This is the moving story of Vivian about the loss of her son given to Bethel Women’s Ministry Oct. 12, 1995
       What I have to say to you tonight is not explosive, but a testimony of God’s grace and faithfullness. Truly,  it is tidbits of His goodness woven into a taste of the Lord and a savor of His goodness. Did vou know that we begin to die the minute we are born? Therefore death is a part of living. Each day cells of our body die and slough off. In this respect we are
taught about losses in life from a very young age.

       I love animals, cats and dogs, especially. When I was little, I always had a cat which was having kittens. It was my job to feed the mother and to clean the sand box. I also had to help find homes for the kittens. One year my cat had four kittens and they became sick. One by one they died off leaving only the mother. Despite my following the Vet's instructions and giving them the medicine they needed they died!! And I grieved.

       How many of us can remember losing toys and beloved things. As we grow older those things become loved ones, friends, and family. My parents always offered me the appropriate amount of sympathy when these events occurred, but then life moved on. My Dad was very practical in helping me accept those things over which I had no control, but always encouraging me to look ahead.

       My brother was killed in a senseless auto accident when he was 28 years old. Thus began my experiences with death. My Grandparents and relatives usually were old when they died. But here was my little brother gone at such a young age. My Dad grieved for him until my Dad died. I being a Christian as well as my parents had a hard time dealing with my Dad’s grief and I prayed that if ever I should be faced with such a situation, God would allow me to handle it better. HA!

       I've always been known as 'Miss Goody Two shoes' for my positive, cheerful outlook on life. This has afforded me some opportunities to share Christ with others in regards to that cheerful countenance.

       Thirty nine years ago next Sunday, our son Bryan was born to Dick and me. We enjoyed our son as well as his sister and younger brother. As you all know, children are a heritage of the Lord. They bring joy and blessing as well as conflict and heartache. All of our children came to the Lord at young ages,  Bryan at 11 years in his Sunday school class. Bryan was the one who never did anything halfheartedly, but gave everything his all. He loved life and lived every minute of it to its fullest. This included being a Christian. When he was 15 years of age he wrote an article for our church news that I'd like to share with you. From the day he accepted Jesus  as his Savior, he was an exuberant Christian, sharing his love for Jesus, until----

       We had a tradition in our home, when the kids came home from school, they and Mom had a snack and shared the day’s happenings. These snack times were special to Bryan. Long after Cyndi and Jeff had taken off for friend’s houses or piano practice, Bryan and I would sit and talk. These times eventually developed into a monthly lunch shared with him after he left home.

      His first marriage fell apart very quickly, and soon after that I sensed a distancing from the things of the Lord. One of Bryan’s goals in life was to become a millionaire by the time he was 35, and then he would retire and follow his other interests in life, art being one of them. We laughed and joked about it. That was long way off, but time passed quickly. He had his construction business and was wheeling and dealing with developers of the Lincoln Park area. He still made time to visit Mom and Dad. He and I kept our monthly lunch dates. They were times of sharing and gave me the opportunity to let him know, Dick and I prayed for him, for by now it was evident he had strayed a long .... way from the things he had been brought up with and the way he had lived. He was reminded that God loves us and forgives us, but he was always "too busy".   I prayed and consoled myself with Ephesians 6: 1-4. I also read to him from Proverbs 3:5-8. In my heart I felt assured he would return to the Lord.

       About 4 years ago, (1991) he told us of the girl he was going to marry.  Joan had bought one of the town houses he had built in the Gold Coast area and the two of them pursued a relationship that led to marriage. Now my prayer included both Joan and Bryan. I love to walk and in the evenings as I walked, it became a time of meditation and prayer for these two. My heart cried out to God begging Him to bring Bryan back to Him and subsequently Joan. I knew I was asking a lot, but then after all our God can do the impossible. I sensed a restlessness  and uneasiness in Bryan those early months of his marriage. By now our visits were infrequent, but our phone calls were weekly. My heart ached.

       Christmas 1992 our family all went to Christmas dinner at Joan and Bryans' home. Bryan had cooked dinner, He was a good cook doing whatever he did well. It was delicious! Little did we know it was the last time we were to be together as a family.

       February 4, 1993, I was at work at Glenbrook and the secretary called me from a patient’s bedside and said I had a phone call. It was a man. I picked up the phone, cheerfully thinking it was Dick. It was Jeff.   "Mom are you sitting down?" "No, silly I'm in the med. room and there's no chairs in here" He then proceeded to tell me that Bryan had committed suicide in Michigan, and that he wanted me to know before I  heard of it on the radio or T.V.  How did I feel??   NUMB!!

       I tried to review my patient’s meds. Since he needed some care from his nurse. One of my close friends came by me and casually asked if Dick had something to say. "No" and I provided her with a repeat of the conversation I had just had with Jeff   "Well let’s find out who this young man is who thinks he can call and tell you stories like that".  But--it was true.

       That evening as Dick and I waited at  Joan’s  house for her to return from Michigan, I sat and looked at Dick and Cyndi and Jeff   “How could Bryan do this?  I kept asking God and myself.   Joan returned and I could only put my arms around her and ask.. 'What happened?'   It seemed that Bryan had gone to Michigan for a few days, while Joan was back at the station. The following morning after he had gone, she found a message on her voice mail at work, 'I love you Joan'. Bryan was O.K. Next day she tried to call, no response, nor the second day. The third day she drove to Michigan. Bryans' truck was in the garage, so she went into the house, looked out the front window and there lying on the bluff, overlooking Lake Michigan was Bryan, clothed in a tuxedo, with a rifle in his mouth. DEAD. She ran outside and down the beach screaming 'nothing is so bad to do this'. He had left a note on the kitchen table "Go back to the beginning, it is best this way, God help me!" Why?? As Joan related this to me, it was as if she was reporting this on the 6 P.M. news. It wasn't real. I still didn't feel anything. Needless to say it was all true ... and a feeling of dread came over me. My comfort was the 23rd Psalm.”Yea though I walk thru the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil. Thou are with me.”  How  I clung to those verses.

       Jeff needed to finalize Bryan’s death. Both Jeff and Joan told us the Bryan had wished to be cremated and unless Dick and I had strong objections, this was to be done. Jeff wanted to see Bryan’s body and Joan arranged for him to be brought back to Chicago. Did I want to see him? You bet I did! This was my child, the one who felt he could do anything, but one who obviously became discontented with what the world offered and for whatever reason, felt he couldn't ask God’s forgiveness. But he did say  “God help me" in his final note. As we gathered around his body in the dimly lit room at the funeral home I put my head on his chest and somehow the Lord had me reach for the hands of my family beside me. I led in a prayer asking God’s comfort and peace to be within each of our hearts.

       The funeral was different. There were to be no religious intonations. As Dick and I prayed about that aspect, somehow it was resolved and it was agreed that several of Bryan’s friends would speak of him as they knew him and then our friend and former pastor Erwin Lutzer would complete the service. As only he could do, Erwin gave a simple message of salvation using the 23rd Psalm.

       The day of the funeral was a Sunday in the afternoon. Dick and I came to S.S. school and church. Our Bethel family prayed with us and assured us of God’s love and theirs. We felt the love and support as we've felt before. Never underestimate the power of love and prayer. We need to do this for each other. That power of love and prayer surrounded us that day and in the difficult ones to follow. We appreciated that.

       Will we see Bryan in heaven? I'm a firm believer in the fact that we will. He was a Christian, although he strayed. God tells us He will not leave us or forsake us. Did God answer my prayer?  No,  God did not cause Bryan’s untimely death. Satan caused that. These are the things that happen when Satan gets into our lives. Bryan always did things the best way he knew how, even in suicide. The gun he used was one Dick had given him when the boys learned to hunt pheasant. He knew how to do the job right'. Joan’s home was on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. It was surrounded by woods and the lake.
What goes on in a parents heart, to lose a child in death is hard. We always plan to outlive our children, but suicide? How many parents are there whose children have committed suicide? We're ashamed, we feel guilty, we grieve. The grieving process consists of  4 phases:

Shock/Unbelief  at the act itself.
Guilt--what if, wasn't I a good parent?  Where did we go wrong?   Why me/us?
Fear: I John 4: 18 says   “Perfect love drives out fear.”
Grace and must go on, small daily tasks of living give stability and finally Romans 8:28 . “all things work together for good to them who love God and are called according to His purpose. "

       Where am I? I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop so to speak. I think often of Isaiah 40:31. Each day is a new day and I look forward to living it to its fullest. God has shown me that he doesn't send more to bear, than the grace He gives to us.

       What happens to a family where this has happened? Each member grieves differently. Cyndi was angry at God, more so than angry at Bryan. They were very close growing up. She is finding comfort in His word. We keep praying and I keep giving her the verse in Isaiah 26:3 ... "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee.”  Jeff lost his best earthly friend, he and Bryan were very close, best friends as adults, as well as brothers. But Jeff has a renewed zeal for Christ.

       Dick and I have shared ourselves with other Christians families where suicide has occurred. At work one day I was talking with a Jewish mother who was telling how bad she felt for her daughter and son-in-law. Her daughter had just had a miscarriage, but wanted more children, despite the fact that they had 3 healthy children. "Our family has had so much grief and sadness, we can't stand any more." I listened as she told me how her oldest son had died of AIDS 5 years ago and she still wept each time something reminded her of him. She looked at me and said 'you wouldn't understand' . "Yes, I would, my son committed suicide". She threw her arms around me and we wept together. She asked how I could be so cheerful. and I had the opportunity to share Christ’s love with her. We still keep in touch.

       Those that I work with knew my stand as a Christian before all this and since I'm known as 'Miss cheerful', they're still waiting for the gloom. They hear often of how God has sustained me and given me a real inner peace.

       No, my life is not orderly like I would like. I don't like things undone. I'm going to ask each one of you to do one thing for me. That is to pray for Joan and Ben, our grandson. To this point we've been able to give her love and friendship. Pray that God would give us the opportunity to share Him with her. We did not know her well before Bryan’s death and certainly the past 2 years were not the best way to develop a friendship. God has given us the privilege of seeing her and Ben often. We need your prayers for patience….

       Remember: Be a friend to your kids and other young friends.
Make sure there are opportunities for salvation to be told, answer questions
Love your kids, and give them to the Lord, seek His guidance in all that you do and then, let go ... and never stop  praying for them.