Today’s blog is from the archives. The author is a former guest blogger, Nick Watts, a father whose son died by suicide five years ago. With beautiful authenticity, he shares what the first year was like after his significant loss, what restored him, and where he found hope to go on. If you’ve lost your child or any other loved one to suicide, I pray you find help and hope from this dad.
JORDAN’S BIRTHDAY IS THIS SATURDAY.
It took me eight months to come out of shock after the death of my son.
I’ll never forget the morning…when I awoke noticing something was different psychologically.
After a few minutes, I finally realized I had not woken up trying to undo my son’s death – which was a sort of psychological torture I had endured both consciously and subconsciously every minute of every day since he took his life the previous May. It was as though my mind finally exhaled.
I’ll never forget that moment. Truth was slowly having its way with my broken mind & heart.
It’s taken over a year for me to finally accept the fact that Jordan’s never coming home.
Perhaps it’s a psychological defense mechanism, or part of the shock but, somewhere in the recesses of my mind – even though I fully knew the truth – I believed he was simply on a trip overseas. This “choice of acceptance” I learned through Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane. Choosing His Father’s will over everything else, Christ prayed, Not my will, but Your will be done. In other words, “Father, I trust You with my pain & suffering.”
It took nine months for me to get to a place emotionally where I didn’t cry every day.
Grief created from suicide is, as psychologists describe, complicated grief. I don’t cry daily now. But, I will say this: The grief is very present and is inexplicable. If I allow it to surface, it will cripple me emotionally.
I’ll never forget Jordan asking me once, “Dad, is it okay for guys to cry?” Without really thinking, I quipped, “Sure! Jesus wept.” For whatever reason, Jordan always thought that was funny. I guess because my reply was so matter-of-fact. I don’t know. But, he agreed with me.
A year ago, a counselor friend looked at me and said, “I wish it were different, but this next entire year will be horribly painful and difficult.”
He was right. I know now why 98% of marriages fail after the death of a child, and I completely understand how a person can go insane.
A Powerful Lesson
I discovered that insanity is a very short walk from where we live our everyday normal lives.
More times than I can count, I have taken Jesus up on His invitation to Come to Me, all who are weary and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11).
I’ve never in my life been taught so powerful a lesson about the body of Christ than after my son’s death. Make no mistake: I have been through some dark times (a violent childhood, a job loss, a broken back). But, I would live all of those very painful experiences over a million times in order to never have to experience the death of my son.
I simply cannot overstate this: I believe I would have never made it without Christ’s love and grace lavished upon us through His Body (you.)
Jesus is Enough
Finally, I’ve learned that Jesus Christ is enough.
As David wrote, The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not be in want of any good thing…. And, centuries later, Jeremiah would write, Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘”The Lord is my portion;”…
God has used these, and so many other passages, to restore the souls of the Watts family. The truth set us free at Calvary – and it sets us free on a daily basis now. Satan, the premier liar, is defenseless against the Truth. (Psalm 23:1; Lamentations 3:22-24; John 8:32)
Today, Jordan Blake Watts is with Jesus Christ in Paradise. He is whole. He can’t even remember what clinical depression is. And, because of the cross and the empty tomb, we’ll join him one day in the presence of the One who made absolute certain that death would not only not separate Jordan from Christ, but that death would not separate Jordan from us either.
TO MY SON:
Jordan, I love you, my angel. I know you’re well – better than well. You’re more alive than I am. I want you to know something very exciting, my child. I begin further schooling on August 25th for the sole purpose of helping the thousands among whom I live also know that, although life is messy and this world can be unspeakably painful, there is HOPE in Jesus Christ.
Satan has tried to make me give up so many times this past year. His flaming arrows have found their mark numerous times. But, Jordan, I have been crucified with Christ (the One you see face to face!), and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
My precious son, I have dedicated the remainder of my life to help hurting people know the truth of Christ’s love so that they – just like your mom & sisters & me – will know that they can be set FREE by that truth – not just in eternity, but right here, right now, on planet earth. This is my calling. This is my assignment.
Nick Watts has been in full-time, vocational ministry for over 30 years, most of those years as a full-time Youth Pastor. He and Michelle have been married for over 35 years, and have three children: Kelsie, Jordan & Macy. Nick is presently the Music/Teaching Pastor at Bacon Heights Baptist Church in Lubbock, TX. You can read more about Nick’s “journey back to sanity” after the death of his son on his blog, www.nickwattssoulfood.com. Simply choose “Jordan Blake Watts” in the “categories” window.
*photo cred. Bruno Carlos
If your child or you need help today call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime, day or night, including holidays.
800-273-8255 (TALK) or Text TALK to 741741. Save the number in your phone and share it with your friends. You never know when help might be needed. Other excellent resources for help understanding suicide and how to support someone who struggles wtih suicidal thoughts are on our website. Here are a few:
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (afsp.org)
Fresh Hope (faith-based) (freshhope.us).