Eulogy for Kati
This morning my friend’s daughter Kati was discovered in her car, dead by suicide. She was seventeen. We are filled with sadness. We have so many questions. Death naturally ignites our grief and its companions: Regret (“I should have spent more time with her”); anger (“How could this have happened?”); confusion (“Why did God allow this?”). Death by suicide can exacerbate all these feelings while also adding guilt (“I could have done more”) and blame (“Why didn’t anyone notice?”).
The obituary will read, “She was preceded in death by her mother, and is survived by her father and her three younger sisters.” These are members of Kati’s immediate family. But it’s also true that the rest of us have experienced death too soon, and are also her survivors. None of us wanted to survive her. We wanted to watch her grow up, see her enjoy a full life, say goodbye when it was our time, and take joy in the fact that she would survive us. Part of our anger in untimely death arises from this injustice that has been committed.
Part of our grief is related to the fact that Kati will never know how things might have turned out. We can’t know for sure what in her experience caused her to conclude that death was the better alternative. But none of us will ever know now if it would have gotten better, if it could have gotten better, if together we might have made it better. Those optimistic outcomes are gone now for us, after Kati’s death. Somehow in her mind they were gone already.
Those of us with faith in the mysteries of redemption and the triumph of life over death can draw some comfort and strength in hope. We can imagine Kati free from the burden which ultimately killed her and be grateful. We can envision a reconciliation with her in some existence beyond the present one in which she is now absent and rejoice. We can hope for a settlement of all our confused and conflicting feelings into a state of peace and endure.
In the meantime, outside this hope, we also have each other, and our memories of Kati, and the opportunity to watch others grow up, enjoy a full life, and make things better together. In addition to all the other gifts we received from Kati, this one does not die with her, but continues to live and give life.