Envious of a Dead Man

Do you know who Charles Schulz is?  He’s the cartoonist who gave us Charlie Brown and the whole beloved Peanuts gang.

He’s also dead.  And for that, I once envied him.

Schulz died in February 2000 and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in June 2001.[1]  Sometime shortly after that, I saw a bit of TV coverage regarding this award.

As the TV was showing video of the ceremony, I was busy walking back and forth through my living room doing the various chores a wife-mother and seminary student does.  So, I wasn’t really paying all that much attention.  I just knew somebody was honoring Charles Schulz just a little too late, because I knew he was already dead.

I remember thinking with disgust that this honor seemed a bit insincere.  “If you thought Charles Schulz was so great, you should have let him know before he died![2]  Now you’ve dragged his grieving widow to this event and stirred up all kinds of emotions, I’m sure! And what is she going to do with this thing you’re making her accept on his behalf?  Just about the time this woman is finally moving on from her loss, you’re saddling her with something.”

“ You bunch of hypocrites!” I mentally ranted.  “You’re saying all these nice things now, but in a few months I’m sure you’ll find something negative to say about him.  He’s not here to receive your accolades, and—lucky for him—he won’t hear your criticisms, either, because he’s dead.  The dead don’t have to put up with the emotional rollercoaster caused by people applauding them and later rejecting them or by any other craziness of life.”  I paused with a sigh, “Oh what peace that would be!”

As soon as I made that enticing connection between death and peace, my bitter snarky attitude immediately gave way to shocked fear.  I had envied a dead man!  I had found death appealing!!

I quickly got our preschool daughter to bed and sat myself in the middle of my own because I knew I needed to talk to God RIGHT NOW!  I don’t know what particularly had put me in such a pessimistic mood, but I knew that fleeting admiration of death I had just experienced was NOT good!

I don’t recall anything that I said to God, outside of “Help me!”  And God didn’t say anything spectacular or memorable to me.

And that’s okay.  What was said or received through the sobs in the middle of my bed is not the point.

My point is that I cried out to the Lord for help, and suicidal ideations were nipped in the bud.  It was over before it really had a chance to begin.

I want you to know that no matter what you’re facing, no matter how emotionally negative you feel, God is always available to the broken.  He always hears those who sincerely cry out to Him for help.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”–Psalm 34:18 NIV

I also want you to know that suicidal thoughts don’t start with the bold, obvious statements that we typically associate with suicidal ideation.  Any statement a suicidal person verbalizes is NOT the first thought they ever had about it!  It’s certainly NOT the first time they’ve ever thought whatever they said!  That thought—which was finally expressed out loud—has been rolling around in their head for a while.  And it’s my position that the first thoughts that started it all were very subtle.  Like envying a dead man.

Don’t wait until your battle with negative thoughts starts scaring others.  Reach out for help as soon as death thoughts start appealing to you!  (I’d say, “as soon as death thoughts start scaring you,” but I realize that not everyone may feel the scare like I did.)

Please, know that “it’s okay to not be okay.”  Nobody is immune to negative thoughts and emotions.  We all are vulnerable, even pastors and other types of spiritual leaders.  Fortunately, our society is finally starting to learn this truth.  So, don’t worry about what people will think if when you seek professional help.

And yes, professional help—anyone trained in dealing with suicidal ideations—is just as important as calling out to God.  Sure, God can intervene in a miraculous way and instantly dispel those self-destructive thoughts.  But He has also set in place a beautiful design of people helping each other.  So, please, take full advantage of all the help God provides!

Here are a few of those helpful resources:

  • National [USA] Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Check out this article from The Recovery Village to know when to call a suicide hotline, what to expect when you call, and to see other options besides the US’s National hotline listed above, including text and online chat options, subculture-specific options and international options.
  • Focus on the Family, a Christian resource I highly trust, also provides some options in this Q&A post in both their answer and at the end of the post.

Thanks for reading!


[1] “Charles M. Schulz,” Wikipedia.org, accessed 7AUG2019.

[2] I was unaware at the time that the lengthy process required to award a Congressional Medal of Honor had started before Schulz died, albeit only by 2 days.  Ibid.

Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. http://www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Featured Image by David Mark from Pixabay

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