About: Death Awakens Prolonged Pauses, Perspectives & Hope’s Relentless Delight

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January 18, 1992:  The day death clenched my family.  Not an accident.  Not an elderly relative…not even a fit of rage.

Rather, a seventeen year old young man whose abilities amazed, whose potential inspired, whose kindness encouraged, whose efforts focused on others… but whose hand dared… and successfully silenced his own heartbeat.  ( He Stopped Laughing)

In his silence, questions screamed.  The “what-ifs,” the “who’s fault,” the “‘what did I say-or-not-say’ or ‘do-or-not-do’ that could have…would have convinced him otherwise?”

Sunken shoulders, uncontrollable tears, smeared sullen eyes… everywhere I turned.  Mourning made manifest.  Siblings birth order disrupted.  Parents undone.  Our peers tried to hide in his favorite songs.  Our Grandmas, two of the most joyful souls…

(Grandma Wanda… Beyond Brilliance (part 1) & Grandma Phyllis… patios & picnics (part 1) ),

…both shrouded in deep sorrow.  Our Grandpas hunched over.  (Grandpa Darrell Remembers… Mercy (part 1) & Grandpa Ken… He Reached Out to Me (part 1)).

An instinctive gathering, but none of us knew how to respond.   All of us longing for the front door of my Aunt and Uncle’s house to burst open with his presence to awaken us from the nightmare…

And then, after the snow-shrouded funeral, as grief languishes, but schedules resume, demands demand again… Tired, weary… we recognize this heavy Defining Time… Clouds and confusion set in billowing my resounding question:  Is life livable without him?

The void and its clamoring questions clouded my every thought.  Every waking moment required my involvement.  Where is the clarity?  The purpose?  Every action, once routine, sucked what little energy my mind agreed lendable to my body.

Scouring libraries, my seventeen year old self, who knew little outside studies, sports, and dancing, searched for confident voices to pointing to the real, tangible silver lining of brave beauty in suicide’s wake.  While surrounded by what was normal, fear and sadness nearly convinced me I was treading these icy waters utterly alone.

My research surfaced two primary venues for the subject of suicide.  First, the list of ‘warning signs’ and urgent instruction to seek help.  And second, if one is facing a loss including suicide, another list of “grieving steps” to anticipate or plan to go through… not at all what I hoped to find… I wanted to hear other people articulate suicide didn’t steal their breath and enslave them to a joyless existence…not clinical books with clinical examples.  Skeptically, I wanted to quiet the questions and find courage to live.  Without forgetting.

This journey led me back to our family.  When I nervously asked if they were willing, several vulnerably shared distinctly personal elements of grief, sadness, struggle through this heavy darkness.  Each generation recognizing the varying social stigmas of suicide as well as the responses of their closest friends.  I am supremely grateful for their honesty.  While we share common relationships, every memory is profoundly unique to those who cycle through them; yet, our family’s openness to sharing weaved threads of bravery within me.  While they spoke, I penned their words…and processed my own.  (Perspectivesa table of contents to their first person accounts.)

In October 2007 in a dimly lift loft room on a farm in eastern Germany, I stood and addressed suicide.  The Shadows, The Absence & His Presence.  The honest response of this group of women breathed courage into my timid soul.  So many hurting souls hide in shadows.

“Some lifting veils from their own losses while others,

so hidden, contemplate their own demise.”

 The prayers and prodding of my dear German friends kindled a fire within me.  Although darkness, fragments and fears may taunt us for a lifetime, we can live in the Light .  When we seek, we find.

Fresh Faithfulness.  Who knew that when we step out of our shadows (trembling as our knees may be) and speak out of those deep places~ Hope dares to delight?   Despite death’s haunting, Hope relentlessly Delights, still.

And as I release shards and beams of our story here, I pray you come to know and delight in Hope’s tender, yet mighty eternal embrace.

written by Heidi L. Paulec

(For a more detailed rendering as to the birth of this blog, be sure to read:

Sharing Shadows (part 1), Sharing Shadows (part 2), Sharing Shadows (part 3))


32 thoughts on “About: Death Awakens Prolonged Pauses, Perspectives & Hope’s Relentless Delight

  1. What words can I ever say but “thank you” my dear sweet sister for revealing your heart in the purest form. Opening the story & potential conversation to what can be a silent wound that others carry without the hope of having healed. Your honesty in the midst of the journey for answers, comfort, peace, celebrating the one you loved & yet living in His fullness are sheer beauty! May it be a blessing Heidi as you are dear friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • K~ I really appreciate you… Reading & commenting. As you can imagine, this has been an enormous process. One, I’m deeply grateful (now… took time to get there, too.) to be the pen part. Your friendship is one of my FL jewels. Let’s make some time to hang out this summer.


  2. Heidi – I’m a bit speechless. I came upon this blog thanks to Elmer who tagged you yesterday. But reading this intro and ‘He Stopped Laughing’, well, it has been more impactful than I anticipated. The raw awakenings spurned by your beautifully written words filled me with an avalanche of indescribable sentiments. You are so authentic and I have such deep heartfelt pride that you have taken this courageous step. God has blessed you with such talent and I pray your words bring abundant hope and peace to all who read them because grief is a non-negotiable reality we all face over and over in this life on Earth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kris. Your thoughtful response is evident that decades of prayers are being answered as we step out vulnerably. And our prayers collide… May our sharing stir a contagious path illuminating Eternal Hope.
      Again, thank you.


  3. This brings tears to my eyes. Such raw bravery in exposing something so personal. It should be shared more so that so many people don’t suffer alone when losing a loved one. Looking forward to reading your journey through this into hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow Heidi I’m speechless. You are truly an example of God’s grace. Just this morning I read a devotional that said this “Difficult times are pregnant with glory moments just waiting to be birthed in the lives of those willing to labor through the pain. The key is to not allow bitterness and anger to make our hearts infertile to God’s gifts.” After reading your honest words, I’m thankful that you are persuing and helping others with His gifts to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The feelings of raw emotions comes to me when reading this. Tears to my eyes. I have lost my best friend to suicide and he took his life in my presence and when reading some parts in the beginning of the book the part of what if and what not relates to my lost friend . I could also relate to how life has to go on and how do you do that in such time of sadness . This stigma of suicde is there it truly is. Thank you for sharing your story with us because people like me and so many others who have lost someone they love from suicde can learn grow and heal from your story. I look forward to reading more. You are wonderfully talented with your words.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My dear Heidi, I have long believed something had greatly touched your soul. Few people can become the beautiful, caring, sensitive, yet courageous soul, as you are without the touch of tragedy somewhere in their life. Thank you for sharing with others this molding, desperate grief that we feel when something beyond our ability to understand comes upon us out of nowhere. You have as you always do expressed it with such beautiful prose to make it almost a thing of beauty. Yet how hard it must have been for you to do so. Thank you. Please go on with your story and your writing. The world needs to hear from you. May God’s guiding hand be upon you, lead you and His blessing fill you with love and courage.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I stumbled across this site through the If Equip site….. not by chance I believe. I lost my husband to suicide 5 months ago. Thank you for sharing your story – It brings comfort to hear words from someone who understands what the trauma of suicide does to those left behind. Praying for your journey and finding encouragement through it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steph~
      Thank you for stopping by and bravely sharing. Tears & prayers flowed today on your behalf… Yet, I’m also confident God is meeting you in deeper, more tender and personal ways you dreamed possible.
      My hope & prayer for this testimony is that those grieving will be comforted and connect with kindred souls, find living hope, and spill joy again.
      Lifting you up tonight, Steph~
      Isaiah 61.


  8. Dear Heidi, thank you once more that you allow me to read your family blog. I would like to find better word to express my feelings about this, but cannot – so better these than none. The way you write not only opens special and at the same time representative windows into your family but into life in general, triggers own memories and experiences and re-thinking about them, sheds light on basics of life that all of us share though naturally there are very personal details again for everyone, shows greater contexts. The challenge you are willing to face is enormous – I pray that the blessing from it may be accordingly for all of you whether involved directly or indirectly, and for all who read.

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. My belief has always been that the ONLY truly good thing that comes from death is the ability and desire to walk with someone else on a similar journey. God expects us to do exactly what you have done only you have ministered to the multiples.

    God bless you in a special way my dear friend’s daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

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