It has been almost 40 years since I wore a police uniform. The 9 years I worked as a cop brought me in contact with the most heart-wrenching of situations.

One night, I got a call to conduct a welfare check. A landlord became concerned at the non-stop crying of a 2-year old girl in one of his apartments. He went to investigate and received no response at the door from the mother who was renting the apartment. When I arrived, the landlord opened the door, and I entered the apartment. As I stepped into the living room, I began to follow the sound of the little girl crying. My search led me to the bedroom where I saw the mother who was deceased in bed. Her daughter had been circling the bed for over an hour trying to rouse her mother to no avail. 

The woman looked to be in her mid-20’s. There was not a single wrinkle on the bed cover. Her hair was perfectly coiffed. She wore a pretty flannel nightgown. The bed covers came up just under her arms. It looked like a mortician had prepared her body to be placed in a coffin for public viewing. Everything was perfect except one thing. I saw a small derringer in her right hand.

The coroner arrived and did a quick examination of the woman. When he moved her body, we saw a small spot of blood on her nightgown. It appeared the young mother had cleaned her home and done her hair in preparation for her suicide. Not wanting to create a mess for others to discover, she cocked the hammer of the derringer, lifted her left breast, and shot herself in the heart. She died quickly. The young mother had come to a sad place where she thought her only option was death, so she dressed for death, not for life, and made her fatal choice.

While most people will never actually take their life, some of the people I know and love have prepared to live the rest of their life dressed in the expectation that no good awaits them in this life. They only make preparations to look good in death.  At some point in their confusion, they pulled the trigger on a lie that shot a hole in their emotional heart. They are dead, but look so good in death that the undiscerning would think they are just taking a nap. All suicides are not with real guns and pills. Some of them happen when hope in a marriage is lost or when a dream dies or when someone betrays a trust. At that point, a choice is made to try to cover the pain and move on with life.

Right now, do a hope check in your life. Where is your hope? If it is placed on anyone other than Jesus Christ, it is a false hope. No person or situation no matter how promising has the ability to bring you the kind of hope that will keep you alive in times of great disappointment and sorrow.

The young woman who killed herself had lost all hope. I believe her death surprised a lot of people because she could manage her sorrow and hopelessness in such a way that even in death she tried to look alive and at peace. You have been called to life, not death, in any form. Choose today to never mask your pain. Let it out in all its messiness and confusion. There are people in your life waiting to help you sort it out. It’s OK to not have it all together. None of us do.


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