Retrospective on my Daughter’s Suicide
By Darlene Franklin
What I can say beyond any doubt is that God was intimately involved with every breath I took. “But God” became the theme of my days.
- The days crawled into weeks then months as I wallowed in grief but God gave me the gift of time and distance.
- I blamed myself for all my mistakes and shortcomings but God helped me understand I’d done my best.
- I wanted to take responsibility for Jolene’s death but God forgave me of my sins and gave me grace to forgive myself.
- The days were empty but God filled my nights with dreams where Jolene was close enough to touch.
- My arms ached to hold my daughter but God gave me physical objects to hold, such the last gift she gave me, a teddy bear.
- For long months, my heart felt ripped in two but God surrounded me with twenty-four hour love from friends around the world.
- My lips had forgotten how to smile but God helped me laugh again.
- My life spun out of my control but God gave me stories to write that I could control.
- I had questioned God during my children’s teen years but God used those times to prepare me for the trial of Jolene’s death.
- When Jolene lived, her illness made it difficult for me to enjoy her but God has restored the memories of her heart for God, her generosity, her passion for winning souls, and her poet’s heart.
- I imagined the future Jolene had missed but God showed me her life wouldn’t have been perfect and probably not pleasant.
- Jolene had felt misunderstood and unwelcome at church but God has used her life and death to shine light on mental illness in the Christian community.
- I could barely function at work but God made me strong in my co-workers’ eyes.
- I lost my daughter but God gave my granddaughter Jordan Elizabeth Franklin (name meant to echo Jolene’s) nine months later. My son said Jordan, “from Dan, the Judge,” meant the Judge of the Universe had decreed a child would restore us as the waters of the Jordan River refresh the desert. Jordan’s life is the sunshine and sweetness I wanted for my daughter.
- Two years later, I lost my mother, but God gave me my grandson, Isaiah Jaran Franklin. My son said Isaiah, “the Lord is salvation,” came to remind us our hope is in the Lord.
- I shuddered when I pictured how Jolene died but God showed me how He stood, waiting to take her into His arms.
There is so much more I could say. The principle that God takes every grief and pain and transforms them continues to direct my life.
I’ll close with Jolene’s own words:
Hope in Black and White
By Jolene Franklin
How can I be such as I am in this world of white
In this world of white where everything goes right
But there’s a world of black
Where the sky is gray and no sun shines
I go into that black sometimes
Into a world of darkness and despair
But hope is always there
I am on a journey to hope
Where the sun shines and gladness stays
My poem, written shortly after Jolene’s death
By Darlene Franklin
Sentenced to life without Jolene
Jailed by grief
Key drowned in my sea of tears
Waves subside but black walls encompass me
Alone in the dark, my fingers fumble for light
God drills a pinpoint in my prison wall
Illuminating life around me
Do I dare?
Snatch the key, crack the door
Sponsored by Darlene Franklin