Son’s Suicide Drives Mom Into God’s Arms

Posted on July 2, 2016

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By David Ettinger
Note: I wrote this feature story in 2009 during my time as staff writer for First Baptist Church Orlando. I reprint this powerful account now as a testimony of God’s healing power. I hope this story encourages you in your walk with Jesus. 

It’s hard to imagine that anything good could come from the suicide of a son, but that’s what happened to Gaye Galasso, even if it did take three years to get there.

“I finally got to a point where I could understand the part in [the Book of] James where it says, ‘Consider it all joy when you go through trials’ [1:2],” said the Orlando, Florida, resident. “I had finally reached a point of close communion with the Lord that I never, ever knew before. It’s not that your problems go away; but you’re so close to the Lord that it doesn’t matter.”

But it wasn’t always that way for Gaye, especially beginning with the day in the year 2000 when she received the news of the death of her son, John, 26. “We [Gaye and her husband Carl] had just moved here from Maine, but John was going to school up in Philadelphia near my sister,” she recalled.

Devastating News
As it turned out, Gaye’s sister was in Orlando visiting Gaye and their father, who also lived here. During that time, John, who had battled depression for years, hanged himself in his aunt’s house. It was not until Gaye’s sister returned home that she found John’s lifeless body still hanging. After calling the police and handling the legalities, Gaye’s sister called the family in Orlando, informing them that she was flying back down to give them “some very important news,” which she did.

Caption: Gaye’s son John Galasso.

“It was a Sunday morning when she told us,” Gaye said. “She pretty much just blurted it out. She said, ‘John’s dead. He committed suicide.’ My emotions totally left me. I went into the bathroom and was sitting on the floor, hysterical. Carl was in bed sleeping, but when he heard me, he came into the bathroom to find out what had happened. When I told him, he also fell apart.”

Not knowing what else to do, the three went out to breakfast to discuss the next course of action. “Naturally, we couldn’t eat,” Gaye said. “It was like an out-of-body experience. At that point, you’re really running on adrenaline. I called my dad; I called my two daughters and kept busy. I was trying to arrange things. But really, I was just numb.”

Fortunately, the Galassos knew a funeral director who recommended that John’s body be cremated then sent to them. He made all the arrangements, which was a great relief to Gaye and Carl. They then had a service at their old church in Maine, where each of them spoke. Following that, they returned to Orlando where they would now try to carry on their lives in the aftermath of the incomprehensible tragedy.

“I know other people grieve when they lose family members,” Gaye said, “but it’s different when you lose a child, especially to suicide. You can’t talk to anyone about it because they’ll say to you, ‘I know what you’re going through because I’ve lost my mother.’ And I’m thinking, No, you have no idea. Even if you lose a child naturally, that’s different than losing him to suicide. There are so many issues to go through. You keep wondering, Could I have changed things? Was this my fault? It’s a terrible process.”

Coping in Her Own Way
As a woman who describes herself as having the gift of faith, you would think Gaye immediately turned to the Lord to help her through the process of grief, questioning and doubt. But she didn’t.

“When bad things happen, I want people; I want to tell somebody,” Gaye said. “I really want people to make it all better. For some reason, that’s the way I’ve always handled things.”

She also swung into action and tried to keep her mind occupied, including going back to work just three days later.

“I immediately got on the Internet and tried to form a support group,” Gaye said. “I was trying to do this and that and it wasn’t about God at all; it was always about some person out there who I thought could help me; about people making me feel better.”

And when it came right down to it, that’s something she just wasn’t finding.

“Back in 2000,” Gaye said, “it was amazing that in this large city, there was very little out there when it came to grief [support]. I found a few things here and there and went through the courses that were offered, but that’s all I was doing. I was driven to find people who could make this all go away. It wasn’t like I was falling apart and not functioning. I mean, I had other children who I had to look after. But I was in this battle to find someone or something that could help me.”

However, despite turning to everyone else but God, Gaye said she now realizes that He was there all along.

“I know for sure that He was carrying me through this because I’m a child of His. The big problem with me was that I was not recognizing it. It took a long time to do that; not until everything else I tried was exhausted.”

Turning, At Last, to God
Which took a long time. In fact, it was not until 2003 — three years following John’s death — that Gaye finally began to turn her attention to the Lord.

“At that time, I was trying to let go of John — to let go of the torment of trying to figure out what had happened, what I could have done to change things — but I didn’t know how to do that,” she said. “I was looking for peace and knew I had to give this whole thing over to the Lord.”

Gaye said she had been praying over the course of the three years for the Lord to take the pain away, but without results.

“I wanted to remember just the good things without carrying the torment every day.”

So, when she could no longer cope with the grief and anguish, she sat down at the side of her swimming pool, which she said has always been a place of peace for her.

“I would stretch out my arms and tell the Lord, ‘Take him.’ I did that several times. It was the only concrete thing I could think to do.”

It turned out to be the right thing to do.

“Finally, I felt this peace,” Gaye said. “God spoke to me through the Holy Spirit and said. ‘It is done.’ The Holy Spirit brought to my mind that just as I was giving Him my only son, God had sent His only Son to die for me. It was as if the Lord was saying to me, ‘You can let him go because he is with Me.’ John had accepted Jesus as his Savior when he was a child, so I had the peace of knowing he was with the Lord.”

Though the pain remains, Gaye knows that her relationship with God has been changed forever.

“Of course I am not happy about what happened with John,” she explained, “but what I have with the Lord now I wouldn’t give up for anything. I have gotten so close to Him and that is something that’s very, very special.”

And there’s one other lesson Gaye has learned.

“I regret that I did not go to God with this immediately,” she said. “I wish I hadn’t wasted those three years seeking after people. Ultimately, they can’t do anything for you. As a believer, I should have gone straight to God. I’ve learned that you can always depend on the Lord no matter what.”