This isn’t what I had planned when I was asked to write the blog but I feel this is a story worth sharing.
Maybe an introduction first. My name is Jerry Hoving and I am the Care Coordinator here at Fair Haven. I also help run and lead Divorce Care here on Monday Nights.
This past Monday morning I received an email I never wanted to get. One of our Divorce Care participants took his own life the previous Saturday. The news was devastating. The questions immediately start in my head. Should I have known? Could I have prevented it? What if…? What if…? What if…?
I came into the office and began preparing for Monday night. How to tell my co-leaders? How to tell the other participants? Do we cancel? How much do we tell? After a lot of prayer and discussion, we had a plan. It wouldn’t be easy but we could proceed.
What we hadn’t planned for is a brand new participant walking in that night.
Walking into a group of strangers to open up about your failed marriage is one of the hardest things someone can do. Normally we make sure to offer new people extra care and one-on-one attention when they come in. This single mom, let’s call her Judy, didn’t get that. Instead, she got the difficult news of a recent suicide of a participant. How would this impact her? What could she possibly think? I was very worried about her and her reaction to the news.
After the announcement and opening prayer, we watched the video portion of that night’s session. After the video, we broke into three small groups for discussion. I have to admit, I forgot about Judy.
The person who died on Saturday was a part of the small group I co-lead. We all knew him. We knew his story and his struggle. This was going to be tough.
Judy ended up asking me if she could come to our small group and I hesitated but said yes. We all shared and there were a lot of unanswerable questions and a lot of tears. Judy sat quietly and listened but it seemed to me she wanted to say something. After things were winding down a little Judy spoke up. She shared that she had been through a different Divorce Care one other time in the past. I thought to myself, good, at least she isn’t brand new and understood how everything works. Then she shared what was really moving in her. She is a suicide survivor! She freely shared her thoughts on when she decided to attempt suicide. Her mindset at the time. How until that moment, she had thought about it but never seriously. For her, it came on suddenly and nothing anyone would have said or done could have changed her mind. She described it as insanity. She was saying things we all needed to hear. I believe God brought Judy to us and gave her the words we needed to hear. We had more tears and more talk, but I felt the mood of our group shift at that time. We had a good discussion and could have gone on much longer. I felt God’s presence moving in a real, powerful way.
Depression is something we don’t often talk about. Depression isn’t just feeling sad or blue. Depression is an illness and can be as life-threatening as cancer. We list and pray for our cancer patients. What can we do for our depression patients?
Sharing this story is part of my own healing but it’s possible it can help someone else. This is why stories matter. Your story matters! Your story can help. It might be the scariest thing you’ve ever done, but sharing your story is important in ways you may never know.
God is great!