I am NOT Crazy!

My friend posted the story below to me this morning. The story comes from the Blog

The Life I Didn’t Choose @ https://thelifeididntchoose.com

My friend posted it to me in form of support. I am lucky to have met her and her daughter. She was not someone I knew, but her daughter and my son were friends. When my son died, they contacted me and attended his wake and funeral. I have only met them those two times, but we have talked frequently via text and FB messaging. My son made an impact on their life and now they are making an impact on mine. ♥♥♥♥

It was just over a year after Dominic’s accident and a friend forwarded an article about odd behaviors of those who were “stuck’ in grief.  Along with the forward was a little tag, “Reminds me of you.”

It hurt my feelings.

And it was inappropriate.

Because not only had I not participated in any of the listed behaviors (most of which anyone would deem odd and some that were actually harmful) but as far as I could tell, I was doing pretty good, considering.

Considering I went to bed one night with four children alive and well and woke in the wee hours of the next day to the news that one was dead.

No warning.  No good-byes.

Just gone.

In the months since that day I had gotten up each morning and taken care of necessary tasks.  I was not abusing alcohol, drugs or food.  I was still exercising when I could.

And I was engaged with my family -working with them to put the pieces of our shattered lives and hearts back together again.

Yes, I cried.  A lot.  No, I didn’t like to be around crowds.  I stayed at home much more than before. I struggled with anxiety when anything out of the ordinary happened.  I found small talk hard to follow and forgot things (still do). And I was not participating in many “extra” activities.

I slept with Dominic’s pillows………To continue this story, click the link below.

via I am NOT Crazy!

After reading her story, I can definitely say, I understand where she’s coming from because I am there myself.

I can say your child’s death is not something you ‘get over.’

I am there, in her spot, and will be for the rest of my life.

And like her, I don’t wish this heartache, the loss on anyone. In fact, I hope that my story can help others.

***FYI, I am uncertain how her child passed away. She does not say in her story. Suicide is my son’s story.

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Another Day Without You

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You’ve been gone two months today…..sixty-two days to be exact.

And every day, I sit here and think about you. I do the things I’m supposed to do – get up, shower, care for the kids, take them places to enjoy time with them – but you’re always there in my mind, always.

I’m trying to figure out ways to honor your memory and to help others. I can’t even bear to think of others facing this loss, this heartache.

I’ve always wanted to start a non-profit organization, but I’ve never been sure what exactly. It’s always been in my mind to help women and children mostly, but since this has happened, since suicide has become personal for me, my focus has switched to helping fight suicide. People need to be educated on suicide and how to prevent it. I’ve spoken to some people. I have the plans in my head, but fear holds me back for whatever reason. The financial aspect of it also weighs on my mind…..

When I’m not thinking about that, I’m just remembering you.

Remembering your eyes.

Remembering your smile.

Remembering the sound of your voice and your smell – don’t worry, everyone has a particular smell that’s all their own….

Remembering your hands.

The other day when I spoke with the grief counselor, she mentioned some about the loss of her son – right around your age when he took his life in almost the same fashion. She told me all she kept wondering about – after the shock of losing him – was his shoes. She wanted to know what shoes he was wearing at the time of his death. It’s funny the things moms think of during such tragedy.

For me, it was if you waited for help. Did you wait for someone to come to you after you texted Christina? That’s what haunts me.

When I got to see you in your coffin the morning of the funeral – you were behind a shroud so I didn’t see much – I touched your hands through the shroud. I touched your arms and your legs. Your fingers were laced together so neatly at your waist. At that moment, I simply remembered your hands, your fingers so long and skinny. I remembered how you used to let me hold your hands, studying your fingers for only seconds at a time.

I have so many memories, good and not so good. Disagreements we had and laughter. I always wanted you to talk to me, but you weren’t a talker if it involved anything emotional — your words: I don’t know why you try to get me to talk, I’m not going to talk, mom….I don’t talk about stuff like that, never have, and never will.

Oh, how I wish you had…….

My worst fear came true the night you took your life. My very worst fear….

Now….

Now, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to live with you gone. I’m the mother, the parent, I was supposed to go first. You were supposed to help bury me…not this. I was not supposed to bury you!

Now….I replay every conversation in my head. I try to remember the last day I seen you, the last vocal conversation we had. I am pretty certain I told you I loved you because I know me, but I second guess myself sometimes.

I look at our last messages to one another, searching for clues as to why and I come up empty.

Your friends text and call me sometimes, especially Alex and Tyson. They miss you a ton. We all do.

I know I need to go on living, but how?

How do I do that when you can’t?

I just want you back here with me, with us.

There is no better place for a child than with his/her mom so I wonder why you can’t be here with me.

I love you.

Suicide: Facing the Facts

22405754_10210525861967178_1941262998951808257_n As a parent who has lost a child to suicide, my mind often reels with questions….

About. Everything. To. Do. With. His. Suicide.

Also, as a parent, I like to think that I knew everything about him, about all of my children. I am fooled into thinking that they tell me all about their lives, leaving nothing out.

The sad truth is: children, especially those in adolescence, do not tell their parents ever half of what is in their minds. I think back to my adolescent years and I cringe at all the things I kept from my parents because now I have an idea of what my children keep from me. So, what leads an adolescent to keep secrets from parents?

Again, thinking back on my own adolescent years, I kept secrets because:

  • low self-esteem
  • believing I wouldn’t be accepted as I was
  • not trusting the adults that my life would go right
  • not wanting to hurt the people that I loved
  • fear of repercussions
  • feeling alone and unheard.

These are feelings and thoughts that I can remember about my own adolescence.

Now, do all teen and young adults fell and think this way? I couldn’t tell you that. I suppose at some point they do because they are trying to figure out who they are outside of their parents. I am inclined to believe some of these feelings/thoughts are true of most teens and young adults, but I also believe whether these feelings are true of all young people depends on their home life, where they are raised, how they are raised, and other contributing factors.

Okay, so then I look at my son’s suicide. I keep asking myself why. I suppose why is the biggest question parents and loved ones face when an individual takes that route. While I may never know the exact why, if it can be pinpointed to any one thing or not, I can learn something from his death that will hopefully strengthen my the relationships with my other children.

Not a consolation by any means, but……I feel guilty for even thinking these thoughts, but letting something good from his death is on the road to healing….or so I’ve been told.

My question now, is:

Can suicide be prevented?

Non-profit organizations such as American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and International Association for Suicide Prevention believe through research, education, and bringing awareness, society can get a reign on suicide.

Current suicide statistics

According to the AFSP (https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/), suicides statistics in the US are as follows:

  • the 10th leading cause of death in the US
  • 44, 965 people die by suicide each year
  • for every suicide, 25 attempt

According to North Dakota Department of Health (http://www.ndhealth.gov/suicideprevention/?id=57), suicide statistics in ND are as follows:

  • the ninth leading cause of death overall
  • second leading cause of death between ages 15 and 24
  • North Dakota’s suicide rate is higher than the national average

No, facts and statistics aren’t any fun to most people. I, myself, hate reading stats and figures because they make no sense to me. I can see the numbers, but that’s really all it is: numbers.

My question is: how do we help lessen the numbers? How do we make those figures smaller, almost non-existent?

The answer: pay attention. Pay attention to your children, your loved ones. Pay attention to their behaviors, routines, words, and actions. Pay attention closely because then even the slightest change will be noticed.

According to ND Suicide Prevention Program (http://www.ndhealth.gov/suicideprevention/?id=57), the following information can be helpful:

  1. Most people exhibit warning signs: words, actions, and behaviors
  2. Ask direct questions if suicide becomes a concern
  3. Offer help to anyone who exhibits suicidal signs.
  4. Most suicide attempters and victims don’t want to end their life, they want to end their pain, their confusion so intervention, even forced, is always worthwhile.
  5. Long-term care is necessary for those considering suicide, but knowing the warning signs and immediate intervention can save lives.
  6. Take every suicide mention or behavior seriously — this one I cannot stress enough. In my son’s case, his mentions were not taken seriously by his father and father’s girlfriend, his own girlfriend or an employee of the juvenile court system.

Of course, knowing risk factors of suicide can be helpful as well. According to the AFSP (https://afsp.org/about-suicide/risk-factors-and-warning-signs/), these factors include:

  • mental health conditions
  • serious physical health
  • traumatic brain injury
  • access to lethal means (guns, drugs, etc.)
  • prolonged stress: harassment, bullying, relationship problems, unemplyment
  • stressful life events: divorce, rejection, financial crisis, loss
  • previous suicide attempts
  • family history of suicide and
  •  childhood abuse, neglect or trauma

So, again,

Can suicide be prevented?

I believe my son’s could have and if his could have, then anyone else’s can be as well.

And again, I cannot stress enough:

Pay attention to your loved ones. If you think you do it sufficiently already, then double your efforts.

 

 

 

Life Moments #16 – The Next Chapter

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Something that has really kept me going in the midst of the most devastating time of my life is:

I am going to be mimi!

My oldest son and his girlfriend are going to have baby. I’ve known this for quite awhile, actually since shortly after she found out. Thankfully and sadly, when my son took his life, he knew that he was going to be an uncle. I say thankfully because it’s quite a privilege and sadly because his niece will never get to meet him, to know him, to sit on his lap. She will never know just how awesome he was on a personal level…..

but, she will have our stories and she will have pictures of him so she will know him through all of us.

Now, as I am still trying to figure out how to live without my son, I am in the process of welcoming my first grand-baby.

I am excited, yet torn.

I’ve been having a hard time coping with my son’s death. I’ve been having a hard time trying to get through the stages of grief.

I am just having a hard time.

To be expected, I suppose, but so often I feel like people just want me to forget that it happened, to say that it’s done and move on.

I don’t know how.

So, as I keep struggling through my days, I am also going to plan for baby girl. I am in the planning stages of their baby shower. I am nervous and excited and sad all at the same time, if that’s even possible.

My son is going to be a daddy.

That’s exciting!

I am going to be mimi.

That’s exciting!

All my babies are going to my aunties and uncles.

That’s exciting!

I look forward to watching my son as he becomes a dad.

I look forward to seeing him hold her and love her.

I look forward to meeting her and holding her and snuggling her.

I look forward to our families meeting that sweet little bundle of joy.

I am sad that Darren won’t meet her.

I am sad he’s gone.

But, I am happy Heaven and Dylan are having this baby.

They will be wonderful parents.

 

Life Moments #15: Suicide Awareness

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Suicide awareness has never really been at the top of my list…….

Until Now

Sad to say, but it was just one of those things we heard about, got a little info on, told ourselves it would never happen to us, and shove it into the stockpile of information we keep stored in our brains.

Not anymore!

After my son took his life this year, I have done nothing but think about suicide. His suicide mostly, but the pain of other families whose lives have been turned upside down due to loss of a loved one to suicide.

Honestly, I’ve only known of three people in my life that have committed suicide that I can say I actually knew. However, none of these three was I ever close with, not even a little bit.

I will say this, I have never felt such an immense amount of heartbreak as I do these days. Some days the pain is completely unbearable. And it’s not just emotional pain, it’s physical pain. My whole body aches. The pain has settled into my shoulders and my neck and seems to meander its’ way down my back just to continue on down into my legs and settle into my knees. Tears seem to fall at most unwelcoming moments. I am exhausted due to changes in sleeping patterns. My nerves are frazzled all the time. My eating habits have changed which also contributes to the exhaustion I feel. I don’t want to leave my house and if I do leave my house, I want to return as soon as possible. Right now, I am still not wanting to really be around people, not even my own family sometimes. I keep waiting for my ‘normal’ to appear again, but I am beginning to understand that my ‘normal’ will no longer be what is was prior to my son’s death. Through heartache, my mind and my heart will create a new normal in which I get used to living without my son. I am not excited for that because well….who wants to live when one of their children is no longer with them?

But, I finally recognized, there is light at the end of my very narrow tunnel….

I spoke with a grief couselor

the other day.

And now, my focus has shifted.

Oh, I am still angry and heartbroken and unsure that I will ever function as I used to, but when I visited with the grief counselor, she informed me of a fundraising walk – Out of the Darkness – that I decided to join so I created a team. You can find the information here. If you would like to donate to any member of my team you can click Walking for Darren team member. Each blue word is a different member.

After I signed up for that, I started thinking about other ways in which some good can come of my son’s death because, as I have previously said, I don’t wish this kind of pain on my worst enemy. It’s a heartbreak that I don’t want anyone else’s family to suffer.

Through a Google search “suicide” I found that there is actually a World Suicide Prevention Day – September 10. On this day, one national association I found, has created a Cycle Around the Globe event in which people pledge to cycle in their area – either in their homes, the gym, in their town, in the park, across the city, just cycling a certain number of pledged miles. The days set for the Cycle Around the Globe event are Sept 1-17 and I have also decided to pledge a number of miles. This is also a fundraiser in which one can get donations or sponsors.

Both the Out of the Darkness walk and Cycle Around the Globe event raise funds that aid in research, education, and awareness/prevention of  suicide.

If you get a chance, take a peak and offer any support you can. It doesn’t have to be monetary support. You can pledge the cycle, you can join a walk or create a team in your own area.

For the saddest reason, I have finally found a cause that I am willing to support.

An Open Letter to My Granddaughter’s Mommy…..the Woman My Son Loves

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You must be something pretty special to him because he’s a different person with you. You make him happier than I’ve ever seen. You are a beautiful young lady, but your heart and soul are what shine. You are a keeper.

My dreams for him have always been simple.

Happiness.

I believe he can be or do anything he sets his heart on. I’ve always told him he could do or be anything he wanted, but to always choose happiness. Money is important, but it’s not most important.

You make him happy.

And that makes me happy.

As you and he embark on this incredible journey known as parent-hood, cling to one another. If I’ve learned anything in my parenting years, it’s that children need both parents. Please remember that.

As you complete this journey through your pregnancy, the journey that is going to make you a mom, treasure it. Treasure each and every uneventful, nauseous-filled day because the fruits of that labor will soon be snuggled into your arms.

You’re slowly going through each milestone of pregnancy: the sickness, the tiredness, the check-ups, the ultrasounds, hearing the heartbeat, and finding out what you will be having. Now as you ease into the latter part of your second trimester, your tummy will begin to grow and you will start to show. You may start to feel a little more energetic and not quite so sick. And then you will be in your third trimester, probably getting antsy-er by the day for the impending arrival of your beautiful little bundle of joy. By this time, you’ve carried her for nine long, sleep-depriving, sick months and you’re ready to hold her.

Well, I say…..

Hold her.

Snuggle her.

Breathe in her scent.

Get to know your daughter and give her all of who you are and let him do the same. Remember, she will need you both.

And please, neither one of you, ever use her against the other. It will destroy her. It will destroy her self-esteem. It will destroy every ounce of trust that she has built. It will destroy the love she has for both of you.

You and he are her security. You and he are her whole world. Her comfort. Her protection. Her providers.

I hope for so much for this beautiful little family being created. I want what’s best for all of you even if it’s completely different from yours. Please know that I am here for you, for him, and for baby always. I love you, I love my son, and I love that baby girl. I cannot wait to meet her.

I will be mimi, you will be mommy.

I will never intrude on that.

I will never tell you how to do it.

I will never try to make you the mommy I think you should be because you will be the exact mommy that she needs you to be.

I will help you whenever you ask.

I will love her like she’s something special because she is.

I will be around as much or as a little as you need or want me to be.

And I will love you more every day.

You are special to me because of who you are, not because of who he is.

Thank you for loving my son and thank you for blessing our family with our first grand-baby ♥♥♥.

Life Moments #14 – One Day at a Time

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I had to run down to the truck-stop this morning for milk. On my way back, I drove upon a mother and her 11ish/yo children who needed a ride. Their vehicle was about 50 feet up the rode so they were walking. I offered them a ride so back down to the truck-stop I went. As I drove by their car on my second return trip from the truck-stop, I noticed a bumper sticker on her car

One day at a time

Truer words have never been spoken – or written in this case.

Since my son passed away, fifty-two heart-wrenching days ago, that’s been my motto.

I awake in the morning after a crappy night’s sleep, it’s

One day at a time……..

I manage to work myself through my day, with little patience and antsy children, it’s

One day at a time……..

After a long day of tears, ups and downs, emotions all over the place, it’s

One day at a time……..

When people call or I run into someone and I am asked how I’m doing, it’s

One day at a time……..

Sadly, that’s my story now, and for who knows how long, it’s just…..

One day at a time………

As I read that bumper sticker on my way by, I began to wonder:

What’s her story?

I remembered the conversation I had with her on that short drive, we spoke of accents, whereabouts we hang our hats, so to speak…..she’s from the south and I could tell it as soon as she spoke. She left her home due to an abusive relationship and here she landed.

It’s crazy where our walks of life will take us. It’s crazy the people we can meet on our journey’s.

Today, as I go through my day, half-here and half-somewhere else, I will remember those words and how there is a story behind each one. Everyone has a story.

And maybe….

just maybe…..

We should take the time to listen to another’s story. It might just put our own story into perspective.

I grieve for my Darren. I grieve for who he was when he died and for the man he would have been.

I grieve for the life he had and for the life he was robbed of.

I grieve everything where he’s concerned because now we are here without him.

My heart is heavy and every day I wake up, I try fitfully to get through my day without dropping into a crying heap on the floor.

I miss him. I love him. And I think of him every single day, but that’s my story.

Who’s story can I hear today?

 

Life Moment #13: Realities of Suicide

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My son committed suicide.

He turned seventeen in January and took his life in May.

He was smart. He was kind. He was funny. He had a huge heart, loved his family, babied his truck, hated school and loved the wrong girl. He had a job, was a beginning guitar player, dabbled in photography, and had amazing talent in art, sketching.

To the world he may have been just another kid, but to me, he was my world.

To the world, he may have just taken his life, but to me his life was taken and a piece of my heart went with him.

The evening he died, I wasn’t with him.

Not my choice.

By the time I seen him again, he had already been dead for almost a week and was shrouded (covered in plastic) lying in his coffin.

Not my choice.

I don’t have any horrible, blood-stained images or a ride to the hospital in an ambulance with him hooked to machines to keep him alive kind of stories to tell.

My last memory with my son is one day before his death when I gave him a ride to work.

My last ‘words’ with him consist of a short text messaging conversation concerning an issue he was dealing with and telling him I love him.

These are my truths.

My realities are a little different.

The reality is:

I loved my son, love him still. His pain was my pain. His happiness was my happiness. His tears, mine. His joy, mine. I carried him for 9 months. I went through labor and delivery to bring that sweet child of mine into this world. Everything he felt, I felt in the very depths of my heart.

So, I wonder why? Why my son? Why wasn’t my love enough to save him?

I also wonder how? How did he go from a happy, smily faced child to a guarded, confused teenager?

And I ask myself, what changed? What in his life changed drastically enough for him to believe suicide was his only way out?

A truth in his life is that he was never diagnosed with mental problems. He was never diagnosed with depression or anxiety or any other mental issue.

The reality of his suicide is that I will forever be stuck where I am now, wondering, confused, without answers.

He’s in my dreams every night. He’s in every thought throughout my days.

The reality is I have to live with the pain of losing him while knowing I couldn’t make his pain better.

I carry guilt every day that I am still here but he isn’t.

The reality is, sometimes the pain of losing him gets so heavy that I can’t function, I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t put one foot in front of the other, but I find a way to get through the hour or the day.

The reality is it’s one day at a time because that’s all my mind can manage.

The reality is I will never be able to give him another hug or tell him he’s somebody. I will never again hear his laugh or remind him to put his clothes in the hamper.

The reality is he’s dead because he took his life.

The reality is that he’s dead and it hurts. It hurts so deep within me that now pain will be my normal.

My son was not diagnosed with mental illness but it seems that when speaking of suicide, its almost always attributed to mental illness.

The reality is that suicide can happen to anyone anywhere at anytime regardless of mental status (illness or not).

Another reality is that mere mention of suicide threats is and should be taken seriously. Always!

Suicide is not a joke. It’s not funny.

It’s a scary, life-changing tragedy that affects everyone. It’s not taboo or anything to be ashamed of. It’s an issue that needs to be brought to light rather than ignored.

The reality of suicide is that happens not only because of mental illness but also because the individual just wants the pain to end.

My son took his life because nobody was listening to his silent cries. And his unshed tears were being ignored. Not by me, but by those I reported my concerns too.

This reality does not have to be yours or anyone you know. You can contact the National Suicide Hotline

Call 1-800-273-8255
Available 24 hours everyday.

I ask that if you or anyone you know is in danger of suicide please reach out to for help.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. I do not hold a Masters degree in any type of medicine. I do not hold a Masters degree at all. I am simply a mother who lost a son to suicide and do not want to see another mother suffer the same loss.

My Darry-barry

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It’s been forty-four days since you went to Heaven, the worst forty-four days of my life.

I think of you all the time. I visit your grave almost daily.

And I keep asking why, hoping for answer.

One never comes. I still don’t know why and maybe I never will.

But I ask anyway. I’m sure I will continue to ask.

To honor your memory, here are a few of my memories with you:

1. I love you bunches and bunches

2. ‘you’re my bestest Darren in the whole big world.’ ‘mom, I’m your only Darren.’

3. I loved your long fingers. I would sit beside you just holding your hand and looking at your fingers.

4. Watching you toss the football with your brothers…..the very last time you did that, I tossed it around too….only one time and we laughed because I couldn’t throw it even half as far as you or Dylan.

5. Meeting your teacher at Custer Elementary….Ms. Cordova….she was your favorite teacher and you exhibited such excitement when you spoke of her!

6. The times at the lake when you and Dylan had jumping contests off the dock. I loved taking the pictures mid-jump.

7. the time when you were not even two yet and I had just given you and Dylan a bath. I had yall wrapped in a towel and both running in the hallway. You had a mess of blond curls and the biggest, happiest smile on your face.

So many good memories of you Darren. I miss you so much. A little piece of my heart is missing. I love you buddy. I hope you know that you’re in my thoughts every day.

Love Mom