Vivian shared that among the things that helped her most was a homily given by Jesuit Father Manoling Francisco. “It was the one bright light in the darkness that filled the days after Caleb’s passing. I found so much comfort in his words.” Upon hearing this, I sought Fr. Manoling out and requested if he could write a piece for the chapter that contained stories about children who had opted to end their young lives, graciously, in spite of a terribly hectic schedule, he obliged.
“Befriend your powerlessness. Not only are we often powerless over the fate of our children, we are also powerless over their autonomy to make decisions for themselves. While they are minors , we decide for them; we even impose upon them. But as they grow older, we wrestle with their independence and individuality. We realize we cannot decide everything for them; we can only influence them…Because love only desires what is good for one’s beloved, our love for our children compels us to protect them, to avert disaster. And so, grudgingly, we admit our helplessness over our children’s decisions – including their decision to destroy themselves.
Fear not God’s condemnation. Until one generation ago, the Roman Catholic Church forbade suicide victims to be waked inside the Church. For many of us Catholics, to take away one’s life is an unforgivable sin. Hence waking suicide victims in a Church dishonors God grieviously.
But psychology has helped us better understand the human psyche and the nature of sin. All sin involves free consent…Psychology has helped us understand that no one in his or her proper state of mind takes away one’s life . Now that we understand depression to be an emotional disorder that includes chemical imbalances in the brain, we have become more compassionate and less quick to judge suicide victims.
If we have become more understanding of suicide victims, what more of God? As our child took away his life in secrecy and isolation, is it possible that he was never truly alone? Might God not have been the first to rush to and embrace him as he fell? Prior to our painful discovery of his demise, might not God have been the first to weep?”
I’d like to think of the book as a roadmap not only for bereaved parents but also as a guide for everyone who has lost a loved one, and those who care for those who are bereaved. By sharing our stories we hope that you will better appreciate and understand the journey we have been on. Though our losses do not define us, the reader can gain a deeper insight as to how the life-changing event helped shape us into who we are today.