Tag Archive | mercy

Fault and Intent

It might’ve been a breakthrough… I don’t know. It’s only been 9 days so I can’t say for sure.

Sobbing last Saturday morning, July 4, I told Robbie that maybe it wasn’t my “fault” Drey died.

I had just finished reading Appointments With Heaven – a book written by Steven Curtis Chapman’s closest friend Reggie Anderson. I don’t remember who recommended the book – if anyone did for that matter. I’m fairly cynical so picking up a book about someone claiming to experience supernatural events isn’t something I’d normally read. But my husband is rock solid, smart and discerning. And if he says Steven Curtis Chapman – who wrote the forward to this book endorsing it – is trustworthy and has a healthy biblical knowledge, then ok. I’ll read it.

The book was good. Not so much because of the supernatural experiences he’d had but because of Anderson’s honesty about the tragedies he’d experienced in his life. He questioned his faith multiple times. His honesty about his anger and doubt about God is what made this book good. Then I neared the end of it and I found myself leaping through the final pages in anticipation and excitement…

The last few chapters of the book addressed the accidental death of Chapman’s young daughter in 2008. Chapman’s son accidentally ran over her when pulling into their driveway. She was running out to ask her big brother to help her reach the monkey bars. Horrible, sickening tragedy. How does a family cope? I was eager to learn how the family responded…

After reading those last few chapters I knew clearly that 17-year-old Will had been behind the wheel of the vehicle that killed little 5-year old Maria. It was his “fault.” But “fault” wasn’t the right word because it was never ever ever his intent for this to happen. Never. In this horrible tragedy, intent – not fault – was all that mattered. Of course no one blamed Will. It was an accident. He was driving carefully. He should not be paralyzed by guilt. He loved Maria so very much.

The Chapman family did an interview with Larry King just a few months after Maria’s death – watch it here. Simply amazing.

It’s only been 9 days since I finished the book. I’m still digesting it, processing it.There are too many layers to this story, this grief, this hope, to adequately and succinctly write about now. All I know is that I was humbled by the question I’m sure God put on my heart… Why had I never applied this logic to my own situation? I never ever ever intended for any of my choices to result in Drey’s suicide. I would have given my life for him. I loved him very much and did all I could to make sure he knew that, too.

So, through sobs, standing in our hallway outside Drey’s room, 2 years 10 months and 26 days after he died, I told Robbie that maybe – just maybe – it’s not my “fault” Drey died.

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.

My selfish self

I don’t ever recall feeling as misunderstood as I do today.
Or more accurately stated… I don’t ever recall feeling such a need to be understood.

I’m tired of it. Thinking about myself, my life, how to integrate my boys life – and death – into my “new normal.” On the surface of this exhaustion I scream out to God and ask, “why can’t I be the old me?” But when I give it more than a few seconds of thought I know I’d never want to be “the old me.” Drey’s gone. And for me the hardest part about it is that he choose this. How could this not change a parent?

I don’t want to feel a need to explain myself. My mood swings, my desire – at times – for isolation, my intolerance towards selfish agendas – including my own, my joy. Yes, joy I experience over things that never brought me joy before. Joy I can’t put into words. Joy that satan tries to strip away by reminding me that the people closest to me can’t fully understand how I feel and that somehow that means I’m alone or that I can never have the same closeness I used to experience with them. Joy because I’m meeting new friends who I feel a bond with quickly. A desire to hear about them, who they lost, what kind of support they need. A concern for others I’ve never experienced before. This brings me indescribable joy!

And and and…
A deeper awareness of how black my heart is. Yes. Yes I feel more dependent on God than I ever have. Yes it is because of my son’s death. But it’s much more than that. This even deeper dependence on my savior has come about because somehow in spite of the most tragic event of my life I still try to do things my own way apart from God. If the violent suicide of my only child was not enough to once and for all force me to my knees, consistently humbled and dependent on God, NOTHING apart from Christ’s death and resurrection will free me from my selfish self. NOTHING.

Suicide, God, Robin Williams.

It’s hard when someone dies by suicide. And when it’s a celebrity it hurts because of the hard and often times hateful things that are said. “You can’t rest in peace if you killed yourself.” “Suicide is the most cowardly, selfish thing anyone could do.” And so on. So many of us are suddenly so self righteous and in a position to judge others motives and state where they are eternally. How did we get that power, that knowledge?

For me personally it’s yet another aspect of learning to live with my sons suicide. The scab ripping off from the little bit of “healing” as the comments and social media frenzy ensues.

It’s hard because I want to defend my son and others who make this dreadful choice.
It’s hard because it’s not fair for us to judge motives or where someone will spend eternity.
Do we believe our sins aren’t as wrong? Aren’t as offensive to our perfect God? And that He judges on a sliding scale? The top 10% get to go to heaven?
On God’s sliding scale do some of these keep us out of heaven while others “aren’t that bad?”

When you overreacted with harsh words.
When you were a toddler and ripped that toy out of your little sisters hands.
When you were jealous of your friend.
When you killed yourself because you were mentally ill.
When you killed yourself even though you weren’t mentally ill.
When you refused to forgive the co-worker who talked about you behind your back.
When you stole that candy bar.
When you said that hateful thing.
When you thought that hateful thing.
When you got that abortion.
When you avoided eye contact with your neighbor because a conversation would’ve disrupted your personal peace.
When you fantasized about your married co-worker.
When you got high.
When you got drunk.
When you gossiped and called it “praying for your struggling friend.”
When you lied to your parents about where you were going.
When you called that stranger “dumb ass” on Facebook in response to their rude comment about Robin Williams death. (Even though it still feels damn good that you said it!)

Or do we become self righteous and judge because we can’t believe in God’s love and mercy that He did ALL the work Himself to give us an eternal relationship with Him? There’s NOTHING for us to do to “earn” our way into heaven except acknowledgeconfess – we are sinful and He came Himself – in the form of a human being – to live perfectly, to die unfairly, and to be resurrected FOR US. He overcame death for us.

Do I believe suicide is wrong? Absolutely. Do I believe all sin is wrong? Absolutely.

James 2:10 “for whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.”

Romans 3:23 “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Ephesians 2:8,9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

I don’t know… It’s hard to get my mind around. Why would God love my son enough to die for him? He knew Drey was going to kill himself – it didn’t take God by surprise. He loves Drey that much? He loves me that much? I can’t wrap my finite, judgmental, human mind around it. It takes faith… Not blind wishing, fingers-crossed, “I sure hope it’s true” faith. But genuine biblical faith – something only God can provide.

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!).

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.