I recently officiated a memorial service for someone who died by suicide. I was moved by this family’s decision to be transparent that their loved one died by suicide – in the obituary and in the service. With the permission of the family, I am publishing an excerpt from the eulogy that speaks to choosing new language when talking about suicide.
In agreement with the family, I have removed identifying information – yet, you can glean the power of these words even without a name. Please use this text (with attribution, as is appropriate) to generate comfort, solace, and understanding to those in need, including in yourself.
In English, we have this awful turn of phrase: “committed suicide.”
From everything I have learned about […], it was life he was committed to, that he desperately wanted for himself and for those whom he loved. It was life to which he committed and recommitted himself over and over again in the years he spent on this planet.
And when the pull of shadows was stronger than that commitment, still intact was his other commitment: the deep love of his [family] and care for others whose companionship tried to be a bulwark against those long-standing, pernicious, persuasive shadows.
Let us not be held thrall to taboos of silence, for part of healing is naming the truth that […] took his own life. And at the same time, let us commit, in […]’s memory, to not using that phrase, “committed suicide.”
[…] took his own life. It is tragic. It is terrible. But he was not terrible. There is no moral assessment, no blame, no damnation of him. Or those who could not prevent this course of action.