Tag Archive | joy

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 🙂


Prom, Pain and Peace

I trace the outline of your face in your prom picture. There’s a pic I remember from that day… Of you and me. I’m looking at you with overflowing pride and joy. You in your tux and me in my Mickey Mouse tee shirt from our last vaca. I’d like to see that pic but it’s with so many other memories that I can’t unpack yet.

God what happened? What the hell happened? That was a happy day. How’d we go from that to such intense pain? One decision. One phone call. One instant and it was gone. Life as I knew it was over.

Jesus God give me the strength, hope, wisdom and courage to fight till the finish. To perservere. To experience joy with gratitude. To praise You continually. Thank You for all I’ve learned and continue to learn about You since Drey died. I have faith and hope like I’ve never experienced before. Even when – especially when – I have mornings like this. The peace that overcomes me as I write, read, cry and rest is unexplainable. I know I’m a walking miracle and I say that in awe of You. You are God. I’m just a person. David wrote, “…to know that You are mindful of man…” I get slivers of understanding the awe and overwhelming gratitude and humility David may have been feeling when he wrote these words. And You preserved those words for such a time as this. Holy shit! I can’t help myself! Even in my deepest sorrow I must also praise You! And I know this desire to praise You is coming from You – not me – and that makes me want to praise You all the more! God I bask in these moments when You turn my deepest wails into peaceful tears of gratitude! 


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.

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.

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.

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


Remembering is hard.
Remembering helps me see Gods faithfulness through tragedy.
Remembering sensitizing me.
Remembering cultivates gratitude.
God help me with this balancing act of Pain and Joy

Busch Gardens Tampa May, 2012

Busch Gardens Tampa May, 2012



Choose a funeral home.
Write an obituary. What days?
Call dad.
Choose an urn.
Call doctor. Get sleeping pills.
Viewing first?
What will he wear? Oh God no make it stop. This isn’t happening. I just bought him those shoes. No. Not for this. No God.
Pull weeds.
Crack jokes.
Self protect.
Photo boards.
Where to have the funeral.
Call Nissan.
Paycheck arrived. Fuck. Already closed bank account online. Cry hard at Huntington. Hate seeing people. Write “deceased.”
Pamphlet. Pictures.
Visit dad.
Write down medicine consumption.
Too many questions. I don’t know what I want to eat, who I want here, if I want the blinds open. I don’t fucking know. Stop asking so much of me.
Cancel phone.
Delete from favorites? Fuck. Not now.
Call dentist. Oh God.
Call Fidelity.
Cancel auto insurance. Explain why. Fuck.
Candle light vigil. Can I handle it? I’ll decide just before it starts.
Can’t shave my legs. Too shaky. Call mom – need nair.
Can’t answer phone.
Want to let people know I’m grateful they’re reaching out. Can’t talk. Send an email?
Read the cards or wait?
Where do we want donations to go?
People saying stupid things.
Will I speak at funeral?
Who will do funeral?
Soccer game memorial.
Don’t throw away milk carton. Drey held it.
Smell his clothes. Breathe him in.
How’s Fred?
Cobalt. Fuck.
Too many decisions.
It hurts bad.
It can’t be real.
Make it stop.
Let me die.

How do I pray?

Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by the number of people I’ve met through a suicide loss that I shut down and don’t know how to pray for them at all.   I knew maybe 3 or 4 people as of August.  But now just 3 months later I’ve met dozens, dozens. 

1 Thes 5: 16-18  “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

I am thankful for how You’ve been softening my heart, God.  I am thankful for how You’ve shown me it’s far better to live by Your priorities than what mine were.  So maybe that’s what you mean by being thankful in all circumstances.  Your word doesn’t say to be thankful FOR the circumstance… but IN the circumstance.  Yes, thank You for pointing that out to me!  Yes!

vs 17… “Never stop praying.”  I talk to You all day throughout the day.  My problem in this season isn’t prayer in the broad sense of the word – it’s that I don’t shut up long enough to hear You.  Praying is communication.  Communication is talking and listening.   

How do I pray for so many people?  People I’ve met just a handful of times?  People with unique circumstances, painful losses.  I picture their faces.  I picture them in the setting where I met them.  Their tears.  Their anger.  Their guilt and confusion.  The look of shock on their faces.  There’s no making sense of life now.

Rom 8:26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

Matt 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  God help them grieve.  Bless them as they mourn.  Comfort them.   Help them do the “next thing” whatever that may be.  Reach out to someone else who’s hurting, get out of bed, draw closer to You, take a breath.  Whatever the “next thing” is.  I pray these things for each person.  Thank You for loving them far more than I ever could and for meeting them exactly where they are.  Thank You for knowing exactly what they need, Father. 

S who lost her son 10 years ago. C who lost her husband last month. R&N who lost their son 6 years ago.  M&J who lost their son 4 years ago.  D who lost her boyfriend last year.  W who lost both her mom and her husband.  M and M who both lost people close to them . M&G who lost their son. V who lost her sister. R who lost her son. V who lost her husband and for her two small children.  J who lost her husband last year.  The older couple who just lost their son.  A who lost her friend 3 years ago . D&J who just lost their brother.  L who just lost her husband.  The entire M family – especially S, Dad and husband who lost their dear daughter and wife K just last weekend.  J&R who lost J 6 years ago.  B who I will meet tomorrow and her 2 kids – they just lost husband/dad 6 weeks ago.  D&S and D’s family as they mourn the one year loss of D.  K as she continues grieving for her Super N.  MA for the loss of Ski.  B for loss of his father 20+ years ago.  Thank you for his servant heart towards helping others learn to live again.  For J and the loss of her daughter just 30 months ago.  C who lost her Mom years ago.  MBSS blogger.  And I pray for Fred, Robbie, David, Kris, my parents and Fred’s parents, Drey’s dear friends… Jeritt, Jayson, Austin, Robby, Max, Ryan, Alli, Morgan, Bethaney, Cary, Jenna, Kevin, Britney, Molly, Alec, Ben, Addie, Peiman, Ian, Josh, Grace, Gabe, Victoria and so many more.  Thank You for knowing everyone I’ve neglected to pray specifically for on this chilly Tuesday morning, Father.   Thank You for the crisp white snow that blankets my patio.  Thank You for filling me up yet again with Your love, peace and compassion.  Truly those who mourn are blessed and comforted.

“I’m calling to see how you’ve been doing since graduating high school…”

I got a phone call yesterday.  Thankfully I didn’t hear the phone so it went to voice mail.  The message was for Drey.  It was from a Marine recruiter… “This message is for Fred Meine – I’m calling to see how you’ve been doing since graduating high school…”  Stop.  Delete.  Not sure what else was said after that.  I talked my lunch into returning from my throat back into my stomach.  Then somehow by the grace of God I was able to thank God we don’t have a landline that Drey would’ve shared with people.  Thank You.  There are so many hard circumstances we are faced with daily.   But I can be very grateful that telling a stranger over the phone that Drey’s gone is not something I’ve had to do since those first few months.  Thank You, God! 

I so want to be a grateful person.  Truly I do.  God is it ever hard.  It’s hard not to question You.  Sometimes I wonder if I failed to meet Your expectations somehow.  What other logical explanation is there for why a good God would allow the one thing I love above all else in this world to be taken from me?  To teach me a lesson?  To teach me YOU are my God and not my son?  To teach me my husband is more important than I ever treated him?  I fight these thoughts.  At the root of them is not only a lie about You but I’m also blaming myself for Drey’s death.   I fight these thoughts with gratitude.  I fight these thoughts with the knowledge that evil does exist.  We do have an enemy.  He plants lies – accuses You, God, of wrongdoing.  I fight these thoughts with the knowledge that this is NOT our permanent home.  Eternity is a long, long, time and in light of eternity this pain will be a “light and momentary affliction.”  But God I get so weary.  So discouraged.  It’s stuck to me.  This loss, this horrible tragedy.  I physically wear it, carry it on my shoulders, my neck, sometimes my face.  It’s like a scarf.  It’s everywhere I go.   Sometimes it’s so tight it’s suffocating.  I wear it when it’s appropriate but also when it’s not – but I have no choice because it’s part of my very being now.  I wear it when I go swimming.  People look.  People wonder.  That’s odd – why not take that off?  It’s heavy and cold around my neck when I get out to dry off.  Other times it’s veil-like.  Everything I look at is muted – tinted in sorrow. Will it ever come off in this lifetime? Or will I just learn how to wear it with grace and beauty?

Wow. I am really melancholy today. It’s time to go for a run…

Gratitude without guilt.

Journal from last year – October 27 2012:

I’m here at Cherry Valley Lodge with Robbie.  I had what I think is an anxiety attack this morning.  I miss you so, so much.  It began with remembering the 2nd grade field trip with Mrs. Morse to High Banks Park.  It was in the fall.  On the trail we saw the guts of some small animal – maybe a rodent of some sort.  Everyone was so fascinated.  I enjoyed going on your field trips.

Sometimes I think I’ll die from this pain.  How can someone carry this depth of pain day after day, week after week, and now month after month?

Can you see me, baby?  Can you hear me?  How can I live this life without you?  I view everything through you.  Memories don’t bring me comfort or joy.  They ache.  They bring tears.  When will that change?  Will there come a time when I look back on this journal?  What will I feel then?  What will I feel when I look back on this Cherry Valley Lodge weekend?  Will I wonder how I’ve survived?  Will I still be in the same depth of pain?  Will God use me somehow?  Will I experience peace in knowing God is redeeming this horrible thing and I’m playing a role in it?

Today:  I haven’t had a panic attack – or whatever I should call it – in about a month now.   I want to be grateful for the decreased frequency in panic attacks.  I want to be grateful that I don’t sob every day anymore.   But it’s hard to allow myself to feel grateful for God’s slow but tender hands of healing.  What kind of Mom am I if I’m feeling grateful for my life?   Some have said, “Drey would want you to be happy.”  Maybe.  But it doesn’t really matter because he’s not here.   

I remember last summer a motorcycle driven by a young man came flyin up on my butt when I was driving on 315.  I got out of his way and he sped by.  “At least I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”  Oh My God.  I couldn’t believe that was really the thought that popped into my head?!   Then I beat myself up in a major way… “Yea – lucky you.  Your son’s already dead so you don’t have to worry about him getting in a motorcycle accident.  How sick, Denise.  What kind of Mom are you?  Did you even love him?” 

I feel like there’s a war going on inside myself… there’s part of me that feels amazingly blessed and can rattle off so many reasons why I am blessed.  I’ll see my son again, I have a wonderful husband, I love my family,  I love my friends, I love God more than I ever have, I’m not paralyzed by pain anymore, I can spend time doing what I want to do rather than worrying about bringing home money for our living expenses, I’ve met so many people who are suicide survivors and am grateful for each them.  Then there’s part of me that’s disgusted with myself for not being crumbled up in a pile like I was last year.  Learning to live with Drey’s death is very hard.  It’s taking a long time to integrate this loss into my life, my circumstances, my being.

God tells us to be joyful in all circumstances.  To be continuously thankful.

What am I afraid of?  Why can’t I let myself be a little joyful and grateful without wanting to just die of shame for feeling that way?  Because I’ll forget Drey?  Because people will assume I’m “over it” and won’t pray and care for me the way they have been.  Because people will think I’m a freak because one day I’ll be joyful and the next I’ll be crying – so it’s best to keep the mood swings to myself.  Because people will think I must not have loved Drey – at least not as much as they love their children because they can’t fathom ever smiling again after their child died.   Somehow in my little world I’ve assumed everyone is watching me and drawing conclusions about how I’m handling things.  Because apparently I’m the most interesting person in the world?? 

God please help me to live before You and only You.  My audience of One.  Help me to live just today without concern for how I’ll be feeling or what mood I’ll be in tomorrow.  Teach me to direct my thoughts towards others.  My needs are met in You.  You have shown me that in miraculous ways this past year especially.  The fact that I’m still alive is a miracle!  I want to overflow with the love You’ve given me.  Overflow into the lives of others without regard for myself because You promise to continually love me, delight in me.

Teach me.