Tag Archive | bereaved parent

49 and 3

My birthday. 

You’ve even tainted that. Which is damn hard to do because I’m a princess that loves attention. 

Each birthday is now a remembrance of how many years it’s been since you and ally surprised me with a cake.

The tears flow freely.

The confusion remains.

How was my love not enough to choose life?

I live. I take steps. This new life of police academy visits, sharing at twhs, and suicide scenes.

“What did you do in the war?”

“Before or after 8.8.12?” Those are very different answers. Very different times.

Priorities have been rearranged.

Pace is slower. 

Mercy is no longer a foreign spiritual gift.

Dependence is no longer weakness, it is strength.

House isn’t as clean. 

Bank account’s not as fat. 

Marriage is stronger. 

Vacation more often.

Pain deeper than I ever thought possible. Surely no suffering can be worse than this heartache, can it?

Don’t kid yourself Denise. Things could always be so much worse. Drey knew You. I am blessed. 

To hold you. To hear you laugh. To scratch your back.

Learning to live with the pain brings out a strength. 

And the strength brings joy. 

The joy fades and turns to quiet peace.

Peace that lives alongside the pain.

I have no choice. You took that from me.

The 3rd Halloween already?

Wow… this is the 3rd Halloween without you baby. That just doesn’t seem possible.

I have dozens of Halloween memories…

Last year was nice – Robbie & I sitting out on the front porch passing out candy. I was more prepared than I had been the previous year…

2012 Robbie came home from work and found me on the kitchen floor holding a large bowl of candy. I was crying. The doorbell was ringing. I wanted to die. How silly of me to think less than 3 months after your death I could look at cute little trick or treaters.

I don’t remember which Halloween was what. But I remember you smashed pumpkins and when I found out I made you go back, clean it up and apologize to the home owners. Do you remember the woman with the arm in a sling? After you apologized we got back in the car and I asked how you were. You said you felt bad because you didn’t know she’d be “elderly.” It was very sweet. I remember you being the grim reaper, the Scream dude, a ninja – 2 years, right? A kangaroo (okay – you were just 2 then), an Indian (aka Native American), a knight, a firefighter, what else was there baby? Surely you were a Mario brother at some point weren’t you? Or Pikachu? I hate that I can’t remember. It makes me feel like a shitty Mom. Some memories are supposed to be locked in… and since you died I HAVE to lock them all in. They have to be safe and secure and immediately available when needed because there won’t be anymore. I have to replay the same ones over and over. Just 19 years worth. I’ll be 80 and you’ll still be 19. I’ll still just have the same stupid memories. I want new ones but you’re gone. I want new ones but I’m not ready to look at pictures and remember.

Does Jesus tell you I love you? I miss you? Sometimes I ask Him to tell you that. Sometimes it’s peaceful knowing you and I can both talk to Him. We still have that. We always will. But sometimes even that doesn’t help the pain. So I cry it out until I get that sickening headache to match the heartache while I ask all the “why” questions over and over. I replay our last lunch, our last conversation, the last back rub I gave you, the last pair of shoes you talked me into helping you pay for. What didn’t I see? What didn’t I say? How could you have been in so much pain and I didn’t know? What the hell Drey? I put you ahead of everything – Robbie and even God. How could you not have known that? I flippin delighted in you. Maybe you did know that but it didn’t matter. There are no answers. But sometimes I still have to ask all the questions till I exhaust myself and fall asleep.

Lord I pray for all my grieving friends tonight. Lord help us rest in You.

Stop talking flippantly about suicide. Please?

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…

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Local Outreach to Survivors of Suicide – L.O.S.S. first responder team

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.