Tag Archive | grief

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

Pets become part of our family. I will miss my Pierre.

Drey with Rudy & Pierre.   Ready for Christmas. 2001

Drey with Rudy & Pierre.
Ready for Christmas.
2001

Pierre. My sweet 14 year old min pin. At least I was told he was a min pin when I adopted him in January 2001. We were never quite sure because he’s bigger than the normal min pin. It was just me and Drey back then. He was our dog. When Robbie married me in 2004 he agreed to take on a sassy, headstrong wife, an ornery 10 year old Drey, 2 cats – M.D. & Lucky, Rudy my chocolate lab and the youngest one – Pierre. I’m the only one left.

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.

Suicide Postvention

Yesterday was a big milestone – the L.O.S.S. First responder training.
We had just over 40 people attend. What I was most excited about was the diversity of the group… So many organizations were represented. Counselors, a hospital chaplain. A couple of handfuls of suicide hotline volunteers. We had at least 12 survivors of a suicide loss there. 4 law enforcement folks – all homicide departments from both the county and the city. And the coroner & an investigator. Wow wow wow. God is so good.

Being available to people ASAP after a suicide loss is so very important.

During my days, weeks and even months after Drey died, several people reached out to me and many people very sacrificially poured into me. Every single interaction has been important to me. Without knowing it at the time I very much needed those cards, random text messages, FB posts, phone calls, gifts and meals.

The pain I carried for several months was sickening.

The people who could break through – even though it was just for a moment – the thick, heavy despair were the small handful of women who were ahead of me in grieving the sudden loss of their child. Those momentary break throughs gave me hope and over time they joined and became hours – and dare I say days – rather than just moments.

I am quite emotionally tired from the training yesterday. Sadly my mind is not shutting down… no sleep for me. So I lay here in bed considering the flood of feelings I wish I could name. I guess I need more time to digest them.

My thoughts continue to drift to those early days and weeks. To those momentary break throughs. They were so damn brief but so amazingly bright.

Suicide postvention is important. L.O.S.S. Teams are important. I will continue on this path.

Joy and pain can coexist for the survivor of a suicide loss

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.

It’s all mine. And his.

Do you miss him?
Sure.
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.

20140605-083621-30981824.jpg
“To Drey…”

Bitter much?

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!).

A Priest and a foul-mouthed soccer Mom walk into a Bob Evans…

    I had lunch today with Father Leo Connelly. Father Leo delivers death notifications with the Sheriff’s department – including in the case of suicides. As our work continues towards launching a first responder LOSS team I’ve met a lot of people I never imagined I would.

    Father Leo had a lot of good information. I learned more about how Law Enforcement is structured, other agencies I may want to connect with and about different scenarios he’s been in. Most importantly I learned to expect we’ll need to “prove ourselves” so to speak as valuable at a crime scene. Father Leo talked about the ministry of presence and how important it is. But that’s hard to understand unless you’ve lived through a tragic death of a loved one. There are no words to make it better. None. But knowing someone is there with you – some times perhaps just sitting silently – is impactful beyond words. Especially when the person sitting with you is also a survivor of suicide loss. Just small comments Father Leo said… like how sometimes when he goes to a scene he is initially an unwelcomed intruder that surely just told the family a bad joke rather than the truth. But by the end of his time there he is no longer an unwelcomed stranger. Most of the time he never knows if his presence was valuable in some small way. But that doesn’t keep him from moving forward in serving others in this way. What an important ministry. Through meeting people like Father Leo I’m becoming more equipped – and learning how to equip others – to be part of a LOSS team.

    I feel God’s hand in this. I can’t explain it but I do sense it… It’s not moving along in my preferred time table (we would’ve launched the LOSS team and hindsighted what’s working & what’s not by now – and you can bet the “what’s not working” part of the list would’ve been way longer!) I’m confident it has been God’s timing. I hope as people read this and other blogs about the LOSS team that they’re praying about it… that God would continue to open doors to these important Postvention efforts. I know this is my personal journey and my personal passion. Not everyone carries the same depth of concern for complete strangers that have lost someone to suicide that I do. We are all shaped by our own personal circumstances and experiences. I hope I can be a diligent prayer warrior for my family and friends as they pursue God and as they pursue the good works He’s given them to do.

    And for anyone reading this that knows me fairly well… Yes, I successfully enjoyed a meal and conversation with Father Leo without any colorful language 🙂

What I’ll say – if speaking is even possible – when I see God

Thank You God that it’s over!
Thank You for dying for me.
Thank You for conquering death for me.
I tried to stay in the fight after Drey died.
I tried to do that in dependence on You.
My motives were almost always selfish but I didn’t let that stop me from sharing You – sometimes.
I wanted to be a blessing to those who mourn.
I feebly tried not to be angry with You.
I made pitiful attempts to refrain from believing You owed me something since You took Drey.
I tried not to be bitter when everyone moved on with their life.
I wanted to enjoy and selflessly love who was left in my life.
I tried to strip off the filmy residue of grief that coated everything.
On occasion I won the minute by minute battle and chose Spirit over flesh – because of You.
I had no success apart from You.
I did nothing good apart from You.
Thank You God. Thank You!
I can’t believe You love me.
Amazing grace.

In the Spirit

I hold out my hands open to You. I close my eyes and I hear myself grasping for breaths. Not panicked… Just deep, grace-soaked breaths.

Oh I have so many plans. So many human, mortal plans. And You direct my steps. Help me Lord to die to my self-serving desires. Help me to move forward in confidence. Confidence that You are not a God of confusion. You care deeply for people who mourn. My man-made desires to love people who have suffered loss can be used by You. I desperately want to be a vessel You can use! Teach me. Don’t let a single tear be wasted.

Thank You for these upcoming meetings and conversations about suicide Postvention. Don’t let a single tear be wasted.

I am feeling so blessed. Thank You for eternity. Thank You for loving my boy far more than I ever can. Thank You for delivering the message of my love to him even now. I miss you Drey. I love you.

Dear Drey

Neither my words nor my tears adequately express how much I miss you. You weren’t just my son you were my friend. We laughed together. We shopped together. We listened to the same music. I know I embarrassed you sometimes – okay a lot. I became your friend as you got older but my role as Mom was always top of mind for both of us. I was home. I was safe.

You can see my pride in every picture of the two of us. I loved to watch you. Not just playing soccer, walking across the stage to claim your diploma or whatever. But just to stare at you. Sometimes when you were sleeping. Or when you were typing away at your laptop. It’s a Mom thing.

Do you remember how much fun we had getting your senior pictures taken? Well, I did anyway! I had fun watching you. Do you remember me dancing like a fool behind Kama so she could steal just a few pics of the real, genuine big smile? It worked. God how I miss that smile, that laugh.

This picture means a lot to me. I remember exactly where we were. I remember acting like a fool. And I remember the feeling of accomplishment when I succeeded in getting the real, carefree smile from you.

You are still my pride and joy.

Love him so

Love him so