As a mother, I’m not sure I can think of anything more heart wrenching than losing a child to suicide. When our children hurt, we hurt. In a recent episode of Your Hope-Filled Perspective, I chatted with Karisa Moore, who shared about losing her precious son to suicide. If you missed that episode, you can listen here [Finding Hope After Losing a Loved One to Suicide – Episode 128]. I’ve asked Karisa to share more with you here about how she learned to grieve with hope after the loss of a loved one.
Grieving with Hope After the Loss of a Loved One
By Karisa Moore
My son’s suicide did not demolish hope. The enemy may have flattened my soul, broke my bones, and left me for dead—but God. I have fallen in love with those two words because every time I’ve read them in scripture, God is about to do the complete opposite of what Satan intended for humanity. The enemy meant Jonathan’s death to be the end of me, but the Creator of the universe breathed new life into my lungs because I chose to grieve with hope.
4 Tools I Use to Grieve with Hope
I started sharing my daily journey through grief with Jonathan’s friends and family the day after his funeral. A mother asked, “How are you doing this?” My simple response was, “I’m not.” I expected good things to come out of my tragedy because God says it will. My job was to hope. God will deliver. Grieving with hope is composed of prayer, scripture, fellowship, and witness. When I press into each, I can stand firm, even while suffering heartache.
During the first day of grief, I remember digging my heels firmly into the rich soil of God’s faithfulness in scripture. I couldn’t take in new verses, my brain could not process new information, but I could recall verses already memorized, and truth already learned. In eighteen years of placing my trust in Jesus, I had already experienced many of God’s promises to me, fulfilled.
The Foundation of Grieving with Hope
The foundation of grieving with hope is a conviction that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Paul stated, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39, NIV). I hoped that God would bring good out of the evil of my son’s death.
I turned my tear-stained face towards the heavens and cried out in my pain. “Give me strength.” Men and women gathered in my home only an hour after hearing the devastating news of Jonathan’s death. We were like an army regrouping after a brutal battle. I distinctly remember taking in a breath and reviewing my list of resources. Prayer, scripture, fellowship, and witness had shaped my walk over the eighteen years of walking with God. I picked prayer as my starting point.
My friends circled the small living room. We held hands, acknowledged our grief, and prayed for my ex and his family. We prayed for the police officers who had to respond to the call, and we prayed that the enemy would not gain any more ground. I recognized I could not fight alone. I needed them. Grieving with hope required that I remain connected with others.
The crush of my loss was overwhelming, and every time I tried to hoard my grief, my mind, body, and spirit crumbled. God designed us to comfort one another, so I allowed others to support, talk, and help. During the funeral, friends, and even strangers, stepped in to give my young children the opportunity to grieve as they needed. The youth leaders of our church saw how much Jonathan’s friends were struggling and let me know they had ordered pizza, and I now could offer the teens coming through the line a safe place to grieve together. Allowing others into my grief both hurt and was a profound blessing. They helped me grow, step out and try new things such as artistic avenues I now utilize today.
I was keenly aware of so many eyes suddenly watching my grief. I didn’t want a single person to pass by without knowing they were loved and God valued their story. One of the things I shared at the funeral was the question, “Do we stop the story here or turn the page?” The day after the funeral, I took in a breath and decided to turn the first page on Jonathan’s death by sharing my journey through a daily blog. I was determined to show others what grieving with hope looked like. The blog invited a conversation about depression, suicide, and finding hope and healing through Jesus Christ. That simple blog became my testimony of a faithful God, come what may.
Hope Does Not Disappoint
Almost seven years later, hope has not disappointed. I still pray, expecting God to do what he says he will do. Those prayers have led to more boldness of faith, which has caused me to step into the lives of others in a way I once would not have. At the moments I felt I couldn’t put another foot in front of the other, I stood firm with the weapons I had and wait for reinforcements. God supplied just what I needed each day, and I was satisfied.
Grieving with hope has caused my heart to remain soft and pliable to the needs of others. Sometimes, stepping in and being honest with others hurts like crazy, but the pain is always coupled with great joy. May 10th was Jonathan’s birthday, and many of his friends shared memories and supported us throughout the day. My family and I remember him forward. While making new memories on our Mother’s Day hikes at the cemetery where he is buried, we celebrate Jonathan’s life.
Grieving with hope is on purpose. It will never happen by accident. Just today, I met a woman who lost a sister to suicide. We were able to encourage one another, and she asked for a hug. All because I noticed the semi-colon (a symbol for the fight against despair) on her wrist.
If you are currently grieving the loss of a loved one, be assured, God mourns with you. God is faithful, while the flame of trials threatens to swallow us whole.
4 Questions to Ask Yourself on Your Grief Journey
These are some of the questions I ask of myself regularly as I continue to grieve with hope. I pray that they help you as well.
- What are ways you are grieving with hope?
- What scriptures do you repeat daily to combat thoughts that lead you to paths of untruth?
- Who is walking the journey with you? Are there friends and family offering to help? List out some big and small ways they can help.
- Identify any what-ifs you are currently asking. What does God say about each?
Fighting a relentless enemy takes trusting God. As I grow in prayer, scripture, fellowship, and witnessing others, I realize that I am simply walking with God as he walked with his Father. I lean more and more on God’s will over my own. As a result, I’m better at recognizing the enemy’s attacks and responding more quickly with the truth of scripture.
Hope wasn’t demolished when my son died. As devastating as Jonathan’s death was, I use the same tools to walk through grief as I do with any other trial in my life. Those four habits keep me hoping when the circumstances seem impossible, and hope in Jesus Christ never disappoints. Grieving with hope is saying, “but God” and trusting God to finish the rest.
About Karisa Moore
Karisa Moore speaks on the unspeakable as a result of her oldest son’s suicide. She embraces life alongside her husband and two living children by taking hikes, photography, and sharing great stories. Karisa is the author of Broken Butterflies: Emerging Through Grief, A Suicide Survivor’s Poetic Journal, and a blogger at Turning the Page on Suicide.
Connect with Karisa Moore: Website / Facebook / Twitter
I was so blessed listening to you and Karisa share about her tragedy of her son’s suicide and how she learned to grieve with HOPE and not as one without hope. I am encouraged for any tragedy in life by her ways to walk the grief journey with prayer, scripture, fellowship and witness. She encourages so many people now and even soon after her son’s death. That is why she has been able to grieve with Hope. Thank you, Karisa, for sharing your deep pain with us and encouraging us how to walk the grief journey with a purpose, a plan and seeing healing happen in other’s lives and knowing it has happened in your life.
I am grateful God blessed you Karen. May God continue to encourage and strengthen you as you walk daily with him.
This is a testimony for us all. This >> “Those four habits keep me hoping when the circumstances seem impossible, and hope in Jesus Christ never disappoints.” Thank you both, Karisa and Michelle, for sharing this story.
Joanne, yes, even today I see the concrete aspects of hope. God is faithful, and he does what he says he will do. Glad that you were encouraged.