The Debt of Grief

A few weeks ago, someone I had known, committed suicide.

The mother found her strung up like a fallen power line, having lost, what we are told, a long period of depression. A night so dark and deep, that not even the starlight of her family’s love could reach the pit. This individual was active in the parish, taking responsibility for various children’s endeavours and ministries for the youth. We pray for the repose of her soul.

But where do we go from here? How can a parish, indebted to grief, console her children when a member of the family chooses to end his own life. Suicide is a grave perversion of natural order, and, a violation of the fifth commandment. However, when mental illness is involved, the lines blue. Dana Dillon of Catholic Moral Theology wrote an excellent little treatise on the moral situation of suicide. She writes “our culpability for what we do is measured in large part by our freedom in choosing it.” And this point, exactly, was the homily for Mass preceding the day of the funeral. Where exactly does our freedom end?

Dillon writes, “when someone has severe depression or is living with the hallucinations and delusions of schizophrenia or the challenges of an anxiety disorder, the brain simply does not process information in a normal way.” The mind of someone who struggles with an anxiety or depressive predisposition, is, set apart from the rest. Perhaps the phrase victim soul could apply. Regardless, we cannot stand in judgement of a soul which only God himself peers into. What moves me so, however, is prospects of our future as a society.

What kind of cry for help is death? A reaction to the oppression and violence of this world, a violence often underhanded, in nature. And who can handle the grief of a lost child, especially under these circumstances?  A mother weeps, bitter tears fall like rain upon memories of a body once so small and able to fit in the palm of a hand. The future becomes overcast, blurry, invisible. I write not to answer any questions like this.

I write to sort out the mess of human brokenness.

You may recall that we are all children of the same God. We converge not only by the breath of life but also the actions of our mortal inclination. Each person possesses his own sliver of a shard, which is why the Blessed Lord Himself came to defeat death. To restore in us, our new life, one we receive in baptism.

Our brokenness manifests itself in diverse ways; we all have our own temptations, but it is easier with God and Our Blessed Mother. We are not alone; we are not automatons, just given over to the desires of the flesh as modernity often likes to present ourselves as being. Reject not your soul, reject only the world.

We can no longer be so hard on each other. We can not be guilty of being a shade against our brethren. Do not be afraid to love. Perhaps if we love each other a little bit more, like a spark of light, we will become the light of the adorable Saviour in a culture affixed to darkness.

Let your heart be a broken door, a latch turned to dust, open wide.

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path,
Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Saviour, lead me home in childlike faith,
Home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.

-Blessed John Cardinal Henry Newman

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