Archive | February 2014

“Man up! You survived your son’s suicide!”

I am having minor shoulder surgery tomorrow.  Not really a big deal… but I’m still feeling anxious about it.  Not so much the procedure itself (although I may be saying something different tomorrow morning just before the procedure)… but the recovery is what’s got me uneasy.  I’m afraid I’ll be in a lot of pain.  Enough pain that physical therapy will be too hard, that I won’t be able to start running again right away, that the procedure won’t work and I’ll still have pain and limited motion.  But at the root my anxiety is a lack of trust.  Does God even care about something so small?  Of course He does – I know that.  But do I believe it?  Can I trust that even if my “worse case scenario” plays out that God is still good, that He can still work in me and through me, that He still wants to give me the desires of my heart, and that He knows better than I do what is best for me?  That’s a tall order.  I often find myself asking God, evening begging Him, to help me in my unbelief.

The feeling of anxiety also triggers me.  I associate feeling this way with my son’s death.  Not that the anxiety I’m feeling today is anywhere near as intense.  But it’s an association thing I guess.  Even feeling just a smidge like I did on that day – that horrible awful day – is enough to have me shaking, uneasy, and sick to my stomach.  Then I hear the voice… “Man up, Denise.  You survived your son’s suicide.  One of the worst things ever.  How can you be such a wimp heading into a simple little surgery?”  That argument sounds logical to me.  It makes a ton of sense.  And it’s completely unhelpful.  Our enemy is like that… he wants us to focus on fixing ourselves under our own power rather than acknowledging our weakness and crawling up into our perfect Father’s lap.

So here I am.  Facing a minor but unpleasant situation that is viewed through my new life lens.  Sometimes I don’t like my new lens.  And what I really don’t like is that every single decision – from watching a TV show to choosing what to wear to the bigger stuff like attending a memorial service or a minor surgery has to be filtered through this damn lens.  It’s not fair.  I don’t deserve this.  Why me?  I just want my normal life back!

God help me to not feel sorry for myself.  Teach me gratefulness.  Teach me to live life with eternity in mind more consistently. 

Lord thank You for the ability to have surgery – for the financial means, for the access to skilled surgeons.  Thank You for the family and friends You’ve blessed me with.  Thank You for my eyesight as I look forward to extra reading while I’m recovering on the couch.  Thank You for chicken and rice soup.  Thank You for anesthesia and pain killers.  Thank You for the women I’ve already met during physical therapy.  Thank You for laughter with them as I drop F-bombs in my pain… they’ve been such good sports in spite of my mouth!  Thank You for the reminder of when Drey broke his arm and how speedy his recovery was.

Still grieving the loss of my son to suicide

Grief is not a process. There isn’t an end. It evolves. It’s shape, size, weight and density continually change. I don’t know if it’s like that for every death or for every person. My grandma died several years ago. We were close. My best childhood friend’s Mom was killed several years ago. We weren’t close but it was hard seeing my friend hurt so deeply. But I was quite clueless as to the depths of true pain until Drey died.

It’s still hard to type that… “Drey died.” Will I ever get used to saying that? Will it ever truly sink in?

How has my grief changed over the past 18 months?

In the beginning I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep (without sleeping pills), I cried every day, I prayed non-stop about everything. Everything. I read books about suicide, grief, and heaven. I couldn’t drive faster than 55 (I drove 100 mph trying to get to Drey after I got the call that Wednesday morning. So after that driving fast sent me immediately back to those long, desperate minutes of driving to my son in hopes he was still alive). I was damn angry at a handful of people that weren’t supporting me “the right way.” I couldn’t answer the phone. I shook so badly that I couldn’t shave my legs. I had a non-stop headache for 5 months that Excedrin couldn’t touch. I didn’t care about anyone’s grief or pain except mine and Drey’s Dads. I couldn’t put up a Christmas tree. Every “first” resulted in my heart racing, shallow, fast breathing and rubbing my leg non-stop (weird right?). The first dentist appt, the first time I heard a certain song, the first time driving past the high school. Every first. I thought I was going to die. It was the heaviest, darkest pain I had ever felt.

But somehow I’ve lived just over 18 months without Drey. Wow. “Without Drey.” That’s hard to type too.

I’ve gained back 10 of the 22 pounds lost. I sleep now – not like I did before Drey died but it’s definitely better than the first several months. I can drive 75 mph without melting down. My headaches are less frequent. I don’t depend on God for every single step and breath 😦 I read books about suicide, grief, heaven and recently squeezed in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. I still get angry with people sometimes… But I’ve learned to forbear more. I cry off and on. I ache but it’s more tolerable… Sometimes it’s more of a flat, blah, numbness that dominates – not the heavy, dark pain. I talk about Drey often. Sometimes I answer the phone. The Ladies Bic is back in use. I genuinely care how other people are coping. I still didn’t put up a Christmas tree… Maybe 2014? We’ll see.

So the grief remains – it’s shape, size, weight and density has just evolved. Am I “grieving right?” Is my timetable in line with what it “should” be? I had to let go of trying to answer those questions. I had to let go of others expectations of my grief. Most importantly I’m learning to let go of my own expectations of my grief. “Surely 6 months from now I should be able to…” type of thinking has set me up for disappointment in myself again and again. God help me to let that shit go!

Matthew 5:4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Do you know the pain you’ve caused? DO YOU?!

A parent feels responsible for their child. And to some extent for their child’s choices. That’s normal.

A parent who loses their child to suicide has an especially heavy burden. It can eat them up – literally destroy them from the inside out.

For several months this burden took a subtle, general role in my grief, in my thoughts. “Why didn’t I drive to his Dad’s that morning?” “Why didn’t I see his anger was a sign of depression?” “Why didn’t I talk to him more about Alex’s death?”

As time has passed the sharper thought is “I caused this because I moved from Worthington and because I quit my high-paying job.” As I was trying to follow what I thought was God’s will for my life I put a spiritual target on the whole family. It’s my fault you’re gone.

I read the last four months of your tweets yesterday. I haven’t decided if that was a smart move or not. “My parents are telling me I have to learn to be financially responsible but you quit your job because “god told you to” fuck you.” Wow. Really Drey? My worries that my decisions had impacted you negatively – at least in your mind – were now confirmed.

So did you see me sobbing after reading that, son? Did you?
Did you hear me call your Dad asking him if I had been a good Mom?
How about when I asked him if he thought you knew how much I loved you? Did you hear me ask that question?
Did you hear your Dad choke back tears?
Did you hear the song lyrics he shared with me?
Did you hear the other things your Dad said, son?
Did you?
Do you see the lives you nearly ruined?
Do you see us fighting for air? Trying not to drown in this?

DO
YOU
SEE
IT?

What an entitled, privileged, spoiled man you had become. It was probably just a phase… You would’ve matured. But you robbed us of getting to see that.

Dear God help me rest in You during this new, lovely phase of grief I seem to have entered. My son – the person I loved more than life itself – was at times a little jackass. Grace abound. Thank You God.

What do you say to someone who just lost her son to suicide?

What do you say to someone who just lost her son to suicide?

Nothing. You listen.

And when she can’t talk because she’s staring off into space in utter shock you just sit with her. You silently stroke her hair.

You quietly pray to God in your helplessness that He’d comfort her somehow. Because only He can do the impossible.

Don’t ask her what she wants to eat. Even the littlest of questions are too overwhelming. Just set a small plate of fruit and crackers next to her. Keep a bottled water next to her, too.

Don’t tell her you understand. Don’t tell her you can imagine how she feels. She can’t even imagine how she feels. It’s the most sickening day of her life. There are no human words to describe this – just groans. The reality of living the rest of her life without her son is simply too much to bear physically, emotionally. It’s incomprehensible.

Make sure someone is with her at all times for the first several days. The temptation to be with her son may be strong.

It may take months or even years… But in time her grief will begin to turn into useful sadness.

Hang in there with her for the long haul. She needs you.

One year and six months

One year and six months ago you left us. It’s simply not possible for a Mom to love her boy more than I did you. I would have died for you. Some days I feel like I did.

Today has been hard. Harder than I anticipated. Today Robbie told me he feels like he lost both his stepson and his wife on 8.8.12. I told him through sobs that I hated you for doing this. I never thought in a million years that I’d have a thought like that. But I never thought in a million years you’d give me a reason. God, I miss you.

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Tell me one more time, God. Where were you? I want to believe!

This morning I was able to look at the journal I had been writing in before everything came crashing in on Aug 8, 2012. Drey was constantly on my mind. I was worried, fearful, and missing him. I hear it as I read through my words. I sounded desperate. I remember feeling desperate. I was crying out to You, God. Praying for Drey repeatedly. Where were you on August 8th, God? I don’t understand.
The week following Drey’s graduation Robbie said, “honey – you are walking around here like you just came from his funeral rather than his graduation.” I’ll never ever forget those words. Just 10 weeks later Drey would be gone.
Robbie was right. I was adjusting horribly to not living with my son and to him transitioning into adulthood. I was trying to let go of my idol – my everything. That’s what Drey had become over the years.

Here is some of my journaling in the 11 weeks prior to the tragedy…

Whatever Drey does may he work at it with all his heart as working for You, Lord, and not for the approval or attention of his parents or friends.

May 20, 2012: Drey graduates in a week, God. Please guide his decisions. Please convict him of his need to pursue You and Your input. Save him from foolish decisions and give me peace that You love him far more than I do. You promise You’ll never leave him or forsake him.
Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have for He has said I will never leave you or forsake you.”

May 22, 2012: Dear Lord thank you for the unexpected visit from my boy. I love him so much! You know I don’t want him to be put in harms way so his desire to pursue the military worries me. I want Your will for him, Lord. You know how much I love him, God.

May 27, 2012: God I pray for Drey’s heart – that it would stay soft towards You. I pray for his eyes that he’d seek You and not worldly things. I pray for his ears – that he’d grow weary of temporary praise and would crave instead delighting in You. God I love him so much. I want him to be safe emotionally, physically and spiritually. Please help me to trust you with Drey.

May 28, 2012: Lord father please be ministering to Drey giving him wisdom beyond his years. Wisdom from You. Please bind Satan from Drey. Please show him Your love for him.

May 29, 2012: Dear God I give you Drey. I ask You to guide his decisions, to love him, to care for him. Please give him ears to hear from You. Psalm 37:23,24 “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall for the Lord holds them by the hand.” I want to trust Drey with you, Lord. I know I am so inadequate but sometimes I doubt Your goodness and I am so so sorry for that. You gave Your son for Drey, for me.

May 29 PM: I’m feeling better this evening. I saw Drey, that helped.

May 31, 2012: God, I am grateful for Drey’s new job. Thank You. Please keep pursuing him. I want him to be a man who loves You.

June 3, 2012: God thank You for helping me relax today. You know I am worried about Drey. I pray he pursues You. I pray he can stand firm against lies, against distractions. Help him to see that You are the only true answer.

June 5, 2012: Dear God I am feeling so afraid. I know my anxiety is wrong. You are perfect. You can comfort me. Nothing can happen to me, Drey, or anyone without Your awareness but somehow I fear You are unhappy with me and You’re going to allow something bad to happen because I’ve made You unhappy. I know this thinking is wrong. Help me to KNOW it’s wrong. Help me to BELIEVE it’s wrong.

June 12, 2012: Dear Lord I continue to be anxious. Always anxious. I pray. I try to take my thoughts captive. I read Your Word. But here I am again and again. Dear God please guard my mind especially with regards to worrying about Drey.

June 14, 2012: Dear Lord I find myself searching. I’m desperately searching for what You are trying to say to me. I look at little coincidences and I wonder if they are signs from You and I start to ponder their possible meaning. God when will I hear from you? You’re not a God of confusion that is keeping me guessing. You are clear, consistent. You are loving, holy, truthful and You’re merciful.

June 20, 2012: Dear Lord I’m feeling very crushed in spirit and under a huge pile of lies only I’m not sure what’s a lie or what’s the truth. I’m missing Drey, Lord. I worry about his choices. I miss him so much. I just want to stay in bed until this season is over.

July 16, 2012: Just because I haven’t journaled in a few weeks doesn’t mean you aren’t on my mind, Drey. God please protect my baby. It’s hard that I don’t see him as much. I know now that he’s an adult and I’m trying to trust You, God.

July 20, 2012 my last journal before Drey took his life: I don’t want Drey to hurt or experience pain. I want to protect him. I know that’s not always possible. You love us perfectly and we reject You all the time. Your perfect son who never rejected You died for us. You poured out Your wrath on Him. How hard that must have been. I simply can’t fathom it. God please help me to trust You with Drey and with all my circumstances. Help me to draw close to You. Please comfort me Holy Spirit. I hurt. I’m confused. I’m fearful. Please comfort me.