Good, heartfelt advice.
So many people have made sacrifices in the spirit of helping me emotionally since Drey died. I wonder if other survivors of a suicide loss have had the same experience. Everyone’s situation is unique…. I have a stepson. My husband is Drey’s stepdad. Just today he got David up at 6:00 a.m. to go to band practice. No – practice isn’t that early. But both Robbie and David know it’s too much for me emotionally to take David to band this “anniversary” week because practice is at the high school. So many memories and triggers. So they don’t even ask me. They just know.
The changes in our movie and tv routines. Perhaps small in others eyes – but are a big deal to me.
The first time the three of us went to the zoo together. I had to stop, sit on a bench, and just sob several times. David had just turned 14 but even then he was able to just sit there until I was ready to start walking again.
The sacrifices my friends and my parents have made are numerous too. I’m not even aware of most of the sacrifices. And knowing that I don’t know makes me feel that much more loved. I hope I could be as giving as my friends and family are and continue to be.
So for now, the 2 year anniversary of my son’s last day of life, I am feeling blessed and grateful. Even if only for the hour.
It’s the dreaded week again already. The first week of August. Honestly time has flown by. The last day I saw my son was August 3rd 2012. The last day I spoke to my son was August 7th 2012. My son, my love, died on August 8th 2012. I can’t get my mind around the fact that it’s been two years. How have I lived? How have I continued to put one foot in front of the other? If I think about it too deeply I feel like puking. It’s my worst nightmare. It’s the rest of my life.
Truly God has given me strength. No one can deny Gods presence in my life, least of all me. How else is it possible that I am alive? That I am – dare I say – a contributing part of society? It is not by my own strength. It is not because “time heals all wounds.” Some “wounds” never heal. Your only child’s suicide is not something you get past or get over. Only God can take such a horrific, broken, fucked up level of pain and teach you dependence, teach you He is still a good and trustworthy God. Teach you that even in – especially in – those dark days of despair He’s holding you. Holding me.
I hate this week. I hate it. I hate that I remember what Drey ate the last time we were together. Our last words. His last text. I hate that I somehow didn’t see my boy was hurting. I hate that I remember the detective’s words. Those fucking words. How hot it was that day, the look on Jeritt’s face, the shape of David’s mouth as Robbie told him, all of it. Mostly I hate that my love was not enough for my baby to choose life. God how I hate this week.
Thank You God for hating this week – this pain – even more than I do. Thank you for sitting with me in the depths of sorrow.
I’ll never forget when Drey met Pierre. He had been at his Dad’s when I adopted him and I asked Fred to come over so they could meet him. I remember them walking in the front door… Drey was just 7. Fred looked at Pierre and said, “what is it” with a look of “wtf?” on his face. Pierre had huge ears – he was quite unique looking! Drey of course got on the floor with him right away to say hello. Sweet memories.
When Pierre got sick in May 2013 – I was dealing with my first Mother’s Day without Drey. And Drey’s first birthday in heaven and the first anniversary of his death were just weeks away. I prayed through sobs after leaving Pierre at the vet that God would give me just 6 more months with him. I just wanted to get through a little longer before I’d have to say goodbye to him. The next day I visited him at the vet. He still wasn’t himself but he was a little better. Day 2 they called and said I could take him home at the end of the day! I was sooo relieved! So I had my Pierre for over a year after that. God answered my prayer and I am very grateful I had my nighttime spoonapolooza buddy during the 2nd year of this heavy grief.
I love you Pierre. And I hope you, Rudy and Drey are together again.
As I reflect on past journals and blogs I see a woman who is shattered but is clinging on to hope – the hope she has in Christ. I wonder where she went? I don’t feel hopeful. I haven’t in weeks. Maybe months? I’ve lost track.
I miss my son. I don’t understand why he killed himself. I want God to sit right here next to me and audibly tell me Drey is with Him. I hate my unbelief. I hate it I hate it I hate it. Yes, my son told me he accepted Christ as his savior. But that’s not enough for my broken heart. I’m so sick of reading books about the basics in search of a glimmer of rock solid, beyond a shadow of a doubt proof that my baby is in heaven. The knowledge I’ve acquired is nothing compared to the faith I wish I had. The faith I wish I FELT.
My heart is broken. I don’t know who I am. I’m supposed to be making plans for my boy’s 21st birthday. Instead I’m sleeping for 10 hours straight then waking up exhausted. This is new ground for me. And I hate it. How can I still be confronting new emotions, new levels of apathy and despair after almost 2 years? Isn’t 2 years enough time to wring out every last drop of emotion possible?
I visited a youth grief counseling camp last month and saw the art therapy they were doing. Masks. Painted on the outside and the inside. The outside displaying what they wanted others to see. The inside telling the rest of the story.
That’s how I feel. The one who is confident beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man. He never sinned. He died for us. He rose! He overcame death! I can reference clear, factual proof for these things. Rejoice! Be glad! But the interior of the mask tells more of the story. It shows how little I care about the resurrection. The loss of my son is too heavy. It doesn’t feel like a “light and momentary affliction.” And I am so ashamed of my ungratefulness. God forgive me.
I’m still in the fight but I’m so weary.
I hear my breathing. That heavy breath that’s a borderline sigh. It’s the pain speaking. The stomach knots and the flood of painful thoughts aren’t visible. But anyone can tell when the intense rough times are coming by the breathing.
The shaking may come next – need to watch my caffeine.
Continually rubbing my leg with my hand is the scary place to be… The meltdown is close at hand. No that’s not where I am. No that’s not what I want to happen. But I want to be dependent on God as I move forward so if the outward physical response to this trauma I’m still learning to live with is what it takes well… Okay then.
It’s good I can see the outward signs before a meltdown. It’s taken almost two years to proactively notice them.
Do I hibernate? No. Not this time.
I go slow.
I allow myself to say no to plans. Even seemingly simple plans.
I talk to my inner circle. Those select few who sacrificially walk in the pain with me. They know I don’t need rescued. They pray and watch closely.
I pray. And if seconds after beginning to talk to God my mind is drifting somewhere else I bring it back again and then again. I listen. I try to be still so I can hear Him. I love Him in spite of this pain.
I am not weak.
It’s not explainable. Learning to move forward in pain. Choosing to move forward in pain. Addressing it as I go. Crumbling when I need to. Believing a glimpse of joy may be close at hand… But even better standing in His strength regardless of how I feel. I know Him more deeply because of the pain.
This is what it looks like for pain and joy to coexist.
2 Cor 12:9… My grace is sufficient for you Denise. My power is made perfect in weakness.
Goodnight Drey. Such a simple statement. Such a powerful statement. It sent me into tears Tuesday evening.
Robbie and I attended our first Compassionate Friends group. We liked it. We plan to return.
At the close of the meeting we all held hands and went around the circle and each one said goodnight to their child. I tear up just typing the words. I didn’t see it coming… but when I heard myself say, “Goodnight Drey” I just broke down. I haven’t said those words in almost 2 years. They were sharp words that used to be precious words. Endearing words. Words I took for granted. Who knew? Who could’ve predicted this is what the rest of our lives would look like? Apparently Drey could have.
I ache today. For several reasons. Wednesday’s are by far my least favorite day of the week. They don’t always bother me but lately they have been. (Yes – Wednesday is the day of the week my son took his life). I’ve had a few emotionally charged conversations in the non-profit suicide awareness space lately. They ended well but it’s hard to not feel unsettled. I put my cat down on Monday. I wasn’t that close to the cat so it hasn’t been super traumatic but he was part of our lives for 16 years. Robbie is taking a long weekend road trip and he and David (my stepson) leave tomorrow. I’m anxious about that. I fear something will happen to them. I’ve learned all too well life can completely change in a blink of an eye. It’s not realistic for me to not be anxious about the trip… I just have to let it be what it is and manage it rather than trying to stuff it.
I’m not thinking clearly. Everything’s jumbled in my mind. I took on too much this week. It’s been a long time – well a few months anyway – since I’ve had a week where I felt I took too much on. Still learning what this new life and new limits look like…
So many movies and tv shows reference suicide – either as a storyline or in casual conversation. There are conversations at work, with friends, even in public with strangers inappropriate things are said. Social media, songs, you name it. We’ve even heard comments in church. The comments are everywhere. “I have the worse migraine ever. I want to jump off a bridge.” “If I have to do that one more time I’m going to off myself.” “If I hear her say that again I’ll kill myself.” It’s especially lovely (I say with sarcasm dripping off each word in the sentence) when someone holds a pretend gun to their head and shoots themselves. Jesus, really? That just happened to me last week during a conversation. Do you understand where my mind goes when you do that? I know, I know. They just weren’t thinking. They didn’t mean to be hurtful. I get that, truly. But that doesn’t change the impact it has on me.
In the beginning I didn’t know how I thought about these comments because I was too consumed with trying not to puke. Then I started to get angry – with myself. I thought I had to toughen up. Then I started to get angry – with everyone else. I thought they were being insensitive. I remember the first time I took a stand – it wasn’t pretty but in hindsight it was what I needed. I was at work and a customer had donated a bunch of clothes for the teen mom babies. Before I unloaded all of them in the teen mom room I asked someone where the Director was keeping the clothes these days. Before answering my question the person said “She will probably want to shoot herself in the head.” She knew my circumstances… But that wasn’t on her mind when she said this to me. That day, that comment, I didn’t hesitate: “That’s the cruelest thing you could ever say to me.” She immediately burst into tears and apologized profusely. I felt bad for her. I knew full well she didn’t mean to be hurtful… It was just one of those off the cuff remarks that had crept into her vocabulary over the years. But I felt worse for me. And on that day – about 7 months after Drey had taken his life – I had had enough. So I let her know. I resumed putting the donation of clothes in their proper place and afterwards sought out my friend to see if she was okay. She wasn’t. She was still crying and felt horrible. I hugged her and told her I knew she didn’t mean anything by it. But I didn’t tell her I was sorry for snapping at her – and I wasn’t sorry. I had heard – and continue to hear – those comments regularly. And on that day I let someone else carry a small little bit of the emotional burden for a change.
So how bout now? More time has passed. I can “handle” the comments I suppose. They impact me and I still have to pray myself through. Sometimes I’ll say something to the person and over time I’ve learned to be more polite. But still sometimes I won’t say anything.
With all this said I definitely don’t want anyone to be afraid to talk to me. I don’t want to be avoided for fear something hurtful might slip out in conversation. Anyone who knows me knows I can say some pretty stupid stuff myself! If you realize you’ve made an inappropriate reference to suicide – anytime really – but especially in front of someone directly impacted by it – just acknowledge it… “That was an insensitive remark. I’m sorry.” Then just keep talking. A simple acknowledgement means a lot to a survivor of a suicide loss. And it makes it clear to everyone around that it’s hurtful to talk about something so tragic in a careless way. No other words are needed.
I’m a runner and have a subscription to Runners World. I was reading the latest issue just yesterday… Terrible choice of words Steve Prefontaine…
Do you miss him?
Do you think of him?
Yes. Probably once a day.
Once a day? Wow. I wonder what that would be like.
My son remains very much part of me. Every song, smell, movie, car, roller coaster, commercial, meal, joke, click of our thermostat, race, graduation sign, and every reference to suicide and it bubbles to the surface. In other words it’s always at the surface. Mostly the shock of it, the confusion of it. His life is present too – but still not as much as his death, his absence. I’m told in time it’ll be his life and sweet memories that are front and center and not his death. “Its been nearly two years??” “That’s okay. A lot of people I know who suddenly lost a child take five years before they’re able to think more about their child’s life instead of their death.”
Sometimes it’s lonely. Being divorced and not being able to grieve with Drey’s Dad can be hard. But I also know “what might have been” is just an illusion. Drey’s Dad and I are very different and we would probably be in frequent conflict if we were grieving “together.” We do keep in touch (which sounds superficial but what we share is anything but). We had lunch just before Mothers Day. In spite of our differences the pain is the same. We share stories of our grief experiences and of the responsibility we continue to carry. And we share what we’re doing to try to cope. We’ve both learned skills we never imagined we’d have to. Learning to live without our son is indescribable.
Am I ever happy? Joyful? Sure. I am even capable of having fun. But it’s never instead of the pain. It’s always in addition to the pain. I don’t think it’s possible to understand what I mean by this without experiencing it. Again… learning to live without Drey is indescribable.
Sometimes it’s hard when someone complains about their “hard life” to me. But other times when someone complains – confides – I’m grateful that I’m being treated like a friend and not a fragile basket case. I didn’t realize until recently why I react inconsistently…
If you have not acknowledged the death of my son just shut up about your “hard life.” How’s that for brutal honesty? I’m not talking about people who didn’t even know me when my son took his life. I’m saying there are people who were part of my life that simply never acknowledged it. Recently I got an email from someone – who had never said a word about Drey – about what a hard time they’re having because they’re going through a divorce. Divorce sucks big time. And it is very painful. But honestly if you didn’t have 5 minutes to call, text (or god forbid you actually show up at the funeral!) then don’t reach out to me about your hard life. That probably sounds rough. Maybe I’m bitter. I don’t know. How bout if I’d at least get a “I never reached out when Drey died because I didn’t know what to say but I thought of you often” before the whining about your “hard life” starts?
Grief sucks. I truly get that it’s awkward to reach out to someone who’s facing the unimaginable. I am confident I said insensitive things to grieving people before 8.8.12. And in all fairness there may have been times I didn’t reach out at all. We say, “what could I possibly say that would be helpful?” And “they have others that are closer to them “handling” this situation so I don’t need to be there.” But let’s not kid ourselves – these justifications we tell ourselves are simply self-protection and have nothing to do with the bereaved parent who’s curled up in a ball in the corner of the kitchen sobbing. More realistically my pre-8.8.12 thoughts were, “What if the person cries the whole time I’m there? What if I don’t know when to leave? I just can’t see my happy go lucky friend in that emotional state. I don’t want to see them because I’ll feel completely helpless.”
I’m grateful for the comfort-level I now have with being with grieving people. It’s one blessing that’s come out of this wreckage. I am also grateful beyond words for all the support I received especially in those first several months. Including from a few people that hardly knew me – Jan, Deanna, Trish, WS folks! That made a huge impression on me! I treasure the ways God redeems this tragedy on this side of heaven.
And for those folks that have yet to acknowledge Drey’s death and choose to reach out now to share their “hard life” circumstances with me? Kiss my ass. (Can you see the light of Christ shining from me? Ugh… I’m a work in progress! Praise God for His mercy!).