Tag Archive | prayer

AZ with Drey

I’m back in Arizona for the week. Blessed and grateful to be able to take these classes. Nice to get away from Ohio… just unplug. Still surreal  – this direction life has taken. Never in a million years could I have imagined it.

Walking through the airport I see young men in their 20’s and think of you. I see a young lady I’m sure you would’ve noticed. I see an older woman with her adult son helping her walk. Thoughts of what should’ve been are flooding my mind. I’m breathing you again. I’ve come so far in learning how to live this new life… but you’re always here in my mind, in my heart. And some days I still just ache. I’ve held it in for a while without even realizing it. But now that I’m here and alone with my thoughts the tears flow freely.

Sitting on the shuttle bus I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the window. Who is that woman looking back at me? It can’t possibly be me, can it? You didn’t really do this, did you? How am I still alive?

God, I pray for rest. I pray for clarity of mind and a supernatural ability to take my thoughts captive to the obedience of your son. Those thoughts. Those horrible thoughts. I praise you for keeping me alive. And I yell at you for keeping me alive. Sometimes it changes from minute to minute. I take great comfort in knowing you’re grateful to be talking with me regardless of my mood. Protect my mind from nightmares. And while I’m on the topic… how about you give me a nice dream of Drey? You know, one that doesn’t make me want to vomit when I wake up? I’m afraid to ask for a good dream. I’m more afraid to ask for a sign that Drey is happy, safe and loved with you. Because when it doesn’t get answered I worry it’s because he’s not with you. Forgive my fearful attitude. Change my heart towards you when I’m full of doubt. God I’m asking now. Help me trust you regardless of the outcome. Thank you that I can sleep. I am so grateful for rest. Tell Drey I love him.

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.

“Man up! You survived your son’s suicide!”

I am having minor shoulder surgery tomorrow.  Not really a big deal… but I’m still feeling anxious about it.  Not so much the procedure itself (although I may be saying something different tomorrow morning just before the procedure)… but the recovery is what’s got me uneasy.  I’m afraid I’ll be in a lot of pain.  Enough pain that physical therapy will be too hard, that I won’t be able to start running again right away, that the procedure won’t work and I’ll still have pain and limited motion.  But at the root my anxiety is a lack of trust.  Does God even care about something so small?  Of course He does – I know that.  But do I believe it?  Can I trust that even if my “worse case scenario” plays out that God is still good, that He can still work in me and through me, that He still wants to give me the desires of my heart, and that He knows better than I do what is best for me?  That’s a tall order.  I often find myself asking God, evening begging Him, to help me in my unbelief.

The feeling of anxiety also triggers me.  I associate feeling this way with my son’s death.  Not that the anxiety I’m feeling today is anywhere near as intense.  But it’s an association thing I guess.  Even feeling just a smidge like I did on that day – that horrible awful day – is enough to have me shaking, uneasy, and sick to my stomach.  Then I hear the voice… “Man up, Denise.  You survived your son’s suicide.  One of the worst things ever.  How can you be such a wimp heading into a simple little surgery?”  That argument sounds logical to me.  It makes a ton of sense.  And it’s completely unhelpful.  Our enemy is like that… he wants us to focus on fixing ourselves under our own power rather than acknowledging our weakness and crawling up into our perfect Father’s lap.

So here I am.  Facing a minor but unpleasant situation that is viewed through my new life lens.  Sometimes I don’t like my new lens.  And what I really don’t like is that every single decision – from watching a TV show to choosing what to wear to the bigger stuff like attending a memorial service or a minor surgery has to be filtered through this damn lens.  It’s not fair.  I don’t deserve this.  Why me?  I just want my normal life back!

God help me to not feel sorry for myself.  Teach me gratefulness.  Teach me to live life with eternity in mind more consistently. 

Lord thank You for the ability to have surgery – for the financial means, for the access to skilled surgeons.  Thank You for the family and friends You’ve blessed me with.  Thank You for my eyesight as I look forward to extra reading while I’m recovering on the couch.  Thank You for chicken and rice soup.  Thank You for anesthesia and pain killers.  Thank You for the women I’ve already met during physical therapy.  Thank You for laughter with them as I drop F-bombs in my pain… they’ve been such good sports in spite of my mouth!  Thank You for the reminder of when Drey broke his arm and how speedy his recovery was.

Do you know the pain you’ve caused? DO YOU?!

A parent feels responsible for their child. And to some extent for their child’s choices. That’s normal.

A parent who loses their child to suicide has an especially heavy burden. It can eat them up – literally destroy them from the inside out.

For several months this burden took a subtle, general role in my grief, in my thoughts. “Why didn’t I drive to his Dad’s that morning?” “Why didn’t I see his anger was a sign of depression?” “Why didn’t I talk to him more about Alex’s death?”

As time has passed the sharper thought is “I caused this because I moved from Worthington and because I quit my high-paying job.” As I was trying to follow what I thought was God’s will for my life I put a spiritual target on the whole family. It’s my fault you’re gone.

I read the last four months of your tweets yesterday. I haven’t decided if that was a smart move or not. “My parents are telling me I have to learn to be financially responsible but you quit your job because “god told you to” fuck you.” Wow. Really Drey? My worries that my decisions had impacted you negatively – at least in your mind – were now confirmed.

So did you see me sobbing after reading that, son? Did you?
Did you hear me call your Dad asking him if I had been a good Mom?
How about when I asked him if he thought you knew how much I loved you? Did you hear me ask that question?
Did you hear your Dad choke back tears?
Did you hear the song lyrics he shared with me?
Did you hear the other things your Dad said, son?
Did you?
Do you see the lives you nearly ruined?
Do you see us fighting for air? Trying not to drown in this?

DO
YOU
SEE
IT?

What an entitled, privileged, spoiled man you had become. It was probably just a phase… You would’ve matured. But you robbed us of getting to see that.

Dear God help me rest in You during this new, lovely phase of grief I seem to have entered. My son – the person I loved more than life itself – was at times a little jackass. Grace abound. Thank You God.

Tell me one more time, God. Where were you? I want to believe!

This morning I was able to look at the journal I had been writing in before everything came crashing in on Aug 8, 2012. Drey was constantly on my mind. I was worried, fearful, and missing him. I hear it as I read through my words. I sounded desperate. I remember feeling desperate. I was crying out to You, God. Praying for Drey repeatedly. Where were you on August 8th, God? I don’t understand.
The week following Drey’s graduation Robbie said, “honey – you are walking around here like you just came from his funeral rather than his graduation.” I’ll never ever forget those words. Just 10 weeks later Drey would be gone.
Robbie was right. I was adjusting horribly to not living with my son and to him transitioning into adulthood. I was trying to let go of my idol – my everything. That’s what Drey had become over the years.

Here is some of my journaling in the 11 weeks prior to the tragedy…

Whatever Drey does may he work at it with all his heart as working for You, Lord, and not for the approval or attention of his parents or friends.

May 20, 2012: Drey graduates in a week, God. Please guide his decisions. Please convict him of his need to pursue You and Your input. Save him from foolish decisions and give me peace that You love him far more than I do. You promise You’ll never leave him or forsake him.
Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have for He has said I will never leave you or forsake you.”

May 22, 2012: Dear Lord thank you for the unexpected visit from my boy. I love him so much! You know I don’t want him to be put in harms way so his desire to pursue the military worries me. I want Your will for him, Lord. You know how much I love him, God.

May 27, 2012: God I pray for Drey’s heart – that it would stay soft towards You. I pray for his eyes that he’d seek You and not worldly things. I pray for his ears – that he’d grow weary of temporary praise and would crave instead delighting in You. God I love him so much. I want him to be safe emotionally, physically and spiritually. Please help me to trust you with Drey.

May 28, 2012: Lord father please be ministering to Drey giving him wisdom beyond his years. Wisdom from You. Please bind Satan from Drey. Please show him Your love for him.

May 29, 2012: Dear God I give you Drey. I ask You to guide his decisions, to love him, to care for him. Please give him ears to hear from You. Psalm 37:23,24 “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall for the Lord holds them by the hand.” I want to trust Drey with you, Lord. I know I am so inadequate but sometimes I doubt Your goodness and I am so so sorry for that. You gave Your son for Drey, for me.

May 29 PM: I’m feeling better this evening. I saw Drey, that helped.

May 31, 2012: God, I am grateful for Drey’s new job. Thank You. Please keep pursuing him. I want him to be a man who loves You.

June 3, 2012: God thank You for helping me relax today. You know I am worried about Drey. I pray he pursues You. I pray he can stand firm against lies, against distractions. Help him to see that You are the only true answer.

June 5, 2012: Dear God I am feeling so afraid. I know my anxiety is wrong. You are perfect. You can comfort me. Nothing can happen to me, Drey, or anyone without Your awareness but somehow I fear You are unhappy with me and You’re going to allow something bad to happen because I’ve made You unhappy. I know this thinking is wrong. Help me to KNOW it’s wrong. Help me to BELIEVE it’s wrong.

June 12, 2012: Dear Lord I continue to be anxious. Always anxious. I pray. I try to take my thoughts captive. I read Your Word. But here I am again and again. Dear God please guard my mind especially with regards to worrying about Drey.

June 14, 2012: Dear Lord I find myself searching. I’m desperately searching for what You are trying to say to me. I look at little coincidences and I wonder if they are signs from You and I start to ponder their possible meaning. God when will I hear from you? You’re not a God of confusion that is keeping me guessing. You are clear, consistent. You are loving, holy, truthful and You’re merciful.

June 20, 2012: Dear Lord I’m feeling very crushed in spirit and under a huge pile of lies only I’m not sure what’s a lie or what’s the truth. I’m missing Drey, Lord. I worry about his choices. I miss him so much. I just want to stay in bed until this season is over.

July 16, 2012: Just because I haven’t journaled in a few weeks doesn’t mean you aren’t on my mind, Drey. God please protect my baby. It’s hard that I don’t see him as much. I know now that he’s an adult and I’m trying to trust You, God.

July 20, 2012 my last journal before Drey took his life: I don’t want Drey to hurt or experience pain. I want to protect him. I know that’s not always possible. You love us perfectly and we reject You all the time. Your perfect son who never rejected You died for us. You poured out Your wrath on Him. How hard that must have been. I simply can’t fathom it. God please help me to trust You with Drey and with all my circumstances. Help me to draw close to You. Please comfort me Holy Spirit. I hurt. I’m confused. I’m fearful. Please comfort me.

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.