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Prayers for Comfort After a Death by Suicide

In the wake of the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, how to pray for loss, pain and grief.

Depressed woman
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Tragically, in the past two decades, suicide has increased by about 30% in the United States. The majority of suicide-related deaths are among males, although a study published on June 14 by the National Center for Health Statistics states that the number of females taking their own lives is growing.

People of all races, ethnicities, social classes and gender take their lives. At times there are warning signs while other times there are not. But no matter what, nothing can prepare us for the loss of a beloved family member or friend from suicide. It leaves us with so many questions as well as feelings of guilt and loss.

Recently, two celebrities—former chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade—shocked their families and fans with the sudden death by their own means. On a closer front, I was deeply saddened to learn that my close friend’s nephew took his life at the tender age of 20. The mother is inconsolable as any mother would be, and the entire family is asking “why”?

While we will never fully know why a person ends his or her life, we can turn to prayer for comfort. Through prayer we can voice our pain, loss, anger and confusion. In prayer, we must also remember to lift up those who battle depression, isolation and hopelessness. Everyone is fighting a battle of their own, some are visible and others are not, let us remember to be kind and pray for others. Here are a few prayers from the mental health ministry, A Nouwen Network:

–God of hope, we come to you in shock and grief and confusion of heart. Help us to find peace in the knowledge of your loving mercy to all your children, and give us light to guide us out of our darkness into the assurance of your love, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

–God our strength and our redeemer: you do not leave us in this life nor abandon us in death. Hear our prayer for those in despair, when days are full of darkness and the future empty of hope. Renew in them your sustaining strength for we believe that there is nothing in all creation that can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

–Merciful God, hear the cries of our grief, for you know the anguish of our hearts. It is beyond our understanding and more than we can bear.

Let us remember to lift up in prayer those who are battling depression and those who are grieving for loved ones who died by suicide. 

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