Have you ever enjoyed a vacation near the coast? Have ever seen or toured a historic lighthouse? While you were standing there in the sand and admiring its towering height, nautical stripes, and nostalgic beauty, did you ever pause to consider its purpose?
I have recently noticed that there is not a lighthouse standing – nor ever has been – that runs about the coast in worrisome pursuit of boats in need of saving. No lighthouse nervously checks and rechecks to ensure that all vessels are passing safely by, but rather each stands firmly in its spot, resolutely and steadily offering help as it beams a bright warning light against perilous danger and death.
So, let’s think about this….. Is it the lighthouse’s fault when a ship fails to heed its warning, is unable to see its light, or ignores the foghorn’s blast? Is it the lighthouse’s shortcoming when a boat crashes in catastrophe and is violently thrown against the rocks?
Sometimes when I think of my child’s suicide, I struggle with guilt, yet I’d like to think I was a devoted parent who stood firm in my foundational values and rock solid in my affirmation. I’d like to think my love shone as a brilliant beacon of commitment, loyalty, truth, and devotion. I must choose to believe that I did everything – and only — what I was humanly able to do.
It has taken me many years since my sixteen-year-old son’s suicide to truly come to the understanding that I need to stop blaming myself for not having been able to save him from taking his own life. Offering myself the same grace I compassionately extend to other suicide survivors, I need to stop blaming myself for not chasing more, or pursuing more, or protecting more. I need to stop feeling guilty about any imaginary lecture I failed to give, any lesson I failed to teach, or any symptom I failed to notice.
Like all lighthouses standing upright and immovable along our nation’s shoreline, each of us can only shine our lives the best we know to each of our loved ones with full intent to love, encourage, and protect. None of us can predict or take full responsibility for those near us who become lost in foggy or turbulent storms beyond our control.
May each of us continue to radiate love and hope to those we love and grant ourselves healing grace for things we have no power over,