As the Ananda healing prayer ministry grows, it is inevitable that we receive prayer requests for that deepest of personal tragedies, a suicide. We have always received some such prayers, but the number of prayer requests for suicide victims has indeed increased over the past year. (The number of suicides has also increased on a national level.) My heart goes out to the families involved.
Also, because at least one of these recent suicide prayer requests directly pertained to economic woes, I was moved to write the free e-booklet called, “Opening to Divine Abundance.” About 1500 people have read it in the last 3 months. (The booklet offers in-depth help, including special prayers and affirmations.)
Suicide is a tragedy not only for the victim, but for family and friends left behind. It leaves a sorrow that cannot ever be filled, except with the peace of God. They are left with an aching heart, and wishing they could have somehow known, and prevented it from happening. It requires special prayers for both the family and the soul of the victim. Many times the family had no idea the person was at such a level of risk. It is heartbreaking, but healing can occur through God’s grace.
I am protective of the healing prayer council, and the types of prayer requests we send out to you. This is because I don’t know exactly who will receive each prayer request, since there are 700 of you. Some people feel unsure about how to pray for the deceased in general, and especially for those who died under dark circumstances (murder or suicide). I fully respect that; each person has a different karma and thus there are varying levels of spiritual strength and insight for such healing prayers.
My normal response has been this:
1) I will pray for the soul of the person myself… When praying this way, I first make doubly sure that I am feeling strong in the Light of God, Christ, Guru. I look at picture of Paramhansa Yogananda’s eyes, whether I am praying in my office or before an altar.
I ask the power and grace of our Master to flow through me and touch that soul. When I feel a sense of contact with the soul, I pray: “Look up! Look up! Look up into the Light!”
No matter into what dark mists a soul may temporarily fall, there are angels there – right above – waiting for him to look up again. It is their divine service to reach down and lift up that soul to the next appropriate level. But he must look up to the Light. In suicide, a person (despite his other good qualities) temporarily lost faith in his own ability or to “look up” for the Light. That is why I pray so commandingly. The soul needs to be firmly called, and re-awakened to look up again.
It is also very good at this point to make a strong prayer demand to God, Christ, Guru: “Help this soul, NOW. Please touch this soul NOW with Thy Light!”
Note – if you feel at all uneasy, do not pray in this way. It may be “too close” for you. Please read on for a more “removed” prayer in #3:
2) We put the names of the family on the prayer list for healing of their immense shock and grief. We will normally also mention the name of the suicide victim within the body of the prayer request. However, I will not list the name of the victim as the main recipient of the prayers. (This is to honor, as I said, the varying needs and abilities of the healing prayer council. Without all of you – there would be no council! So, I am careful.) But knowing the name helps you to empathize with the family, and to send some prayers, if you feel able…
3) So, if you feel so inclined, you can add in a prayer for the deceased soul as well. I recommend simply using the one-part Divine Mother Prayer, and then ask the Masters to watch over that soul. Feel you are placing this soul in their divine care. When you do the three AUMs, make them strong and powerful. This keeps you strongly as a powerful sender of the energy and not a potential “receiver” of the darkness or depression that overwhelmed the soul.
4) I will also suggest to the family and/or close friends to pray for the deceased for years to come. This is a great source of spiritual comfort and direction for a soul who has died in this way. Here is what I normally suggest:
Get a picture of the deceased love one in which he or she looks relatively happy, peaceful or strong. It can be a small photo. Place it on a special shelf as a prayer altar. Place some holy things on the altar to remind you of God (such as a Bible or a picture of Christ, etc.) When you see that altar – send loving thoughts of God’s Light to the soul. In the beginning, do this daily because your own grief is strong, and your thoughts are with this soul. It heals you to send this energy, and your loving thoughts and prayers definitely help the soul in need.
As time goes on, do whatever seems natural and best for you, and allows you to heal in God’s peaceful presence. You might continue with prayers for that soul daily, or weekly. Do pray especially on any days when the sadness is strong, such as holidays, birthday and anniversaries. You cannot avoid thinking of the person then, so this helps you to bring God’s Light into that process. All of your loving prayers are helpful.
(You might also choose to set the photo front of a much larger picture of Paramhansa Yogananda or Jesus Christ. (Or tuck a small photo into the corner of the picture frame. However, do not use your main altar photo as this space should be kept peaceful and clear for your own devotion and meditations.) In this way – it is much easier to picture that soul being cared for by the Divine Presence. Whenever you see the altar, invoke the blessing and guidance of God, Christ, Guru on the deceased soul.)
I’ve wanted to write up something that can be sent to families when they are hit with this tragedy. (I will also include testimonies from Ananda ministers who have prayed for family and friends in this way.) For now, this post, which is primarily directed to you, the prayer council, contains the seeds thoughts that will be held in that upcoming piece. I will let you know when that is ready. I would love to read your comments, insights or questions, as they may help me in writing this compassionate piece. You can send me an e-mail – or leave your thoughts in the comment field, especially if they may be helpful to others.
Please know you can leave a prayer request for any and all departed souls (or living!) on our CHAPEL page.