Suicide is a hard subject to discuss. Tragically, it touches too many lives. For those who attempt suicide and survive, the shame can be paralyzing. For the family and friends of those harmed by it’s effects, the pain, confusion, and anger can be disorienting. Because we avoid talking about suicide, many of us don’t fully understand it.
While there are many contributing factors to why someone would try to take their own life (mental illness, drug abuse, susceptible age, etc.), one big misconception about suicide is that it is rooted in hopelessness. Adversely, most people are attempting to kill the hope that refuses to die inside of them. We are all created to have a heart that feels, needs, desires, longs, and hopes, but sometimes hoping hurts the most.
For some, it is painful to hope…
• that I will make it through the humiliation of my secrets being exposed.
• that my friends and family will stand by me after this failure.
• that there is good in the world and that this good will find me.
• that this disease will not rob my dignity and cause my family undue pain.
• that I won’t be alone and someone will come when I call.
• that will accept me for who I really am.
Hope is painful because it can leave us disappointed and heartbroken. It stirs the need to grieve for all the rejection we experience here on this earth—the “not yet’s” and “not for you’s” and other losses. In the midst of our despair and shame, hope continues to taunt us with the ache for redemption and recreation. Hope can make us feel stupid or like there is something wrong with us for believing there is more or wanting things to change. We grow self-contempt for how our hearts are created.
We are created to need people in our lives that listen to our grief. When hope is not met in the experience of another who cares, we can become sick of heart and we begin to practice hopelessness. But the amazing thing about hope is that it will not stop fighting to live. It comes with each breath in and breath out.
We all have within us the heart of a child, beating for love and play and belonging and acceptance. The child’s heart inside of us is always feeling, needing, desiring, longing, and hoping. That child’s heart is resilient and will not stop tugging on your arm to return to the field of dreams and possibility of beauty.
When we dare listen to hope, it beckons us to return to how we are made. We return to the child inside of us and our heart starts pumping oxygen-rich blood through our veins to our lungs, which receive the nourishment deeply and pour out with the faith of the next inhale. When we dare listen to hope, we return to the belief that while life is tragic, God is faithful.
There are countless stories waiting in our hearts, hoping to be told. There is a part of us that wants to live fully. I hope you follow your hope, you are worth it.
Kate Hughes is a therapist intern at Sage Hill Counseling in Nashville, TN. She was led to Sage Hill through her own personal story of recovery and interned for a year and a half while earning her Masters in Counseling at Trevecca Nazarene University.