Trust God 

April 18 2022 | by

DEAR PASTORAL COUNSELOR: I am shocked because my 21-year-old nephew killed himself a few months ago. It was unexpected as he was not depressed, though he had always been a dark horse. Apart from his parents’ emotional rollercoaster I am having dreams of him asking for help – that he is suffering now. All this is destabilizing me. Maybe I should have helped him before? What can I do now?


First, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to you and your entire family. Please know I will be praying for the repose of your nephew’s soul and that you and his entire family may feel Our Lord’s profound healing grace and mercy in this very difficult time. May his soul rest in peace.

Your compassion for your nephew and your sorrow at his departing from this life is a normal human response to death, especially that of a loved one. Your pain is undoubtedly shared by many, and so I would encourage you to seek comfort from – and provide comfort to – those who also mourn his death. This can provide immense healing for families and communities.

Suicide, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church relates, is contrary to our natural law inclination to preserve our own life, and is an offense against just love of self and neighbor. It also has a deleterious effect on the relationships and duties we have with and to family, nation, and the world (2281). However, mitigating factors such as psychological illness can diminish the culpability of the one committing such an act.

Therefore, “we should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives” (2283). We cannot know the state of their soul or the circumstances surrounding their actions. As the Catechism also tells us, “By ways known to Him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives” (2283).

During a discussion on suicide, a story of the Curé of Ars, Saint John Marie Vianney, was once shared with me: a distraught wife came to Saint John Vianney and shared with him that her husband had taken his life by jumping from a bridge. She asked the holy saint if her husband’s soul would be lost forever because of his actions and the solemn offense against God they portrayed. Through the grace and inspiration of Almighty God, Saint Vianney replied to her that her husband would indeed be saved from damnation, as before he hit the ground he repented of his sins and turned to God in His mercy. What a beautiful example this is of God’s endless mercy!

This story illustrates to us, through the life of this beloved saint, that God’s mercy penetrates through all darkness and despair. You should never cease to pray for your nephew’s soul and never fail to have courage in His mercy. God is outside of time and space, and therefore the graces bestowed upon your nephew because of your prayers – and those of others – are also outside of time and space: they can be showered upon him at the time of his departure from this world. This call you have to help your nephew may just be God’s grace urging you to pray. Your actions now may have more of an effect than anything you could have done before his death.

Have Holy Masses said for the repose of his soul. Pray the Holy Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet daily for him. Speak courageously about the dignity of life and the human person. But most of all, trust in Almighty God’s mercy and goodness. May you and your family find peace in His loving embrace.

Updated on April 29 2022