Go To Counseling

Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):

Brad and I had only been married seven weeks when my Dad's suicide occurred. Talk about being unprepared! No one is ever prepared for a loved one's death, much less a suicide; and way less when you're honeymooners. We couldn't even navigate through the "which sink is mine?" in the master bathroom conversation.To say that we were horribly ill-equiped to deal with working through the tragic death of my Dad is a gross understatement. Like super gross. 

Nine months into our rocky marriage, I was laying in bed one morning or afternoon, sad and depressed, when my handsome husband put his hand on my hand and said, "I don't know that I can make you happy. Maybe we should get a divorce."  Translation: "You've gone freaking nuts and I don't know how to help you." We began marriage counseling three days later. (Don't be hard on Brad! He loved/loves me crazy madly! You have no idea what he had to deal with.)

We didn't just go to counseling. We did the work. Whatever the counselor told us to do, we did it. We put in the time. We put in the tears. We worked through the anger, frustration and confusion. We were both willing to hear difficult things about ourselves; not just from each other, but also from the counselor. We were willing to apply what we learned. We say in our house that we're not interested in behavior modification, we're interested in life transformation. We both learned to cling more dearly to Jesus, because life transformation only comes through Him. We each went to counseling by ourselves. A little one-on-one tune-up was needed for each of us. 

It was all crazy hard. Was it worth it? You bet your sweet bippy it was. Brad can still make my blood boil b/c I'm human and flawed to perfection. But I love him so much. I know how to talk to him better because of counseling. He knows how to express love to me better because of counseling. And we know how to fight fair because of counseling. 

I also attended group grief counseling. A girlfriend from church had lost her husband and she knew of a church that offered free group grief counseling. So each week for about 12 weeks she would drive to my house and pick me up. We would drive to the nearby community where the church was located and we would be each other's grief counseling accountability.  It was unspeakably helpful. The group was made up of around 15 people raging in ages from 26 to 86. Everyone went around the room and shared their story of loss the first week. I was nervous and didn't want to utter the words out loud, "My Dad killed himself." But I did. I sobbed the entire time and so did everyone else. God gave me such sweet healing in that group. 

When I read back through this, it sounds like I was in counseling 20 hours a week! ha! I probably should have been. The group grief counseling was an hour each week for around 12 weeks. And it was FREE. Our marriage counseling was an hour each week for about three months. The weeks that we saw the counselor one-on-one, we didn't meet together. The marriage counseling cost us about $45 a session. Yes, that seems like a lot of money for 12 weeks, but not when you think about what we could have lost. And PS - most people spend crazy stupid money on their wedding but don't want to spend a dime on marriage counseling (the thing that may help keep your marriage together)...I'm gonna call that one on the carpet and say: COP OUT! Spend the money on counseling. Biblically-based counseling. Many churches offer free counseling, so check with your church. 

Get help. 

Seek wise counsel.

Keep going. 

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Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.