We continue to make progress with the implementation of a LOSS first responder team here in Franklin County. The LOSS team goes to the scene of a suicide where there are survivors. A survivor can be a family member, friend, co-worker, neighbor, etc. Anyone that’s been impacted. The goal is for those of us that have lost someone to suicide to connect – even if only for a moment – and leave information and resources for support. Then to follow up as appropriate. My blog from January 27, 2014 shares more info about this.
Today we met with the 8 investigators at the coroner’s office. It went well. They had some challenging questions about how the LOSS team would function which was good. They were engaged and honest – can’t beat that! And they were themselves… meaning they work all day every day with the deceased so they talk about horribly graphic things regularly – even casually. It’s what they live and breathe so who can blame them? One person shared a gruesome situation in detail. They were clearly making a point to me. I was up for the challenge. This investigator then closed their gruesome example by asking… “I medicate and drink in order to handle what I do – how will a survivor of a suicide loss handle it?” I reminded them the LOSS team will not see the body. “Yes, but you are there to help the people who found the body. How will you handle it?” I felt defensive. I sure hope I didn’t come across as defensive. I answered this investigator honestly by sharing personally what I was capable of – and what I may not be capable of. We left the meeting with the team’s support and with three of the investigators offering to be part of the planning/creation of the team & how it’ll function. We had only asked for one volunteer 🙂 Good stuff.
When I got home Robbie and I talked about how it went and how I was doing. I told him I got a nice big dose of reality today. If I’m going to lead these efforts it means working with folks from the coroner’s office and with law enforcement. People that live and breathe this and therefore talk about it regularly. Am I up for this? Am I pushing myself to do this when I really don’t want to (“I have to” vs. “I get to”)?
I have a fear… a fear that I will function through it. I’ll stuff it then explode but the explosion won’t come until after the LOSS team launches. Robbie reminded me that’s not been the case so far. I am talking to people about how I’m feeling, I’m doing fun things too, I imperfectly depend on God’s strength, and I’m not spending a ton of hours working on this project all at once – I’m pacing myself.
I don’t have to do this. I want to do it. I know that’s hard for most people to understand. I wouldn’t be able to understand either had I not walked the last 1 year, 7 months, 1 week, 3 days and 9 hours in these heavy, clumsy grief shoes.
I was at Panera recently. Hell I’m always at Panera recently. My mind was drifting as I casually scanned the restaurant. My eyes landed on a dude in a wheelchair. Young guy – maybe in his 30’s. I pondered the challenges he may regularly face and I quickly considered him very blessed. Like uber blessed!
I’m learning some of us are “blessed” enough to live with something very wrong, very tragic in the worlds eyes – and in our eyes. And if God has had His way with us we are also blessed enough to know eternity with Him will be unimaginably amazing. So the grid we view this life through is different from others…
Sometimes the view from where I am leaves me irritable and judgmental towards others and their so called “pain” (apparently I am now the queen of pain and can judge whether your response to your circumstances is justified or not!?). But other times the view from where I am gives me more compassion towards others. Yes, sometimes this view even frees me up to be more others-centered. The view from where I now am has set me free. I can be bold and move towards others – in love (or in harshness – yikes!) in a way I couldn’t before… Without fear of rejection heavily skewing my decision to speak or not.
So does the dude in the wheelchair feel “blessed?” “Blessed” to have been given this challenge because of the person it’s shaped him into? Do I feel “blessed” by what I’ve been through and am still going through? Ugh. No, of course not. That’s so flippin gross. But I can feel “blessed” by how God is transforming me, right? That’s not gross is it? As I’m pondering these thoughts the chick sitting with the dude in the wheelchair gives me a dirty look. I’ve been staring at him this whole time…
I’ve heard that sometimes the second year of grieving can be harder than the first. Given I’m 7 months into year 2 I’ve found reasons for this.
1) Expectations are that “surely the second Christmas, etc won’t be as hard as the first.” Many of my 2nds haven’t been as hard as the 1sts so I haven’t struggled in this area a lot.
2) Everyone assumes you’re over it. The phone calls and cards stopped, everyone’s gone back to normal life and they assume you have too. Because of this you don’t feel the freedom to talk about your loss or to openly have bad days so you start to stuff em. I’ve struggled with this some – but I haven’t stuffed my bad days. The fear I am disappointing people (or fear they’re judging me) because I’m still hurting is sometimes floating around in my mind. But I’m in the battle with this one… I’m learning to take my thoughts captive sooner and sooner. So these “fear of man” thoughts don’t have time to take root.
3) The shock has worn off. In the beginning your mind is able to shield you from experiencing the full brunt of this tragedy. That shield’s gone by year 2. I don’t know how to interact with that thought other than to say it hasn’t worn off and I don’t know if it ever will. Yes, my constant state of physical shock is gone now so in some ways it’s not the same as year 1. But I still stand in the doorway of Drey’s bedroom in disbelief. I still look in the mirror and have no idea who that person is looking back at me. And while I am now able to say “Drey died” or “My son passed” in conversations, I still feel like puking – literally – when I hear the words. It can’t be real. It just can’t be.
4) You begin to process the tragedy through other’s lens. In the beginning – pretty much the entire first year – I could only consider my loss and Fred’s loss. But now as time has gone on I’ve had to re-live the loss through others viewpoint. I went to my first funeral 15 months after Drey’s service. While I was getting ready my thoughts drifted to the day of Drey’s funeral. What was it like for my friends showering, getting dressed, brushing their hair in preparation for this horrible day? Were they worried about what to say to me? Were they dreading it? What about my friends who watched Drey grow up – were they crying as they were getting ready? Did they feel sick? Who was there to help them? And there’s been the realization of how horrifically hard it must have been for my Mom. How would I feel if Drey’s only child had killed himself? How would I handle watching Drey in depths of anguish that no words or hugs could fix? I don’t know how I’d bear it. I love him so. It’d be unimaginable having to watch him live this. Then there’s David… Just this weekend he shared a song with me that he said makes him think of Drey. Talk by Coldplay. He played the song. I listened to the lyrics. Again…. the questions, the nauseousness, the desire to puke out the pain and the reality of what’s happened and to be done with it once and for all. Your stepbrother was just about to turn 14, Drey. He needed you. How could you do this to him? He’s just a kid – why would you give him this to carry? What’s it like for him being a freshman this year at Thomas Worthington? Does he see you in the halls, in the classroom? How’s that feel for him? How does he handle it when the topic of suicide comes up at school? Drey’s friends. His friends. Talking to Britney just hours after Luke killed himself. Hearing her pain. What was it like for her to live through Drey’s death? I ache through a new lens regularly these days. My guess is that this won’t be limited to year 2…
So I don’t know if this years been harder for me or not. Maybe not harder – just different. But I need to be realistic… The worst part of year 2 (Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Dreys birthday and August) is still ahead of me.
I’ve signed up to run the Cap City half in May. When I signed up I had no idea we’d have such a horrible winter for training. And I had no idea my shoulder would be a hindrance. But I plan to run it nonetheless.
The pressure is off. I don’t have to be the best runner. My over-achiever tendencies died on 8.8.12. The time I set aside for running is very meaningful to me. I run alone. I walk when I need to. My playlist is carefully chosen. My memories of Drey running backwards, facing me and taunting me “come on Mom faster! You got this!” are top of mind. Yes, I definitely run alone. It is my time to imagine what could have been. What should have been. I shouldn’t be alone. But I am. And I won’t share that time. It’s mine. It’s mine and Drey’s.
It’s still the same profile picture on FB.
The same memories.
They began and they ended.
No new memories to be made.
The pictures on your friends walls remain.
No new pictures of you.
No college graduation.
No new roller coaster experiences.
No more backrubs.
No more danka danka with Max the ass.
I’m very tired today. I’m very sad. Maybe I did too much this week… Or maybe I did the exact right amount of things and feeling the lonely ache today is good and right. Maybe it’s part of my new normal.
It hurts baby. It hurts so much.
Where are you?
Who am I?
Were you real?
Who can possibly understand this?
Understand these questions?
There aren’t words.
Last week for my birthday some of my friends weren’t sure it was appropriate to say “happy” birthday. I felt loved and grateful for their concern. It’s hard to know how to care for someone on celebratory days who’s trying to live with such a huge void.
Sometimes people say, “Drey would want you to celebrate and be happy. Drey would want you to put up a Christmas tree. Drey wouldn’t want you to be sad on Mother’s Day – he’d want you to enjoy a delicious dinner and relaxing day.” My own husband has said these things. Sometimes I’ve even asked Robbie, “Drey wouldn’t want me to cry all day, right?” Desperately searching for some kind of direction – for some kind of peace – maybe even permission to not feel the pain as intensely – even if just for that day.
Mostly when people try to kindly say, “Drey would want you to be happy,” I want to verbally spar with them. “If Drey didn’t want me to be sad on my birthday why did he kill himself? If he wanted me to enjoy future Mothers Days why did he choose this horrible violent death over life? Can you answer those questions?” I don’t say these things but sometimes I think them. I know people mean well. I know my husband means well. He saw my son and I together and he knew Drey loved me. Robbie is sure Drey couldn’t possibly have wanted me to suffer through special days. And I know he’s right. But it doesn’t matter. Being right about that just isn’t helpful at this point in the grief. I’m still left facing years of celebrations to come without my boy.
With all of that said I did have a happy birthday. “Happy” looks and feels different than it used to but it was still a nice day. My Mom made me feel like the most wonderful person in the world. And I was and am grateful for soooo many dear friends – and for people who don’t know me that well! – who care enough to say happy birthday 🙂 I’m blessed beyond belief in spite of how this life now looks for me. I was always amazingly blessed – but temporarily losing what I thought was most important has helped me find what is truly most important.