The Toll of Suicide on a Marriage

I’ll NEVER FORGET IT….

I’ll never forget the very first thing Michelle (my wife) told me when she arrived at our house that life-changing afternoon on May 13th, when I found our son dead.

I was on my knees screaming, wailing, in our driveway, and all of a sudden there she was, holding me by the shoulders and looking at me in the eyes. She said, “We’re gonna make it. We’re gonna stay married.”

Michelle knew a statistic I didn’t: some 90% of marriages don’t make it after the loss of a child.

Dr. Frank Page, in his book about his own daughter’s suicide, writes, “Marriages are frequently the next in line to die after suicide has claimed it’s initial victim….It’s a secondary, collateral target of nearly every suicide. Know that. Expect that. And realize your marriage is now more dependent than ever on your willingness to forgive, to avoid blame and argument, and to allow one another to be yourselves, particularly through those first months and years when emotions and sensitivities are still so painful to the touch.”

Page continues, “No one is ready for this. No one. But we can stay resolved to preserving what remains, including the oft-undervalued treasure of each other. We’re much harder [for the enemy] to carry off when we’re hanging on [to the Rock of Ages] together.”

I love you, baby.

Nick

Rock of Ages

When Jordan died this past May I was in the “Old Testament prophets” (Jonah, Amos, etc.) in my daily devotions. When I recovered enough emotionally to resume my daily readings, rather than skip over to the New Testament, I decided to just pick up where I left off.

This may not seem like a big deal. But it was for me. Because the Old Testament prophets were used by God to, primarily, be the “town crier”, informing cities & nations of God’s coming judgment. (They weren’t exactly the most popular people.) They were typically hated, and lonely.

All of that said, I often asked the Lord, “Would you mind if I skipped over to the ‘good news’ of the New Testament?” But God, compassionate beyond my comprehension,  “put His mighty arm around me” and replied, “Nick, ALL of My Word is ‘good news.”

This morning, in Isaiah, I was once again reminded of this truth. Literally surrounded by passages of God’s coming judgment on man’s sin, Isaiah said, “[God] will swallow up death forever; and the LORD GOD will wipe away tears from all faces….for the LORD has spoken.” (25:8)

One scholar had this to say about this passage: “God will REMOVE the sorrow associated with death. Revelation alludes to the tender actions of this verse twice – once in 7:17 to describe the bliss of the redeemed in heaven, and once in 21:4 to describe the new Jerusalem.”

A few verses later, in 26:3-4, Isaiah continues, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast [fixed on You], because they trust in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal [literally, “Rock of Ages”].”

“…O LORD, my ROCK and my REDEEMER.” (Psalm 19:14)

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Yahweh Rapha (The Lord Who Heals You)

Powerful truth regarding the topic of grief from recent posts on http://www.griefshare.org:

“If you want to heal from grief, you must go through it. You cannot go around it. The grieving process, itself, is a healing process.”

“Fear, depression, anger, loneliness, despair – these emotions come and go with dizzying unpredictability. Your life is like a roller-coaster that you can’t get off. Stay on the ride. Each time one of these emotions comes flooding back, it’s a sign that you are healing.”

“Grief’s timing is not your timing. There is no microwave healing. There’s no way you can just zap it, and you’re better. God’s healing takes time, but morning will come.”

“Read the Bible to draw strength and comfort from it. Remember, when you are discouraged and at a low point, the only remedy is to look to the Father.”

“Time alone will not heal your grief. What is important is that you choose to stay close to the Lord. God is the source of all healing.”

“I am the LORD, who heals you. [Yahweh Rapha].” (Exodus 15:26)

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Angels in Bluejeans

Last night, my family experienced a “visitation”.

Angels. In Bluejeans.

Several of Jordan’s friends came by our house bearing a metric-ton of love (and our favorite Starbucks warm beverages.)

These are many of the same friends who had become like family. They don’t need to knock. They know alarm codes. You know…

These are many of the same friends who sat in our living room less than a week after Jordan died as we all grieved together.

Sure, we grieved some last night (“weeping may last for the night.”) But, this gathering was very different (“but joy comes in the morning.”) We laughed! We focused not on the pain, but on hope; not on death, but on life; not on the temporal, but on the eternal. In short, we focused on Jesus Christ.

Isn’t that what angels are biblically supposed to help us do?

Last night, my family experienced a “visitation”.

Angels. In Bluejeans.

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Satan Has a Plan for Your Life

A recent guest speaker in our church approached me between worship services. He told me he’d heard about my son taking his life, and conveyed love and encouragement to me. Then he reminded me of this axiom of spiritual warfare: “We’re familiar with the statement, ‘God has a plan for your life.’ But what we forget is that satan also has a plan or our life.”

This is the premise on which C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters was written. And it’s prevalent throughout Scripture, beginning in Genesis 3.

This speaker was simply reminding me of the enemy’s relentless pursuit of God’s children. I like how British theologian, J.I. Packer, put it: “Christianity is not a bed of roses; it’s a battlefield on which we constantly fight for our lives.” The ultimate battle was won twenty centuries ago just outside Jerusalem. But, as the disciple Peter reminds his readers, every single day the enemy battles for our attention & devotion: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Satan is far from satisfied with the passing of my son – he’d like to destroy the remainder of the Watts family, as well. There is no “mercy” with the devil. Ever.  Jesus said, “[Satan] was a murder from the beginning,”

Last week (Nov. 2013), I was hit with two traumatic moments related to Jordan’s passing. Then, on Saturday, we finally received in the mail Jordan’s toxicology report. Although there was nothing surprising, or of note, in the report, my wife, Michelle, and I buckled under the emotional weight of it all. It was brutal. Satan would like nothing more than to use our emotion to cause my family to curse God and turn our backs on Him. That’s the enemy’s plan for God’s children – nothing has changed since Eden.

However,….

The Watts family has made our decision:  We choose to stand with Job who said, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” (Job 13:15)

And one day we’ll look into the face of the One who won the eternal victory for us all, making Jordan’s place in heaven – and anyone else who professes their faith in Christ – sure, secure and eternal. The eternal party begins….

And, speaking of Jordan, that guest speaker i mentioned reminded me of another biblical truth. After the death of his infant son, King David said, “[My son] will not return to me, but I shall go to him (in heaven.)”

That’s GOD’s plan made possible through Christ Jesus. And, with His help, THAT is the plan I’m sticking with.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Me & Jordan - Morocco

“Nick, How Many Children Do You Have?”

Saw this post today: “A person who loses their marriage partner is called a widow, or widower. A child who loses their parents is called an orphan. But there is no word to describe a parent who loses a child, because the loss is like no other.”

My dad died of alcoholism in 2000. He was 57. Certainly, this was painful for me. But, if I’ve heard it once since May, I’ve heard it 100 times: “Parents just aren’t supposed to bury their children.” I guess this is part of what makes the loss of a child unique.

It’s impossible to explain.

Recently, I was asked the inevitable for the first time since Jordan died: “Nick, how many children do you have?”  I felt like I was going to throw up.

Then, all of a sudden, I felt the Shepherd’s arms around me and i replied,  “I have THREE children. One lives in Nashville, one lives in Lubbock. And one lives in Heaven.”

And the most important thing is…..all THREE are still LIVING.

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“True North”

“The grief following suicide is so raw and real, primal and human, even people of faith must often battle just to ride it out, to render it livable….How one grieves depends on what one believes….The counsel of Scripture secures us with a stabilizing beam of truth – beginning with a single word: hope….Your pain cannot dig anywhere His Word cannot go.” (Frank Page, from his book, “Melissa,” about his daughter who took her own life.)

Because of Christ Jesus, not even death itself – regardless of what manner in which it visits our home – can separate us from the conquering love of Almighty God! (Romans 8:38-39)

When you find your world upside down, and yourself kicked in the gut.  When you’ve lost your way.  And the enemy is spouting lies in rapid-fire succession.  Remember – Jesus loves you.  And His Word is our “true north.”  Always.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”(Romans 15:13 NIV)