I have a heavy heart.
This weekend a close friend and classmate of one of my relatives passed away at the age of only 15. While his sudden death was a shock, the events surrounding it only added to the pain. He committed suicide.
To say the world stood still for a moment in time as my cousin and his friends each learned of their friends passing would be an understatement. In the hours and now days afterwards the outpouring of support and friendship on the young youth’s Facebook page has been astounding to read. The posts are a testament to this generation and their use of technology to be sure. The messages range from a simple RIP or heart to personal remembrances and messages from a teammate, summer camp friend or classmate. Each of them has as a common theme of how wonderful, kind and loving a person he was and how much he will be missed.
In times like these you have more questions than answers and what was one moment upright is now upside down. As an adult I searched for something to be able to say to my cousin and frankly kept coming up short. Finally I messaged him with a simple note of unconditional love and support and a place to call or turn too if he needs to talk, cry, yell or simply just be.
My heart is heavy not only for the family and their tragic loss, as a parent of teens I cannot even begin to imagine the emotions they are feeling and will be processing in the days to come. But my heart is also heavy for the young man and his friends for they clearly liked him and considered him a friend, yet it was not in the present and every day that they shared those feelings and words with each other. It took a tragedy for them to express them. So many of the memorial posts on his page begin with or contain words to the effect “I never told you this” or “we hadn’t talked much lately” and that is too bad. Let us vow to never wait until someone is gone to let them know how we feel about them and how much they mean to us.
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (New Living Translation)
I love the wording used in The Message version “Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out”. Those are present focused action words. They speak of actions we should be doing now, not tomorrow, not next week, not next year, not after someone has died. We are to be doing it now.
“Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out”. Who do you know who needs a phone call, an email, even a Facebook post or text message of friendship today? Who needs someone to just be a friend to them and accept them for what and who they are? We all have baggage; it’s just different colors and labels. Help each other carry that baggage together so it does not become a weight too much for one person to carry.
Let’s vow to get inventive in encouraging love and helping each other and to do it now in the present. Let’s do it today.
Note: If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide or self harm please know there is help. There are many local and state organizations and hotlines available to help. Also the non-profit To Write Love on Her Arms has a list of resources and other materials to help.