Trying To Make Sense

When we got the call on Friday, we weren't overly concerned. A close cousin of my wife was letting us know her daughter hadn't come home the night before and was worried. We had spent two weeks with this cousin and daughter last year, once while on our east coast vacation and again when they took us up on a Midwest vacation at our house. Everything seemed normal with the relationship with the 24 year old daughter and her mom. The girl was trying to wrap up an online college degree thanks to Covid and wasn't quite sure where she was headed in life but for me, that is normal at that age. Many of us don't find our callings until much later in life after much trial and error. So we guessed there had been a disagreement and the 24 year old adult daughter had taken a night off to cool her heals. We prayed for a resolution and shared a missing daughter announcement using social media.

By Saturday morning, there was still no word back. We mused on it while we made our way down to the farm garden where we lost ourselves for most of the day getting it worked and planted. We were both tired and worn out in the evening when we got another call. The daughter had been found dead in her car with no other information provided. As expected we were shocked. We had felt like an aunt or uncle to this girl and now she was no longer in this world.

Despite our weary bones, I don't think either of us slept much Saturday night. We discussed various scenarios and wracked our past conversations for clues. I think both of us immediately suspected that the death had been self inflicted but both secretly hoped that perhaps there was another explanation. Sunday we lit a candle for her at church and of course prayed for the mother and her remaining son. Still shell shocked, we spent long periods trying to make sense of someone so young, that we had loved so dearly, now no longer alive. Later that evening, we finally got word that there had been a letter written to the mom at the scene of the death and so we now are pretty sure what occurred even if we don't know the reasons why.

I know it is common wisdom to not try and make sense of the irrational, but I can't help myself. Last night as my wife and I lay in bed waiting for sleep, we tried to make sense of it. I came up empty. I have been in pretty low places many times in my life but I force myself through because I just KNOW things WILL eventually get better. They always do. I suspect those like this girl, either through inexperience or just plain due to different brain wiring, just can't see a future that is better. We had thought about inviting this girl back to the Midwest for a long term visit to maybe find direction in her life and now that idea is too late. How I wish I could go back in time. Her last stop had been at a 7/11 where she purchased something before driving to some pay for parking lot somewhere and ending her life. I would  be at that 7/11 waiting for her if I could, just to let her know it will get better.

My wife is flying out to be with the family and commit the daughter's body into the afterlife. Being from a very Catholic family, where Catholicism has pretty staunch views on suicide, I'm not sure what that will look like. Her life on this world, this existence, however, is over now and here, she is at peace. I wish she had taken the time to speak to someone about her plans instead of leaving us all behind to try and rationalize something that can't be.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline



  1. Oh my God! Ed, very sorry for your family's loss. How tragic, how awful. I can't imagine having to process such a thing....

  2. This is so tragic. Sorry for everyone's loss.

  3. Oh my gosh. I'm so sorry. What a terrible event for your family.

    I know what you mean about struggling to understand, but I guess that's the difference between someone who's dealing with profound depression (and/or other issues) and someone who's in a better frame of mind. We can see that things WILL get better.

  4. Ed, I remember when they came to visit you last year. I have a lot of words that are acceptable in the English language to use, but they do not convey the depth of my condolences and sorrow.

  5. As the saying goes, "A permanent solution to a temporary problem." However, as you note, she didn't see it that way. She was in pain and distress and couldn't think that it would get better. I worked on a Crisis Line for a couple years and many people who called felt hopeless but reached out for help anyway. But too many don't. I hope no one will say to the girl's mom what a fellow churchgoer said to my mom after my brother killed himself, "You know that he's in hell now, right?"

  6. My sincere condolences to the family. Best wishes from Hawaii.

  7. I'm so sorry. We'll be praying for your family during this difficult time. Please don't get caught up in "if only" thoughts.

  8. I'm very sorry for your loss. It's very difficult to understand why some one would take their own life.

  9. Thank you everyone for your kind words. I have seen a lot of these sorts of things occur to other people over the years but this is the first to strike so close to home and I hope it will be the last. I'm thankful for the time I got to spend with this girl before she was gone and I hope it is a wake up call of sorts to always be alert for signs that we may have missed so that something like this doesn't happen again. For now, we are just doing our best to console the grieving mother and brother in their time of need. I can't imagine their feelings right now so if so inclined, please keep them in your prayers.

    1. Heard about this tragedy from TB’s 45.
      Prayers are up. May blessings flow.


  10. I saw the link to this post over at The Forty-Five. I don't need to know you to know your pain, and I mourn with you. As for the view of the Catholic Church on suicide, though no one wants to see a life end this way, I feel the Church is as clueless on suicide as many of the rest. To look at someone who reached a point in life where they thought death was the only way out and rub salt in the wound with the Church's views leads me to believe that the Church is as much, if not MORE the sinner than as the suicide victim. ...Yes, I've experienced long-term depression and yes, I'm Catholic. My heart groans with what this girl must have been feeling...

    ...Know this; your wife's cousin is in the arms of God... Don't let anyone persuade you otherwise...


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