Why I’m Not Celebrating Ariel Castro’s Suicide

Ariel-Castro-sits-in-the-courtroom-during-the-sentencI sifted through a couple hundred comments on news articles of Ariel Castro’s suicide in his prison cell. “Good!” “Scumbag.” “Rot in Hell maggot.” “A cheap funeral for tax payers.” “Coward, he can dish it out for 10 years but can’t take it for 30 days.” Rest assured, the easy thing for the public to do is to celebrate the death of someone who did such evil to innocent children. But it’s apparently very hard to imagine what his family is going through right now. Not one comment mentioned his family nor considered what they are experiencing today.

I’ve heard the comments myself–“Your dad will probably be someone’s girlfriend in prison.” “He’ll get his for what he did,” as if those thoughts bring comfort. Don’t get me wrong, the horror that is waged on innocent kids is devastating. But for Ariel Castro’s family, his suicide is just one more layer to the complex sour onion of grief. And rest assured, the publicity and the negative comments about their father/ex-husband don’t put a smile on their face. Nor do they bring peace and comfort. To the family of a perpetrator, death is just another humiliating reminder that the family is plagued with a cloud of shame and embarrassment, and that the public shamelessly will hurl insults and say things that make us want to find a bigger rock to hide under.

Ariel’s death will likely bring more questions to his family than it does answers. Was his suicide a cop-out? Was he too selfish to endure prison? Did he feel remorse for what he did and snap from the guilt? Did he really love his own children? Who gets to plan the funeral? Will there be a funeral? Who, if any, of the family should go? Who do they get to do the funeral? Where do they lay his body to rest? Should he get a tomb stone? What will it say and who gets the burden of writing the message? Who pays for the funeral? Will the media smear us if we attend his funeral? Should I be glad that he is dead? If I go to the funeral will that drive a wedge between me and my siblings? Should I be sad that he is dead. . . or glad?

These are just a few of the myriad questions that are going through the family’s mind. I am the preacher of my family, so when my dad dies I will likely be the one to take the lead in suggesting whether or not there will be a memorial service. Most of my family has not spoken to dad since his arrest 2 years ago, and I fully respect that. It’s where they are right now in the grief process. The betrayal was deep, manipulative, and disgusting. But one day he will die. Some family members may never have a chance to speak to him before he dies. They will have to process that. If there is a memorial, I will have to find the right words to address the pain that is in our family. There may be a majority of family who do not come.

Today, rather than join the drum beat of the public, I choose to pray for Ariel Castro’s family and feel their grief. They have a lot to process in the days, weeks, and years ahead.

14 thoughts on “Why I’m Not Celebrating Ariel Castro’s Suicide”

  1. Jimmy, Thank you for sharing your heart like this. Most people don’t even think about the families dealing with the shame, regret, sorrow, questions, pain, and grief when something like this happens. I don’t think they ever think about it. I know I never did until we became “that family.”

    There are a million questions and no really good answers. It just hurts to be in a situation like this. Thank you, again, for being so transparent with your thoughts and with your heart.

    As your mom, I find myself stumbling to know what to say. We’re going to have to fumble through things and do the best we can. And I am also praying for Ariel Castro’s family. They need a lot of love and support right now. I’m sure their hearts are heavier than we can imagine.

    1. A million questions with no answers. That’s the frustrating part. We are all stumbling at this point, but it is helping to shape us into something better.

  2. Thanks Jimmy. A well-written reminder that pain has so many layers. We try to simplify our lives and paint people as good or bad, but pain is not simply. Sin and the consequences of it are messy. There is no simplicity in darkness.

    1. You’re absolutely right, brother. Pain is also unique. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to grief either due to the uniqueness of grief. Each family member is on a very different plane. No simplicity, for sure.

  3. Posted on your FB and here–Agree Jimmy! Even centuries before christianity existed, God had the ancient scribes record these empowering words, Deuteronomy 24:16, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin. ” Your family will have my deepest respect if they choose to speak with your father or if they do not. I learned long ago to free people from both the stigmas and the accomplishments of their parents.

    1. Great call on Deut. 24. You are wise for freeing families from stigmas/accomplishments of their parents. Since I preach at the same church my dad did, people still unknowingly make comparisons to the way we minister. Those kinds of comments, though not intentional or meant to cause harm, work on my subconscious.

  4. I remember once wishing that the entire family of the rapist/molester/murderer of my family–who also committed suicide–be cursed. I didn’t keep that position long before I recognized how overly harsh that was. I do now feel more sympathy for them than I did. I have often wondered why none of them have ever even reached out to say anything. I wish I could take some of the burden your family might feel–but none of this is your fault. It is just a mess… And some messes like the kind we share persist for a long long time, if not forever.

    1. I can certainly understand you feeling that way toward his family as part of your grief. I’m in the unique position of being a family member of the perpetrator and of conversing with victims of abuse. From the perspective of being a family member of an abuser, it is quite crippling. Literally everything saps the energy out of the family as a whole and reaching out to the perp’s victims’ families is one more thing we don’t have the strength to do. I remember getting a phone call at work from dad’s landlord the day she found out that he was abusing kids in her apartment that he rented. She was (rightfully) angry and told me she wanted his stuff moved out immediately. She later said that she felt for our family, but her request was firm. There are so many things that are placed on the family all at once that it becomes too hard to reach out to victims’ families. Simply waking up in the morning became a very real challenge for months.

      One of the misconceptions people have is that the family had to have known that the abuse was going on and they just ignored it, denied it, or were part of it themselves. I can assure people that is not the case. Abusers are extremely skilled and rarely does the family know that abuse is going on. It is all very messy. It’s very hard to talk about, which is why most people chose not to. I loathe writing about it and every time I do it makes my entire family subject to be vulnerable. None of it is easy for anyone.

      1. You may loathe writing about it, but I’m very glad you do anyway. I never would have “wanted” to read your mom’s blog, and in turn yours, but I have learned SO much because of them. I feel much better equipped now to keep my own children safe!

        I love how compassionate, yet just your heart is. I admit, I have never really thought in depth about the family members. I can’t even imagine how hard it must be when everyone who knows you KNOWS what happened. While what happened with your father and to your family is horrible, I see much good coming from it. Thank you for using your painful experiences to reach the hearts of others. I will keep all of you in my prayers.

        1. Thank you for delving into this with us. It is not a pleasant camp to be in, but it is good to know that there are people who are willing to be uncomfortable for the sake of their children. God bless you and thank you for your encouragement.

          1. God bless you, too, Jimmy. And your family. Five years ago, my pastor’s teenage son committed suicide (totally unrelated to pedophilia, I know, but tragic nonetheless) and in the years following he gave some of the most powerful, moving, life-changing sermons! A whole congregation of people grew and learned through his family’s grief. It was a powerful testimony to the truth of Romans 8:28, as is your blog, and your mother’s. No one would ask to have a pedophile for a father or to lose a son to suicide, but God is more that able to use such tragedies for GOOD! I am thankful every day for His grace and unfailing love.

          2. Thank you for encouraging us. I firmly believe that God, through His grace and mercy, pulls us out of the ditch and renews us if we allow Him to. I’ve immersed myself in books on the subject for the last 2 years, which has taken its toll on me emotionally. My wife doesn’t understand why I would subject myself to those kinds of materials, but I don’t expect her to understand either. We both know that the wrong answer for me is to just “move on” and pretend that others will pick up the baton and run with it. Opportunities are opening up to do public speaking on detection/prevention, which is what I am being open to at this point. God is already making good out of this!

  5. You are a kind man Jimmy Hinton. I can’t say how I would handle your situation or Les Ferguson’s situation if I ever found myself in your shoes. But one thing I hope is that I would extend the grace that you have showed toward the family of Ariel Castro. Thank you for causing me to stop and THINK about THEM and the deep pain and horror they must be feeling at being attacked for something they are innocent of. And now they have to deal with the loss of a man that I’m sure they still had love for. I’m just so glad that I don’t have to be his judge and jury. God is so much better at handling these things than we humans. May God bless you and your family with healing.

    1. Thank you, that means a lot. It’s all about perspective–I fully understand the public’s outrage at this type of crime. We should be outraged about it. But there is another side of the story, and that is what the families go through. There are always so many questions and seemingly so few answers. And yes, God is much better at handling these things than us! We’ve got to trust Him as both Judge and Healer. God bless you.

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