Many people I talk with who have loved someone who committed suicide struggle simultaneously with feelings of grief and anger. They are sad at the loss and at the pain that they saw their loved one go through; they can also be mad at the person who killed themselves. That’s fine. It is okay to be mad at them…or to be mad at the situation. We don’t have to be afraid to acknowledge that, while the person may have been hurting, he or she really hurt everyone else when the person killed himself. It was possibly an act of selfishness on their part, and now we have to stand around and try to pick up the pieces of our shattered lives.
Now, of course, there is a difference between “being mad at” and “hating” or “condemning.” We may be mad, but we are still called to love.
And this is critical. To “love” means to “will the good of the other.” When we love the person who has committed suicide, we will their good. This means that we pray for them. The Church teaches us to pray for those who have died. Why? Because the Church believes that no matter what, there is always hope.
Father Mike Schmitz is the chaplain for Newman Catholic Campus Ministries at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He also serves as the Director of the Office of Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth. This column is a feature of bulldogcatholic.org and is published here with permission. You can submit questions to Fr. Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also listen to Fr. Mike’s homilies here and at iTunes .