Tag Archive | grief

Grief, Pride, and Scraping

One definition of scrape: to push or pull a hard or sharp instrument across (a surface or object) so as to remove dirt or other matter.

I feel that God is scraping away a thick layer of pride from my heart. I don’t like it and I am also grateful for it. I’ve sensed this now for several months. I don’t usually cooperate with Him when He’s teaching me humility. That’s when the painful scraping begins… when I’m fighting against Him. When I’m not trusting Him. He wants me to hold still and trust Him – if I submitted, the scraping wouldn’t be painful at all. Instead I’d begin to see glimmers of something lovely underneath. Something I’d know was clearly not of my own making. I’d even get excited and say, “take it all! Remove it! I want to be rid of this filthy layer of pride, autonomy, and judgement!”

Two of the best books I’ve ever read about humility are Andrew Murrays “Humility” and Thomas Jones/Michael Fontenot’s “The Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility.”

Chapter 9 of the Prideful Souls Guide says God will bless my humble response to biblically based input from others even if the input I am given should turn out to not be the best. If he/she is missing the mark, that will become evident without me having to be defensive. I would be wise to listen, pray and seek to learn something about myself. 

I have found my grief and my loss are something I take pride in. Gross, right? There are many loving, wise, well-intended friends who try to journey with me but I dismiss them because “they just don’t get it.” What would it look like to respond to their loving attempts to journey with me in humility? It’s easy for me to be defensive and justify why it’s okay to dismiss certain people… they’re condescending, they think I’m weak. I’ll show them how capable I am! Often, usually, okay maybe even 99% of the time, their words are well-intended. Can I set aside my pride? Rather than dismissing them can I listen with gratitude? When needed, can I gently correct or clarify in love?

Eph 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” This scripture is for people I snap at, right? They should be patient and humble if I’m hurtful. But this scripture doesn’t apply to me, right? I’ve been wronged in a big way – my boy is gone. So that means I have “the right” to not be patient and humble with others as they attempt to journey with me? Well shit. I don’t like this scraping of my pride.

Year 4 is coming to a close

Well… it’s August again.

I didn’t start dreading it until July 27th. That’s pretty good.

I seem to be functioning “okay” today… but it’s only August 1st so I won’t get my hopes up that the next few weeks will be easy.

I don’t have much scheduled this week and I leave town Sunday – no contact with anyone again till Wednesday. I dread it and I look forward to it. Maybe I’m finally learning to walk in these big clumsy grief shoes? I don’t fall so often now. And I know a little better about when to get down on my hands and knees and crawl instead of attempting to walk every day.

I do still hate when I mess up things that used to be so simple. Being organized was like breathing before 8.8.12 but even now – 4 years later – I still get so confused over the simplest of things. But what’s cool about this grief brain is that as I’m typing and looking outside I see our grass needs mowed and the entire yard needs weeded; but the word “needs” is no longer accurate because the yard just isn’t important. I think my husband likes that grief brain also means laid back brain when it comes to many things.

I used to ask God, “Is this as healed as I’ll get?” I don’t ask that question so much anymore. The realization that I’d always carry this pain sunk in sometime during year 2. And I discovered joy more frequently during year 3. And during year 4 I stopped searching aimlessly for permission to laugh and just began to laugh. And most recently I’ve slowly been learning to let tears flow whenever they need to without apologizing to anyone.

It is possible to miss my baby terribly, to sit with another survivor and cry with her, to laugh hysterically at Angie Tribeca, to read a volunteer report about a scene LOSS attended, to pray for those left behind and to smile at the thought of seeing my baby again in heaven all in the same day. How bout that?

Angie Tribeca Trailer – Flippin Hilarious show 🙂

 

I exchanged messages today with a fellow survivor. She’s inspired me to take the time to write this evening. She’s a newly bereaved spouse. I ache for her.

I hate suicide.

I’ve been pleading with God lately. Asking Him for another chance as a Mom. “I know… If I just did ____, Drey would still be alive! God please please let me have another chance. I promise I’ll get it right this time.” What’s at the root of these thoughts is that God is punishing me  / has punished me by taking Drey. When I take the time to share my thoughts out loud it exposes them for what they are… Lies lies lies. But left pinging around in my mind they’re dangerous “truths” that I ruminate on.

I got unexpectedly triggered this week. I’ve been shadowing Children’s Hospital the past 3 days as they do a suicide prevention training for 5th and 6th graders. I’ve done suicide prevention presentations in several high schools. I assumed younger kids would be easier – since it had been so long since Drey was that age. But I saw Drey in every little boy. Constant flashbacks of Valentine’s Day and Halloween parties. That young age when Drey would light up when Mommy came to his class. First day of school pics. The time Rudy followed him into the school. The playground. So many memories. God thank You for those memories. Thank You for not letting work consume all my time during those years.

So God what happened? When did the depression start? When did suicide become an option for him? He was a happy little kid. Was it middle school? High school?  Answers won’t help so why do I even entertain these questions?

Being at an elementary school and remembering sweet times makes me wonder if I may be able to look through pictures soon. But not tonight.

I wish I could hug you, dude. I just want another chance.

 

 

 

AZ with Drey

I’m back in Arizona for the week. Blessed and grateful to be able to take these classes. Nice to get away from Ohio… just unplug. Still surreal  – this direction life has taken. Never in a million years could I have imagined it.

Walking through the airport I see young men in their 20’s and think of you. I see a young lady I’m sure you would’ve noticed. I see an older woman with her adult son helping her walk. Thoughts of what should’ve been are flooding my mind. I’m breathing you again. I’ve come so far in learning how to live this new life… but you’re always here in my mind, in my heart. And some days I still just ache. I’ve held it in for a while without even realizing it. But now that I’m here and alone with my thoughts the tears flow freely.

Sitting on the shuttle bus I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the window. Who is that woman looking back at me? It can’t possibly be me, can it? You didn’t really do this, did you? How am I still alive?

God, I pray for rest. I pray for clarity of mind and a supernatural ability to take my thoughts captive to the obedience of your son. Those thoughts. Those horrible thoughts. I praise you for keeping me alive. And I yell at you for keeping me alive. Sometimes it changes from minute to minute. I take great comfort in knowing you’re grateful to be talking with me regardless of my mood. Protect my mind from nightmares. And while I’m on the topic… how about you give me a nice dream of Drey? You know, one that doesn’t make me want to vomit when I wake up? I’m afraid to ask for a good dream. I’m more afraid to ask for a sign that Drey is happy, safe and loved with you. Because when it doesn’t get answered I worry it’s because he’s not with you. Forgive my fearful attitude. Change my heart towards you when I’m full of doubt. God I’m asking now. Help me trust you regardless of the outcome. Thank you that I can sleep. I am so grateful for rest. Tell Drey I love him.

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.

Here I go again…

I wish I were just singing a Whitesnake song but that’s not the case…

I’ve decided being the leader of Cornerstone of Hope Grief Counseling Center is in conflict with my passion around suicide awareness advocacy… Specifically LOSS. When I accepted the position of ED at Cornerstone we thought it was clear how I’d support – how I’d lead – both organizations. But questions have been raised.

Better now than 6 months into the role, right? Whatever.

Unfortunately my self-talk platitudes aren’t helpful.

And now I’m reminded all over again that my son is dead. No – I didn’t forget. But something was happening with my grief when I joined Cornerstone. A purpose for the pain? in a visible way? In a worldly way perhaps?

But now I’m back to “just volunteering.” There’s far more to it than that… Anyone who’s talked to me about the LOSS team for more than 1 minute can clearly see my passion. But I guess I just need a day or a week or however long to be sad. Sad that things didn’t play out the way I thought they would. And sad that I’m even in this situation. My son is still dead.

Yesterday – the same day I resigned from Cornerstone – I received a thank you card from a Mom who’s child died by suicide. I was there with another volunteer that day as LOSS team volunteers. Feeling awkward. Answering her questions – the family’s questions. Not sure if our words were helpful. Quietly praying for God’s comfort. And now a thank you card from her that brought me to my knees. The timing of it. A thank you card on the day I resigned. On the day I choose to stick with LOSS. I’m humbled by this precious gift and I am confident that some day I’ll be able to share with this Mom the impact she had on me.

And still through all of it my son is dead. He is still dead. I am sad. I have self doubt. I doubt God. I doubt my ability to discern Gods will for my life. These doubts and feelings seem permanent – but they are not. It’s just for now. One foot in front of the other regardless of my feelings. But still, just damn.

For Such A Time As This

Hi honey. I think of you all the time but I don’t write as much as I used to. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s the tears.

The LOSS team launched last month. It’s difficult to describe that experience. I hate that I’m there at a scene yet there’s nowhere else on earth I’d rather be. I hate that I’m qualified for this work yet I feel my life has more purpose and meaning than it ever has. The day you died… that indescribable horrible day… “For such a time as this.” I couldn’t get that bible scripture out of my mind. I’m still learning to live this new life. This life that in large part you choose for me. People say things like, “Drey would want you to be happy,” “Drey would want you to put up a Christmas tree” and so on. I frankly don’t give a shit what you would want, kiddo. Your choice not only set my life on a completely new trajectory but it also cut off any say you now get in how I move forward. The fact that you likely never intended for our family to be as devastated as we are is not something you have any say in. Your voice is gone. We’re left to pick up the pieces without you.

I start working part time on January 5th. I’ll be the Executive Director at Cornerstone of Hope Grief Counseling Center. I never imagined I’d be so passionate about something… I never imagined my passion and ministry would merge and they’d then become a career. Between LOSS and Cornerstone I’m quite busy doing something I love. Someone suggested that God calls on us to be good stewards with all our resources – and that includes our pain. For me being a good steward of this pain means having a voice for the bereaved when they can’t speak, only groan. It means helping them grieve in whatever way works for them. It means journeying together as we discover how to integrate this pain into our lives. This journey includes a lot of tears but it also includes learning to laugh again.

I think of you all the time. You may not have an audible voice in my daily decisions anymore but your final choice screamed loudly enough to last a lifetime.

So Merry Christmas, Drey. You are the love of my life whom I still delight in. And, well, you suck.