A Time To Heal By Helping

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There comes a time in healing and grief when you must use the skills you have learned to help others which in turn helps yourself.

Learning to live again after my son’s death has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Many people have helped me in the journey to what is my new normal. I don’t like this new life without my son at times but it’s mine and I will survive. Christopher would have wanted a life for me and I will not fail!

I have endured great loss and came out on the other side. I survived with the help of other survivors and their wisdom and suggestions for coping skills. Something as simple as listening to me or as complex as seeing a professional counselor. The problem is when you are buried deep in grief it’s almost impossible to make a move much less decide what to do to survive.

Empathy is a wonderful tool. I have been given the opportunity to be part of a project writing a book for grieving parents in the first year of their journey. We choose a subject that was part of our grief journey and write about what we did to cope. It is a nonprofit project and the books will be donated to various grief counseling groups! The submissions are due November 1st so I’d better get busy!

Even if this book helps one person it will be worth it and hopefully I will be a little part of it!

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http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

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Highway Of Loss And Remembrance

 

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Christopher’s memorial highway signs are finally up after 6 long months! I had been feeling apprehensive and thought they would make me feel sad when finally up. I knew they would be going up soon as they tied pink ribbon on the posts to mark the spots for the signs. The few days preceding their placement were filled with severe anxiety and dread. Once they were placed it was much different reaction than I expected. I felt proud I could do this for my son and feel he would have liked it. I see them everyday on my way to and from work. I always say, “Hi baby boy. I will always miss and love you!” It’s sort of my confirmation he was here, is still loved and will be remembered as long as I’m alive. It may seem a little silly to some but to me it means so much!

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What’s Happening? Something and nothing?

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I have been asked by many people in my life the question “what’s happening?”

In some ways there is a lot happening. Yet, in others not much or nothing at all!

We are waiting for our memorial signs which will be placed on the highway anytime now. It is going to be bittersweet when they finally go up after all these months of waiting. I noticed that the Highway Department has placed the stark metal poles by the road in preparation. I feel a pang of sickness as I drive by everyday wanting the signs up as a reminder he did exist. Yet, wishing there was no need for them and Christopher was still alive and part of our daily lives.

To those of us who are left behind after suicide the days seem to run into one another as time passes quickly. Yet, in an instant we can be converted right back to the day our loved ones died. Life truly does become separated into before and after the suicide. The days stuck in the middle are where I find myself most of the time. Going through the motions of daily living. I went to my doctor recently and he said I sleep too much. I tried to play it off as a hazard of working night shift but he wasn’t buying it! I told him I like to sleep so I don’t have to think. It’s where I am right now and no amount of talking will change things anytime soon. I just consider it an occupational hazard of being a mother who lost a child to suicide!

I do have some exciting things going on though. I have a trip planned in the near future and the family continues growing. My youngest son is back in town and he is doing well. I do find glimmers of hope in the small things now. Although, there was a time not so long ago I thought “real” hope may never show it’s face again. The sinkhole is finally being filled in. It may be a teaspoonful at a time and an excruciatingly slow process but it’s happening…

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Hopeful Thoughts Abound

Blue-Butterfly-designs-Art-Wallpapers-for-desktop-background-free-downloadAfter my son Christopher died I thought my life was also over. My family, friends, job and everything else seemed to disappear into the vortex of hopelessness and pain that had become my life.  I had become extremely suicidal at times and thought there may come a point where I would have to go to the hospital and ask for help. If I had not had the love and constant support of my husband, sons, parents and friends to hold me together, I fear I may not have survived. Yet, here I am!

I went to a counselor but was afraid it would be futile. To my surprise he was very helpful and let me vent all of my sadness, hopelessness, anger and pain. He helped me with talk therapy, coping skills, and suggested relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga. I also spoke with a psychiatrist who helped with medication for my depression and anxiety. I have now reached a point in my therapy where the anxiety attacks are few and lesser in severity. I can leave my home knowing how unlikely the series of possible disaster scenarios have become. I will not only survive, I can thrive in this life!

I was dealt a hand that I never would have imagined could enter my life. When a child dies by suicide it’s normal to feel disillusionment, anger and regret. I felt all of these and much more! These feelings lasted in different degrees for much of the last year and a half. Recently however, after our home was nearly destroyed by a flood, in which my husband and I could have drowned, there were two new feelings permeating my being. This broken person I had become somehow felt a glimpse of life’s sometimes elusive gifts of hope and acceptance. At first I felt it would be fleeting. It could not be realistic to expect such a gift after the loss of one of my sons. However, to my amazement the feelings grew stronger and lasted in longer and more pronounced increments. I’ve replaced “why try and what’s the point” with “I can do this” and  “I am a survivor”!

Recently we were driving to dinner with one of Christopher’s friends and his family when we saw a funeral procession. I started to cry and he ask what was wrong. I think he assumed I was crying about Christopher and remembering his funeral. My thoughts had drifted there for a second or two but the real reason I cried was for the family of the deceased and what they were feeling. I had reached a milestone in my recovery! I could feel empathy for someone else’s grief and not be transported in that instant back to my own.

I have joined the YMCA and a support group for mother’s who have lost children. I am going to fight for my life and my happiness. It may not be the same life I was accustomed too but I have lots of reasons to survive. I get up each day and look in the mirror and recite my daily confirmation “you’ve got this!”.

I hope this will help someone who feels the hopelessness and pain a mother feels when she loses her child. Remember there is help available: http://www.allianceofhope.org/

Now next on the list: check out that Yoga class!

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A Loving Reminder

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I was sitting here looking at my cat Jessie and thinking back to how she came to be part of our family. It was about 13 years ago and I had gone to visit my mother in Arkansas. I received a phone call from my son Christopher, who at that time would have been 15-16 years old. He said, “Mom I found a kitten in the dog house! What do I do?” “Hide her in the laundry room. Your dad never goes in there. I will be home in two days!” I told him.

When I returned home my dryer was blown up as well as the vacuum and Christopher had a new cat! Years went by and Christopher went off to college, got married and started a family. Jessie stayed with me and still is with me to this day. Christopher’s eldest daughter Adelaide also loved to play with “Meow” as she called her. It was always special to watch her loving the same cat her daddy loved on when he was younger. Like father like daughter I guess!

Jessie seems to know when I’m sad, licks my tears, and snuggles with me when I’m at my weakest. She is one of the many things I have left of my son.

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No More “Atta Girls”

wghh-titleOne of the main reasons I am writing this is to get some thoughts of my chest and was told to do so by my therapist. He said to me one day, “you’ve waited this long with no hint of any possible resolution to the issues!  At this point what does it matter?”

It’s been close to a year since I’ve seen my granddaughters. I miss them, however, I miss my son even more. I have been talking to some of his friends lately. I have learned some interesting things about my son and his relationships with others.

It has been suggested that he killed himself to protect other people in a psychotic rage. However, as any sane person can tell you, people don’t kill themselves for that purpose! They do it when they reach their limits and feel there is no other way out of their misery.  Otherwise what would be the point? Why would you kill yourself for someone you did not even want to be with?

It appears he was very unhappy for quite a while in his marriage and wanted a divorce. He had a girlfriend and wanted to be with her. I was told it was because he felt she accepted him “as is”. His sense of wanting to do what was right kept him in his marriage. He also felt as if he were drugged into being who everyone thought he should be and not accepted for who he was. I’m sure he needed some of the medication for his anxiety but the rest I’m unsure of. He achieved more than most do in a lifetime but it was never enough. Overwhelmed, underappreciated and severely depressed he eventually took his life when he saw no other way out.

I also have many questions unanswered that will more than likely remain so. These are the fuel that started me on my quest to speak to others and find out all I possibly could. Beginning with the night he died, I want to know why if my son was in distress no one thought it important to contact me until nearly five hours after he was dead? It didn’t matter if no one knew the facts; I had a right to know my child was in danger! There is no excuse or justification for this and it is unforgivable! There are many things here that are unforgivable and that is one reason why I am so angry!

Another issue is the blogging and posting of details of my son’s death including a description of the scene (which I never read because I have amazing friends who told me not too). All of which was followed by plenty of “poor me’s” and justifications of why it was being done in such a manner. This doesn’t make someone an inspiration. It makes them a drama queen!  The whole tragedy has been depicted in such a narcissistic manner followed by people proclaiming “attagirl”.  It’s disgusting! My poor son is dead; yet, people talk about how one day it may be a big “bestseller”. I have to call “bullshit” on this one!

I have resigned myself to the fact that certain people are out of my life and so I have moved on to new relationships. The only thing that will never change is that I will continue to miss my son and wish he were here…

Will the Trials Never End?

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Tonight we are at our neighbors house because ours flooded! We were watching the rain rise in our yard as it has done before but this time it didn’t stop! We went down to check our basement and  suddenly water started gushing against the basement doors. It went from and inch to 5 feet in about 20 seconds. Suddenly the doors busted in! We now have 8 feet of water in our basement.

It was terrifying and very familiar as I had just dreamed this last Thursday and woke up scared to death. Today I was having anxiety attacks all day and told my husband I had a sense of impending doom. I hate it when I’m right about these things. Just when I thought things couldn’t get better and then felt they finally were this happens.  I can’t go in the house because of the gas smell (gasoline not natural or propane). I walked down the driveway after the water went down and the firefighters were looking for someone who was washed away. I hope they are found safe.

We went to our neighbors home but almost had to be evacuated when their house started flooding too. Thank goodness we are all safe as they have a precious baby girl. I am dreading daylight tomorrow when we will see the full extent of the damage. My car was filled with water and the other one was washed out into the yard. Thankfully, one of them still runs so I can get to my job as a nurse.

My heart almost broke until I remembered I have all of my son Christopher’s possessions in an upstairs bedroom safe and secure. It’s funny the things your grab in an emergency. I grabbed Grandma’s Bible, a picture of Christopher, a necklace a friend gave me when he died and my computer with my pictures on it.

My dream about the flood I told everyone about came true! I hope my next dreams are a little more hopeful.

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