Tag Archive | mental health

Local Outreach to Survivors of Suicide – L.O.S.S. first responder team

We continue to make progress with the implementation of a LOSS first responder team here in Franklin County.  The LOSS team goes to the scene of a suicide where there are survivors.  A survivor can be a family member, friend, co-worker, neighbor, etc.  Anyone that’s been impacted.  The goal is for those of us that have lost someone to suicide to connect – even if only for a moment – and leave information and resources for support.  Then to follow up as appropriate. My blog from January 27, 2014 shares more info about this.

Today we met with the 8 investigators at the coroner’s office. It went well. They had some challenging questions about how the LOSS team would function which was good. They were engaged and honest – can’t beat that! And they were themselves… meaning they work all day every day with the deceased so they talk about horribly graphic things regularly – even casually. It’s what they live and breathe so who can blame them? One person shared a gruesome situation in detail. They were clearly making a point to me. I was up for the challenge. This investigator then closed their gruesome example by asking… “I medicate and drink in order to handle what I do – how will a survivor of a suicide loss handle it?” I reminded them the LOSS team will not see the body. “Yes, but you are there to help the people who found the body. How will you handle it?” I felt defensive. I sure hope I didn’t come across as defensive. I answered this investigator honestly by sharing personally what I was capable of – and what I may not be capable of. We left the meeting with the team’s support and with three of the investigators offering to be part of the planning/creation of the team & how it’ll function. We had only asked for one volunteer 🙂 Good stuff.

When I got home Robbie and I talked about how it went and how I was doing. I told him I got a nice big dose of reality today. If I’m going to lead these efforts it means working with folks from the coroner’s office and with law enforcement. People that live and breathe this and therefore talk about it regularly. Am I up for this? Am I pushing myself to do this when I really don’t want to (“I have to” vs. “I get to”)?

I have a fear… a fear that I will function through it. I’ll stuff it then explode but the explosion won’t come until after the LOSS team launches. Robbie reminded me that’s not been the case so far. I am talking to people about how I’m feeling, I’m doing fun things too, I imperfectly depend on God’s strength, and I’m not spending a ton of hours working on this project all at once – I’m pacing myself.

I don’t have to do this. I want to do it. I know that’s hard for most people to understand. I wouldn’t be able to understand either had I not walked the last 1 year, 7 months, 1 week, 3 days and 9 hours in these heavy, clumsy grief shoes.

Still grieving the loss of my son to suicide

Grief is not a process. There isn’t an end. It evolves. It’s shape, size, weight and density continually change. I don’t know if it’s like that for every death or for every person. My grandma died several years ago. We were close. My best childhood friend’s Mom was killed several years ago. We weren’t close but it was hard seeing my friend hurt so deeply. But I was quite clueless as to the depths of true pain until Drey died.

It’s still hard to type that… “Drey died.” Will I ever get used to saying that? Will it ever truly sink in?

How has my grief changed over the past 18 months?

In the beginning I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep (without sleeping pills), I cried every day, I prayed non-stop about everything. Everything. I read books about suicide, grief, and heaven. I couldn’t drive faster than 55 (I drove 100 mph trying to get to Drey after I got the call that Wednesday morning. So after that driving fast sent me immediately back to those long, desperate minutes of driving to my son in hopes he was still alive). I was damn angry at a handful of people that weren’t supporting me “the right way.” I couldn’t answer the phone. I shook so badly that I couldn’t shave my legs. I had a non-stop headache for 5 months that Excedrin couldn’t touch. I didn’t care about anyone’s grief or pain except mine and Drey’s Dads. I couldn’t put up a Christmas tree. Every “first” resulted in my heart racing, shallow, fast breathing and rubbing my leg non-stop (weird right?). The first dentist appt, the first time I heard a certain song, the first time driving past the high school. Every first. I thought I was going to die. It was the heaviest, darkest pain I had ever felt.

But somehow I’ve lived just over 18 months without Drey. Wow. “Without Drey.” That’s hard to type too.

I’ve gained back 10 of the 22 pounds lost. I sleep now – not like I did before Drey died but it’s definitely better than the first several months. I can drive 75 mph without melting down. My headaches are less frequent. I don’t depend on God for every single step and breath 😦 I read books about suicide, grief, heaven and recently squeezed in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. I still get angry with people sometimes… But I’ve learned to forbear more. I cry off and on. I ache but it’s more tolerable… Sometimes it’s more of a flat, blah, numbness that dominates – not the heavy, dark pain. I talk about Drey often. Sometimes I answer the phone. The Ladies Bic is back in use. I genuinely care how other people are coping. I still didn’t put up a Christmas tree… Maybe 2014? We’ll see.

So the grief remains – it’s shape, size, weight and density has just evolved. Am I “grieving right?” Is my timetable in line with what it “should” be? I had to let go of trying to answer those questions. I had to let go of others expectations of my grief. Most importantly I’m learning to let go of my own expectations of my grief. “Surely 6 months from now I should be able to…” type of thinking has set me up for disappointment in myself again and again. God help me to let that shit go!

Matthew 5:4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.