Tag Archive | guilt

Guilt after suicide. Oh – and First Watch on Sunday!

One of the worst things about losing someone to suicide is the guilt. Don’t get me wrong… there’s plenty of pain not related to guilt, too. But I can rattle off dozens – maybe even hundreds – of reasons why my son’s death is my fault. From that Mai tai I drank 3 weeks into my pregnancy (I didn’t know I was pregnant yet) that I’m certain caused a faulty serotonin development level in his brain (aka: depression) to getting a text message that said. “Hey – I love you” and not immediately going to make sure he was ok.

It’s not just me. I hear it from other survivors, too.

Robbie tries to reassure me that I was a great mom. That Drey knew I loved him. At one point I told Robbie Drey killed himself because I let him play violent video games when he was too young. He reminded me of the time Drey’s friend had Grand Theft Auto and Drey wanted to play. 6th or 7th grade maybe? I made Drey and his friend play it in front of me and I asked questions about what they thought of the different things they saw. Good Mom, right? Thank you for that reminder, Robbie. I did care, I was engaged. So my index finger formed a check mark in the air. Meaning what? I got one right? Now I can be guilt-free? I’m constantly grading myself. And every parenting choice I ever made is all or nothing. Pass or fail. It either sits on the side of the ledger that contributed to Drey’s death or it sits on the side that communicated my love for him. Nothing’s neutral.

I experience relief from the guilt when I don’t think about it. In the beginning I couldn’t help but to think about it 24/7. Then after the first year or so I was able to control my thoughts – sometimes. Or at least catch myself sooner. You know, before my thoughts turned into a ruminating pile of “I should have” pain. 

I don’t share this so friends will feel sorry for me and tell me it wasn’t my fault. What’s most helpful is to acknowledge my ache of responsibility… don’t attempt to convince me otherwise. Only God can do that. So pray, pray, pray.

I share this for fellow guilt-ridden survivors. You are not alone. I know it hurts like hell. The pit of despair is gut-wrenching. AND WE HAVE TO LEARN TO LIVE WITH IT. The relief I experience from reminding myself of when I “got it right” is fleeting. And my ability to block out the guilty thoughts is completely unsustainable. The only true relief comes from acknowledging I am not a perfect parent.  God is! Yep – here I go gettin all religious and shit. The football stadium verse – John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Why did He send His son to overcome death? 1) Because God is holy and righteous. He couldn’t just willy nilly grade on a curve and say some character flaws are ok and others aren’t. Our imperfection had to be paid for in order to be in His presence for eternity. 2) Because God loves us perfectly and wants us with Him. How could He not provide a way to be with the loves of His life?! He delights in us!

So I remain in the fight. Sometimes the guilt wins my mood, sometimes peace does. I’ve learned to steer clear of scenarios like this Sunday… the teaching/church service is from Ephesians 6 on parenting. No thank you. Instead First Watch and Floridian French toast – or maybe fresh fruit crepes? are calling my name ūüôā Oh – and coffee with lotsa hazelnut creamer! Num num num! Want to join me? First Watch Sunday at 10a – German Village on High St. 

Thank You for loving me, God. Thank You for knowing what it’s like to lose your only son. I’m never alone. 

Living with guilt after suicide

It’s¬†year 3 and there are still no Christmas decorations. Robbie didnt take issue with it until last weekend. He announced that next year we will decorate. When I consider the idea of it I’m not sure which is more gut wrenching – seeing, experiencing, feeling memories that I haven’t faced yet or living¬†with the guilt of¬†celebrating any resemblance of a “normal” Christmas.

There are parts of my life that have continued forward. Actually I can say at this point most aspects have continued forward. Yes, with pain learning to coexist with joy, but still forward movement. But there are some things I am just not ready for – like Christmas decorations in my home. It wouldn’t¬†even matter if they were¬†all brand new. And fixing my car mirror hasn’t been an option either…

The day you died I drove like a maniac to get to you. I didn’t know you were already gone. When I “parked” my car I hit the neighbors mailbox with my passenger side mirror. I’m not sure you can call what I did “parking.” I’m¬†pretty sure my feet hit the pavement before the car had stopped moving. That first winter Robbie would scrape the ice from the window for me so I wouldn’t have to be reminded of that day. I scrape it myself now but my breathing is heavy and self-talk is a necessity to get the task done. But I’m not ready to get it fixed. How could I? How could I just drop it off for a few hours, pay someone a few hundred bucks, then get back a new mirror – like nothing ever happened? That seems so wrong. I have no choice but to leave the mirror as it is. Why the hell do I feel that way? Because it connects me to you? Because I¬†don’t deserve to have it repaired? It feels like¬†my own personal scarlet letter. I’m not ashamed of you baby. I’ve not felt that way at all. I’m still prickly when someone even hints that they might be angry with you. I’m still mom and I’ll always protect you. My shame is my own. Why didn’t I know you were depressed? How could I have missed it? What kind of mom was I? I’m not God. I wasn’t a perfect mom. My human attempt at parenting was riddled with screw ups. But I didn’t have to be perfect. Christ paid the price for every single imperfection. I am living with this pain by the grace of God. And you are living in His presence by the grace of God. I miss you. I love you.

Lord Father God empower me to keep my eyes on You. I love You Lord.

Responsibility, guilt and suicide

I don’t think it’s humanly possible to live through the aftermath of your child’s suicide without feeling responsible.¬† I don’t think these feelings of guilt and responsibility are limited to just me and Fred.¬† They extend to the rest of our family and to friends, too.¬† But we’re Mom & Dad.¬† The feelings of responsibility¬†we have run deep.

At one point I believed I contributed to Drey’s fearlessness – something he had¬†in order to go through with this – because I took him on rollercoasters at too young of an age.¬† And I’ve believed – and sometimes still do – that¬†we shouldn’t have moved… and if his Dad and I hadn’t of divorced Drey would’ve been safe.¬†¬† And why didn’t I wake up when I got his text?¬† Why didn’t I drive to his Dad’s that morning?¬† And on and on.¬† It’s torture.¬† A torture that can’t be fixed with well-meaning words.¬† A torture that sometimes is too intense to just distract yourself from.¬†¬† These thoughts aren’t as frequent as they used to be.¬† But they’ve recently been triggered and here I am.¬† Processing the impact of my decisions¬†on his death at an even deeper level.

I write for me.¬† For my processing.¬† For my healing.¬† And I write¬†to share with¬†anyone else suffering from a loss to suicide… we are all different and what helps one may not help the other but we are all connected because of our tragedies.¬†¬† We are all part of the stupid ass club that no one else understands.¬† I’m grateful for the survivors that I’ve met – both online and through¬†SOS groups.

What helps me put my guilt, my feeling that I contributed to my son’s decision to end his life?¬†¬† Absolutely nothing apart from God.¬† Nothing.¬†¬†I have and still do attempt to “logic” my way through it.¬†¬†¬†I replay conversations and¬†remind myself of all the times Drey expressed his love for me.¬†¬†I try to reason that even though he didn’t live here anymore the fact that his mail still came¬†here (and still flippin does.¬† that sucks) that he still considered me “home.”¬†¬† I¬†recall my feelings for him – easily expressed – were those of unconditional love and absolute delight.¬† God how I loved him!¬† ¬†These things bring me moments of relief – but it’s never sustainable for more than a few hours.¬† The only relief I’ve been able to experience for longer periods of time¬†has been from God…

1) Saying out loud the thoughts in my head to my closest friends.¬† Getting them out in the open often deflates them of the power they had gained bouncing around inside my mind.¬† When the thoughts are out there my friends remind me of God’s truth.¬† Truths I know, and I try to rehearse.¬† But I get exhausted from trying to talk to myself – and that’s okay.¬† I don’t have to “go it” alone.

2)¬† Revisiting my faith.¬† I have revisited every single thing I thought I believed about God and¬†his plan of redemption.¬† Digging into the book of Hebrews in particular¬†has brought me a ton of comfort.¬† I’ve had several “holy shit – this IS real!¬† I CAN count this as truth!” moments.¬† It is NOT about me trying to clean myself up.¬† It’s about His mercy.

3)  Meditating on scriptures about suffering and sorrow.  Psalm 126:6 is one of my favorites.

4)¬† Reading biblically-based books about heaven.¬† I made a big-ass deposit in heaven… so learning more about it has become a priority.

5)¬† Being honest with God.¬† He knows my thoughts before I’m even aware of them.¬† There’s no point in trying to hide.¬† And recently I heard someone say, “Try not to dwell on what there is no answer to.”¬† So simple, yet so profound.¬† And I’ve found it’s not enough to just “stop thinking about it.”¬† I have to go the next step and replace the thoughts of guilt and responsibility with truth.

These are the things that have brought me more sustainable relief from the tormenting thoughts that creep in.¬† I wish I’d never experience a negative self-condemning thought again but that’s just not realistic.¬† I’m human, not God.

Guilt sucks.  Guilt and the accusations associated with it are not from God.