, she is learning daily what it is like to be a survivor of suicide.
Suicide. That is how my husband died.
Survivor. That is who I am.
Two years. That is how many years I have survived his suicide.
I am a two-year suicide survivor…today (April 19, 2018).
It doesn’t seem like a significant accomplishment… until you are one. What does it mean to be a suicide survivor?
It means talking, laughing, and sharing stories across the dinner table from your husband one day and staring at the forever empty chair the next.
It means Monday you are planning a date night and on Friday you are planning a funeral for your date.
It means standing in the eerie calm after a storm you never knew was coming, dazed and confused at the devastation, staring at the remains of a life you once knew.
It means getting on your knees, digging up dirt that has been softened by tears to bury your future hopes at the graveside of your broken dreams.
It means excruciating, piercing pain as your heart is ripped from you and yet you are numb to it all.
It means crying through endless days and into the lonely nights because your heart aches, longing for the one you love.
It means wrestling but never winning against the “What ifs” and “If onlys” and how you could have missed all the clues and what you could have said or done differently, wishing you could go back in time to change it all.
It means pounding your fists into pillows, and screaming, “Why?!!” you are so angry at God, at your husband, at the unfairness of it all and at the deafening silence because the answer never comes.
It means the paralyzing fear of living life because you stepped on a time bomb and you are scared of stepping on another.
It means navigating the unchartered and unforgiving waters of grief, nearly drowning in it, facing for the first time the darkness of your own depression and fighting the demon of suicide who tempts you to escape your own suffering.
I remember standing at the shore of my broken life, bewildered, not understanding how it came to be that way, how God could choose it for me. Surely this was not my story.
I remember God inviting me on a journey of grief and my refusal to get in the boat. As I looked out into the waters, it was still dark and stormy, the waves were restless, I couldn’t see the horizon, I did not know the destination or what dangers lurked beneath the waters, I had never sailed this way before. My faith was shaken, my hope was fragile, I was scared.
But, for every fear, God had an answer.
I am too weak.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
I don’t know the way.
“I am the way and the truth and the life.” John 14:6
I feel so alone.
“I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
It is so dark.
“I am the light of the world.” John 8:12
The battle is too hard.
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
I am so afraid.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Walking by faith and not by sight, I cautiously climbed aboard and set sail. Over time, the skies began to clear as some answers came, the sun came out of hiding, the horizon was visible. I became more skilled at navigating the waters of loss and grief, learning to completely depend on the Captain of my ship who directs my course day by day. And, I began to see the victorious side of being a suicide survivor…
the courage to get up from the ashes, to dust oneself off, and put one feet in front of the other and step into one day and then the next and then the next
the STRENGTH to pick up the pieces of a broken life and forge a new life with new memories and new dreams
the WILL to overcome the tragedy and not be overcome by it
the JOY of deepened relationships with friends, old and new, who are crazy enough to journey with you
the DETERMINATION to love more intentionally because life, all of a sudden, became a lot shorter
the GRACE to forgive yourself and your loved one, grateful to have loved so greatly you can grieve so deeply
the DISCOVERY that grief gives more than it takes away
the BLESSING of greater intimacy with the Almighty because He counted you worthy to suffer
the SWEET SURRENDER to the will of God even when His will does not look like yours
the KNOWING that God is everything He says He is because you have seen Him and not just heard of Him
the FINDING that the Hope that is firm and secure holds you fast in the winds and rains
and the PEACE which passes all understanding, even when you don’t understand,
is a real thing that comes as you patiently wait out the storm.
I am a two-year suicide survivor. To God be the glory.