It is heartbreaking to watch our daughter grieve and live each day without the love of her life, yet I am reminded daily of Shawn’s parents who grieve and live each day without the love of their life, too. I love that Shawn’s parents keep Lindsay part of their family and close at heart. So, together again this past Saturday, our two families along with some close friends shared another difficult day. In Shawn’s honor, we participated in the Be the Light Walk in downtown Green Bay. We walked along side dozens and dozens of other families who lost a loved one to suicide. We walked to prevent suicide and to overcome the stigma. But mostly we walked to remember Shawn, Lindsay’s sweet, handsome fiancé, who happens to also be a beautiful son, a caring brother, and an amazing friend.
It’s funny how my attention is so drawn to hearing about suicide now or maybe it’s just that prevalent. A few weeks ago, I was listening to a news segment about a woman from Portage, Wisconsin, who started Garden of Angels in honor of her husband who lost his battle with depression. Hearing these words made me think differently about Shawn and the battle he was fighting just as someone with cancer or any other debilitating disease.
At the very end of the program Saturday evening and just before the walk began, a young woman read a poem titled Understanding Suicide (printed below). These words also helped me to better understand what Shawn, along with all of the others whose names were solemnly spoken, must have been going through before their battle ended.
At the end of our walk, our small candles brightly filled the letters H – O – P – E. While the evening was emotionally exhausting, seeing the light in the word HOPE gave each of us just that. I’m not sure how, but I felt it. Lindsay is not alone. Shawn’s parents are not alone. Nor are the dozens of others who walked in honor of their loved one alone. We walked together. There is hope.
I remember the words of my dear aunt when my own mom was diagnosed with cancer. She said don’t think of this as a hopeless end, but rather think of this with endless hope. Losing Shawn has changed our lives forever, but I hope that one day Lindsay and Shawn’s parents will find peace knowing that the love of their life is and always will be with them. For you, Shawn, we hope you’re okay, we hope you’re happy, and we hope you know how much you are loved.
When Someone Takes His Own Life
Excerpt from THE HEALING OF SORROW by Norman Vincent Peale
A few days ago, when a young man died by his own had, a service for him was conducted by his pastor, the Rev. Warren Stevens. What he said that day expresses, far more eloquently than I can, the message that I’m trying to convey. Here are some of his words:
“Our friend died on his own battlefield. He was killed in action fighting a civil war. He fought against adversaries that were as real to him as his casket is real to us. They were powerful adversaries. They took toll of his energies and endurance. They exhausted the last vestiges of his courage and strength. At last these adversaries overwhelmed him. And it appeared that he lost the war. But did he? I see a host of victories that he has won!
For one thing — he has won our admiration — because even if he lost the war, we give him credit for his bravery on the battlefield. And we give him credit for the courage and pride and hope that he used as his weapons as long as he could. We shall remember not his death, but his daily victories gained through his kindnesses and thoughtfulness, through his love for family and friends, for animals and books and music, for all things beautiful, lovely and honorable. We shall remember the many days that he was victorious over overwhelming odds. We shall remember not the years we thought he had left, but the intensity with which he lived the years he had!
Only God knows what this child of His suffered in the silent skirmishes that took place in his soul. But our consolation is that God does know and understands!”