My brother-in-law suicided by hanging himself in his garage. He was 71 years old, a much-loved husband, father, grandfather, friend and pastor.
I will never forget the horror of that day. It is so hard for any of us to understand what is in the mind of a person who commits such an act.
My brother-in-law suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and had early signs of dementia.
He was well-prepared to do what he did. He left letters to everyone in his family and had organised things carefully so that his wife would not be the one to find him in the garage.
In his mind, suicide was the best thing for everyone.
Mental illness is a terrible thing and I don’t think we really know how to deal with it. My brother-in-law had been under the care of doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists, but no-one could alleviate the pain he was living with.
Two weeks after his death and burial, my sister experienced what she now sees as a miracle.
Outside the garage where her husband died, a red poppy just appeared out of the gravel, even though poppies had never been grown in the garden. My sister took a photo of the poppy and posted it on Facebook.
So many people said she should pick the flower and press it as a remembrance. Two hours later when she went back to pick the flower, it was gone.
The wind had blown it over and the petals were strewn all around. Even though she couldn’t press the complete poppy, my sister gathered the petals and pressed them—as reminder that God was with her and that her husband was now at peace.
The Bible tells us that ‘our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone—as though we had never been here’ (Psalm 103, verses 15–16). Life is fragile and often the little things can blow us over.
However, this Psalm goes on to say that ‘the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him’ (verse 17). Even when we feel as though life has blown us over, God’s love for us is still very real.
God is just so good and this poppy was a little gift to my sister.
It reminded her of how fragile life is but, more importantly, it brought hope and peace both to my sister and to the extended family.