Archive | October 2013

What’s in a worldview?

I went through the exercise of thinking through and writing out my worldview a few years before Drey died… it was part of a Leadership Core workshop I had taken where we explored what we believed, what our strengths were, and how our beliefs and strengths aligned with how we were actually spending our life.  It was a great exercise.  Here’s what my worldview was:

I believe God is loving, all knowing, dependable and consistent.  I believe I will go to heaven when I died.  Not because of who I am or what I’ve done but because of who He is and what He’s done.  I value truth, integrity and transparency.  Being successful externally comes easily for me.  I have several gifts, talents and strengths.  I love to organize things, to set up processes and to plan.  I love to set goals and accomplish them.  Bringing closure makes me feel fulfilled.  Being pleased with myself internally is more challenging and requires deliberate ongoing focus.  My tendency is to judge myself and others.  I want to have a positive impact on those around me – family, friends, coworkers and ministry partners.  I am highly dependable. 

After spending the past 14 months grieving the death of my pride and joy here is what I believe about the world, about life:

I believe God is perfect and we can know truth, right from wrong, because of him.
I believe God is love, all knowing, dependable and consistent.
I believe God is a perfect judge.
God created us in His image and with free will to choose as we want to choose.
We are sons and daughters of the King if we choose Him, if we choose to acknowledge our inadequacies and need for a perfect savior. 
Truly living as sons and daughters of the King must be done in complete dependence on Him.  It is an ongoing decision to live in dependence.  Not just day by day but minute by minute.
I have a God-given desire for things to be made right.
The ruler of the world we currently live in is Satan – the enemy of God.  Therefore nothing works as it was originally designed.  Nature, people, relationships, animals, life (death).
The deadliest trick Satan ever plays is convincing us that he does not exist.  This keeps us from knowing the real truth and keeps us from loving others with urgency.
We are in the middle of a spiritual war.
God will set things right.  Until that time He wants us to fight in the war.  We do this by loving others in complete dependence on Him.
When we live apart from dependence on God we do not have the full picture, we do not have accurate knowledge, and we operate out of a sense of need rather than being sacrificially others-focused. 
Everyone wakes up every day incapable of any good, Godly, eternal thing apart from the Holy Spirit.
We are born with a need to be known, acceptable, significant and loved.
I believe everyone lives with a “you’re not ____ enough” voice in our minds.  This is fear.
I believe when we’re honest with others about our fears we can experience connection, maybe even a little peace.
I believe when we live with integrity, transparency and honesty it can cause other to feel safe to be themselves – to be truly known.
God wants to love us through other people and wants to love other people through us.
Most of our days are filled with inconsequential thoughts, worries and actions.  We need God and His work through others to show us what’s important – to keep us focused.
Selflessly loving others (with the knowledge that we are perfectly accepted, known, loved and significant) is the ultimate humbling buzz.  When it happens we know full well it did not come from our own power!
Joy and pain can coexist.
Suffering is an opportunity to strengthen our faith.  Whether that faith is in ourselves, God or something else is up to us.  Suffering is polarizing.
“I don’t know” is powerful.  I do not have to have all the answers in order to love someone.
Listening is more important than speaking.
Everyone has a lot to learn.
 
Why was it important for me to revisit my worldview?  Because losing Drey has rocked my world – broken me, shattered me.  EVERYTHING has had to be re-visited – especially what I believe about God and life.  It’s been helpful in my journey of healing.  I’ve dedicated significant mind-time to this which has included writing it out and getting challenging feedback.  Writing out my worldview has helped me to truly “own” it.   As a result I’ve become more aware of the gaps between what I truly believe vs my actions, choices and thought-life.  This is still a work in progress no doubt.  But my worldview is deeper and far more real to me now than it was before Drey died.  
 
I am a fighter.  I will learn to thrive – not just survive – after this tragedy.  It takes time, patience, perseverance.   I’m Yours, God.

Gratitude without guilt.

Journal from last year – October 27 2012:

I’m here at Cherry Valley Lodge with Robbie.  I had what I think is an anxiety attack this morning.  I miss you so, so much.  It began with remembering the 2nd grade field trip with Mrs. Morse to High Banks Park.  It was in the fall.  On the trail we saw the guts of some small animal – maybe a rodent of some sort.  Everyone was so fascinated.  I enjoyed going on your field trips.

Sometimes I think I’ll die from this pain.  How can someone carry this depth of pain day after day, week after week, and now month after month?

Can you see me, baby?  Can you hear me?  How can I live this life without you?  I view everything through you.  Memories don’t bring me comfort or joy.  They ache.  They bring tears.  When will that change?  Will there come a time when I look back on this journal?  What will I feel then?  What will I feel when I look back on this Cherry Valley Lodge weekend?  Will I wonder how I’ve survived?  Will I still be in the same depth of pain?  Will God use me somehow?  Will I experience peace in knowing God is redeeming this horrible thing and I’m playing a role in it?

Today:  I haven’t had a panic attack – or whatever I should call it – in about a month now.   I want to be grateful for the decreased frequency in panic attacks.  I want to be grateful that I don’t sob every day anymore.   But it’s hard to allow myself to feel grateful for God’s slow but tender hands of healing.  What kind of Mom am I if I’m feeling grateful for my life?   Some have said, “Drey would want you to be happy.”  Maybe.  But it doesn’t really matter because he’s not here.   

I remember last summer a motorcycle driven by a young man came flyin up on my butt when I was driving on 315.  I got out of his way and he sped by.  “At least I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”  Oh My God.  I couldn’t believe that was really the thought that popped into my head?!   Then I beat myself up in a major way… “Yea – lucky you.  Your son’s already dead so you don’t have to worry about him getting in a motorcycle accident.  How sick, Denise.  What kind of Mom are you?  Did you even love him?” 

I feel like there’s a war going on inside myself… there’s part of me that feels amazingly blessed and can rattle off so many reasons why I am blessed.  I’ll see my son again, I have a wonderful husband, I love my family,  I love my friends, I love God more than I ever have, I’m not paralyzed by pain anymore, I can spend time doing what I want to do rather than worrying about bringing home money for our living expenses, I’ve met so many people who are suicide survivors and am grateful for each them.  Then there’s part of me that’s disgusted with myself for not being crumbled up in a pile like I was last year.  Learning to live with Drey’s death is very hard.  It’s taking a long time to integrate this loss into my life, my circumstances, my being.

God tells us to be joyful in all circumstances.  To be continuously thankful.

What am I afraid of?  Why can’t I let myself be a little joyful and grateful without wanting to just die of shame for feeling that way?  Because I’ll forget Drey?  Because people will assume I’m “over it” and won’t pray and care for me the way they have been.  Because people will think I’m a freak because one day I’ll be joyful and the next I’ll be crying – so it’s best to keep the mood swings to myself.  Because people will think I must not have loved Drey – at least not as much as they love their children because they can’t fathom ever smiling again after their child died.   Somehow in my little world I’ve assumed everyone is watching me and drawing conclusions about how I’m handling things.  Because apparently I’m the most interesting person in the world?? 

God please help me to live before You and only You.  My audience of One.  Help me to live just today without concern for how I’ll be feeling or what mood I’ll be in tomorrow.  Teach me to direct my thoughts towards others.  My needs are met in You.  You have shown me that in miraculous ways this past year especially.  The fact that I’m still alive is a miracle!  I want to overflow with the love You’ve given me.  Overflow into the lives of others without regard for myself because You promise to continually love me, delight in me.

Teach me.

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

I’m very grateful for this post. Hearing that other parents still struggle even though their child died a while ago helps me realize I’m not alone in this pain in spite of how lonely it feels. It also motivates me to want to move towards others who are hurting. We can have joy alongside our sorrow… The holiday season isn’t all hard. But it’s different now. And it is what it is. There’s no sense in putting on a mask. I will laugh, I will cry, I will pray, rejoice and be angry too. It’s just life now.

Grief: One Woman's Perspective

I did something the other day that most people probably wouldn’t understand. I specifically went into the Christmas aisles at a our local big-box store to test myself. I wanted to see how I would react to seeing all of the Christmas stuff that is now arriving on shelves in force. I wanted to see how badly the vise would constrict around my heart this year as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach. Perhaps I wanted to begin preparing myself for the onslaught of reminders that “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” – or, at least, the implications that it should be. For some people, it’s not. You see, this time of year as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach is always a tricky time filled with potential landmines for a parent who has lost a child.

The vise doesn’t constrict as much as it once did, but I don’t think there’s…

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Getting closer to fine…

I dropped off David this morning. The small rock is still painted… RIP FDM. It’s been 2 months since your friends painted it. It’s lasted a long time.

I always drop David off in the mornings but this morning was harder than usual. It’s because we hit traffic and were a little late. You and I were always cutting it close to get there in time baby. Remember? Funny what a difference 9 minutes can make with my mood. I don’t want to drop David off at 7:34 or later. I’ve got to avoid that at all costs. Who knew? A drop off at 7:25 and I’m “ok” – as “ok” as I can be as I drive past the rock, the soccer field, the stop sign on the hill where I taught you to drive a standard, your parking spot. But 7:34… The shallow breathing and trembling came back all at once. No thank you.

I don’t always feel like this, Drey. Somehow I’m learning to live with the hard days with a different attitude. They make me more grateful for the lighter days.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t ache.

Today I am one day closer to seeing you again. Today I am one day closer to spending eternity with my perfect Father and lover of my soul. Is it amazing, Drey? Are you smiling? Dancing? Racing?

Dear Lord help me to take my thoughts captive to your obedience. Help me love people with Your love. Teach me every lesson possible through this suffering. My life will count. Drey’s life will count. Did count.

Who am I. God I miss him.

My mind is swirling this morning.  It swirls in so many different directions.  I don’t understand how I got to where I am.  It’s still surreal.  When to sit in it, to contemplate it vs when to change my questions, my mindset.  Always a balancing act.  

I look at your picture taken on graduation day.  The picture of you and me.  I’m in my heels but you’re still taller than me.  You always thought you were so short.  But not to me.   How did I get here?  Why am I left with only memories of you?

This week is intense… Survivors of Suicide Group, GriefShare, speaking at the Helpline annual meeting, a meeting with Rep Anielski about the laws around Rx meds given to minors, then the Memorial Bench dedication at the zoo.  All in 4 days time.   All important things I want to do.   I was in control of the timing for the Wednesday commitments.  When I looked at Wednesday it was open so I scheduled them.  New Lesson:  Part of my “new normal” is learning to look at the entire week’s events before making plans.  Learning to consider the emotional strain of the week is important before saying “yes” to something else.

I used to do so many things all at once.  Achiever.  Accomplisher.  I got so much done in a week.  I’d run from meeting to meeting, prepare for a home church teaching, hang with friends and attend both soccer games of the week.  I wonder what the cost was?  The cost in my marriage.  The cost in my relationships.  Robbie’s told me – and I even remember – making Drey a priority in spite of other things I was responsible for.   I didn’t do this perfectly but Drey knew I loved him.  And he knew I loved the Lord.  I won’t allow the voices in my head to tell me I failed him.  Not this morning anyway.  I delighted in my boy more than anything else in my life (not that my marriage and my relationship with God shouldn’t have been first…)

Losing Drey has meant digging deep into my identity.  Deeper and deeper.  At first it was “am I still a mom?” And how do I answer the, “do you have kids” question?   Then I realized I hadn’t – and couldn’t – look at myself in the mirror.  I would look at my hair, at each eye to put makeup on.  But never at my full image.  I knew I was losing weight, I knew the dark circles under my eyes were there.  But I couldn’t bear to look.   It took about 4 months before I actually looked in the mirror at myself in total.  And all I saw staring back was Drey’s Mom.  I saw the pain of a broken woman who loved her son so dearly that she would’ve given her life for his.   It took a few more months before I could begin looking in the mirror without becoming nauseous. 

But even now – especially now –  this identity thing keeps going deeper…  “I am a daughter of the King.”  Blah blah blah.  To know this intellectually is one thing but to really get to the root belief and meaning of who I am is risky work.

I’ve KNOWN intellectually for a long time that cookies, bra’s and panties (I worked as an Executive at Cheryl’s and at Victoria’s Secret), my ability to do 20 things in a day:  attend soccer games, teach the bible, keep my house clean, go on college visits, lead DivorceCare, call a friend, buy that book for a coworker, etc. did not define who I was.  But now that those things don’t fill up my time…   I sometimes find myself feeling worthless.  So the deeper journey into CONSIDERING who I am began on August 8th, 2012.    I didn’t know it at the time.  I didn’t know much of anything on that day or for several weeks afterwards – everything was foggy.  But nonetheless God was and still is at work.  He is the ultimate multi-tasker.  Not only was He comforting me and carrying me in my grief but he was teaching me about who I was.

Fourteen months later I don’t have a new, magical answer to the “Who am I” question.   I am a daughter of the King.  I have been since 1987 when I realized I wasn’t perfect and needed a Savior – and that Savior was Jesus.  What’s different now is that the journey to CONSIDERING myself a daughter – chewing on, meditating on, ruminating on –  that I am a daughter of the King became real on August 8th, 2012.  My supposed ability to attend soccer games, clean my house, and teach the bible, were stripped from me.  I could not breathe without God.  My journey into CONSIDERING my true identity began when I realized apart from my King I was but dust.