This weekend marks one of the saddest of my life: saying goodbye to a dear friend who took his own life after many years of battling depression and anxiety disorders. Suicide raises a lot of questions, not least of which is, what could I have done? But the questions really don’t end there…What was going through his mind? How do we think and talk about this? Is taking one’s life the height of selfishness? Should would or can we be angry? What does God think of all this? Is suicide the unforgivable sin? I discovered that most of the answers I’ve heard in the past were wrong. Grievously wrong.
By grace, I happened upon a book a couple week’s ago by a theologian I had read for a seminary course last fall. I immediately recognized the name, Kathryn Greene-McCreight, but had no idea that she has battled bipolar disorder for much of her adult life (it began in seminary after an experience with postpartum depression!). I knew her as a brilliant theologian and eloquent writer, but was completely unaware of the years of unthinkable anguish, medications, hospitalizations, electro-convulsive shock therapies and thoughts of suicide. I’m sad to say I was not aware that such things could co-exist with such brilliance and faithfulness in the life of a pastor and theologian.