Archive | January 2014

What I’ve been doing in the Suicide Prevention space…

I’ve learned more about my pace and how to gauge my ability to enter the Suicide Prevention Nonprofit space. 

I didn’t touch it – no research, no questions, no nothing until June, 2013.  That was 10 months after Drey had died.  And I had to take it slow.  I learned that I needed to take it slow the hard way.  I guess that’s the best lesson.  I hesitate in sharing what I’ve learned and what I’ve engaged in because the majority of people that read this won’t care – at least not much.  But then again… I started this blog for me.  As a big part of my healing.  So if I’m ready and wanting to summarize what’s taken place to date then I guess I oughta.

I’ve connected with people at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  I’ve met them, learned more about how the organization functions and coordinated a team walk last October.  We had 40 people attend and raise over $3,500.  For the record… I would’ve been even happier if we had 100 people and had only raised $1,000.  The love I feel by having others come out and remember Drey means the world to me.   Erase the stigma… TALK about him and about suicide and depression.  Don’t sweep it under the rug.

I’ve joined the field advocacy team for AFSP, too.  What’s that mean?  It means a handful of staff of AFSP keep me and other volunteers updated on what legislation – local and federal – is being considered, passed, etc that relates to suicide prevention/mental health. They also provide suggested language for writing local and federal officials. And of course I add my own $.02. I don’t know if it’s making a difference or not. I hope so.

I spoke at the Delaware/Morrow County Suicide Prevention walk and at their Annual Meeting. I got to share about Drey. I love talking about him. I showed everyone at the Annual Meeting one of his senior pictures, too. I’m sure that wasn’t necessarily part of the agenda but who cares. He’s not a suicide statistic. He’s my baby, my boy. Drey. I’m grateful for the people I met through doing that – one gentleman in particular has been really helpful in understanding the “players” in this space and helping me to navigate it.

I met with one of our State Representatives and shared my story and Drey’s story with her. My main purpose for my meeting with her is not one I’ve shared with many people… in large part because I haven’t actioned the outcome and I’m a bit ashamed? Embarrassed? Not sure what word to use. Drey had been taking acne medication at the time of his death. And one of the side effects of the medication was suicidal thoughts/ideation. He was only issued one month’s worth at a time and would have to go in for blood work before he’d get another 30-day supply. So I’m comfortable the doctor was cautious. And I have no way of knowing if this contributed to his suicide. I do believe it’s a safe bet it sure as hell didn’t help matters though. So… I met with this State Rep to ask about getting a law passed around how doctors communicate what depression and suicidal behavior and thoughts might look like before and during administering the meds. The first time Drey was on this medication he was a minor so I was there with him. The doc asked, “are you feeling depressed” and some basic questions. That wasn’t enough in my opinion. How about asking, “Does depression or anxiety run in your family? If so, this could be an indicator of increased susceptibility to suicidal thoughts on this medication.” And how about talking about what happens if alcohol or other drugs are in the mix along with the meds? We could’ve been more informed. So… the State Rep shared a piece of legislation she thought would be a good fit to add my request as an addendum. She gave me the bill (all 50+ pages of it) and the name of the Rep that was trying to get it passed. The bill still sits on my night stand – next to Drey’s ashes and one of my fave pictures of us. Pacing myself… it’s important. I just haven’t been ready to engage that doctor or that issue. Not yet.

What I’ve really pursued more than anything else is “Postvention.” Postvention is helping those who have lost someone to suicide. I’ve learned they (we!) are one of the larger “at risk” groups for suicide. I’ve learned that both statistically and from my personal experience. I am now part of the Franklin County Suicide Prevention Coalition. And in that role I am working on a strategic plan around Postvention. What services do we currently have? Are we communicating what our resources are as effectively as possible? What programs/resources do we want to implement? One program we’d like to implement is a LOSS (Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors) team. This is a first responder team of 2-3 people that go to the scene of a suicide. One of the three people that goes is an actual survivor of a suicide. The single purpose for being there is to point the new survivors to resources that they can reach out to WHEN THEY ARE READY. After being trained and learning more about the LOSS teams (they are in other states and a few are here in Ohio – but not in Columbus) I’ve come to understand when a survivor can meet someone who just lost a loved one and can make even a few second connection and let them know they, too, lost a son to suicide (in my case) that the doors often open to follow up conversations and eventual healing. What an important role to play. God has blessed me to lead these efforts which includes meeting with law enforcement officials, the Coroner, mental health agencies and so on. Our goal is to launch in the Fall of 2014. Will I be able to be part of a first responder LOSS team? I don’t know. One step at a time. For now I plan, organize, champion, and communicate.

A big piece of my healing has been engaging in this Suicide Prevention space. Will that be the case a year from now? I don’t know. I don’t need to know. I’m just learning to be grateful for the strength God’s given me for today.

Scrappy and needy – all rolled up in one

Last weekend at a concert a 20ish year old dude got mouthy when Robbie asked (well – told) him basically to shut up. Robbie’s words weren’t that harsh but he was frustrated and that came through in his tone. The guy had been talking loudly, non-stop through the first 4 bands that played. We really wanted to hear the music. After Robbie spoke and the dude began to retaliate I turned around and told him the concert was important to us. That I had lost my son and the music we were there to hear meant a lot to us (yep it was a Christian music concert. The light of Christ was shining oh so brightly during this exchange!). He said that didn’t have anything to do with him – I was projecting my issues on him. Needless to say I didn’t take that comment too well. My inner sense of “that’s not fair!” was triggered and I was ready to fight. I’ve always been a bit scrappy. Apparently I think I’m tough enough to take on anyone. Thankfully the friend he was with apologized to us and they changed seats.
Big tough me that was ready to fight then spent the next 45 minutes sobbing in the middle of the concert. I was crushed. Crushed that someone didn’t care enough about my son’s death to simply be quiet during a concert. Crushed that God allowed that exchange to happen. I found myself wishing Drey’s friends were there – they would’ve kicked his ass. They would’ve shown him what it looks like to care about a Mom who lost her boy. Wait. Stop. Where did that line of thinking come from?? It caught me a bit off guard. I didn’t realize there was this thread woven into the “new, bereaved me” that wants others that loved Drey – besides my husband – to defend and protect me.
Yet another loss to grieve. The loss of Drey as an adult man that would’ve looked out for his Mom. I’m brought to my knees yet again asking God to be my protector, my defender.
I’m tired, I’m sad, I ache. This grief is still heavy. I miss you so, baby.

Be Still

Be Still

Grateful to meet Plumb

Grieving the death of my boy has been and continues to be indescribable.  And through the depths of this despair I have found God continually.  Loving me, comforting me, crying with me.  I’ve found Him through His Word, through friends, through running, through music. Plumb’s song Need You Now came out just after Drey had died. I’ve sobbed and belted out that song repeatedly. In my car, in the bathtub, everywhere. It is healing.
It’s helped me to be able to tell people how much they’ve helped me during this difficult 17 months and 13 days. In the depths of my pain I’ve also experienced a sense of gratitude that is so precious. Grateful to God for all of His provisions in the midst of this pain (I’ll save that for another blog). Grateful to my Mom and Dad for loving me, hurting with me, letting me stay with them and vacation with them. Grateful to my husband for his love and patience. Grateful to Drey’s friends who hurt and miss him and take the time to share that with me.
And last weekend I got to tell Plumb how healing her music has been for me. This picture shows her and one of her band members listening to me tell them about Drey, sharing a card with my blog on it, and showing them my tattoo of his name. Plumb was so kind to ask me questions about Drey. Thank you Plumb. For sharing your talent and the inspiration behind your lyrics. ❤
Got to tell Plumb how healing her music has been for me.

Plumb

Plumb

As time moves on its a blessing and a curse

I just went through all your FB pics again baby. I do that every so often. In part because I still haven’t looked at any of the pics or videos I have of you here at home. It’s still too much to handle.
As time keeps marching forward I’m slowly integrating this – your very short 19 years and 21 days of life and your horrible, tragic death – into my life. Others who are further along than me in their grief journey tell me that in time I will slowly absorb you into my very being. The pain, the happy memories, everything. I’ll absorb it. You’ll just be part of me. I don’t fully understand that. But I might be getting slight glimpses into it now that the acute pain doesn’t throb 24/7. Over time it’s becoming a dull, lonely ache with the sharpness only flaring up instead of being a constant. As I look at your FB pics on my iPad I zoom in and touch your face. I play out memories of your laughter, our conversations. I try to remember your smell. The acute pain feels real good sometimes. Necessary. The sobbing flows freely. I wish I could hold you.
One of my favorite memories was our last vaca – especially of riding the go karts. I remember you asking me about the cost of all the park tickets – Disney, Busch Gardens, Sea World. You chuckled and said it was amazing how much less expensive the night racing go karts was but it was your favorite night of vaca. I wish I would’ve taken a pic of you racing – but I was too busy trying to kick your ass on each course! I’m grateful for the pic Robbie took just as we were leaving though. It captured a precious memory. Your smile was genuine. It was a great evening. I love you.

One of many wonderful memories of my boy.

One of many wonderful memories of my boy.