Sunday, October 11, 2009

What's In A Smile?

This weekend, I had the unfortunate experience of attending a funeral for an old friend of mine that recently killed himself.

He was a fun-loving person that literally brightened up the room when he was there.  He had a smile that lit up his face, and before long, the contagiousness of it would have those around him smiling, as well.

He typically tried to find the best in people and was usually successful.

He was an all-around good guy.

I worked with him for 10 years and have now known him for almost 20.  I saw him last about 2 or 3 months ago.  I have talked with a lot of people that have been around him frequently during the past few weeks and no one saw this one coming.

At his funeral, we all watched as picture after picture swept by on the overhead screen at the church.  The one thing I noticed in every picture was his killer smile.  A smile that lit up the room.  A smile that looked totally genuine. 

A smile that evidentally hid a lot of pain.

The minister spoke and he brought up some of the questions that everyone there had been asking themselves.  The first question was 'Why?'  'Why did this have to happen?'  It seems so senseless.  He had so many friends.  So many people that loved him.  So much to live for.

The minister went on to say that we should not focus on the 'Why?' of this one tragic decision, but instead focus on the positive ways our lives were touched by this individual. 

I think it's probably important to do both.  I think asking 'Why?' is probably part of the normal grieving process, especially when it concerns a friend or relative that has committed suicide.  While no answer will ever totally satisfy this question for my recently departed friend, maybe the search for the answer can lead to areas of self-discovery and reflection on one's own life.

Why indeed does one take their own life?

What has to be going on in one's head to make this choice seem like a viable option?  Especially someone that is not mentally ill and has a huge number of people that love and care for him? 

Why couldn't he reach out for help?




The second question the minister talked about was 'What could I have done to help prevent this?'.  This is the question that I think many were asking themselves.  Could I have seen this coming?  Could I have said just the right words or done just the right things to have prevented this suicide from occurring?

He admonished us to not blame ourselves.  He reiterated what was already fairly obvious to all of us, but needed to be said as a reminder.  We were his family and his friends.  Lots of friends and family that did what they could to be there for him.  What happened was not something that we could have prevented, or we would have.

I appreciated this minister's words.  I have not been as close a friend as late as I used to be.  I know one of the first things that went through my head when I found out about the suicide was that I wish I had been closer to him more recently so that I might have seen this coming. 

In retrospect, I don't really think anyone saw this coming.  And I don't think I probably would have either, even if I had been closer to him.

I can not believe that his life is over.  That I will never see him again.  That his smile will never again be seen aside from in our pictures and in our memories.


Why did that smile hide so much?


It is sometimes hard to see behind the immense problems of here and now.  When that is the case, sometimes we need to cry out to Jesus.  Please follow this link to listen to a great song about hope for the helpless:

Here are the lyrics:

Cry Out To Jesus
Third Day

To everyone who's lost someone they love
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there's nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right


There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart

There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are

Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

For the marriage that's struggling just to hang on
They lost all of their faith and love
They've done all they can to make it right again
Still it's not enough

For the ones who can't break the addictions and chains
You try to give up but you come back again
Just remember that you're not alone in your shame
And your suffering


When your lonely (when you're lonely)
And it feels like the whole world is falling on you
You just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus

Cry to Jesus

To the widow who suffers from being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight


Please listen to the linked video above first.  I like it the best, but this next one is pretty good, also:

The song Hope For The Hopeless by A Fine Frenzy.


stitch in your knitted brow
and you don't know how
you're gonna get it out

crushed under heavy chest
trying to catch your breath
but it always beats you by a step,
all right now

making the best of it
playing the cards you get
you're not alone in this

there's hope for the hopeless
hope for the hopeless
there's hope

cold in a summer breeze
yeah, you're shivering
on your bended knee

still, though your heart is sore
and the heavens pour
like a willow bending with the storm,
you'll make it

running against the wind
playing the cards you get
something is bound to give

there's hope for the hopeless
hope for the hopeless
there's hope

there's hope for the hopeless
hope for the hopeless
there's hope

Romans 5:1-5
"Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us."

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