Archive | September 2013

Getting my “marketing” groove on

I began doing some occasional work for a woman who started her own Marketing Consulting company.    I’m putting a marketing plan together for one of her clients – a Pilates studio owner.   I like Marketing – kind of.  There’s way more to it than that.  What I like is understanding what people are trying to solve for and what makes them tick.  Why did this business woman decide to buy a Pilates Studio (and not give up her day job)?  What’s she most excited about?  How would she define success a year from now, 3 years from now?  What kind of environment does she want to create for her employees and her clients?   Why should her clients choose her Studio over another?   Share your vision with me and from there I can help create a “marketing” plan – if that’s what you want to call it – to help you get there.  

Same goes for my Marketing Consulting company owner…  why does she have this company?  What does she love?  How is she setting herself up to focus on the parts of running this business that she loves while delegating or minimizing the stuff she doesn’t love, doesn’t know or doesn’t care to learn?  We started to talk about some of these things… but now I’ve slipped into helping her with something specific – the marketing plan for the Pilates chick – rather than helping her be strategic with the company as a whole.   Hmmm.  Not sure how I feel about that.

There’s a boy working at the company who’s got graphic design and online technical skills.  We worked together more today than in past weeks.  I asked him when he graduated high school.  2012.  Hmmm.  Same age as Drey.  Yes, he plays soccer, too.  I caught myself staring at him – the back of his head and neck.   I know – I sound like some weird stalker lady.   He didn’t look like Drey from the front.  Their faces are different.   But he did from the back.   My mind would drift off while he was talking to me.  What would Drey be doing if he were alive?    Would Drey be as confident as this young man in a work environment like this?  No one there knows I have a son.  Had a son?  Have a son in heaven.  They don’t know anything about my personal life.   Learning how my grief coexists with the rest of my life is an interesting journey.   Listening to people, what’s important to them, what frustrates them.  My lens is completely changed.  I’m more curious.  I’m more humble.   I’m much more in tune with discovering what’s at the root than I ever have been.  As I get out and do more I’m slowly finding what fits the “new me” and what doesn’t.   God is definitely teaching me patience through this.

Next Tuesday I have another speaking engagement… the topic is suicide.   And on Wednesday I’m meeting with State Representative Anielski for breakfast… again the topic is suicide.   I’ve met so many people in the suicide community.   I’ve learned the environment is just as dysfunctional as any other… meaning there are a handful of non-profit organizations and it isn’t always clear where one organization ends and the other begins.   I would like to work with every one of the organizations and help them learn to work together to divide and conquer.   The synergy that could come by combining the resources excites the shit out of me.  Everyone in the same room, learning to work together.  Then ongoing communication – sharing of learns.  We should all come together with this goal in mind:  Ohio will provide the best in class suicide prevention, awareness, education and postvention services.  How will we measure this?  ZERO suicides in 2014.   How’s that for a goal?  AND AND AND what we do has to be scalable… and easily replicated.   

Direct my paths, Lord.  I’ll continue to put one foot in front of the other but please, direct my paths. 

Suicide, guilt and God

Did I contribute to my baby’s suicide?  On the one hand I think of course I did.  I was Mom.  I was responsible for him.  God was counting on me to raise an emotionally healthy boy.  Somewhere along the way I failed.  How can a parent – any parent – not feel responsible?   I worked too much.  I didn’t make Drey stay involved in church when he hit high school.  I didn’t act with urgency when I knew he was drinking.   He grew up in two homes instead of one because of my selfishness.  I didn’t pray enough.  I didn’t create a home where he wanted to bring his friends over in the high school years.   I didn’t drive to his Dad’s house that morning.  I did too much for him.  If he would’ve had to work harder for the things in his life he would’ve had more of a sense of accomplishment. 

What do I do with this knowledge?  How do I sort through true guilt from the false guilt?  

David had a bad day last Friday.  He came home and I listened as Robbie told me about their conversation.  I listened as my husband parented his son and I struggled to recall a time I was there for Drey at the end of a bad day.   How many times did I fail?  The weight of it is too much to carry.  This guilt has become a frequent companion.   I know these thoughts are not from God.  But taking my thoughts captive is very challenging sometimes.  As I’m driven repeatedly to my knees I’m learning to love my God more than ever.  A depth of love I never could have experienced apart from this depth of suffering.  He lifts the weight of this load in indescribable ways.  Ways I experience yet cannot comprehend or articulate.   I go to Him in the depths of despair and sometimes within minutes I am praising Him for hundreds of reasons all at once. 

What do I do with this knowledge?  How do I sort through true guilt from the false guilt?  I take it to God.  The One who never tires of my tears, my pain, my need for reassurance.  The One who can point me perfectly in the right direction.  The One who delights in my dependence on Him.  The One my son can now see.  God please tell Drey I love him.  I love him so.

Drey’s friends and Drey’s legacy

I suppose when someone dies by suicide the tendency for people who didn’t know them that well is to remember them by their death rather than their life. “Oh yeah – I remember that kid. He’s the one that killed himself.” This isn’t something I gave much thought to until recently. It’s yet another “secondary loss.” The loss of Drey’s legacy. Frankly I’m pretty flippin done with discovering, processing and grieving all these secondary losses. But they keep coming.

Probably without even realizing it Drey’s friends have been and continue to be a big support to me in this area. The 2013 year book includes Bethaney sharing what Drey meant to her and how he impacted her. Just yesterday Britney shared on FB some words Drey had encouraged her with. I’ve heard stories about Drey and how special he was when I spent time with his friends this summer, too. One friend shared that in part it was because of their friendship and the loss of that friendship that prompted her to begin a relationship with God.

I am grateful beyond words to hear about my son’s impact on others. Not just because a Mom wants – even needs – to hear these things because she misses her baby. But because I know others are carrying on Drey’s legacy – his real legacy – by sharing about the impact he had on them.

So maybe it’s not fair to say his legacy is a secondary loss.

Thank you friends for making that possible.

Doubts, pain and Trazadone. Journaling from Sept 12, 16, and 17

September 12, 2012:  “… I keep seeing pictures and moments with Drey in my mind.  They won’t stop.  I have no control.  Should I try to make them stop?  They hurt so bad.  I don’t know how to grieve.”

Sept 16, 2012:  “I’m sitting here by myself this evening.  The person who signed up for bringing dinner forgot.  People just go on with their lives.  It hurts.  It hurts that this ache I have is so deep and so real and others just forget.  You alone are my God, my Lord.  The One who will never forget.  My life feels purposeless right now.  Not because my only purpose in life was to be Drey’s Mom but because I’m so sad.  So sad.  Trying to find happiness or fun in the stupid things of this world is so wasteful.  There’s just no point.  All that matters is God.  How can I glorify You in this, Father?  How can I point others to You?  Help me to set my mind on You.  I wish I could know with even more certainty that Drey is with You, Lord.  Thank you, God, for the goal Drey scored at the Senior night soccer game.  Thank You that he prayed before the game.  Thank You for honoring his prayer.  Thank You that he told me he had prayed.  Thank You I was there to see that game.”

September 17, 2012:  “… I wish I didn’t have to take trazadone to sleep.  It makes mornings even harder.  I hurt deep down.  And then I’m foggy on top of that.  It’s a bad combination.  Drey told me he accepted You… he asked You into his heart as a little boy.  You love him perfectly.  I want to believe that he is with you now!  But I fear it’s only wishful thinking.  I have doubts.  I hate my doubts.”

Today:  Hebrews 11 says that faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  Sometimes it’s hard to have assurance about what we cannot see, about what we do not understand.  Drey told me he had accepted Christ as his Savior.  He confirmed that as recently as June before he died.  What more assurance does a Mom need?  Maybe he was just telling me what I wanted to hear?  No… that’s not it.  He told me all kinds of things a Mom does NOT want to hear!  We had a special relationship that way.  If he wasn’t sure about being a Christian he would’ve told me that, too.  He tweeted a cool bible verse graduation weekend.  He prayed – and what’s even more cool is that he remembered that he prayed and God played a role – that night at his soccer game.  I see from really old journals where I made comments about him reading his bible and praying for his friends.   So again – what more assurance does a Mom need?  Isn’t that enough evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence.  But I want more assurance.  I want God to stand before me and tell me He’s got my baby.  It’s not that I think suicide is an unforgivable sin.  It’s that I didn’t know my baby’s heart like God did when he made this decision.  Did he really, really, really, truly mean it? 

God loved my son more than I did.  Verse after verse makes that clear to me.

God please help me in my unbelief.  Help me to trust You.

The balancing act of the mind after a suicide

When dealing with a difficult, challenging situation I like to have as much information as possible.
However that’s not how I’ve handled my baby’s death. There are plenty of details available. But some of them are locked away – in someone else’s mind, in an envelope, in Drey’s iPhone sitting safely on his dresser.
It’s humbling to know others know more around my baby’s frame of mind, his actions, in those final hours. As his Mom it’s my job to be the most informed, isn’t it? My ex-husband, my husband, the police. Some friends too. They all know things I don’t know. Have I failed you by not learning every single thing I could, baby? But but but but…
But sometimes guarding my heart is more important than gathering more details.
But Philippians 4:8 says “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
But I AM the most informed about his life. His LIFE.
But I am informed about where he is now.
God, help me to rest in what I know.

Last years journal: Sept 8

Last year:  Well, it’s been a month.  I don’t know what words to use to explain how I feel.  Exhausted.  I don’t want it to be real.  I want to be with you.  God help me to grieve your way.  Help me to depend on you, I can’t always set my mind on the things above.  I never can.  God even this pen I’m trying to write with feels too heavy.  I have nothing.  Nothing but tears.  God I pray for Mom & Gene’s protection as they drive on vacation.  I thank you that my Mom has accepted the gift of Your son.  Everything is so foggy in my head.

Today:  Well, it’s been 13 months and 1 day.  I still don’t know what words to use to explain how I feel.  Confused I suppose.  I still don’t want it to be real.  And I still want to be with you, Drey.  I look at pictures of your smiling face – what a great smile!  It warms my heart to see that smile but at the same time it breaks me.  Bethaney posted some pics I’d never seen of you on FB.  You were so loved.  You had so many friends.   I will never understand why you did this.  I don’t ask the “why” question as often as I did but it still lingers.

We have a new dog… his name is Duke.  You would’ve liked him.  He’s a cuddler.  David’s birthday is today.  He’s 15.  You’re missing everything.

I’m attending a 2-day conference this week.  It’s about suicide and engaging the bereaved.  The speakers and topics look really interesting.  This conference is a far cry from the retail and business conferences I’ve attended in the past.  Life sure is different now.  Family Needs Following a Suicide of a Teenager, Impact of Language on Survivors of Loss, Carrying the Grief of Suicide:  Reaching out to Survivors Across the Lifespan.   State Representative Marlene Anielski will be there – I’m looking forward to meeting her.  She just championed the passage of the Jason Flatt Act here in Ohio… now educators, guidance counselors, etc. are required to get Suicide Prevention training.  It’s the law.  I want to understand who’s responsible for implementing that training.  Is it just at the high school level?  What about private and charter schools – are they required as well?  What’s supposed to be included in the training?  And I want to hear their plan for making it happen with deliverable dates.   I can hear you teasing me, Drey… “Mom’s kicked into work mode again.”  Yea – I hear myself, too.  Perhaps I’m trying to take responsibility for something that isn’t mine to take.  But I want to know what the implementation plan is for good and right reasons.  

I ask God a lot what I could be doing.  What would glorify Him.  We moved to Franklinton to invest in an impoverished community.  We wanted people to know about His love.   Then you died.  Now I think about the suicide community and who’s at risk.  Generally it’s not people in Franklinton.  It’s the middle-class – especially middle-aged men, it’s the military, it’s those who have been directly impacted by a suicide loss, it’s the glbt community, it’s teens.    My heart goes out to those who have lost someone – so my focus has been on the bereaved.  But as I engage more in the suicide community I’m drawn to prevention opportunities, too, specifically with teenagers and young adults.  What does any of this suicide stuff have to do with Franklinton?  I try to tell myself just because we live here doesn’t mean our ministry has to be here.  But that was our plan…  wasn’t it Yours, God?  We prayed A LOT.  We got input A LOT.  So we moved.   But then life happened in a major way.  Now what?  I guess because I may be drawn to a different ministry that doesn’t mean we have to move back to the suburbs.  I can be such a black and white thinker – I wish I were more comfortable in the gray area.  There are so many creative, out of the box things You may be doing.  God help me to have a mindset of confident expectation of what is next!  I know You’ve prepared good works for me.

And then there’s this business of a job… again – my black and white thinking kicks in.  I’ve got it in my head that I must figure out what ministry looks like go forward before I decide what career to move towards.  If I land in a ministry that takes up a big part of my time it’ll impact the # of hours I put towards my career.  Can my ministry and career be one in the same?  I don’t know if I could fill a role in the suicide community as my job.   That feels like it’d be a lot – maybe too heavy for me emotionally.  Will I care in a year as much as I do today about the suicide community?  What’s just a phase vs. a true change in direction?

A day at a time.   You are good, God.  You know how dense and stubborn I can be.  You also know I love You.  Help me to rest in Your timing and help me to trust I will hear You.  I praise You that I’m able to take this time and rest.  I praise You for Robbie’s job.  You have provided for us in so many ways.   God thank You for bringing Mom & Gene home safely from last years September vacation.  God help me to be grateful rather than only asking for more, more, more.  Your timing, Lord.

http://www.ohiohouse.gov/marlene-anielski/press/rep-anielski-holds-press-conference-on-youth-suicide-prevention

 

Last Years journal: Sept 4 and 6

Photo collage 2 - Drey's Memorial

Photo collage 2 – Drey’s Memorial

Photo collage 1 - Drey's Memorial

Photo collage 1 – Drey’s Memorial

Reading last years journaling… it had been just 4 weeks since Drey’s death.  My writing was all over the place.  I was in physical pain, I was consumed with guilt, I was irritated, and I was aware of God’s presence.   I kept a list of when I took medicine because I was always losing track.  Excedrin, ibuprofen and a few Rx meds were my constant companions.  I could feel the pain deep down into my bones.  I didn’t know how to make the ache stop.  I thought I was going to die.

I prayed to the Holy Spirit a lot – not just to God.   Hold me, comfort me, speak to me.  Please.  I know You are here with me.  Please help me.  Please hold me.  Please tell me I’m going to be okay.  Please tell me I’ll wake up soon.  Please tell me it’s not real.  Please no it can’t be.   Please take me to heaven now.  Please – I can’t live like this.  I can’t.

In hindsight I can see where people were with me often.    I suppose they talked about me being suicidal and wanted to make sure I was safe.   I didn’t know it at the time.  I was in a fog.  I vacillated between pulling weeds and sobbing uncontrollably.   I had no concept of time.  I would sit for hours in silence without even realizing so much time had passed.   I remember doing the photo boards for Drey’s memorial service.  I cut every picture exactly how I wanted it.  I placed each one carefully on the board with just the right amount of 2-sided foam tape.  I spent hours on them.  I didn’t want help – I was disgusted by the idea.  This was my baby.  This was my job now.  I remember one of the first times Robbie made me laugh… he looked at me and said, “you know honey you’re not going to get a grade on your photo boards.”   Creating these boards with just the right pictures in just the right location was the most important thing in the world to me for those few days before his memorial service. 

I remember experiencing God’s presence,  His peace, even in the midst of the pain.  My journal captured some of it through my gratefulness… “Thank You, God, for all Your blessings.  I am able to be grateful in spite of these circumstances.  I know Your Spirit is at work in me.  I am humbled beyond words that You love me.  I am awestruck at just how big, capable and omniscient You are!”   Who has those feelings and can write about them less than a month after their baby was found dead?  No mother is capable.  Surely it was God at work in me.  I was dead to myself.  I had nothing to give.  On my own I was barely capable of a single cohesive thought.  Truly God was carrying me.

Maybe it’s not wise for me to go back and look at my journaling from last year.   It’s hard.   I have expectations on myself that since it’s been a year I should be able to look at a video of Drey, look at pictures of him that have been stored away, look at cards people sent last year.  But I haven’t been able to do any of those things.  And maybe the journal is a bit much, too.