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Article by Reverend Colleen Engel-Brown: firstname.lastname@example.org
Only in a personal experience of being intimately involved in another's suicide can one fully grasp the many levels of impact. My beloved spouse of three-plus years, who was/is my soul mate--we were in our mid-sixties at the time of marriage--chose to end his life the day following Valentine's Day, 2008.
Every hour of that day is etched in my memory. The eternal question of why, why, and more whys--along with attempts to metaphorically walk in his shoes, forever seeking to discern his mindset, and yes, the subtle questioning of myself--could I have changed the outcome of that day had I only.. if I had only....
Such torture is relevant to anyone who has had this experience. They know every painful facet of the unanswerable questions. But there can be 10,000 why answers. The only fruitful, loving question that gains us perspective is 'What now?" His health had been deteriorating for months. He was determined to have no more surgery or long hospital stays. And yes...we knew that a massive heart attack was imminent. Nonetheless, suicide?
Suicide & Eternal Damnation
This 'What now' experience led toward facing a number of beliefs as well as fears. The idea that suicide is the worst of all offenses clearly stems from much of our western religious heritage. As a small child growing up in a farming community in Arkansas, I became aware very early that suicide was unacceptable in every facet of our community. This was a given. One simply did not do that. It meant eternal damnation. With no reprieve.
It is easy to see how that has likely deterred a sizeable number of people in past years. With suicide being prevalent beginning in the last decade of the twentieth century, that idea no longer serves as a strong deterrent.
Today suicide has become almost an epidemic. Current sources advise that suicide is more prevalent in high stress careers such as firefighters, police officers (my spouse was a retired police officer), the armed forces and in the medical field. Then add females unable to cope with mid-life illnesses and/or marital crises
Another significant category are those who have become addicted to alcohol or drugs becoming literally "walking" suicides. Most important of all, suicide has become an easier life choice by far too many of our teens brought on by peer pressure and economics -- these stars yet to be in our world! This elephant is smack dab in the middle of our living rooms! I feel for today's parents. The time is NOW to start talking to and with each other heart-to-heart.
The purpose of this treatise is to reach out with as much authenticity as possible, to ignite your compassionate understanding, and then to fan that flame into a collective awareness that we cannot ignore--the need for being realistic, open and accommodating.
Suicide & Being Left Out of the Equation
The hearts of parents who have suffered such a loss, the wives and husbands who feel they were not enough, and to families who feel hurt, discounted, not trusted, unloved, all...all the rest of the words--yes, it can happen to you or yours. If this is already your story you must know that You were enough. You did all that you reasoned was yours to do. And..yet..herein lies a paradox.
Consider the ancient conflict found in the Old Testament in the words of Cain when he whined to the Elohim upon being questioned about the whereabouts of his brother, Abel, "Am I my brother's keeper?"
The answer to that question from years of teaching the Bible is, "No. I am not my brother's keeper: I am my brother. "Though we are many we are one."
And so at some level we do know that yes, dear reader. There was more that could have been done. That is what we live with. At a deeper level we know that our loved one made a soul choice that left us out of the equation. And that hurts. Really hurts.
Why Suicide? What is the Purpose of Suicide?
We have to ask-- what might be the underlying purpose of suicide? The Ian Stevenson, MD, reincarnation case of Helmut Kohler | Ruprecht Schultz, featured on the IISIS web site, is filled with nuances that can be applied to our own life today.
When one has chosen suicide, it is not the whim of the moment. Rather, it has been a thought, however subliminal, for some time in the majority of cases. There are some situations that might be questionable but generally it was a thought held in mind at some point earlier. And we are now learning that once a person has committed suicide, they can likely do so in a subsequent life. This is illustrated in the reincarnation case of Paul Gauguin | Peter Teekamp.
A dear minister-friend who did his thesis on death and dying reported that most people, at some crisis or period of grief, have considered suicide. No matter the intention, there are spiritual consequences which I will cover a bit later.
What ultimate purposes then could be served? One strong possibility is that the person took on a soul contract far more aggressive for their learning and growth than their chosen life path permitted. Choosing to leave, or in short, to commit suicide was to capitulate to those stressors.
We are impatient humans--we want to achieve rapid soul growth and enfoldment now! Or have you noticed....My research has frequently pointed toward this theme as a strong underlying crucible. Often we hear of this choice associated with financial reverses, as well as medical conditions.
We have almost become insensitive to the mass numbers of farmers in Africa, Asia, India who have chosen suicide because of crop failures, and seeming financial losses. The Japanese and Chinese business cultures are no less abusive. It is not ours to judge. That must be made plain here. It is ours to walk in their shoes as much as we can to become change agents in our lives for the good of ourselves as well as our community.
Is Suicide the The Ultimate Temper Tantrum?
One other pervasive probability, sadly enough, is summed up in that suicide is the ultimate "temper tantrum." Harsh sounding as it may be--many professionals as well as my own counseling experiences have deterred intended "would-be" suicides by making this point with counselees.
I vividly remember two very poignant cases. We use the word, ultimate, in that it cannot be undone. Twenty years later I received an acknowledgment---thanking me for voicing that observation and showing that it is always a choice, the writer a far wiser young adult.
Depression, the Search for Peace & Suicide
Another very poignant reason for suicide is the belief that nothing else will lead to peace. Above all else human beings desire peace of mind. Depression kills by degrees. And yet I have uncovered a paradox: depression can be an indicator, a merciful experience, if one understands that the miracle called the human body is by design forever engaging in a healing process, a way to find balance.
Depression for the average person is our "insides" letting us know we are not listening to our higher self. We are ignoring signals that our bodies, our minds or emotions are sending out; and these will continue with tenacity until we do "hear" that internal truth.
If we do not, we may opt to quell that inner voice with any of the "drugs of choice"--food, sex, booze, gossip, street drugs, prescription, churchaholism, rebel rousing...acting out. You get the picture.
Immature or mental aberrations are strong contenders as well. But the answer truly lies within. The question becomes one of listening to these signals; make it a high priority to tell ourselves the truth TO ourselves, telling it to ourselves for ourselves and for loved ones.
Aye...listen to the nightly news. All humans are psychics and we do send out signals. Training to listen on every level is really worth the effort. Meditation is a natural way to learn this approach.
Following a Suicide: What Now?
Still. With all of this rationale we are left with the why. Why did our friend or loved one take such drastic action? Again the truth is, there could be 10,000 possible whys. The real question bringing us back to center is: What now?
It is a good practice in any situation where we are demonizing ourselves with the infernal "why" to come back to center, back to the present moment. Change occurs only by choosing to be in the present moment. Fear of the past robs us just as quickly as fear of the future.
Reincarnation, Suicide & the Aftermath
Let us now consider the aftermath. Reincarnation as a seriously sensible, practical, universal possibility can be found in the Holy Bible, and in the most ancient of wisdom texts.
Reincarnation can be likened metaphorically to failing a grade in school, thus having to do a grade over. Or it can be likened to each lifetime serving as a mission assignment. The more successfully we complete our soul work the more we evolve.
My husband believed in reincarnation. Did that in some way give him the impetus to end his life? I would say unequivocally, "No!"
We had explored a number of lives together through various professionals including the renowned Kevin Ryerson (of Shirley MacLaine fame). Bob had evolved from being a teacher in both Protestant fundamental doctrines as well as the study of Catholicism, Buddhism, onward into Eckankar and New Thought teachings.
Bob knew the law of consequences, of reaping what one sows, and the law of what you give out you get back tenfold. He knew the reason we came to live on this planet--and we all did choose to be here. We exited out of "somewhere" to exist here. But that is another topic. We came here because this is the planet with fascinating opportunities for rapid spiritual evolution.
Soul Evolution and the Quest for Perfection
We are here today, many wise ones say, because we stood in line to be here-- for this time, this era that we are now experiencing, and the current and coming changes that we feel collectively today.
We are here to evolve into our own mastery. Paul of Tarsus said it in Col. 1:27 "Christ in you, your hope of glory (perfection)."
There it is again! I personally never wanted glory, but have we humans not always wanted perfection? Is that not innate within the essence of every human being?
We may act quite differently but I think this is proof positive in how we are made in the image and likeness of the Creator. Simple, but profound when fully thought through.
We want to look right, be seen rightly, do want things picture perfect, to drive the perfect automobile....oh that driving force, perfection. What we think about we bring about. Thinking one is a failure brings on failure. Thinking one is the cock of the roost brings on cockiness. Thinking one is a team player makes one a likely team player. What we think about we bring about, including suicide.
Godlings in the Making
Just as a gosling is a baby goose not all grown up--could it not be that we are godlings--not all grown up, struggling with the meaning of life and how to embrace it, do it, be it, live it, triumphantly?
Yes! And as a godling is it possible to be exterminated? Ah, No!
We cannot die--we can do away with the body, but the soul and spirit part of us is indestructible. The more we know of this truth the more we recognize that suicide is not the best answer. It is one answer, but not the best. Nor is it a preferred answer. Here is a very intimately lived case.
A Suicide Attempt by Carbon Monoxide
A dynamic, energetic, fireball of a minister who had achieved levels of success unlike any other female among her peers, such as chartering the church with a high number of new members upon incorporation, of building a new church plant, a sizable one within seven years of starting this church, ad nauseaum.
This individual experienced every one of the reasons listed above except medical, for choosing to exit early. In1989, her marriage, her ministerial career, her credibility as a therapist, and as a community leader, plus her desire to continue her path in the city where she lived were suddenly crushed by many elements, including the catalyst of alcohol abuse by her spouse. All came crashing down like falling dominos. Her soon to be ex-husband found her virtually unconscious, having succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning.
For her, life was no longer desired....Ultimate temper tantrum? Yes! Of course it would have been, though she would valiantly declare not so for years.
Peace of mind firmly became her only goal. Burnout and emotional fatigue which had begun insidiously a few years before were now taking their toll.
The damage to her brain from the lack of oxygen was enough that she was hospitalized for nearly a week. The shockwaves that went through the city where she resided were enormous. She, however, was devastated that her choice to opt out of life did not work-- for all she wanted, she said, was to go back to Source, knowing she would have to start over. She was certain she did not have the strength required to deal with a divorce, a wrecked career, broken dreams and heart,...betrayal...all the rest of the words.
Today that woman is blessed to have been given incredible support and love of friends and family--to not only come back, but to come back strong and to see so clearly that we are each essential to the tapestry of life. We have a mission to fulfill. We did not come to this life by mistake, for there are no mistakes.
We are all godlings--well, are you not a child of God? Does that not make you a godling, no matter what set of religious tenets you have incurred???
Our trajectory is our soul perfection. Leaving is an option, but thank God today that she was deterred.
That woman was me, my friend.
It was my choice to not listen to my deep Inner voice when it was telling me to let go of the toxic marriage years before and that I was only responsible for my own well being.
Reincarnation & Spiritual Laws
Believing any one else is the source of our happiness or that any one else is to blame for our pain is a set up for a sure fall. The universal laws operate perfectly just as gravity works perfectly every time.
It is a job to educate ourselves about who we are, what we are about, where we came from, how we acquired the spiritual beliefs that we have--and then we have to decide: do they pass the test of truth?
Do they hold up in any century, any condition, any society, any experience? True spiritual laws always will pass this test and hold us up, insofar as humanity has been able to ascertain from millenniums of experiences. These laws, which are nuggets of gold for evolving in life were found very early in our history.
You will find them in Jewish roots, Christian branches, through early and medieval writers such as Origen, Philo Judaeus, Pelagius, Augustine, and Hypatia, Pseudo-Dionysius, The Areopagite, John Scotus Reign Erigena, Mister Ekchart, George Wilhelm, Friedrich Hegel, Mary Baker Eddy, Emma Curtis Hopkins, Nona Brooks, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Dr. Paul Tillich, Charles Fillmore, George Fox....the list is endless. Their search for truth is the legacy that serves us today if we have eyes that are opened and ears to hear.
Listening to Your Higher Self or Soul
One last reminder. Depression is a merciful message to yourself. Are you listening to your Higher Self? It is often a signal we are fence-sitting.
We won't do that for very long though some have experienced depression for years before it will create pain, chaos, suffering. Life is always inviting us to play with it. We get into trouble with black/white judgments, often causing us not to take what really is a simple step placing us in different energies where we can breathe again. Trust yourself. Your soul/spirit connection to your Higher self may be frail, weak, unused, rejected, or any other state you can name. But It is there. You are powerful. And you are in charge. Remember that your loved one is also in charge of his/her life.
This discussion is not meant in any fashion to be the final word. It is meant to bring you "aha's" (enlightenment) and maybe a few different insights? My job for years was to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.
The above is my story--and I am forever changing, learning, growing-- thank God. Know that you are a piece of the puzzle of cosmic life. Without you the universe would fall in upon itself! (Yeah, it would!) So keep grinning, loving, laughing and completely forget to take yourself seriously.
Here's a "High Five"--as godlings we are not "done: yet.
By Reverend Colleen Engel-Brown
Rev. Colleen is available for serious emails at email@example.com