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Q. My younger brother committed suicide two weeks ago by overdosing on drugs. I’m so afraid that his soul is lost. Maybe in his last moments he could have found grace so his soul could be saved. I could have prayed more or done something more. It just hurts so much.

A. Your brother is not damned. Suicide is understood as the result of sickness, not free choice, and most certainly it’s not sinful. What you’re feeling is tremendous grief, which is exactly what you should be feeling. Unfortunately, your experience of grief is complicated by OCD thinking that makes your emotions a real mess. Grieve for your brother and pray for your family. Your brother is with God. Of that I have no doubt.

Q. Is it normal for scrupulous people to be scared of sin, especially of impure thoughts? I’m consumed by impure thoughts and blasphemy. I’m trying to hold on to my understanding that there is no sin here and no grave matter because I have not freely chosen them. I think I’m just experiencing emotional anxiety and fear. Am I correct?

A. Yes, by God’s grace. Hold on to that conviction despite your fear and your anxiety. There is no sin and no culpability even in the smallest sense. You have basically described how scrupulosity is manifested and also how it can be confronted and managed.

Published inSA Mailbox