Orthodox Thought for the Day


Friday, February 21, 2014

The unhealed grief of suicide

There was an occasion during the life of the Optina Elder Leonid (Lev in the Great Schema), who died in 1841. The father of one of his disciples, Paul Tambovtsev, had died an unhappy and violent death by suicide. The loving son was deeply grieved by this and poured out his sorrow before the elder thus: “The hapless end of my father is a heavy cross for me. I am now upon a cross whose pain will accompany me to the grave. While imagining the terrible eternity of sinners, where there is no more repentance, I am tortured by the image of the eternal torments that await my father who died without repentance. Tell me, father, how I can console myself in this present grief?” The elder answered, “Entrust both yourself and your father’s fate to the will of the Lord, which is all-wise, all powerful. Do not tempt the miracles of the All-high, but strive through humility to strengthen yourself within the bounds of tempered sorrow. Pray to the All-good Creator, thus fulfilling the duty of the love and obligation of a son.” Question: “But how is one to pray for such persons?” Answer: “In the spirit of the virtuous and wise, thus: ‘Seek out, O Lord, the perishing soul of my father: if it is possible, have mercy! Unfathomable are Thy judgments. Do not account my prayer as sin. But may Thy holy will be done!’ Pray simply, without inquiring, entrusting your heart to the right hand of the All-high. Of course, so grievous a death for your father was not the will of God, but now it rests completely in the will of Him Who is able to hurl both soul and body into the fiery furnace, of Him Who both humbles and lifts up, puts to death and brings to life, takes down to Hell and leads up therefrom. And He is so compassionate, almighty and filled with love that before His highest goodness the good qualities of all those born on earth are nothing. You say, ‘I love my father, therefore I grieve inconsolably.’ That is right. But God loved and loves him incomparably more than you. And so, it remains for you to entrust the eternal lot of your father to the goodness and compassion of God, and if it is His good will to show mercy, who can oppose Him?”" 

Excerpted from http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/prayer_nonorth.aspx


I have personally shared the same grief as Paul Tambovtsev.  I understand the grief which is described.  Some people who know me know of my grief, however, most do not.  However, after 13 years, I no longer feel the need to hide this pain.   

I have taken the advice as given above and I believe with a great deal of certainty in the compassion of God above all.  Whatever eternity will reveal as regards my father will be according to the unfathomable mercy of God.   

Take heart, any of you who have lost a loved one to suicide.  We are wounded in this life by the barbs of the adversary of our souls.  Yet, God is great and we can co-labor with Him for His glory and the well-being of others, even those who’ve died without repentance.  If God wills to show mercy, who can oppose Him as the Elder said.  Indeed, who can oppose Him?  I make myself available to any reader who is grieving due to suicide.  I understand the pain; I also understand the hope that one may yet hold before the Living God. 
Pres. Candace

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