Tag Archive | bereavement

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.

2 years ago. The dreaded week is back already.

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.

Love him so

Love him so

Goodnight Drey

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…

Why year 2 may be harder

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.

Last years journal: Sept 8

Last year:  Well, it’s been a month.  I don’t know what words to use to explain how I feel.  Exhausted.  I don’t want it to be real.  I want to be with you.  God help me to grieve your way.  Help me to depend on you, I can’t always set my mind on the things above.  I never can.  God even this pen I’m trying to write with feels too heavy.  I have nothing.  Nothing but tears.  God I pray for Mom & Gene’s protection as they drive on vacation.  I thank you that my Mom has accepted the gift of Your son.  Everything is so foggy in my head.

Today:  Well, it’s been 13 months and 1 day.  I still don’t know what words to use to explain how I feel.  Confused I suppose.  I still don’t want it to be real.  And I still want to be with you, Drey.  I look at pictures of your smiling face – what a great smile!  It warms my heart to see that smile but at the same time it breaks me.  Bethaney posted some pics I’d never seen of you on FB.  You were so loved.  You had so many friends.   I will never understand why you did this.  I don’t ask the “why” question as often as I did but it still lingers.

We have a new dog… his name is Duke.  You would’ve liked him.  He’s a cuddler.  David’s birthday is today.  He’s 15.  You’re missing everything.

I’m attending a 2-day conference this week.  It’s about suicide and engaging the bereaved.  The speakers and topics look really interesting.  This conference is a far cry from the retail and business conferences I’ve attended in the past.  Life sure is different now.  Family Needs Following a Suicide of a Teenager, Impact of Language on Survivors of Loss, Carrying the Grief of Suicide:  Reaching out to Survivors Across the Lifespan.   State Representative Marlene Anielski will be there – I’m looking forward to meeting her.  She just championed the passage of the Jason Flatt Act here in Ohio… now educators, guidance counselors, etc. are required to get Suicide Prevention training.  It’s the law.  I want to understand who’s responsible for implementing that training.  Is it just at the high school level?  What about private and charter schools – are they required as well?  What’s supposed to be included in the training?  And I want to hear their plan for making it happen with deliverable dates.   I can hear you teasing me, Drey… “Mom’s kicked into work mode again.”  Yea – I hear myself, too.  Perhaps I’m trying to take responsibility for something that isn’t mine to take.  But I want to know what the implementation plan is for good and right reasons.  

I ask God a lot what I could be doing.  What would glorify Him.  We moved to Franklinton to invest in an impoverished community.  We wanted people to know about His love.   Then you died.  Now I think about the suicide community and who’s at risk.  Generally it’s not people in Franklinton.  It’s the middle-class – especially middle-aged men, it’s the military, it’s those who have been directly impacted by a suicide loss, it’s the glbt community, it’s teens.    My heart goes out to those who have lost someone – so my focus has been on the bereaved.  But as I engage more in the suicide community I’m drawn to prevention opportunities, too, specifically with teenagers and young adults.  What does any of this suicide stuff have to do with Franklinton?  I try to tell myself just because we live here doesn’t mean our ministry has to be here.  But that was our plan…  wasn’t it Yours, God?  We prayed A LOT.  We got input A LOT.  So we moved.   But then life happened in a major way.  Now what?  I guess because I may be drawn to a different ministry that doesn’t mean we have to move back to the suburbs.  I can be such a black and white thinker – I wish I were more comfortable in the gray area.  There are so many creative, out of the box things You may be doing.  God help me to have a mindset of confident expectation of what is next!  I know You’ve prepared good works for me.

And then there’s this business of a job… again – my black and white thinking kicks in.  I’ve got it in my head that I must figure out what ministry looks like go forward before I decide what career to move towards.  If I land in a ministry that takes up a big part of my time it’ll impact the # of hours I put towards my career.  Can my ministry and career be one in the same?  I don’t know if I could fill a role in the suicide community as my job.   That feels like it’d be a lot – maybe too heavy for me emotionally.  Will I care in a year as much as I do today about the suicide community?  What’s just a phase vs. a true change in direction?

A day at a time.   You are good, God.  You know how dense and stubborn I can be.  You also know I love You.  Help me to rest in Your timing and help me to trust I will hear You.  I praise You that I’m able to take this time and rest.  I praise You for Robbie’s job.  You have provided for us in so many ways.   God thank You for bringing Mom & Gene home safely from last years September vacation.  God help me to be grateful rather than only asking for more, more, more.  Your timing, Lord.