This month marks the one-year anniversary of the death of my dear friend Spencer.  I truly believe that I will never fully recover from his death.  He was “my boy” and I enjoyed having him in my life.  We talked several times a week, and even though we were very different, we had a deep love for each other.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but at some point God gave me His heart for Spencer.  I no longer had my own feelings, but I had a heart filled with unconditional love for him.  And even though there were many things about Spencer I struggled with — like his “Marine” language — I loved him with God’s heart.

I know I am not the only one who has lost a loved one through suicide.  Even though all deaths are difficult, suicide is especially painful.  After suicide we are left to wonder why — and what — we could have done to prevent it.  We are left with a knot in our stomach that never seems to go away.  We are filled with questions and very few answers.  We are left with unfulfilled dreams and hopes.

In the past year, here are some things I have learned about suicides:  (1) depression is a disease that we do not fully understand; (2) that I need not worry about Spencer’s salvation (God has assured me of His divine mercy); (3) that there is not anything I could have done to prevent this tragedy, and (4) that I cannot allow the ending of his life to define who he was, what he accomplished, and the joy that he brought to so many.

I talk to Spencer several times a week still.  Sometimes I simply say “Spencer, Spencer, Spencer.”  Other times I tell him how much I miss him.  But for now, I am grateful for three things: (1) he was a part of my daily life; (2) that he did not have to live through my death and burial (he would not have handled that very well); and (3) that because of God’s graciousness, I will be with Spencer, my mom and dad, and so many loved ones in heaven.

I offer my prayers to any of you who have shared a similar loss.  I wanted to write this to let you know, that as a pastor and a man of the “cloth” I, too, struggle with grief and loss.  But, in the long run, my faith is stronger than my hurt and my loss.  My trust in God is deeper than the pain.