Coping with a Friend’s Suicide


How do you cope with the loss of someone that has taken their own life? I have done spiritual work for many years and feel lost.

—Vicki, United States


Dear Vicki,

As the years go by I discover just how many people are impacted by the suicide of a friend or family member. Surely the most important thought to offer one who has done spiritual work for many years is the affirmation, based on the truth teachings of saints of east and west, that the soul never dies. The soul is immortal and eternal and has the opportunity to learn and grow no matter what choices it has made in the past.

I won’t hide the obvious fact that suicide is a serious thing, spiritually as well as humanly, to do. For whereas murder at least affirms the murderer’s worth, suicide denies life itself. Nonetheless, “God is Life” and the “God of the living, not the dead.” This means, in part, that life goes on and death is unreal, only a change from one form to another.

In this sense, then, there is no such thing as suicide, except for the body. Not even for the ego for if it was that easy to dissolve the ego we’d be wise to do ourselves in. Like Mark Twain’s comment about the foolishness of travel: because “I” am always there, too (you can never rid oneself of the fundamental reality of creation: consciousness itself!).

So take heart that there is no act, no sin, that can condemn the soul to an eternity of hell or darkness. We are made in the image of God and we have an eternity, so to speak, to make our decision to return home to him, like the prodigal son. But the choice is always ours. We do have to pay the consequences of our choices, to be sure, and that includes pain and suffering, but our own consciousness can never be obliterated permanently.

Another important aspect of this situation where you can play a positive and an important role is this: your thoughts and prayers, offered with calmness and unconditional love, is the single MOST VALUABLE contribution you can make to this person’s spiritual journey. For most people, and especially those who have committed suicide, the after death state all but precludes self-help for they exist in a kind of “limbo” state where self-awareness is blunted, the ego, bereft of brain, body, and nervous system, and unaccustomed to living without breath and senses, is in a kind of fog, even if, for some, pleasant. (At night when we dream we typically have no control of our dreams nor any awareness or incentive to “improve” our dreams). Even in heavenly states most souls simply rest, more or less asleep, awaiting and then stirring before their next reincarnation.

Thus your conscious thoughts and prayers, absent grief or attachment or any negative states, directed and focused on the soul of your friend can send light and energy where it is greatly needed. Take comfort in these words from Chapter 12 of AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI:

“Forget the past,” Sri Yukteswar would console him. “The vanished lives of all men are dark with many shames. Human conduct is ever unreliable until anchored in the Divine. Everything in future will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now.” Help initialize that spiritual effort for your friend by your own efforts on his behalf.

Lastly, and I don’t know if this thought applies: but every human act has different levels of conscious intention. Ritual suicide (committed out of a sense of honor) differs greatly from that done in passion or under a drug-induced influence. Just as injuring a person unintentionally carries a different prison sentence than first-degree murder, so too there are various gradations of consequence from the same act according to intention and consciousness.

Paramhansa Yogananda indicated that when a child is “still-born” (aborted, miscarried) or when a young life is ended prematurely by disease or accident, that such a fate for the child might indicate a soul who had previously committed suicide. Part of the consequence of taking one’s own life is to have to earn back the gratitude and desire for human life. This desire can be stimulated by snatching it from you, perhaps repeatedly, until the desire for human life grows to its usual sustaining strength. Curious, isn’t it but it is something worth considering. It also suggests that the road “home” can be a long one depending on the strength of the conscious intention to take one’s own life.

But, what is time in eternity. Eternity is now. And this soul for whom you grieve is NOW. Is here in your own consciousness. Nothing is lost in God. No-one is lost in time or eternity for we are ever in God, for no other reality exists. God alone. God alone.

Blessings to you,
Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA /