Archive | June 2013

A Mother’s love

A note written to Drey when he was 8 years. He was 19 when he took his life – he never saw this note. It expresses my heart, my mind set. And I’m so grateful to have found it.

Drey –
I would like to write more regular journal entries to you but I know I have the best
of intentions and then get sooo busy so I won’t make any promises.

A few nights ago I was reading the Prayer book I had bought you. Specifically, I read
the way I signed it to you. I mentioned that the decision for your Dad and I to get a
divorce was a hard decision but that it was the right one.

I was wrong… it was not the right decision. It is rarely God’s will for any two people
who were joined in marriage to get a divorce. The Bible is quite clear on this and as I’ve
been growing spiritually I can see I was not thinking clearly at the time of our divorce
nor was I thinking clearly at the time I signed the prayer book for you.

I wish I had been a walking Christian while I was married to your Dad. Things could
have been different. My prayer (and yours too!) has been that your Dad will
accept Christ. He’s a good man and a good father but he’d be an even better father
if he could look at you through God’s eyes instead of his own. I know that’s what I
try to do.

My prayer for you is one I pray often… I pray you will grow up knowing that God loves
you and you are secure in Him. I pray you’ll be secure and confidant knowing that I
love you so very much no matter what choices you’ve made or will make. You truly
have the blessing of my unconditional acceptance. I pray you will find a wonderful
Christian woman someday who you will marry. And the two of you will grow closer
to the Lord and to one another.

You mean so very much to me, Drey. I wish I knew how to be the best Mom to you.
But I know I will make mistakes. I hope you will be able to see past my mistakes and
know that I loved you even though I did some goofy things!

Well, I’m at work right now and I’d better get back to business. Just wanted to take a
few minutes to let you know how loved you are. Mommy

Today: I hesitated with posting this letter. 1) My husband, Robbie, is pretty flippin awesome. What will he think of this? 2) Isn’t it a bit self-serving to post this letter? Look at me! I was (am??) a great Mom! But I’ve chosen to post it because I believe it’s a testament to how loving our God is. To work through a broken person like me (I had just gone through my 2nd divorce when I wrote this) so that I could love my son’s father, love my son, and then to redeem my pain and my choices by blessing me with a wonderful husband, a Divorce Care ministry, and hundreds of other blessings?! Yes, I ache without my son. Yes, I have questions with no answers. But God is still love and loving.

Some lessons must be learned again and again

Through the years I’ve collected a few mantras for directing my thoughts – especially when there’s conflict. 

Seek first to understand – then to be understood.

Always assume positive intent.

Stay curious.

All good reminders that often make up my “self talk.”  Not so much yesterday…

I received a card in the mail from the parents of one of Drey’s friends.  I was so pleased – because I hadn’t heard from them since Drey had died which left me sad.  I waited to open the card until I felt ready.  (I’ve learned that sometimes cards contain pictures or stories about Drey that are WELCOMED but it’s best that I prepare myself.  Kind of a guarding my heart ’til I’m ready thing).   I opened the card yesterday afternoon.  The card was addressed to Fred & Kris – Drey’s Dad and Stepmom.  I was crushed.  Not only had I not heard from D & M but apparently they were reaching out to Fred & Kris.  The accusations began in my mind…  “Drey talked to his friends about you, Denise.  Everyone knows you were a shitty Mom EXCEPT YOU!  But what was it I hadn’t provided for Drey?  I loved him so dearly!  What would’ve caused him to speak negatively about me to his friends?”   And then the comparing began… “I attended more soccer games during high school than his Dad did.  I was the one that took him to get his drivers license.  It was me at the doctor and dentist appointments.  OMG – is this why so many marriages that suffer the loss of a child end in divorce?  Do they start comparing their love and finding fault with each other?”  The tears began pouring.  Deep, gut-wrenching wails.  I texted A – a soccer Mom who has stayed in touch.  “WTF A?  Was I a bad Mom?  Did Drey hate me?”  She did her best to reassure me that wasn’t the case.  Grieving parents need that reassurance… from their family, from their kid’s friends, from co-workers who remember the pictures and stories that were shared over the years.  We forget.  We get confused.  We question EVERYTHING. 

So I sat down – a little more calm – and cried some more.  My thoughts continued to bounce between worrying what others thought of my parenting skills to questioning the skills myself. 

A few hours later I read an email from Drey’s Dad, “Hey D – wanted to let you know I received a card from D & M that was meant for you and Robbie.” 

Silly me.

Seek first to understand then to be understood.

Always assume positive intent.

Stay curious. 

Psalm 19 reflections. Verses 7-11

Psalm 19: 7-11(NLT):  The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.  The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 

The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart.  The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. 

Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever.  The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. 

They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold.  They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.

They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.


Reflections:  the idea of having my soul revived was and still is very appealing to say the least.  The first few months after Drey died I thought I was going to die.  Literally.  I didn’t think it was physically possible to carry the heaviness.  God carried me in ways I’ll never know this side of heaven.  Not only did I FEEL Him at times – there were times I FELT when people were praying for me – but I also knew there was simply no other explanation for how I was still breathing.  It was entirely God’s doing.  I realize I’m typing in past tense… it “was” God’s doing that I could continue breathing.  So what about now?  Am I now strong enough that I’m saying, “I got this now, God.  I’m good.  Thanks for your help”?  Gross.  I pray that God would keep me weak because his grace is all I need.  

Plumb’s song, “Need You Now”  God thank you for keeping me breathing.

Psalm 19 reflections. Verses 1-6

Psalm 19: 1-6(NLT): The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.
God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete ready to run the race.
The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat.

Reflections: God loves us so much that he makes Himself known in His creation.
“Heavens” in this passage refers to outter space – the sky, the stars. Not the home of God.
God created the sky, the sun, all the stars. He spoke them into existence. Think about that… wow! When I let my imagination take flight the idea of speaking even an ant into existence is truly mind boggling! What would I have it look like? What would it’s purpose be? Would it be living? Would it fly? Would it talk? Would it be food? What would it taste like? What color would it be? So many decisions to create one little bitty ant.
The sun – THE SUN. Damn! Have you read about it lately? I read the wikipedia highlights this morning.
It’s diameter is 109 times larger than earth’s. It’s mass is 330k times denser than earth’s. God spoke the sun into existence. OMG – literally! Just pausing and reflecting on this leaves me in absolute awe. Consider all the sun does. Nothing can hide from its heat! What an amazing, amazing God! God is all power and all powerful. God is the great I AM.

Another small step…

I held a baby yesterday. This wasn’t a small step – it was a big one. I’ve wondered a few times since Drey died if I’d ever be able to hold a baby again. Well last night my question was answered. I didn’t have much choice in the matter really. A mom friend was doing multiple things and handed me baby Sophie. It happened so quickly I had no time to think it through. I just did what comes naturally for a mom. Sophie was on my hip and I was immediately swaying.

My thoughts dashed between “Doesn’t my mom friend know I failed to keep my son alive? What’s she thinking giving me her sweet little baby to hold?” To “Oh my dear God, please, I don’t want to cry. Please keep my precious memories of Drey as a baby stuffed safely away far from the surface.”

In the end I did okay. When I gave Sophie back to her mom Sophie gave me a sweet little smile revealing just a few front baby teeth. I accepted that smile as a little gift from God and remembered to thank Him.

Grieving a suicide

A friend recently asked me how grieving a suicide was different from grieving a non-suicide death.  It’s a great question… and I am grateful for my dear friends who are willing to openly talk & ask questions about Drey and my grief.  I am just 10 months into this pain but so far I’ve experienced two areas of difference.  One you’d expect – one maybe you wouldn’t. 

Drey’s suicide has left me asking “why?”  I believe the “why” question is a normal part of grieving regardless of how someone died.  The difference with suicide is that not only do you ask “why” of God but you ask “why” of the person you lost.  And with that “why” come the “what if’s, if only’s, I wish I would have’s” and the “I should have’s.”  He chose this.  He chose to end his life.  But I’m his Mom?!  How did I miss that?  How could he have been thinking about this and I was so unaware?  Maybe we shouldn’t have moved.  His Dad and I never should’ve divorced?  I should’ve been harder on him about his drinking?  But he was 19 – an adult.  I didn’t want to push him away by harping on him??  Maybe I should’ve made him stay involved in the church instead of letting him make his own choice regarding spiritual engagement once he started high school?  Why didn’t I drive over to his Dad’s that morning?  My gut told me something wasn’t right – why didn’t I go over there??  Why did I just go about my day like normal?  I don’t have answers to these questions.  I won’t on this side of heaven.  So part of finding my “new normal” means learning to live without answers.  I am a work in progress.

The second thing that’s unique about grieving a suicide death is the overwhelming presence of shame.   For the first several months I felt shame’s presence.   It was as if it were a demon latched onto my back.  I felt the weight of it.   I felt it hissing in my ear – often asking me the questions I listed above but also following up with a horribly devasting lie of an answer.    I remember one time being at the grocery store and had gone down one aisle to grab something while my husband went down another.  During those brief few minutes a person casually looked at me but in my mind they held my gaze just a little too long and I immediately believed they knew my son had taken his own life.  And they knew it was because I was a bad parent.  I quickly tried to talk myself through that they don’t know me, I wasn’t a bad parent, stay focused, what did you come down this aisle looking for, it’s okay, stay calm… But within a matter of seconds I was reeling in a frenzy of panicked shame.  I quickly found my husband and didn’t leave his side the rest of the grocery store visit.

Shame.  What a damaging emotion, a painful state of mind.  Learning to talk back to it is an ongoing process for me.  I have found that keeping some bible verses top of mind is very helpful.   I was recently at the grocery store by myself.  About half way through my shopping I started to experience the panic of shame again.   I repeated out loud Philippians 4:13 over and over.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  I know people were looking at me but I didn’t care.  As I was saying it I put an emphasis on a different word each time.  “I can DO all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.”   Thankfully I was able to complete that grocery store trip successfully.  What is it about going to the grocery store?  It’s such a mom thing I suppose.  Just always leaves me feeling vulnerable.

Here’s an awesome TED talk about the topic of vulnerability.

Here’s an awesome TED talk about the topic of shame.

I hope you find these as helpful as I have.  I will learn to be vulnerable again… to share openly and honestly.   Because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!