In September 2009 I gave a talk to a group whose members had lost loved ones to suicide. It was an emotionally charged time with twenty-one of us sitting in a circle for three hours. One by one they shared their stories of pain with me. There were many tears. I deeply felt their grief. The emotions stayed with me for a long time.

I told them what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder and what it’s like to be so depressed that you want to die. I shared honestly, transparently. Although this was a secular group I did tell them a bit about my faith and how it helps me survive. About how I need God. How could I not? But I did not dwell on it too much. We needed to address their feelings more than anything.

They were grateful to me for sharing and I was just as  grateful to them for their sharing. I needed to hear and see the kind of pain they were suffering because there have been times when I have considered suicide. I needed to hear how their lives were forever changed by their losses. I don’t want to do that to the people I love.

I prayed for God’s presence before I went to the meeting and he was there. His love was there amongst us.

I learned something from the suicide loss group that I wish I could broadcast everywhere.

I don’t think any of us realize how much we’re loved. Especially not when we’re depressed and our perspective is off. Even when we’re told we are loved, we tend not to believe it.

Yet the love those twenty-one people expressed for the children, spouses, and parents they lost showed me how deeply those who died were loved. They probably didn’t even realize how deeply they could love and how much pain they could suffer. And those who died may not even have been aware of it. Such a tragedy!

I believe we love our family and friends far more deeply than we know. The busyness of our lives tends to distract us from what’s important. We get so busy focusing on activities and “stuff” that we forget to consider our appreciation for each other. We might be forgetting to tell our loved ones how much they mean to us.

I pray to God that I will never be so self-centered that I will forget what I learned . . . And yet, the reality of it is that when such emotional pain comes it’s pretty hard to think beyond it.

A friend pointed me to the Psalm below at a time I was experiencing a long deep depression that would not lift. Many depressions seem to last forever and we find it hard to believe we’ll ever feel good again. Psalm 13 helped me through such times.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

Psalm 13:1-4

I was relieved to hear David, the man close to God’s heart, cry out to God: “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?” His words remind me that we’re not alone with our deep feelings.

King David shows his honesty, crying out to God, weeping. He shows that asking God some tough, seemingly disrespectful, questions is a most normal response to suffering. I believe God would want us to come to him the way we are, not hiding anything.

If you have a friend going through depression, suggest they browse through the Psalms. They’re bound to find many things to relate to.


(I’m not a professional caregiver. Since 2006, I have given spiritual support as a peer to people living with all sorts of mental health issues. I write from the point of view of someone who has been there and understands—someone who wants to share the faith she has found in God.)
This has been Part 11 of the series In the Name of Jesus. Go to Part 12 – Not for Ourselves Alone