Questions played over and over in my mind. Focusing on simple tasks, let alone taking care of my family or work responsibilities, seemed impossible as my thoughts got lost in a tangle of questions…impossible questions; impractical, non-productive questions. I hated my choices: stay in bed or keep going. Neither offered me relief from the torturous, exhaustive continuum of questions. My world, what I thought I knew, was shattered.
Yes, I was busy. Yes, I was dividing my time, talents, and attention between a family of seven and a demanding job. But there I had been, thinking I was doing pretty well keeping it all together. Balls may have been occasionally dropped, events sometimes double booked, but the challenges of our family life were pretty typical or so I thought until my handsome, charming 16-year-old son Cory took his own life. Suicide doesn’t happen in typical, happy families, right? How could this be happening? More Questions.
Throughout our 22 years together, my husband and I had passed through some pretty tough stuff. We had faced challenges that had rocked our marriage, tested our faith and disrupted our dreams. But I had never considered anything like this. Cory had his share of frustrations and problems, but nothing that didn’t seem “typical” teenage guy stuff. He was a very likeable kid with lots of friends, easy to laugh and fun to be around, but under the surface he was struggling. We were aware of it, and doing all that we thought we should be doing to support and help.
In an instant, however, regardless of what I thought and all we did, Cory was gone and all that was left were questions.
Immediately our family was being carried by friends and loved ones. No doubt even the very angels in heaven were dispatched to lend support. While I was feeling so much love, so much concern, and so much compassion, there still were no answers. In my mind, I was well aware that the questions would never be satisfied, but my heart still demanded reason. It didn’t take me long to realize that I couldn’t live like that. I needed peace. I needed to find comfort somewhere. I wanted to be comforted.
I have always been a “believer” in Christ. I was raised as a Latter-day Saint, and I have a strong belief in eternal family relationships, a redeeming Savior and a loving Heavenly Father. But for some reason, all the truths that should have been giving me perspective and understanding weren’t enough. I needed more than doctrine. I needed real hope. I needed to figure out how to apply the principals I had learned about Jesus Christ my whole life, and allow them to actually help me. This process did not happen overnight, but with almost two years to look back on, I marvel at my own progress and at the personal peace that I have found through Jesus Christ. With my 20/20 hindsight, I want to share four things that helped me find peace and stilled the constant questioning.
Prayer was constant following our tragedy, mostly because I was afraid to verbalize my thoughts out loud to anyone. I found myself calling on the Savior consciously and unconsciously. I realized that I was asking Him the questions. I was pouring out my sadness, heartbreak and inability to understand, but I was not stopping to listen. I’m not sure if I just ran out of words, or energy, or both, but I remember distinctly the moment that I was able to quiet my mind enough to listen and feel. Somehow with the help of the Holy Ghost, I knew that Jesus understood how painful this was for me. I knew that He was aware of me in my overwhelming grief, that he was aware of my family and Cory too. I felt understood. What a tremendous comfort that was for me.
There is one scripture that I have always turned to in times of trouble and as I started seeking comfort, again it was brought to my memory. Doctrine and Covenants 100:15: “let your hearts be comforted; for all things shall work together for good.” I knew that this trial would be for my good; for Cory’s good, for my family’s good…and I decided right then and there that I was going to squeeze any and every ounce of GOOD from this situation that I could.
Because I decided to share my story openly via social media and my blog, many people had the opportunity to reach out to me with support. The compassion that I felt from others was unbelievable. I was offered personal experiences that I could learn from and relate to and words of encouragement and connection. Friends and strangers alike sent us hand made cards, messages, and flowers. So many just loved and prayed for us. We could feel it. I am so thankful for that added measure of compassion that reminded me why this is such a precious attribute of Christ.
Faith was something that I thought I had a pretty good handle on. I had no doubt in the role and divinity of Jesus Christ, but this suicide felt impossible for me to reconcile. I am not sure if it was because of the prayers, or the love and compassion that was so palpable, or even the gratitude that I was experiencing, but I woke up one morning, and it dawned on me that PEACE was something that Christ offers to all who follow Him. It’s a special GIFT that He has the privilege of giving to us through his Atoning power. He will never force us to accept the gift; that is our choice. All of a sudden it all became crystal clear to me! I can partake of the PEACE by trusting in His promises and STILL have unanswered, unsolved, unresolved questions.
Peace rushed through me and calmed my troubled heart. I could sleep, smile, and enjoy cherished memories. My perspective shifted, and my anger retreated. Hope filled my heart. I knew that I could keep going because my Savior knows me, and when I work together with Him, nothing is too hard. I know this for sure, and I am deeply grateful for His peace that He promised to leave with us.
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