Daniel had a way with people. He was a soft-spoken man who never sought the limelight. He was devoted to his wife Jenaire, with whom he’d built a happy, gospel-centred home for their four children. He served so many people with his easy-going nature, and always made others feel comfortable; and he had a keen sensitivity to those who were ‘in the dark’, as he would put it. This was something he understood personally as he’d struggled with periods of darkness and depression.
“He would roll up on people’s doorsteps to see how they were doing,” Jenaire said, “and often at a time when they really needed it. He was drawn to those people because he understood them.”
Jenaire and Daniel fell in love and married despite their personality differences. She was talkative and out-going; he was quiet and reserved.
“He loved me,” Jenaire said. “He loved our family and he loved the Lord—that was never in any doubt.”
Despite his goodness and love, over time Daniel developed severe depression and battled with darkness. It became more difficult to cope with as the years went on. In May 2013, his struggle came to an end when he took his own life.
“I was never angry at him,” said Jenaire. “My heart ached for him. I understood that being in such a dark place when it happened, he had genuinely believed we would be better off without him.
“I knew that he would be hurting. I knew that the moment he passed away he would have felt awful as he realised what he had done, and the effect that would have on us.”
“When he passed away, I felt a strong compulsion and urgency to pray for him because I knew that he would need the Atonement of Jesus Christ more than he had ever needed it before. I prayed constantly that he would be okay. I prayed that he would know that as heartbroken as we all were, we would be okay and that he could move on. I did that for two weeks, then suddenly, I knew I didn’t need to do it anymore.”
The stigma often linked with suicide can make the grieving process more difficult for family and friends left behind. Because people knew how selfless and loving Daniel was, many of their perceptions of suicide changed and potential judgement was replaced with empathy and love.
When speaking about the suicide of one of his friends, Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “Peace came to me only when I recognized that only the Lord could administer fair judgment. He alone had all the facts, and only He would know the intent of the heart of my friend. I was reconciled with the idea that a lifetime of goodness and service to others must surely be considered by the Lord in judging the life of a person.” (Suicide: Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not)
The support of family, friends and Church members helped Jenaire and the girls get through the first few weeks and months, but ultimately it was their faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement that allowed them to heal.
“During those first few months of haziness and nothing making sense, I felt that I was carried” Jenaire re-members. “People would say ‘oh you’re looking well’, and I would say ‘it’s not me, I’m being carried right now’. It’s like a beautiful, serene, protective bubble [had] enveloped me so that I could deal with the normal things of life.
“Every time I felt myself starting to breakdown, I would just go back to my bedroom and say to my Heavenly Father, ‘this is too difficult, and I need you to please take it away’. And I would physically feel it lift from me. Then I would say ‘thank you’ and I would go off and interact with people again. At first, I would do this every few hours. Over time the break between breakdowns grew longer and longer until I didn’t have to ask quite so often.”
Five years on, the grief is still there, but by relying on their faith in Jesus Christ and their love of each other,
Jenaire and her daughters, now aged from 12 to 19, do not let the grief define their lives.
“I miss him profoundly and at times I have wished that I could go and be with him, but I know that I need to be here with my children, and if I’m going to be here without him, I refuse to be miserable.”
“I look for joyful moments and try to give my children lots of joyful experiences. We look for the joy in everyday life. I’ve come to realize just how full and blessed my life is, because I look for it so much more.”
To those experiencing the loss of a loved one through suicide, Jenaire’s advice is simply: rely on Jesus Christ.
“The people around you will help as much as they can, but that help is limited,” she said. “The Saviour’s help is complete - He doesn’t miss any gaps – His love completely fills you and heals you.