Comfort in Time of Grieving: Overdose & Suicide

Photo by RODNAE Productions on

Grieving the overdose or suicide death of a friend or family member is especially trying. We find ourselves wrestling with a myriad of emotions and struggling with our faith. At Catholic funeral Masses, one of the gospel readings often chosen is from Matthew 11:25-30. May the following reflection on this reading bring comfort:

You are deeply and unconditionally loved by God, our Father through our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. You are not alone in your mourning. The one you mourn was also and is deeply and unconditionally loved by Christ Jesus. Jesus sees into your grieving heart. He sees and knows your pain and your turmoil through many mixed emotions. Through it all, He reaches out to you with His tender touch full of love to console, to soothe and to heal.

The one you mourn did not have an easy life. The full depth of his or her personal struggles only God can know. Still, those struggles were also yours. Perhaps you reached out directly to help countless times. Perhaps you stood by and supported him or her in efforts to improve life.  Perhaps you prayed unceasingly. Perhaps you did all these things only to have your heart broken again and again. Still, you mourn out of love for him or her. Despite everything, this person’s life brought out this love in you. And that love, despite this person’s difficulties, was his or her gift to you. 

Jesus knows your heart brokenness and he knows your love. In the first part of this gospel reading, we can imagine what He too felt.  Jesus and his followers had been travelling throughout Judea, going from town to town teaching about God’s endless mercy and forgiveness, healing physical ailments and wounded hearts. He spent time with people from all walks of life; He sat with them; He ate with them. Many came to believe in Him and to trust in Him. He assured them of His mercy and forgiveness in their struggles to follow in His path. He knew their weaknesses; He knew they would falter. We just need to think of Peter, who denied Him three times. Still, He loved and forgave and uplifted. Then there were those who refused to believe and repent despite all they had seen and heard. In response to all this, Jesus prays to the Father, thanking Him for revealing his love, his mercy and forgiveness, his salvation, and his joy to the open hearted.  Jesus prays “…no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

Be assured, Jesus has chosen you to reveal His Father’s love, mercy, and salvation to. We can’t know the relationship nor the ongoing conversations between the one we mourn and Jesus throughout his or her life on Earth nor his or her passing over to the other side, but we can be assured of Jesus’ love and mercy for him or her. We must keep this person in our prayers always.

In the gospel passage, Jesus continues: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened.”  When losing someone close, we are overcome and burdened by many emotions and experiences. Your loss may bring out unique and different experiences, among them grief due to the emptiness that is now there.  You may have memories of this person going back to childhood. You look back fondly on happy times, playing together as children, going through school together and working together. Now, you are left with a void wondering what went wrong.

Maybe you are feeling anger. Perhaps you are angry at God for not keeping this person alive; perhaps you’re angry at God because you feel your prayers were ignored. If He loves us so much, why would he allow so much pain?  Maybe you are angry at the person you’re grieving, for leaving you and causing you so much pain. This anger can be made worse because you might think it’s wrong to feel this way. But these feelings are real, they are your feelings, your burdens.  And God understands. We must allow ourselves to feel them, all of them, and work through them. 

Perhaps you are experiencing guilt or shame. You beat yourself up thinking maybe you could’ve done more or maybe you didn’t listen enough and missed a warning sign or cry for help. Or you have feelings of guilt over the way you may have treated or spoken to this person.  Maybe you find yourself feeling guilty over the sense of relief the death has brought.  

Maybe you blame yourself or others for not stepping up and standing by your loved one in his or her time of need. You blame yourself for not preventing the death. Or you blame your loved one for not taking better care of himself or herself.

Perhaps fear and anxiety has set into your life. You worry about other family members and friends, stressing over their lives, their choices, their physical and mental health. All this, not to mention, the anxiety you may be battling regarding your own life.

All these feelings and experiences are normal parts of grieving.  We labor under their burden to move on. Jesus not only asks us to come to Him, He also promises that we will find rest in Him. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.”

Jesus promises us that He is gentle, loving, and patient. His concern is for our well-being and for our returning to Him again and again in love. So, don’t deny your feelings.  Allow yourself to experience them and work through them assured that Jesus loves you deeply and unconditionally. Bring your burdens to him, and you will find rest.  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: