Life in General

Life Moments #63 – Feelings of Guilt, Loneliness, Anger, Fear, and Confusion

Where do I even begin? I am almost a year into the grief of losing my son and my emotions are all over the map.

I have this theory.

I’ve heard a million times since Darren died that time will heal. My theory is: That’s a damn lie. Time does not heal anything. In place of the healing that time is supposed to do, time is only making the loss more bearable. Maybe! Time buries the pain of the loss, the broken heart, the memories. Time is a thief that doesn’t heal anything.

You know what I have felt over the last year?



Anger – a lot of anger!

Fear – of everything.

And confusion. I can’t focus on anything. I can’t remember anything.

I am trying to keep my marriage together, trying to keep my sanity, trying to ‘heal,’ striving to be the best mom I can be and I am convinced I am failing at it all.

I cry and I get angry.

People tell me don’t bury your feelings. Let yourself feel whatever it is that you feel. All the while, they sit back and judge for every feeling that you have. In this world, society is convinced that feelings are wrong. We can’t feel this or that because if that feeling just so happens to go against what another holds to be true or against another in any way, we are condemned for feelings. Feelings are used against you. Feelings are used to hurt you. Your feelings are someone’s weapon against you.

My son, Darren, had written some ‘suicide’ notes a year prior to his death. His dad and his dad’s useless girlfriend knew of these letters, but kept it from me. The letters were ignored. When I found the letters, I informed his dad and his dad’s useless girlfriend and asked her about them. She told me she already knew of the letters. Okay, right now none of that matters, but in the grand scheme of things, it matters very much. But, anyway, the letters. In the letters, my son mentions his feelings. He mentions he doesn’t talk about his feelings because he doesn’t want to be some ’emotional freakshow‘ and that he doesn’t talk about his feelings because he doesn’t want someone to use his feelings against him. How true it is! People will use whatever they can to hurt another.

And that’s why people don’t talk about their feelings. That’s why people begin to feel ashamed or embarassed about their feelings. That’s why people keep their feelings bottled deep inside until the feelings are destroying the individual.

And right now, my feelings are guilt, loneliness, anger, fear and confusion.

And they are destroying me. I am really hoping the grief counseling will work soon enough.

I know, I know….Life is NOT about feelings!

~ Shannon ~

Life in General

Life Moments #62 – T – 9 days Until the Day My World Changed….Forever

May 17, 2018 – The day my world changed in a terrible way.

We are 9 days shy of the day Darren passed away. This past year has been hard, to say the least. We lost someone dear to us, but we also gained someone dear to us. It’s been a year of a thousand tears, bad dreams, unanswered questions, and memories flooding my mind.

Remember, a while back I posted that I have 17 years worth of photographs of Darren that I couldn’t bear to look at. My heart just couldn’t take it. Well, I still have yet to look at them. I have the ones in my room (where I spend a majority of my time) that I see daily and the ones that pop up in my newsfeed on FB and the ones I keep reposting because I can’t bear to add new ones, but I cannot look at my photo albums. I look at the photographs in my room only to see what will never be, the life that he should have lived as an adult that will never come to fruition. Don’t get me wrong, those photos present a ton of good memories of him, but they are also testament that his life will never proceed past the age of 17. We were robbed of that!

Now, almost a year later, I look at how much has changed, how much I have changed. Of course, we have the physical changes in our environment, the changes in which we cannot see him, we can no longer hear his voice, or witness his beautiful smile. Then there are the changes within myself. The lack of sleep. The constant dreams. The plaguing unanswered questions. The uncertainties about life and what it all means. The lack of trust that has invaded my mind concerning his father, most certainly law enforcement and especially the court system (family court as well as juvenile court) — those him failed my son.

However, the change that I hope will have the most impact was taking the giant leap out of my comfort zone and into the nonprofit world. For many years, I wanted to do something with my life that went beyond myself and my family. However, my family always came first. Sure I delved into one fleeting interest after another, but – for the most part – I repeated the same interests in intermittent spurts. These interests have included quilting, photography, scrap-booking and spur-of-the-moment day trips here or there (this always included the kiddos). After losing Darren to suicide, suicide prevention became my passion, my cause. A friend and I founded DJW Life Project, a suicide prevention nonprofit organization. Much of my son is incorporated throughout the organization from the name we chose to the logo we use to represent who we are and to some of the images we use as well as the slogan we attach to just about everything.

Changes have always been hard for me, but this was one change I needed to make and jumped into with both feet. Failure is not an option because no matter how far we go (in number of years or money raised) we will have accomplished the thing we are trying to accomplish – To help at least one family to not have to go through the tragedy that mine has gone through. if we can help just one family then we will have succeeded.

So, the next biggest part of May 17th is the Darren’s Voice event that we are hosting. It will be a hard day all around, but hopefully there will be joy as well. If you’re out and about, we hope you will join us at Christ the King for an evening of fun for the whole family beginning at 4:30pm. Bring yourselves, your children, your family and your friends to enjoy the evening, but also to support suicide prevention in the small community that we live in.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

– Mahatma Ghandi

~ Shannon ~

Life in General

Life Moments #61 – Everybody Makes Mistakes

Have you ever made a mistake…..a gigantic, screw-up that just cannot be forgotten?

I have.

Okay, I have made many mistakes. After all, I am only human and nowhere near perfect.

I am the kind of person who, when I make a mistake, I apologize to those it may have hurt and then move on. I don’t carry regrets because living with regrets just plays with a person’s mind. I do, however, learn from my mistakes and carry on. Sometimes, I might even make the same mistake again. And yet again….before I finally learn.

I know some people who carry their regrets around like a monkey on their back, never to be forgotten. They learn from the mistake (the regret), but those regrets are always lurking, always at the forefront of their brains to discourage them. Their lives are guided by these regrets, present in their every thought, helping them to make a decision when one is needed to be made.

To me, these people seemed to be trapped inside their heads. How does one function like that?

One of the most aggravating things for me is when someone won’t let you live down your mistakes. It’s frustrating to be in a conversation with someone (discussion, disagreement, argument..whatever) who is insistent on reminding you of every mistake, every bad decision, etc you’ve ever made.

And when you’ve made a mistake that people don’t let you live down, they stay inside your head. Every time you turn around, this person (or more) is hovering over you, making you question your every word after. So, now not only is this person trapped in their own head, but you somehow have become trapped in yours.

It’s a relentless cycle…….

Life in General

Life Moments #60 – Moments When I’m Alone

Being along is okay with me. I like the quiet. I like the peace. I enjoy getting lost inside my head.


Some days – like today – being alone is scary. The last few days for me have been harder for some reason. I am still trying to move forward after Darren’s death and most days I am okay.

But some days….I am not okay.

And the last few days have been the ‘I am not okay’ kind of days.

These days seem to sneak up on me and I don’t know where they come from.

on my mind
Missing him so much…..

It could be the four murders that have been all over the news.

It could be because my aunt is hospitalized and they are certain she will not live much longer.

It could be that I was at the cemetery recently and there were five or six fresh graves with one of those being right by Darren.

It could be because I have been focusing so much on coordinating our Darren’s Voice event that I barely have down time.

It could be that my daughter is sick so I have not been sleeping well. But in all fairness, I haven’t slept well since Darren died.

It could be any number of things going on in my life or around me in society that are cause for me to feel a little less like myself the last few days even though I am still trying to find the person I am now because I am definitely not the same person I was before Darren died.

All I know for sure at this moment is….I am not okay this day or the last few days. And all I want to do is snuggle into a corner somewhere, by myself and cry until I have exhausted every tear within me.

Today, I am not okay.

If you need me, you will find me curled up with my daughter watching/listening to Baby Shark or any other silly that will allow my mind to escape, even if only but for a minute.

Today, I cannot adult.

~ Shannon ~

Life in General

Life Moments #59 – A Story of Darren as a Young Boy

It’s been a long while sine I last posted. To be fair, though, I have a lot going on. As most of you know, a friend and I founded the nonprofit DJW Life Project in memory of my son. My family takes up most of my time and what’s left, I devote to DJW Life. Sometimes, there are never enough hours in the day……

The other evening, my thoughts were plagued with doubts. Doubts about my mothering skills where Darren was concerned. Doubts about my mothering skills where his older brother is concerned. For years, they were pumped full of the hatred their dad felt toward me. Not by me, but by their dad. I began to doubt myself as a mother to them many years ago. When their step-mom was still alive, he led everyone to believe she was their mom, always trying to replace me. It didn’t work because they knew who their mom was and I made sure to stay as present as possible in their lives, as much as their dad would allow. When he had a girlfriend, he didn’t need me as much so he took time away from me. When he didn’t have a girlfriend, he’d let me have them as much as I wanted.

You see, his goal was to use them to hurt me. For reasons I will never understand, he wanted to hurt me. I mean, we were done. We had been done for a long time. If truth be known, he never wanted me anyway so why continue to hurt me? And why use two beautiful, innocent little boys to do so? As I learned over the course of their lives (the two boys), it was all about control. He could control me by using the boys. And, for some reason, he needed the control.

4 y/o Darren

When the boys were young, four and six, they woke up in the wee hours of the morning…around 2:00 a.m. to find the house empty, except the two of them. They left their house to come find me because their dad so responsibly (ahem, sincere sarcasm) left them home alone. I lived about 4-5 blocks down the road from them. A Mandan officer seen them, but couldn’t stop so he called another officer. The officer arrived to see them walking down the street. He stopped them, spoke to them and they took him back to their dad’s house. While the officer was still inside with the boys, their dad pulled up on his motorcycle. The cop asked the boys to stay inside and he went out to speak with their dad. Their dad came up with all these lies to explain where he was and why the boys were left home alone. Their dad smelled of alcohol, but that’s okay I guess. Apparently, in Mandan it’s perfectly legal to leave two children under the age of 8 home alone in the wee A.M. hours so you can go out drinking. Who knew? Oh, but then it’s also perfectly legal to continue to lie about it.

But, do you think anything happened? Hell no. The case got forwarded to social services and the Mandan District Attorney, who declined to bring charges against him. It took over a month for social services to even get in contact with me because he kept lying to her about my phone number.

Now, fast-forward 13 years and what do we have…..a district attorney in Mandan bringing charges against a 17 y/o boy who had never been in trouble in his life. It’s nice to see such a corrupt system when it comes to asshole adults, but a by-the-book, make-the-charges-stick-at-all-costs system when a child messes up one time. Ahemm….spoken with the most sincere sarcasm I can speak with.

By the way, if you’d like to see the police report on this case of neglect incident above, just ask for it. FYI, you can’t ask the Mandan P.D.ย  for a copy because it has miraculously disappeared from their database. At the time of the incident, for whatever reason, the case was referred to child services in Bismarck. Coincidentally, they can’t find the report in their database either.

Almost a year after my son took his life, the shock is gone. The heartbreak remains. The questions remain. And now, the doubts begin, doubts of how good of a mother I was to him.

*This post was inspired by a young lady who isย Unsilenced *

Speak truth and the truth will set you free.

Life in General

Life Moment’s #58 – Wow! Twenty-Seven Years

It’s been twenty-seven years since this song came out. Twenty-seven years! I was 11 years old and it was my favorite song in the world…well kind of!

But watching this video recently was a real eye-opener. I mean, really my 11 year old self sure had very poor taste!

Call it old age. Call in maturity. Call in change in taste. Call it whatever you want, but the ridiculous dancing in this video or any other video featuring the same song is very poor taste in my opinion.

I can’t imagine what I was thinking when listening/watching the music video. I can’t imagine what my mother was thinking by allowing me to watch the video.

Man, shame on me!

~ Shannon ~

Anything Goes, Life in General

Life Moments #57 – Introvert: the Struggle is Real

introvert-quote-about-introversion6I always tell my husband that it doesn’t take much for me to agree with him when he’s not being demanding. I am actually quite easy to get along with.

I get impatient with small talk. I am the person who likes a meaningful conversation so if you want to talk weather then you have to find another listener.

I love to host family gatherings, friendly bbqs, and other special events, but I look forward to the end of it when it’s time for everyone to leave.

I enjoy hanging out at gatherings or special events, but my eyes are always looking for the exit.

I like people, but I am not a people person.

I am an introvert.

So, what exactly is an introvert? Many people may confuse being an introvert with being shy. However, in my own experience, I know my limitations. I know I cannot speak in front of a crowd because I don’t want everyone focused on me. I can be with a group in front of a crowd, but not alone. This little thing may be shyness. I also understand that noise gets to me and conversations that never seem to end are draining. An introvert is

a person who tends to shrink from social contacts and to become preoccupied with their own thoughts.

Being an introvert makes bounce back really hard after the smallest excursion with other people. I love going out with friends or having gatherings, as I’ve already mentioned, but afterward, it seems to take a few days before I really feel ‘right’ again. Not right as in you’re right about this or that, but right as in my mind relaxing, my emotions leveling out, and my energy returning.

I am a stay-at-home mom. We have a large family that takes up 90% of my time. It seems crazy because I don’t think I’ve accomplished anything by the end of the day other than run after kids. Some days, it’s one appointment or errand after another. Recently, I babysat my granddaughter for only a short minute (like half an hour) and then I visited with my son for a bit. Afterwards, I came home and I was just exhausted.

I needed time to unwind, to gather my wits, to rejuvenate, but I had to make supper for the kids getting home from school. I didn’t get a chance to get any quiet time before my other children got home so I just felt myself begin to shut down. I was present, but I wasn’t. I mean I was going through the motions and that’s about it.

I am an introvert and most days, I feel overwhelmed. I am generally a nice, easy-going person, but quiet. Many people mistake that as being rude, standoffish or shy as to which I am none of those. I have shy moments, shy moments, and standoffish moment, but that is not the sum of who I am.

As an introvert, my feelings are front and center which may sound funny to some. And to others, well they may want to say that there’s more to life than feelings. Regardless, that’s what it is for me. I sometimes over-react and sometimes under-react. Being an introvert allows me to be insanely aware of my feelings, which sometimes get the better of me.

For instance, remember I said I like to host gatherings. I really do. I get excited, even overzealous through the planning stages. By the time the day arrives, I am a bundle of nerves. I start to feel anxious and exhausted at the same time. However, I put on my happy face and proceed as normally as possible all the while my insides are twisting and turning.

When I have company, only one extra person, and the walls start closing in around me, my insides begin shouting, “Tell them to leave. It’s time for them to leave!” but outwardly, I am gracious and polite while feeling guilty for wanting them – needing them – to leave.

And the phone, I hate talking on the phone! Give me a face-to-face conversation any day, just make it a short one.

Other times, I feel frustrated at myself because I am tired and I don’t want to be rude, but also at others because “can’t they see or sense my discomfort! why are they prolonging it?!?”

And please understand, I like to talk! I like people. But it gets to be very overstimulating very fast. When I need a break, please allow that. I feel frustrated that some people can’t understand that.

I am more relaxed when I’m by myself. I can go days and days without speaking to anyone perfectly fine. This applies to being alone without my children as well. Although, this is a bit harder because my self-discipline tells me I should be with my children pretty much all the time since I am a stay-home mom.

Honestly, it takes great effort for me to enjoy someone else’s company for more than a hot a minute. Not because of who they are or aren’t, but because of what my personality is.

So, the next time you run into someone who doesn’t talk much, but listens awesomely or who appears to be standoffish or rude, just remember….

Not everyone gets joy from being in big crowds, noisy places, or busy moments. There are some people who like to take it slow and easy. Remember, for those who are introverts, just how draining it can be to be at that party or running endless errands. We do these things because we want to, but we also know our limits.

Alone is our thing.

Be kind.



Life in General

Life Moments #56 – Losing You was a Challenge I Don’t Want to Face

It’s harder than most people think. Everyone wants to say, “I understand” or “It will get better with time” or “It will stay with you forever.”

And which do I believe most? – “It will stay with you forever.”

As for the rest – No, you probably don’t understand and No, it won’t get better with time.

Because losing him was hard. It was a life-changer, a life-changer I want nothing to do with, a life-changer that nobody needs or wants, a life-changer that I didn’t get a choice in. Many people might say it’s a life-changer that nobody deserves. However, when I hear the word deserve, my question isn’t about whether or not I deserved it or my family deserved it, but did he deserve it? It doesn’t really matter though, in the end, because deserving something is a moot point. We make choices and we live with those choices. Sometimes, choices made by others will have just as big as, if not bigger, of an impact on us than our own choices.

With that said, I miss him terribly. I miss everything about him. His kindness. His laughter. His insane belief that he must carry his burdens alone. I miss his smile and the way he played with his siblings. I miss his quick texts, short and to the point, never saying more or less than was needed. I miss the quiet way he walked through the house and his hugs. I miss his hugs so much. Not the quick, arm thrown across my shoulder kind of hugs (although all hugs are Great!), but the way he wrapped his arms completely around me and he let me do the same. I miss him asking me to make him oatmeal every afternoon after school or at some random time on a Sunday. I miss watching him interact with his siblings. I miss the wrestling matches with his brothers and watching them toss the football in the yard. I miss the love that shown so brightly when he held Zephaniah. I miss the softness that he was in his heart, his voice, his temperament.


He was quiet. He was lovable. When he smiled, his eyes lit up the world around him. I miss him something awful and I will never get over it.

It’s only been 8 1/2 months – sad, depressing months. I can’t fathom the rest of my life without him.

Most days, like happened this morning, something will trigger thoughts of him and then the sadness starts all over again.

I miss him and I want him back. Nothing will ever change that. Not time. Not age. Not years that go by. He will always be part of me and there will always be sadness there.

~ Shannon ~



Life in General

Life Moments #55 – Eight Months You’re Gone

49896839_10213241104126984_2937278728725594112_nI sat and stared out my window, watching the snow fall silently and peacefully from the foggy morning sky to the cold, hard earth below. A cover of sparkly white now rests gently on the rolling hills outside. It looks as if it would be so soft and cuddly to the touch, but we know, it would be cold and wet.

As I sit here, watching the snow fall, it occurred to me it’s been eight months today, eight months since you left us. Eight months since I seen your smile. Eight long, hard, emotional months.

I am still just as lost today as I was that day eight months ago. The days and weeks just keep going just as they did in those early days and weeks with me stumbling around blindly, somehow trying to make my way through the mire. And of course, I still think about you constantly. It’s kind of funny, but always sad though because some days you consume my thoughts and other days, I just float along. Here, but not really here.

How do I keep going?

I ask myself this everyday. Somehow, I always find the strength, this unknown force that makes me get out of bed each morning and proceed through my day as normally as possible. I have considered counseling, multiple times, but have yet to find the courage to attend. I am making headway though. I did call someone the other day. Now I wait, Wait for courage. Wait for time. Wait for comfort. Wait. It seems to be a game of waiting all these months.

It’s silly,ย  I know, this irrational fear that I have. Anxiety has taken hold of me. I worry about silly things now that didn’t hardly ever get my gander up…that is before you passed away.

I see the goodness around me, my life full of chaos mixed with love, the kids arguing and playing so joyfully. You know our life. You know who we are, what kind of parents we are, about how your siblings are with one another. You know the good times we’ve had in our life and the not-so-good times. You know it all because you were part of it for seventeen years, four months and six days.

Sometimes, when I have a moment to myself, a moment to simply get lost in my thoughts, I see you. I see you with me. I think of you often, which you and everyone else around me knows very well. Our life isn’t the same without you. Your departure has left a hole in our hearts and I wonder if I will ever make it through.

I am tired, Darren.

I. Am. Tired.

And fighting to keep going is even more tiring.

As always, You Should Be Here


~ Shannon ~