Tag Archive | Mourning

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.

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!).

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.

Why year 2 may be harder

I’ve heard that sometimes the second year of grieving can be harder than the first. Given I’m 7 months into year 2 I’ve found reasons for this.

1) Expectations are that “surely the second Christmas, etc won’t be as hard as the first.” Many of my 2nds haven’t been as hard as the 1sts so I haven’t struggled in this area a lot.

2) Everyone assumes you’re over it. The phone calls and cards stopped, everyone’s gone back to normal life and they assume you have too. Because of this you don’t feel the freedom to talk about your loss or to openly have bad days so you start to stuff em. I’ve struggled with this some – but I haven’t stuffed my bad days. The fear I am disappointing people (or fear they’re judging me) because I’m still hurting is sometimes floating around in my mind. But I’m in the battle with this one… I’m learning to take my thoughts captive sooner and sooner. So these “fear of man” thoughts don’t have time to take root.

3) The shock has worn off. In the beginning your mind is able to shield you from experiencing the full brunt of this tragedy. That shield’s gone by year 2. I don’t know how to interact with that thought other than to say it hasn’t worn off and I don’t know if it ever will. Yes, my constant state of physical shock is gone now so in some ways it’s not the same as year 1. But I still stand in the doorway of Drey’s bedroom in disbelief. I still look in the mirror and have no idea who that person is looking back at me. And while I am now able to say “Drey died” or “My son passed” in conversations, I still feel like puking – literally – when I hear the words. It can’t be real. It just can’t be.

4) You begin to process the tragedy through other’s lens. In the beginning – pretty much the entire first year – I could only consider my loss and Fred’s loss. But now as time has gone on I’ve had to re-live the loss through others viewpoint. I went to my first funeral 15 months after Drey’s service. While I was getting ready my thoughts drifted to the day of Drey’s funeral. What was it like for my friends showering, getting dressed, brushing their hair in preparation for this horrible day? Were they worried about what to say to me? Were they dreading it? What about my friends who watched Drey grow up – were they crying as they were getting ready? Did they feel sick? Who was there to help them? And there’s been the realization of how horrifically hard it must have been for my Mom. How would I feel if Drey’s only child had killed himself? How would I handle watching Drey in depths of anguish that no words or hugs could fix? I don’t know how I’d bear it. I love him so. It’d be unimaginable having to watch him live this. Then there’s David… Just this weekend he shared a song with me that he said makes him think of Drey. Talk by Coldplay. He played the song. I listened to the lyrics. Again…. the questions, the nauseousness, the desire to puke out the pain and the reality of what’s happened and to be done with it once and for all. Your stepbrother was just about to turn 14, Drey. He needed you. How could you do this to him? He’s just a kid – why would you give him this to carry? What’s it like for him being a freshman this year at Thomas Worthington? Does he see you in the halls, in the classroom? How’s that feel for him? How does he handle it when the topic of suicide comes up at school? Drey’s friends. His friends. Talking to Britney just hours after Luke killed himself. Hearing her pain. What was it like for her to live through Drey’s death? I ache through a new lens regularly these days. My guess is that this won’t be limited to year 2…

So I don’t know if this years been harder for me or not. Maybe not harder – just different. But I need to be realistic… The worst part of year 2 (Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Dreys birthday and August) is still ahead of me.

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.