Surviving Suicide

There are many sides of suicide.  

  • The act of suicide and death follows.  
  • The attempt of suicide and failure.
  • The frequent thoughts of suicide.
  • Loved ones left behind after a suicide.

Any way you look at suicide, it destroys and affects many people’s lives. There seem to be more questions than answers.  Many people hold their disappointment and anger inside because they do not feel comfortable talking to people who have not walked in their shoes. Many people have questions, but they do not know the questions to voice. For the loved ones left behind, they have guilt wondering why they did not see suicidal signs.

My name is Janet Grillo.  On December 13, 2001, my husband died tragically.  To this day I do not know if his death was a suicide, assisted suicide, suggested suicide or murder.  After his death, I discovered that he was living a double life, had numerous affairs, and alleged Mafia ties. Fifty-five members of my husband’s family walked away from me after the last shovel of dirt was pitched upon his grave.

As a survivor of suicide (a loved one left behind), I found myself in a fetal position.  On the days where I found a little bit of strength, I began a cold case investigation searching for answers about my (thought to be) knight in shining armor.   My husband called me twice a day and told me that he loved me. I was outraged after his death when I found out that he lied to me for 18 years. The anger was destroying my heart, my body, and my soul.  For months I could not find the strength to even get out of bed and even had my own suicidal thoughts.

One day while driving, my husband’s and my favorite song, “Hello” by Lionel Richie came on the radio. Instantly I found myself having an anxiety attack.  It seemed like I was having an out of body experience. To this day I do not remember how my car drove and stopped in the parking lot where my husband and I attended mass.

I sat in my car for hours wondering what I was going to do.  My thought was to go into the church, surrender my life to Jesus and beg Him to take away my pain.  God had a different plan.

I walked to the rectory and pounded on the door with all my strength.  When the secretary opened the door, she found a very broken, hysterical woman pleading for help.  She told me that no one was available. At that point, I collapsed to the ground and could not control my emotions.

Within minutes the Monsignor came to the door to see who was causing the commotion.  He was late for an appointment and soon canceled when he saw my condition. He assisted me into his office. We talked and prayed for three hours.  

I was not a Catholic even though I attended mass with my husband at his church.  The Monsignor asked if I would consider becoming a Catholic and suggested attending RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) classes.  I agreed, and soon my journey began. At my first RCIA class, I found love, security, understanding and met people who truly believed in the Holy Spirit.

I also found that some people knew why they were there while other people (like myself) felt broken.  We were looking for a miracle to remove our pain and suffering and were praying that we would find it, and we did.  People told stories about their pain and disappointment while others told stories about God and many amazing miracles that He performed in their lives.  

My mind and heart were like a sponge.  The more I discovered about God, His promises and His amazing powers, the more I wanted to learn.  I volunteered to sit perpetual adoration in the chapel of my church and dedicated to sitting every Thursday from 11:00 am to noon.  

Perpetual Adoration is usually held in a church or chapel. It is a Eucharistic devotion whereby members of a given parish (or other entity) unite in taking hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

In adoration, I sat quietly and opened my heart and mind to accept any communication from The Holy Spirit.  Most of the time, I did not hear or feel anything. My patience got the best of me. I purchased a thin bound journal that I only wrote in at adoration.  I headed each page “Dear God, Hear my prayers.”

Questions, anger, and disappointments filled the first pages of my letters to God. Later letters included good things that were happening in my life.  The amazing part is that I felt that God was interested in everything I was saying.

One day after months of writing letters to God, I wondered what He would say to me.  I turned to the back of my journal and wrote: “Dear Janet” at the top of the page and “Love God” at the bottom of the page.  Empty lines waited patiently while I waited anxiously to see if my request was crazy or profound. After about one-half hour, my hand began to write.  God sent his message to me through my head, my heart, and my soul.

My favorite letter from God is dated June 18, 2004.  He told me that out of the millions of people that He could have chosen, He chose me to do a special task for Him.  He told me that one day I would write a book and when the time came, we would write it together. He said that He would guide me the entire way.  He told me that it would be a great success for me, but a greater success for the millions of lives that I will help change by helping people get closer to Him.

I thought “Surely He could have chosen someone better than me.  I was in Mr. Fox’s remedial reading class in the seventh grade.”  God said that He chose me because He knew that I would not take the assignment lightly and would dedicate my life to the mission.  Today, it is my passion.

God told me that He would bring the right people into my life when the timing was right.  After the publication of my book, I attended a National Publicity Summit in New York and through the summit I had the opportunity to meet Tami De Vine, President/CEO of Crown City Network.  Tami and I spoke about how many lives have been touched by suicide, and how people shy away from talking about it. I often wonder why two soldiers who return from war with similar disabilities have opposite views of how they choose to live the rest of their lives.  One will become a martyr and decide to live his life in despair while the other believes that God wanted him to go through pain and suffering knowing the purpose was to survive and thrive to help others get through their grief.

“Surviving Suicide” is just the beginning of helping to save many lives.  Tami and I decided to focus on veterans because of the magnitude of veteran deaths each year.  There is an average of 22 deaths per day, 660 deaths per month, 7,920 deaths per year.

Each week a compelling story will be shared to honor a veteran.  If you have a heartfelt story that you would like to share, please email Janet Grillo at [email protected]

Janet Grillo is the author of “God Promised Me Wings to Fly: There is Life After Suicide.” She is also a freelance writer for Crown City Network.  

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255