SUICIDE 1 Corinthians 15:42-43

A sermon at the funeral of Pat French who took pills to end her life in Toronto, March 1978

by Robert Brow (

Pat French came to Canada from Calcutta, and had a good job as a secretary. She loved dancing, and sports, and had many friends. In 1972 she was in a terrible accident which left her a paraplegic. She had a terrible time in hospital, and for three and a half years she kept hoping for a cure till she was finally told she would never walk again. I was asked to go and see her when she had decided there was no point in continuing her life crippled in a wheelchair, and she would commit suicide the next day.

I called her, and she agreed to talk. She was very bitter and very angry at the drunken friend who drove the car, and escaped to continue enjoying his life without her. I had the strange task of getting her to see that she should be angry with God. She agreed to do that, and slowly she came to faith. She began doing Bible study with Jane Ripley. And my wife Mollie and I often shared Holy Communion with her.

We came to realize what was involved in just keeping alive, and the daily struggle of being dependent on others to get up and go to work. There was a constant battle for an hour or two every day to avoid bed sores. And she was now losing the battle. She told Jane that she would never go back to hospital where she had suffered so much.

Two years ago I would have been sad to see her die so full of anger and bitterness. But she died two days ago deliberately and peacefully, with a sweet wonderful faith in the Jesus who died for her and rose again. My only regret was that last Friday Mollie and I could not make it to communion with her. So I am comforted that I can take this service to honor the life of a very brave and beautiful girl.

This is what Paul wrote about the resurrection of the dead: "What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body . . . For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 53-55).

P.S. Four years later in July 1982 the sum of $250,000 was finally given to the work of Mother Theresa from Pat French's estate.

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