Thursday, December 29, 2011

We made it through another Christmas Eve and Day. It was the most peace-filled Christmas we've had in a number of years as Christmas was a difficult time for Michael his last few years. But we are all so aware of the missing face, the angels hanging on the tree in his memory. This year being our second without him was a little easier than last year's.

I was more aware this year of doing things Michael would have done. I am sponsoring a little boy in Ghana. I hope to be allowed to continue to do this until this child becomes the doctor he wants to be. Some of our gift giving was done through The Peanut Butter project. Those little things allowed me to concentrate a little more on the wonderful feeling we get from sharing a bit of what we have so much of. And that feeling helped offset my sadness.

I carried a picture of Michael in a Christmas ornament every day of my holiday and I felt he was close to me.

SO. We were fortunate this year. But last year I read a book dealing with grief and it reminded me that the day itself is just one day. If it looks like it is going to be too difficult, keep yourself out of harms way and get through the day in the way easiest for you. God will understand no tree, no presents....those are our rules..not His.

I wish my son had not taken his life. I wish he had been able to see hope in his life...but he couldn't do it. I accepted that the night he died here at home. I understood the depths of his despairs but was so afraid of losing him that I worked at convincing him that as long as he was alive....there was hope.

Tonight at this moment, I believe that to be true. I don't know what I will believe next week or next month.

I do know that in order to keep our loved ones from committing suicide we must help them find hope. Hope for medical help, hope for understanding, hope for tolerance and hope that all those who love them will continue to stand by them during their difficult times.

I love you Michael. I can feel strength from you tonite. thank you. Xxx

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas trees

It's been a long time between writings.  Too much going on in the lives of others for me to feel okay about writing but this evening as I'm taking a break in decorating the tree I feel like jotting down a few thoughts.  Today is the 17th of December.  It's the latest we've ever put a tree up. I always used to put my trees up on December 1st because I liked the house to be decorated for my students...this is going back a lot of years.  When we moved to the big house we put up two big trees, one all home made decorations: cookies, popcorn strings, that kind of thing, and one with decorations purchased since our first Christmas together.  Then when we sold the big house and moved into our little town house I gave away the two big artificial trees (they had to be artificial because they were up at least 6 weeks).  The first Christmas in this home we bought the saddest little tree I had ever seen.  It was so sad in fact that twice it through itself out of it's bucket in the middle of the night. That was the Christmas Michael had had to sell and move out of his house and he was staying here with us.  Tonight as I look at the pretty (again artificial) tree I've put up I wish this had been the tree he had seen his last Christmas on earth instead of that pathetic little one we had.  The last pictures I have of Michael and his little girl are taken in front of the poor relative of a Charlie Brown.

This is also the first year I have put out all the decorations.  I have all Michael's decorations, the ones we bought him over the years, hanging up.  I don't think I did that last year because although last year's tree was an improvement over the "little ugly", it was still very small and it was our first Christmas without our son and I just couldn't do it.  this year I can and it's taking me hours to decorate because each ornament has such special memories.  Christmas was Michael's favourite time of the year, even as an adult.

I won't write much more because as you can imagine, it's really a sad time of year for us as well...but today I felt that Mikey was watching me decorate our tree and was glad that I was hanging his decorations and hanging them on a pretty tree.  He knows he is missed and loved and we will keep Christmas the way we would if he were here with us.  And he is here with us..I feel so close to him lately as he spends his second Christmas in Heaven. 

I love you Mikey.  Such beautiful memories. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I will

The silence of  a falling star
Lights up the purple sky
And as I wonder where you are
I'm so lonesome I could cry

Today is a cold wet day.  I got caught in the living room this morning when my '40's station was playing Hank Williams singing "I'm so lonesome I could cry". That's when my mood changed; it was just that quick.  My husband was cooking happily in the kitchen and I didn't want him to know I was going to crash so I have come upstairs and started to put the two freshly painted bedrooms back in order.  One room is the room Michael had when he moved in with us a few months before he died and it's piled full of books and pictures.  Moving things around I again found the copy I have of the very end of my son's letter of goodbye to his daughter.  It is signed I will love you always and forever, Love Daddy  and then the date he wrote the letter.  Today what I noticed in this was the "I will"....the addition of those two words hit home.  It means that from that day until the end of time my granddaughter will know that her Daddy loves her.  She will never ever have to wonder "if" Daddy loved or loves her. 

But then I started to imagine what Michael was thinking as he wrote that letter to his daughter and trying to imagine myself writing a letter to my children  to say goodbye.  How terribly sad and frightening that must have been. I don't believe many of us want to die.   Michael didn't want to die.  I know that because he told me. He was afraid of dying and he didn't want to leave the child he loved more than his own life.  But he couldn't get past his depression and that terrible illness took away his capability to cope with living. 

So, I've come back to my sad place this afternoon and I'm allowing myself to grieve for my lost child. 

I've said this before but I want to say again that the grief of losing someone to suicide is different to other grief.  All grief is terrible, but as suicide survivors we carry extra baggage.  Please don't think I'm saying our grief is worse than other's grief because we can never know another person's grief.  What I am saying is that only suicide survivor's can understand suicide survivor's grief.  For me one of the hardest parts is knowing what my son went through the last year of his life.  Those memories don't go.  It's like a slideshow that plays over and over.  The pictures aren't always the same but they are always accurate.  I have a collection of sad and frightening slideshows stored in my memory and very little control over when the "start button" is going to be clicked.  What I need, what we all need I think, is an emotional seat-belt, something that will help us feel safe and keep us safe when the path we're travelling gets rough. 

Today there were three clicks, Hank Williams song, seeing my son's handwriting, and reading those two little extra words "I will" always....

I'm sitting on my bed with my laptop and when I raise my head just a little I can see Michael smiling down at me from his picture on the armoire.  As I look at him and rememer that look on his face it gets a little harder to breathe and I can feel my heart beat.  Dear God, I miss my son.  Please take care of him for me and tell him that I will love him always and forever.

Did you ever see a robin weep
When leaves begin to fall
That means he's lost the will to live
I'm so lonesome I could cry

Monday, November 7, 2011

Only Time

This past weekend was another tough weekend. Sunday in particular was a particularly emotional day.  I take these days as they come.  There no longer is the expectation that the pain will lessen.  But today was a better day so I want to look back and see if I can find out what happened and when to cause that wave to come and knock my off balance.  It might be because the other day I started to write about plans for Michael's birthday.  All it took on Sunday was to have our minister ask us to name who we wished could be there with us at Church.  My son was not a church goer but he is who I wanted.  The tears started and kept up all day.   This line is from "Finding Your Way After the Suicide of Someone you Love" and it seems to say what I feel perfectly. 
       "I felt like my cycle of pain...would continue year after year, and that was what I would call 'life' from now on"
These are the days I believe that I will never laugh with true happiness, rather than laughing out of politeness, and that I will never feel truly happy again.  I want to find a way to be happy with my life without dishonouring or being disloyal to my son and this is what I can't figure out how to do. 

In the book I'm reading the questions are posed," Will it always be this way?  Will it ever be possible to do more than just barely survive each day?"  Sometimes not.  But, sometimes.  And I hold onto that "Sometimes".  Right now I have no idea what it will be like to be a suicide survivor because I'm still in the process of taking the baby steps necessary to move towards some place of peace, some place of being able to deal with the overwhelming guilt, the unbearable pain of losing my beautiful boy and the internal struggle to keep myself in that pit of despair. 

I'm not there yet. Not by a long long way.  Only time will let me know if when I'm there.

Friday, November 4, 2011

I've been thinking my blog has about run its course because I am not accomplishing what I thought I would when I started.  I kind of thought my writing might be a bit of a road map for someone travelling this wretched road. If not a road map than perhaps something providing a few familiar markers, the kind of things I find in the books I read about suicide survival.  But my grief is the same as it was when I started.  My understanding of it is greater. Is that a help?  I don't think so.  Twenty months ago we were told "These are early days, give yourselves time".  Certainly, I knew that there would never come a time when I was okay again.  Well, "okay" is a relative term isn't it?  Do I mean there will never come a time when I will be completely happy again? I don't know what I mean. 

For me the reality is that I don't ever ever want to forget.  I don't want to not have the aching part of my soul because that's where Michael is.  The other side of that reality is the intense grief can make one ill, can and does make others uncomfortable, can become all-consuming.  Finding balance then is important to keeping some kind of sanity. 

Mikey's birthday is this month.  Always in our life November was kind of his birthday month...lots of anticipation of what we would do, what kind of cake, what special present...last year getting through his day was mostly about, well, getting through it.  This year I want to go back to doing something.  I'm thinking of buying Michael a goat or some rabbits or pigs through of hope.  I think he will like this and it gives me something to think about and plan.  Michael really didn't like goats...I've always loved them.  I'm leaning toward the goats. 

I've said nothing tonight but I feel better for having said it.

Night Mikey.  xxx

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

20 months.

18: 46  At this time, twenty months ago, I had seen my son alive for the last time, but I didn't know it.  I was out and he had made his decision and unknown to me or to hid Dad upstairs, was just finishing things up by making his last few phone calls.  In the time that it will take me to write this, on that night, he will have taken himself away from the pain and desperate unhappiness with which he could no longer cope. 

As I type I glance down in the right hand corner of my laptop and watch the time pass and am acutely aware that as each second passes I am that much closer to that time.  I feel the panic starting to build as it always does as I allow myself to go to the sad place.  It's almost like even now, all these months later, there is still time for me to do something to head off Michael's suicide.  18:49

Today I've been reading back through comments I've been sent and I realize that many I've not responded to.  I think part of the reason for this is that writing about suicide, surviving suicide (not the attempt but the loss caused by), the loss of my son, mood disorders, leave me emotionally drained afterwards.  Please understand that for me this is a good thing.  But one of the comments I read today was one I had read before in response to something I had written about reducing the medication I take.  Although the comment was anonymous I knew right away who had written it and I trust this person completely and value their opinion.  The writer reminded me that having known me both on and off prescribed meds, their opinion was that I did much better on them than off. 

I do.  That doesn't mean I like to take them.  Meds have side affects and for me when I'm starting to feel better that part of my brain that wants to be like everyone else says "you're doing don't need the meds" happens every time!  Now, imagine someone with a more severe mood dysregulation and possibly stronger medication going through the same process.  The results can be terrible.  Normal emotional roller coaster rides are made far far far worse. Withdrawal, if unsupervised can have devastating physical side effects.  I'm bringing this up right now only because today was a beautiful day and although it is the 20-month anniversary of Michael's death I actually thought earlier this morning...."Hey. I'm doing okay..maybe today is a good day to start to cut back on medication x"....I'm a pretty smart woman, so what part of me just doesn't get it, even now???

Mikey really fought the whole idea of meds and he took strong medication that left him, at some times, in a fog.  He couldn't keep food down, his beautiful thick hair was falling out, he lost so much weight, his hands shook, and still he couldn't cope and couldn't get help and at the end he just quit taking everything.  19:09...slow deep breaths...I can feel it twenty minutes I will go and stand out on my patio where I found my boy. 

I am grateful that I have a support network to remind me that I do better by staying on the regime my doctor has me on for now.   Easier for me.  I'm a woman..(people are for more accepting of women taking mood regulation meds, than they are of men)  Does it come down to this??....I know of two men who will openly talk about the importance of them staying on their prescribed medication for mood dysregulation.  Two!  You guys are my heros!   Coming out of the "medication closet".  It shouldn't be an issue..but it is and it's part of the reason we lose people to suicide.  That's not to say that everyone taking meds for depression, or bipolar, or borderline, or any number of illnesses would end up committing suicide but we would lose fewer if there wasn't a stigma attached to mental disorders.  19:18......watching pictures of Michael on the digital frame. 

So...will go and place a pill under my tongue and go out onto the patio and light a candle for my boy. 
Michael, I love you.  I wish you could have stayed here with us.  We miss you so.

19:22.  Good night.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Asking for help

This is Andrew and Andrew's daughter Lilee-Jean.  Andrew sang Michael's favourite song, 'Hallelujah' at Michael's funeral.  It was powerful and moving and I know Michael was watching from Heaven as Andrew sang for him.

Now Andrew and Chelsey's 10 and a half month old baby girl has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of  brain cancer, Glioblastoma.  Please pray for this young family and for Lilee-Jean.  We know the power of prayer.

Today this is all I want to say, to ask for. 

Michael, I love you. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Time and letters

Twenty months ago tonight my son wrote five suicide notes, one to each of his sisters, one to his wife, one to his daughter and one to his Dad and me.  They are long, some filled with nothing but love, some with more anger, but none with fear.  In his letter to us he said that although he didn't want to die, he was okay with his decision and had found some peace in making this decision.  I found the letters on the table the morning of the 21st.  I picked them up and I put them away.  I can't remember what I said to him. I wish I could and I hope I sat down and talked to him about them, but I'm afraid that maybe I didn't.  I was so scared. 

Five days after writing those letters he took himself away from his pain and from us and I find myself wondering what he was thinking during those five days.  Was he maybe holding onto a fragile thread of hope that he wouldn't have to go?  These are the thoughts that can never be answered and ultimately the answer would make no difference, but they are the thoughts which can't be controlled and keep me on the edge of losing control myself, much of the time. 

I've just received two books I've not yet read:  Finding Your Way after the Suicide of Someone You Love by David . Bieel, DMin and Suzanne L Foster, MA and A Mother's Story, by Gloria Vanderbilt.  Her son, Carter, brother to Anderson Cooper committted suicide at age 23 in 1988.

Today I spent the day at home with Michael.  I'm comfortable here with his candle burning and his urn on the mantle.  I talk to him throughout the day and comfort myself believing that he hears me.  If you are someone whose opinion differs from mine please don't share that with thoughts, my beliefs get me through my days.

The time is coming for us to pick out a headstone for him.  He has friends who need a place to visit him.  I want to keep him here with us, but there should be a marker to say he was here.  Add this to the list of things no parent should ever have to do. 

Anyway...that's it for today.  Rememering 20 months you so much Michael.  I miss you.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What it is

This morning I got to take my granddaughter to kindergarten.  Twenty-eight years ago I took her daddy to the same classroom.  I had no idea that it would upset me it did, once I was out  in the car and headed home.  How can time have passed so quickly and how can it all have ended up this way?  I understand the time we get older we all notice how quickly time passes don't we?   

The past two days I've kept myself busy getting organized for fall and winter.  There are still issues concerning Michael's estate needing to be tidied up.  Going through paperwork I found nine pages of emails he wrote me 17 days before he left us.  One page is poetry.  It's beautiful, sad, scared.  It broke my heart again.  I told my husband about it when he got home and he said I should throw all that out.  Never.  I will never throw away those precious last words from my son. 

Once before in my life, years ago, my mother convinced me  that the only way to recover from grief was to put that part of life behind oneself, so I burned 18 years of my life, pictures, letters, school year books, all in her fireplace.  It didn't work.  Well of course it didn't you're probably thinking but back then I was willing to try anything.  Since then I've come to realize that all our life's experiences go into making us the people we are and although I'm not quite a subscriber to "all things happen for a reason", I am one to "it is what it is". 

Today is visiting day with our granddaughter and this will get me through the day.  I've probably said before that she is the only reason we stay living where we do.  There will come a day when we won't need to be here, but for now we feel she has lost enough and so have we.  Today is Happy UnBirthday day..cupcakes, candles and a game of Cold Cold Hot to find her little gift.  For her, it's all about icing the cupcakes and putting in the candles.  Everything else is 

Today too, the time came to start to repaint the bedroom my son lived in for the last three months of his life: the Winnie-the-Pooh room (old  nursery).   He came to live with us to feel "safe" while he continued to look for a new home and a place to live.  Perhaps it kept him alive for a bit longer, perhaps it drove him to the end.  Even though his closet remains untouched I am going to change everything about the room.  Oddly this isn't turning out to be the big deal I thought it was going to be.  Scraping off the old wallpaper this morning was therapeutic.

So, that's about it for today.  Mikey's candle is about to be re-lit.  This is the time of day when I start to feel like I've been punched in the abdomen...the pain is very physical...and this is the time of day when I either give up and let the waves come, medicate, or practice breathing knowing I just have to do it for six hours.

It is what it is. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Strengths and weaknesses

A long time between posts.  There have been many times when I wanted to sit and write but didn't.  I worked so hard this summer at "getting better".  I don't think one "gets better" from the loss of a loved one to suicide.  That is the only perspective I can speak from. We may learn coping skills, we make medicate, meditate, drink, pray, run away; I've done all but the drink and that is only because I do medicate.  We read and we write and we weep.  We reach out to friends when we are frightened or feeling alone or just looking for some validation for the despair we feel.  This summer I've done all these things and because I have such wonderful friends and family I understand on the blackest days, the days when I don't think I can go, that I have to, and more than that, that I want to.  I just don't want to want to.  Does that make any sense? 

I've realized that I am a very strong woman.  But to my way of thinking, strength shouldn't be compared to emotion.  Yes, I weep every day.  That doesn't mean I'm weak.  It means, well, it means I am very sad and I miss my son and I am so sorry he had to suffer so before he chose to leave. 

One the other hand, I saw my son as a strong man who fought long and hard to stay healthy but was eventually betrayed by the chemicals in his brain causing his mood dysregulation, by the medical system who cannot help so many, by Health Canada for ignoring his diagnosis and refusing him the help he needed to successfully return to work. I do not see his act as one of weakness, but as one of despair and strength to end is pain  before his illness took him to places and decisions he did not want to go to or make.    Healthy people do not do this.  Desperate, frightened, pained people do, people whose ability to cope with the pain in their life has been surpassed.  We are not the ones to judge what causes pain to another.  God know this.  God doesn't judge those who commit suicide.  He understands.  He is a compassionate God who sees the suffering I believe honestly that He gave my boy the emotional strength to take his own life.  Michael was terrified of dying but more terrified of living.  He prayed to God that he had known as a child, believed in but only really went to in times of trouble. 

My worst times are when I rememer our last two years and recall how frightened and lonely his was after his marriage ended, how he grieved for times he couldn't spend with his child.  I think those memories are harder than his death.  Because the night he committed suicide I knew his pain had ended. 

I have poems he wrote about what was going on in his soul as he was deciding to stay or leave.  They are heart breaking because I feel so strongly there should be choices other than living or dying.  There should be help.  And there is so very little. 

I have a friend who has a son going through what my son went through.  He no longer wants to live.  His mother is dying of cancer.  He has other issues but talks suicide.  He can't get help..please God don't let us lose him too because we don't really know what to do to help these people.

I would like to hear from anyone who is in a similar situation.  Here in our little town we are starting a suicide survivor group.  I think there are 7 or 8 families who have lost children to suicide.  Way too many...any is too many.

I'm a bit sleepy was an emotional day..but I needed to check back in...this is my place of safety and support.  I'm going to go and write to my son now.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday after the fair.

My apologies to all you summer lovers but I am welcoming the coming of fall.  I've never really enjoyed summer..even when I was young.  Not being a bikini person I always felt summer was more for the "California" girl.  Funny the luggage we tote through our lives isn't it?  However, I always loved it when my children were out of school so during my child rearing years summer and I got along just fine. 

Recently I read an article which said that there are some things which are vital to healing: hope and purpose.  So I decided this fall I will concentrate on just those two things.  I have hope.  But do I have purpose?  My husband, my children and's just not that simple.  Can my purpose just be to focus on getting stronger, becoming more stable? 


Friday, August 26, 2011

Nap time

I don't usually write when my head is less than clear, but today
I will take a chance that it will be okay.
Yesterday was a dark day for me.  I couldn't chase away the demons and I admit 
that I was afraid I might not get through the day safely.  I'm lucky because I'm able to recognize that these thoughts aren't healthy and I have talked to my psychologist about having a life line for times when they get tough. I reached out to someone I knew was safe, someone who would understand and just listen for a moment or two.  That's all it took and I was able to get myself home and take some medication to calm down and I managed to fall asleep.
I know this isn't what Michael wants for us, but there are days when we don't have the control over our grief that allows us to move on.  
I have to face the fact that my son is gone.  He is never coming back.  He will live on in my heart and the part of my soul that I share with him..but I'll never see his beautiful face and eyes again because he is on the mantlepiece in an urn.  

You would think that after 18 months my coping skills would have improved.  They haven't.  I am still angry at certain people.  I still dread seeing others.  I'm thinking we need to make a move in our life now.  We need to start to live for us, for the rest of our family as well.  My daughter reminded me that Michael's daughter needs to see more than a sad, grieving Nana.  
I need help with this.  
It's all so difficult.  

Time for some sleep. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Back home again after three weeks of grandchild therapy, clean sea air and just being away from here.  By here I mean both the town and the house.  While I was away I decided I would taper back on the medications I take for depression and mood swings.  I had talked to my doctor (sort of) about the latter, earlier and he'd said as long as I felt stability in my moods to go ahead and give it a try.  I'd been tapering..the correct way to do things.  I'd almost stopped the SSRI while I was away with no side effects....until a couple of days ago when I realized I'd been crying for four days.  I don't know much about the half life of the medications I take so am unsure how long it takes for everything to leave the system.  Yesterday though was just bad.  Physically bad.  Brain shivers all day, nausea, walking felt like I was on a merry-go-round.  So about 3:00 I called in and was advised to slowly start to re-introduce the meds and really,  what was I thinking?  The point in this paragraph is this:  people with mood dysregulation need medication to keep everything in their brains firing normally.  And, these meds aren't something to be treated flippantly.  Obviously something strong enough to alter brain chemistry will cause physical symptoms when discontinued improperly.  Is this withdrawal?  I guess so yes..does that mean the meds are addicting.  No.  There is a difference between medications being necessary to keep feeling healthy and meds which are habit forming.  But what is the general perception on mood altering meds?   Do you think they are viewed in the same way meds for say, diabetes are viewed?  My personal view is that too often anti depressant, anti anxiety and mood stabilizing drugs are seen as crutches used by people and this is where we fall short as a caring and supportive community.  I don't think as a society we see mood disorders as a valid illness and consequently we don't support those who need our love and support in their struggle with emotional issues and all too often we lose them. 

I started to follow the Rick Rypien story but found too many comments from people who have judged.  Once statement was written by someone who "works in the mental health field". This person stated that the biggest issue with most people with mental illness is they won't accept their diagnosis and get help.  The next comment said the writer was unable to "shed the same tear for this loss"..because he committed suicide ..."he gave up".  This writer went on to say there are people in the world who have suffered and lost more but not given up...I want to scream!!!!!  Until you've walked that road, don't you dare judge.  I don't know this young man's story.  I don't need to.  I do know though, that at some point the day he chose to leave this earth, his suffering had overwhelmed him.  It's not our place to try to figure out his suffering or to judge his decision to leave.   And you know what?  At this point there is no way to "make people healthy"...and this is where our energies need to go.  We need to advocate more for those we've lost and are in danger of losing.  Please help bring depression and other mental illnesses out of the closet.  Please write a letter to an MLA, and MP, to anyone and everyone who will listen.  Do not judge and do not let yourself or your loved one be judged.  

I think that's all I want to say today.  Talked myself in a circle...

I love you Michael. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011


I am very tired.  Just so tired.  I don't see the point in very much these days.  My beautiful grandchildren.  The rest is just...I dont' know...too much.  Tired of crying and hurting and being lonely.  Don't want to watch certain parts of my life move one.  I'm lost.  My saving grace is that I know I'm lost.   There haven't been a lot of times in my life when I've wanted to go away and be by myself...a few...and I didn't...but that's what I want now.  I think I will plan to take a week by myself at the end of the month.  If I feel different by then I can cancel but right now I just need some peace.  I want to feel okay about however I happen to feel.   Today I realized (again) something about my life that I knew a long time ago, and it made me sad because I realized that some things never do change.  We just adapt our living around them and that's now always the healthiest or best option. 

I wish my grandmother was still alive.  Or maybe my mother.  My mom and I finally figured each other out two years before she passed away.  I'm so glad I had those two years.  They wiped out over fifty of misunderstanding.

I am so so so tired.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Well, today is another milestone on this journey. I have finished settling Michael's estate.  I hope I never see another cheque or letter addressed to "The Estate of.." my son.  That's really all I want to say about it I guess.  It's finished.

Monday, July 25, 2011

It's my bewitching hour or perhaps I should say, these are my bewitching hours.  Anytime after about noon I am most comfortable here at home.  I was up early and down to the coffee shop with my book before I usually get there but I was restless this morning and I've come to count on the ritual to provide the start to my day.  I meet with a friend or two, chat, solve the worlds problems and then seem ready to face the rest of the day in whatever way I can.    Three days ago I decided to increase one of my mood stabilizers (with Dr's okay) as I was really starting to have some very dark times.  And for the time being I've told myself that it's okay to use the drugs prescribed to do what they are supposed to do..which is really keep me functioning. 

Today is the 17 month anniversary of Michael's death.  Although he left us on a Thursday it was the 25th of the month.  Has there been any improvement for us?  No, not really.  We've come to understand the tears and rages and loneliness and regrets more, that's all.  We smile in remembrance more I guess. There was no smiling for the first very long time.  But it still seems such a waste to us.  And we remain convinced that more can and should be done to help people with mood disorders.  We need more research, more education, more understanding, more support, more acceptance.

I've just read a book by Michael J Fox:  Always Looking Up, The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist.
The book is uplifting because it is funny, sad, factual and honest.  It is mostly about his fight with Parkinson's Disease and the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's research.  I have to admit that I read this book because in part of 1964, 1965 and 1966 my best friend was his sister Karen and a friend who had read the book before me knew this and told me she was sorry to have to tell me but that Karen had passed away.  I can't remember any of Karen's family although I know I've been to their house on the base. But at our 30th school reunion we met up again and what I remembered about her, her smile and giggles were the same as when we were 15.  Now, the Michael J Fox foundation raises millions and millions and millions of dollars and I wondered how people who don't have connections to wealthy and famous people do the same.  The Michael Cuccione Foundation in Vancouver does the same for cancer.  Michael Cuccione (the uncle) was a co-worker of mine.  Maybe I can ask him for suggestions.  I don't know...but my son can not have died for nothing.  My girlfriends boys cannot have died for nothing.  The youth who are dying from suicide every day here in our province...because there was no help for them...something must come from those souls who have left us here without them. 

I have joined the Mood Disorder Association of BC and will join the Mood Disorder Assocation of Canada as well as the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.  But I'm just one grieving mom.  It's going to take more than just me. 

I'd love some feedback on what others are doing.  How are you managing? Are you moving on with your lives? 

For now I'm going to curl up with a book and spend the afternoon with my boy. 
Take care.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Sunday morning and the first morning in a couple of weeks that I have felt the edges around my emotions starting to smooth out a little bit.  The sun is shining and we are going out for a drive.  I will write later but today I can take a deep breath and am so thankful.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday thoughts

These past few weeks have been reminiscent of the months following Michael's death.  I'm not able to "get a grip" on my emotions.  Trying to figure out what's caused this and the only thing I can think of is: nothing.  I'm guessing it's part of the path of grief. Maybe not, does anyone have any ideas?  Even my garden isn't offering consolation because all the bits of empty space are full, nothing is really blooming because we don't have enough sun and my eyes are constantly drawn once again to the spot Michael chose to take himself away.  I can't get that picture to leave my brain.  Thankfully I don't dream that picture so I have respite from it when I'm sleeping but it haunts me during my daytime hours.  It's like someone took a snapshot, animated it so it had arms and legs and could talk and whenever I am doing something or thinking something the snapshot jumps up and down in the background yelling..."Hey, look at me, look at me!!!"    Is this part of the PTSD I'm diagnosed with?  When will it take a quiet back corner and allow me to remember my beautiful son when he was happy? 

My doctor has upped my antidepressant and my anti anxiety meds but I know that meds aren't the only answer.  Prayer?  Yes, I pray: for strength, for peace, but we don't always get what we pray for..we just hold onto the belief that one day we will.  In the meantime what gets us through? 

When I'm out and about I feel like such a fake because on the outside I smile and talk and on the inside I'm curled up in a ball saying "take me home". 

I live for my visits with my granddaughter here and my family who aren't here.  We only get my granddaughter here one afternoon a week unless there is a special occasion and we ask specifically for her.  If we didn't ask for her I don't know if we would ever get her.  Yet those times with her are so special.  I would move from here tomorrow were it not for her.  Too many memories in this small town jump out at every turn.  I hate it.  I really do. But our granddaughter needs to know her Daddy and her Daddy's family so we stay, at least for now.

I realize this blog serves as emotional purging but it's the reason I started it.  What comes across as quiet typing is actually screaming inside my head.  Seeing what I'm thinking come up on the screen as I type has a calming effect on gives me a sense that I still do have some control.  It means I haven't taken Michael's baseball bat to the walls, the windows, the dishes.  I've gotten through another day without taking my grief out on someone else.  As my oldest daughter would say, I've gotten through the day without making it worse.  It would be such an easy thing to do, to make it worse.  How easily I could cause damage and probably be excused because at times I feel a bit less that in control.  But what purpose would that serve?   I wouldn't hurt any less for having hurt someone else. 
And I need my children and grand children to know that we can all be stronger that those around who are hurtful. 

Mikey, can you hear my rants?  I've talked myself in a circle today but I'm okay now.  I love you.  I'm angry at the things you were angry at, the unfairness and the cruelty shown you, the lack of understanding and the refusal to attempt to understand, the disposable attitude you were shown by some.  But I will be strong for you because for as long as I live I will tell people the beautiful side of you as well. 

Ativan and a cup of tea will get me through this day.

Thanks for being out there for me.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday letter to my boy

Dearest Michael,
Do you remember how you told me you could not live without your daughter? You needed your family to be complete and without them you couldn't face your future.  I understood then and I understand now.  Now that you are in a peaceful place I hope you understand why we tried to encourage you to pick up the broken pieces of your life and start again.  You did try, I know that.  But people didn't understand.  There are some of us, lots of us, who need unconditional and unqualified love and acceptance or we crumble.  I have that in your Dad or I might be where you are - he is a "come hell or high water" person.  I remember reading your blog a long time ago where you said something about being glad your parents hadn't divorced because it gave you a sense of safety. The road was sure bumpy though wasn't it?  I hope there are things about your life that you have looked back on and been thankful for.  Dad and I love you so much.  Dad, like a lot of men, finds it very difficult to go to the dark emotional places and I know the last year of your life was hard but I know now that you will understand.  There was not one second that Dad didn't wish for your life to be easier for you, to see you smile, to laugh with you about something.  But we watched you suffer in a way no parent wants to see their child suffer.  There are times I feel a need to tell some people what I saw.  I believe they need to know what happens when a person is dying emotionally.  It is not easier to watch than to watch someone die physically.  You, like your mom, were never one to be able to walk away from anything you perceived as unjust and SO much in your life WAS unjust.  It broke you.  I'm writing today Mikey because I am so very angry again and feel a need to make someone else understand what has happened to our family.  I'm looking for some guidance from you I guess.  This was an emotional weekend for us all.  So much crying brings all those feelings to the front again.  It's a day I want to scream and smash things and shut out the world, yet I reach out electronically because really, I don't want to be alone.  I just don't want to see anyone and I don't want anyone to see me.  I understand now why you locked yourself away with your computer for the last months of your life. 

My heart is broken and I don't know what to do.  I want my family around me constantly and that's not possible and I have no interest at all in anything more.  Even the weather seems sad, so little sun this year so the flowers don't bloom, the garden seems melancholy.  I went to the Museum today because we are putting your picture up on the In Memory of wall.  You were only 31.  You shouldn't be going up there with your isn't the way things should be.  But we've chosen the's of you on your wedding day.  You said aside from the day your little girl was born it was the happiest day of your life.  Such a beautiful young man.  Only 25 then.  Six years and three months later you would leave us. 

I'm looking for answers today honey.  I don't want to hear that there are no answers.  I don't care if there are none...I want to hear them anyway.  I miss you so much darling boy.  I send you my love and hope where you are you know how very much we ALL love you. 

Talk to you soon,

Sunday, July 17, 2011


This will be a short note today.  I've just watched another E Harmony ad on tv.  I remember my counsellor telling me that she was not too worried about Michael being truly suicidal because he was making an effort to meet people online.  That, apparently meant there was hope for life outside his suffering.  My warning is: ALWAYS listen to your inner voice.  Please.  If you, in the deepest recesses of your heart and soul feel that someone you love is at risk, never ever give up looking for help.  I didn't give up but I think others did.  It's most likely that you know your loved one better than anyone else. Never, ever, ever stop doing everything you can to help.  Write letters, make phone calls, beg, plead, whatever it takes to get someone to stop and listen.  Currently there is very little help available unless someone has already self harmed and trust me when I tell you that admitting someone to the psych ward of some hospital does not keep them safe.  Please write a letter to your MLA, MP, congress person, anyone and everyone you can think of because suicide is preventable.

PS.  I thought I had created a link to this last time.  I guess I don't know how to do that check on    Also...the next time you go to buy Canadian stamps, please ask for the Support Mental Health stamps.  They don't cost you one cent more..but a (very small) part of the money goes to support mental health in Canada  and also, perhaps someone receiving a letter with one of these stamps will notice and thus, awareness is raised.  It's a starting point.  Thanks. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Just living in different places

I fully intended to climb back into bed this morning after my husband left for work.  But it didn't rain last night and it seems like a waste of the morning to do so.  My cold is getting worse and I'm grumpy. I'm going to have to do something today to get rid of the grumpies.  I'm afraid the cold has a mind of it's own.  I've been looking a pictures of the kids when they were younger, and pictures taken since Michael died.  I hope he can look down from Heaven and see his beautiful daughter.  She looks so much like him but her little personality is a combination of her mom and her daddy.  I think back to what Michael was like when he was four and a half.  He was another beautiful child.  But that was a bad period in my life and I was struggling with life.  What difference would have been made in my children's lives had I been more emotionally stable I'll never know.  But gut feeling, the little voice I think is always right, says that was a crucial time for Michael.  That's not to read as self-incrimination but fact.  I did the best I could as a parent but the truth is I came up short at that time.  It has nothing to do with love.  My love for my children was and is unconditional.  It had to do with life circumstances and abilities and inabilities of coping.   It also had to do with what I now understand is a major mood disorder..then called manic called bipolar.  Periods of deep and intense sadness often followed by sort of bizarre behaviour..anything to get myself cheered up. 

I've included a link to a website about depression.  It's a Canadian Website but I know there are such helpful resources world wide.  Thoses of us who have lost someone to suicide have seen first hand the devestation that can be causes when the mind and soul's ability to cope with what life is giving them, has been surpassed. 

I have also joined the Mood Disorders Association of BC.  I hunger for a better understanding of the illness that took my son and affects millions of people.  I believe mood disorders need to be brought out into the open and understood. They are after all, illnesses.  No one chooses to suffer with depression, loneliness, manic behaviour, out of control rages, inappropriate behaviour.  We are still a very closed minded society in regard to mood dysregulation and suicide. 

It's almost 8:00 and I want to go out and finish the lawn and weedwhacking and then take my cold to bed and lay down with the baby blanket on my bed.   Today I pulled out Michael's baby blanket.  I remember crocheting it as I worked nights as the switchboard operator and the hotel I worked at when I was expecting him.  What a great day that was...the power had gone out so I packed wood from the garage and kept our little house warm with the fire and by leaving the oven on all day.  I felt like such a pioneer woman! I think my husband was scared because it took about three phone calls to get him to finally get home from work...I made him supper..can you believe it?  What was I thinking??? Contractions while I cooked peas, rice and chicken. We packed up our little '72 VW and got to the hospital just after 7:00 pm.  Mikey was born at 10:00.  He weighted 9 lbs 2 oz and was beautiful from the moment he was born.  Back then we got to stay in the hospital for a few days.  I was there three or four as Michael had to go under the lights for a couple of days.  That moment, the moment I heard him cry, my life became complete.  The piece of my puzzle that had been missing, had been found and life was perfect.  God had forgiven me anything I had done in my life and given me this beautiful child to love and protect.   

And I am grateful for the 375 months and 3 days and 21.5 hours I was allowed to have him with me here on earth.  He is still my son, he will always be my son.  We just have to live apart for awhile. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Today marks another tiny milestone along the way; I have completed everything to do with Michael's estate.  This has been a difficult process.  I really dragged my feet on it, I  admit.  When Michael died he didn't leave a will so it turned out that I had to apply to administer his estate.  The lawyers suggested I use a lawyer to do this and their estimated cost was between $3 000 and $5 000.  I felt that the lawyers had already taken too much money and I felt and still do that they contributed in their way to the terrible stress my son was under.  So, I went to Staples and bought a Probate kit ($39)  After 16 months,  a few mistakes, about $500, and with help from a friendly woman at the probate office, my local notary, and a wonderful girl at our's all done.  But it saddens me because I feel like it's a thread that held me to my boy and it's been broken.  This feeling will pass I know but it's a sad feeling nonetheless.

I've put on a movie, lit Michael's candle, closed the blinds and shut out the world for the rest of the day.  This is self indulgence, I know but I have a wicked summer cold and it feels right to sniffle and shuffle about in big clothes.  It's mid-July, and I want to turn on the fireplace.  I might.  One of the things I'm learning  is that it's okay for me to do things to make myself feel better. 

Here' s something else I've been doing the past few weeks: taking movies out from the library and watching them during the day.  Such a peacful way to take my mind off myself and the dark thoughts that persist.  Today I'm watching Julie and Julia and I love it.   It reminds me how much I love to cook..but I've really gotten out the habit.  The focus of my day is still, then, to get through it without making it worse.  I've had a couple of days over the last few weeks where I've not been successful at all.  I have made them worse. It's such an easy thing to do...far easier than you'd think.

When I started to write today and had things I wanted to say but it was mostly just to check in.  I'm going to take my cold and curl up under a blanket and watch my movie.  I miss my boy. It's almost 17 months.  It can't be that long.  How have we survived without him?  God what I would give to see him smile once again or to hear him laugh. it comes...the wave.  But it will pass as it always does.  The sun is trying to shine so I'm going to open the blinds and try to brighten my thoughts. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011


This will be a short post because today is one of the days my emotions have gone a bit south.

I am overwhelmed.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Standing upstairs ironing just now I was listening the radio, a station called "The Crooner's Lounge" from somewhere..and "I'll Remember You" came on.  Naturally I was thinking of Michael and it came to me that people shouldn't have to remember their children in the sense that those of us who have lost children remember them.  To me, remembering  means recalling from somewhere in our memory and I wonder if any of us every have a moment when we feel that our child is actually gone.   Remembering incidents, funny and sad things..that's different. My feeling is that the soul of our child is always with us, especially the mothers among us. 

On a different thought:  I don't read back through my posts to I don't know if I've done this already but here is a list of books I have found helpful over the past 16 months.
  • Touched by Suicide, Hope and Healing After Loss, Michael F. Myers, M.D. and Carla Fine
  • No Time to Say Goodbye, Carla Fine,
  • Suicide Survivors Handbook, A guide for The Bereaved and Those Who Wish To Help Them, Trudy Carlson
  • Healing After the Suicide of a Loved One, Ann Smolin, C.S.W. and John Guinan, Ph.D,
  • Night Falls Fast, Understanding Suicide, Kay Redfield Jamison
  • An Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jamison, and
  • A Brilliant Madness, Living With Manic-Depressive Illness, Patty Duke and Gloria Hochman.
Three books given to me by close friends, but ones I've not read yet are:

  • Peace Begins With Me, Ted Kuntz, M. Ed
  • Overcomers, Inc.  Lynne Klippel, and
  • Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert.
In the first group above, the last two are specific to dealing with Manic Depressive Illness as well as some about Borderline Personality Disorder.  The first five deal with the aftermath left when a loved one chooses to end their life.  I still read them because at times when I question my sanity it helps to hear/read that these are thoughts many of us have. 

Last September just before the start of the Suicide Awareness gathering in Vancouver, we met a couple vacationing from the US.  We were wearing our t-shirts with Michael's picture and Suicide Prevention Week printed on them and they came up to us and asked if the picture on the t-shirt was our son and then asked when we had lost him. Then they told us they had lost their boy a few years ago. He had only been 12.  Only twelve years old..and they had been blindsided because they'd had no indication of the degree of his despair.  At my darkest times, I know that I was allowed to "prepare" myself for my son's death.  Although it made for years of worrying because it has  been my deepest fear for years, it also gave me a bit of an emotional overcoat I think.  Because of this I've never asked myself  "Why, where did this come from"..not in the true sense of the question.  I think I've asked myself "why MY boy....why no help?"...but those are different questions. 

Each of the books on suicide that I've listed above has a  comprehensive reading list and  support groups directory  There are many online support groups.  I have tried a couple but feel too disconnected from the ones I've tried.  Sadly, that is only because there are so many of us who have lost friends and family to suicide.  So very many. 

I'm working on finding meaning in Michael's suicide and in my own life.

Friday, July 1, 2011

July 1st.

It's Canada Day.  We don't usually do anything special for Cananda day but today we rode our bikes uptown to listen to an essay written by a friend's niece.  Lots of people uptown but we came home right after hearing the essay.  Well done Lauren by the way...anyway...the flag was piped in by three pipers and a bass drum...and right now..they are next door "celebrating" Canada day and playing.  I'm itching to peek through the cedars to see if my husband is playing.  They sound like they are having fun.  I'm glad...

Trying to keep occupied before and after the festivities today I've done laundry, baked scones for the "band" and have Q-tipped the area where the patio door slides...Q-tipping inspires me so I'm going to do more laundry.  Two people shouldn't have so much I don't think...but I've been helping a friend this week so have gotten a bit behind.  As long as I can keep busy today will be okay. 

Michael visited me in my dreams last night.  He was younger..and I remember asking him if he was okay.  He just looked at me at smiled..not a big smile..just one of those smiles you give people when there really is no answer to a question.  Any time I've dreamt of Michael the question is the same, "are you okay?"...I wish there was someone to answer these questions. 

So, today is just a level day and a level day is okay with me.  I love you Michael.  xx

Monday, June 27, 2011


I can't quite remember why I called this blog "aftermichael" because there is, nor will there ever be an "after Michael"  Michael still is in my heart. He is a part of me and a part of his father and a part of his daughter and a part of his sisters and his nieces and nephews. 
Michael will always live on because we will keep his memory alive.  Without any exaggeration I tell you that he is the first thought of each of my days and he is also the last thought.  There are nights I fall asleep praying.  There are nights I fall asleep listening to my iPhone.  But I listen to the iPhone to keep from crying myself to sleep and I pray about my family and my boy..others too...but my family and Michael are the last words of my prayers.
I was unable to continue with my return to work (for now) so this past two weeks has been another transitional period.  I haven't written because I didn't really have anything to say.  I will say that I have increased my medications (doctor's advice) and am in no way ashamed of that.  My meds aren't something I abuse.  They help me cope.  There will come a time when I won't need some of them so much...but some I will always take. 
I am getting out my books again.  I find them so helpful because I know I am not alone and I do become very conscious of talking too much (outside this blog) of my sadness.  Truly, very few people want to hear it, because no one knows what to say.  My advice to anyone who has someone needing to talk to not to feel they need to respond in any way other than that of being a listener.  There are no answers for this.  Nothing takes away the sadness, the frustration, the anger or the fear. 
If you are walking the road of a survivor you are probably going to find that you are a much more empathetic person now.  You are going to be a better listener, a better shoulder to cry on, a kinder person to be reached out to. I don't think it's a conscious decision.  I think it just happens.  You may even find yourself crying with someone over what they are going through.  I think these are all good things.  I believe so strongly that we are here on earth to help each other.  Sometimes we don't figure this out until too late..but really, it is NEVER too late to be kind.  We may regret that in some cases it is too late...but...we always are presented with new opportunities.  Look around us...there is always someone hurting.  It is not up to us to judge how much.  It is only up to us to say "I'm here.  How can I help?" 
I listened to the words of the song my son picked out for his dance with his Mom at this wedding.  I'd never really listened until the other day..not truly.  How I wish I had listened before..and if I had...would I have asked the questions I now want to ask him?  I am blessed to have been given such beautiful children and grandchildren.  To have been allowed so completely into their trust me...what a gift to be loved so much by one's children. 
I miss my beautiful son but I do know he loved me.  He trusted me...ultimately he trusted me with his life.  He knew I would understand.
I miss you Michael.  Thank you for loving me so much.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Best laid plans

4:00 pm.  I was up at 5:00 but then back to bed until 8:45. Today I had a meeting about work and then a doctor's appointment.  Now I'm back home, cosseted under may huge chenille blanket, sitting where I feel safe.  I didn't feel safe earlier. Well, physically safe, but not emotionally safe.  It occured to me that this grief is more than what I first thought, which was a part of me, of us, dying.  It's more like an emotional version of a flesh eating illness.  Without intervention it just grows and grows.  I can see how it could eat away from the inside out until only the shell of the human remained.  The soul could destroy itself. 

Today's advice it: Always have a plan.  Just like having a plan for a car breakdown in the middle of nowhere, an escape plan for a fire, a plan to deal with severe emotional pain is vital to surviving.  My plan today was : get home.  Light a candle, turn on the fireplace, grab a book and curl up and read. ... Talk to my boy, and breathe in, breathe to my boy, breathe in and breathe out.  Repeat. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

What's up?

Steven, don't take this personally.  It is my brain misfiring.

I've been having a panicky day.   It should only have been an anxious day but somehow it's gotten out of control.  I've come home from doing the running around I needed to do and after avoiding some that I also needed to do.  The fireplace is burning, Michael's candle has been lit and I'm drinking tea.  I'm comfy and feel safe now that I'm home.

But when I got in the house there was a message on the phone from Steven in Scotland.  We call him "son" and he calls us "mom and pops".  He and Michael were friends as children and he is walking our road of grieving with us.  I was out when he called I guess.  Anyway...I hit the play button on the phone and it said "Hi Mom" or "Hi Mama"...and I thought it was Michael calling.  Only for a couple of seconds but I was just about to scream Michael's name.  Now, Steven has a strong Scottish accent..but all that came across in the first few words was the deepness of his voice, so very much like Michael's. 

What part of a person's psyche takes them by surprise? 

Hello Michael?  Is that you?  Mama is slipping and sliding this week.  I know you understand that and won't judge me because tomorrow having dealt with the snakes I'll be able to climb the ladders. 

I'm off to put on my garden shoes and gloves and dig.  It's an out of kilter day.  I keep getting the msg reminding me that I'm on the McCracken network.  That's a good thing Michael.  Yes, I am definitely on McCracken's network..and always will be. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

If at first you don't succeed

Well, THAT didn't work.

Step one: open closet door;
Step two: run hands over shirts, hoodies, golf pullovers
Step three: breathe deeply;
Step four: bury face in brown hoodie;
Step five: breathe deeply:
Step six: Cry, and
Step seven: close closet door.

I will try another day.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Today I've been listening to music I listened to forty years (or more) ago.  I'd forgotten what great artists we had..incredible music.  Michael would have loved Janis.  Maybe he did..we didn't talk about her music but in listening to some of the music he did love I know he would have been drawn to the gravelly soulfulness she shared with us. 

Kind of an emotional day as it was check-in day about my return to work.  More about that another time. But, I was forced to face some facts about myself that I prefer to keep neatly folded away in a drawer.  So a door is closing and I'll just wait to see if another opens up. 

It was too much Mikey.  I couldn't do it.  Having made the decision to quit pretending, I feel like I've taken a weight away from you.  Was that part holding you back?  The doctor asked me if I looked for signs that you are okay, that you are near me.  The only thing I could come up with was a sense of peace.  Because you and I were so connected emotionally I feel that I will know when you've been totally released from the things you felt you were betrayed by. 

There are a couple of other things I have to know what they are...difficult things...well..I guess since this writing is supposed to attempt to help anyone going through a similar situation, hints aren't enough.

I have a closet full of Michael's clothes..many of them I have no emotional attachment to because I rarely saw him in them...dress clothes...these should go to somewhere that they can be given to those who could use them.  That leaves me with two tubs of sweaters and t-shirts...those I can't get rid of.  Not yet.  I wear some of his tshirts still.   That's going to be the thing I'm to concentrate on next week.  I will do this alone.  My husband won't be able to and it's a spiritual step for me.  My God will walk me through it, I know.  It may be one of those 'bring me to my knees' moments but I won't be alone.

Signing out for tonight.  I hope this brings peace to those reading.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Well, this is the third week back at work, and by third week I mean the fifth day, and by that I mean that I have just finished the 20th hour.  That's about all I can say about that.

I am very aware these days of life and lives around us moving on.  Our days pass but we remain in the same place.  I feel very disconnected from the real world.  That's just an observation, not a complaint.

The words don't come today for some reason, but I had to try. 

Another couple of observations:
  • I can't deal with stress anymore
  • I'm still angry, although not at my boy
  • I will never have the opportunity to deal with a lot of my anger
  • I like my grey hair
  • I should not be working where I am working because I no longer believe in the system
I miss my son.  I can't describe the, sharp-edged...ugly.

Time to go dig in the dirt.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sunshine confessions

Okay. Today it's True Confession time.  For the last number of months I had discontinued the Ativan presribed by my doctor, to be used for extreme anxiety and panic attacks.  Without going into great detail I can tell you that I have used ativan on and off for around seven years.  Yes, it can be addictive but for people with anxiety disorders it seems to just put a ceiling on the emotion and I have never had trouble stopping.  From about September - December I had been using it to get to sleep at night but I was able to stop and have been falling asleep listening to my audiobooks.  Anyway...the day I started back to work, I took my first ativan since about Christmas..maybe January.  I have only worked 5 days, so I have only taken 5 ativan...but yesterday was the worst day and yesterday I took 2.  Since I only take .5 mg that meant I was taking 1 mg.  When Michael died I was taking 1 mg. 3 times a day.  One would think that the more time that passes from my going back to work, the easier it would be but I'm finding it's the opposite.  The fact that I am back to the place I was 16 months ago is distressing.  It's kind of difficult to explain.  If I could somehow just find myself at my workplace (without having to go in the front entrance and pass people), then just be a little worker bee until it was time to go home, click my heels together and find myself home, I might be okay.  However, to walk those same corridors, walk through the same doors, look up at the same mountain, drive down the same road I did before is taking it's toll on me.  I am so thankful my doctor has known me for 30 years so when I talk to him next week he will understand even if I don't explain properly.   I will keep trying but today, right now, I don't think this is going to work for me.  I do have other options but this one needed to be attempted first.  I have/had to try to return before I could say I just couldn't go back.    I don't want to go back to having to medicate in order to work. 

On another note I had a wonderful morning.  I visited with two good friends, the sun came out for a wee while and although it isn't very bright out there right now it isn't raining. 

I'm going out to put some more plants in Michael's garden and I'm going to talk to my boy for awhile. 
Thank you for your support.  It looks like it's a ladder day in a week that's been full of emotion. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

One more step along the way...

Well my goodness what a week it has been.  It has been extremely emotional, almost the same as last spring, but this time there seems to be more clarity.  I understand what has brought this on and I even understand by now the best way to take care of myself.  Does that make the process any less painful?  Maybe..and maybe not quite so frightening because it is all part of the journey. 

But a couple of new questions have come up for me and these are things I never thought about before.

Why did we not attempt CPR?
Why did we not check his carotid for a pulse?

You know those things didn't even occur to us.  At least not to me...and I have never asked my husband if it occurred to him.  I was on the phone calling 911 and answering their questions. 

Why do these questions have to come now?  Maybe it means the shock is starting to send? I have no idea. 

This may sound like a terrible thing to say but I am so thankful that Michael's suicide did not come as a shock to me.  One can't ever be ready for it but I know many times I'd braced myself for the worst. 

I've joined an online support group called  and there is a section specific to suicide survivors.  So many survivors did not see it coming.  Many are angry with their loved ones for leaving them because let's face it...those of us who are left ...are changed forever.  Even more are frustrated that there is no help available for people with mood disorders and mental illnesses. 

When Michael died I was able to say to him "I understand Mikey.  God has you now.", and I believe that.  I know Michael prayed for the strength to leave and I believe God saw his suffering and sent His angels to take our son Home, that cold February night.    These aren't just words...I DO believe this and I would ask that anyone who DOESN'T believe this, please not to  respond to my post. 

These are the thoughts that get me through the tough times.  Surrounding myself with people I know I can be myself with is something I do as well...or...maybe I worded that incorrectly.  Spending time only with people I know I can be myself with helps me get through the days.  Avoiding those who ask too many questions (How ARE you? is a difficult question to answer...many of you will understand that)  Reading...and gardening....these are the tools I am using right now. 

If the sun comes out I will take a picture of Michael's memory garden.  I still have plans for it but the ground is so wet. 

So, these are my ramblings for today.  It looks to me that the sun might be trying to break through this evening so I'm going out to spend some time with my little angel with the broken limb.

Wishing you peace.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I worked this morning, only four hours.  But as I walked out the entrance so many memories came back  all at once and the tears had started before I got to my car.  I don't know if I can do this.  The people I saw today were all very involved in Michael's funeral in the honour guard.  I don't want to go back there in my mind and in my heart.  My workplace just reminds me so much of what used to be, what could have been,  should have been, what should not have been, and ultimately the realisty of what is. 

I don't like it when I feel this way.  The loneliness frightens me.  These are the days when I tell myself it's okay not to be strong. 

This morning at work I read the following:

"Healing is a journey, not a destination"

Today my journey feels like Snakes and Ladders and I guess today was just a snake-day.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

On Getting on with things.

Because part of my reason for chronicling the journey I travel following my son's suicide, is to help others who find themselves in the same position,  there are some things I want to say about suicide.  Carla Fine, in her book No Time to Say Goodbye, says:

      Coping with any death is traumatic; suicide compounds the anguish because we are forced to deal with two traumatic events at the same time....the level of stress resulting from the suicide of a loved one is ranked as catastrophic...the initial impact of discovery scars us forever..."
I will never be the same person I was 15 months ago again.  I feel guilty that I am alive and Michael is not.  There is nothing that can or will ever change those feelings.  But Michael lives on in my heart and will forever.  Apparently, according to the "experts" in order to move on, I must begin to be able to separate Michael from his suicide.  I'm not there yet and I don't feel guilty about not being there yet.  One day, with luck that process might begin. 

I have "friends" who no longer talk to me and I know it's because they are uncomfortable with the manner of Michael's death.  They feel that suicide is a sin.  Fundamentalists.  In their book Suicide and It's Aftermath:  Understanding and Counseling the Survivors, Charles Ruby and David Clark point out that the Christian view of suicide as sinful and forbidden evolved in the second half of the first millenium AD.  Did we understand depression, mood disorders, psychiatric illness then?   Hardly.   Why do some churchs still judge? Is our God not a God of compassion and of understanding?  That's my belief and I'm comforted by Rubey and Clark's theory that it's unlikely that God judges suicide as either moral or immoral because He understand that a person who takes his or her life is "experiencing the kind of pain that is the hallmark of illness or depression"  When Michael died, a Catholic priest who Michael had talked to many times, came to our house and sprinkled Holy Water over the ground where Mikey lay.  My minister has been here a number of times and we go out and stand  and pray where Michael left us. is my advice on this, if any of you are finding the same thing...or worry that your loved one's leaving damned them eternally.  Please don't let yourself be taken down that road. 

I question daily what Michael would want me to be doing.  I've been told that he would want me to be living my life, to be carrying on.  I do this every day just be waking up, breathing, getting through the day, going to bed, waking up,'s enough for me right now. These are still such early days.   I understood my son, and he understood me.  We were cut from the same cloth.  I have struggled with debilitating depression most of mylife.   The mood swings started in my late teens.  I passed these genes on to my children.  Michael will understand my struggle.  The one thing I do know for certain is that Michael would not want me to take my life to follow him.  He took himself away from us for a number of reasons and some of those reasons were very unselfish reasons. I do not believe suicide is selfish, that is is a coward's way out, that it is a sin.  I believe a healthy person does not take his or her own life.  I believe that despite all our wonderful achievements with medicine, we have not figured out how to cure things like depression, BiPolar, Boderline, Schizophrenia. I believe that not enough resources are put into these illness because there is still some kind of stigma attached to those things "mental". 

 Michael will not be saying, "C'mon Mom, get on with your life", because he will understand that sometimes you just can't.  As I said before, maybe, hopefully, there will be a time when I want to make plans.  Or maybe not..I don't know.  But in the meantime I will advocate for my son, for other's like him....did you know that not so long ago the Cancer was whispered, much like suicide is now whispered?  It's by shouting the words that we contribute to understanding and acceptance of things.  So..SUICIDE IS A PERMANENT SOLUTION TO A TREATABLE ILLNESS.  SUICIDE IS PREVENTABLE. 

 Michael, I love you. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Morning has broken

This morning marks my first day back at work in more than a year and I am terrified.  Last nights dreams were disturbing, full of arguments off the pre-Michael's passing kind, although not with him.  But he was an active participant in my dream and I woke up exhausted, feeling that he is disappointed in my decision to return to a workplace which devalued him at a time he most needed support. 

I am frightened too because walking through the front entrance at work is such a reminder of the terrible times we've been through in the last seven years: times where I have been so low and distressed that it has been unhealthy for me. 

I can't contentrate this morning so will update later on.  As I sit here worrying, I am also aware of friends who would give anything for this to be the only challenge of their day and for that I feel guilty .  Know that my thoughts are with you all and I send my love out your way.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

missing Michael

This morning brought us a little nice weather so I've been planting.  I'm changing the colours in the little back yard we have to be more blues and whites. I have a nice look bluish-mauvish hydrangea sitting out where I want to plant it, a white azalea, white irises and three pink bleeding hearts, all on the west side of the yard.  There is still lots of room over there for more.  A friend in Ontario is sending me some white climbing hydrangea cuttings and I'm thinking of a rhodie for the corner. The other side is coming together the meantime the pansies are so pretty.  My oldest daughter sent a planter filled with whites...My "Michael's garden". 

My husband has just uploaded (downloaded?) some Jim Croce music and it's playing while I sit here taking very slow deep breaths in, reminding myself how much Mikey loved music.  So I'll listen because he, like his dad, found solace in it.  I don't yet. 

My last entry was about planning a fund raiser in Michael's memory.  This week I'll be meeting with someone from the University Michael graduated from about having a commemorative scholarship made in his name, in the discipline he was in.  Up until now all donations in his name have gone to support DBT (dialectical behavioural therapy) and Suicide Awareness and the Mood Disorders Association of BC, but we don't want Michael's life to be identified by only that part of his life.  He was SO much more than that. 

Monday morning I am making my second attempt at going back to work.  The return will be very gradual and I would be lying if I said I was looking forward to it.  The truth is I'm terrified.  Part of me feels so strongly that I'm betraying my boy and the other part feels I am showing him "they" have not defeated our family.  Please God, let some good come of this. 

There's a line in the song I am listening to right now.."and sometimes at night I think I hear you calling my name.  These dreams they keep me goin' these days."

Miss you Mikey.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Silver Bullet

For the past fourteen months I haven't been able to listen too much music.  Music has a way of reaching that innermost part of my soul so I've had to be very selective about what I listen  My soul has been busy.  Understand though, that I love music.  There are just  too many memories attached to what I've listened to for the last 32 years. On the other hand, my husband finds music soothing and can listen for hours and it helps him.  Because he tries so hard to keep me from being sad he chooses music he thinks I will be okay with.  Lots of times I go upstairs and play (I have a clavinova in the extra bedroom) with headphones or watch tv so he can have his music. Today though, his choice for me was Bob Seger's Silver Bullet.  Wow, the memories.  Good old rock and roll type music.  I remember dancing around our first little house when I was pregnant with Mikey, and then when he was a baby and toddler.  None of these are sad memories.  I was SO happy when he was born.  Our daughter was born when he was 27 months old so I had all that time with only Michael.  I didn't work  so I had him all to myself (I shared with my husband :-) ) and now I look at that as a special gift. 

Anyway...what I started to talk about is music.  When I turned 50 I had planned on having a birthday party and lots of r & r but that was the year my youngest went to university in another city and I was far too sad to have a party.  So, I thought when I turned 60 I would have that party and play happy rock and roll. But that was the year Michael died and I was far too sad to have a party.

Now I am still sad, but I realize that there are days I feel like dancing, not out of joy, but just because. And I wonder if it appropriate to dance yet.  I am a terrible dancer.  For a person who studied music for 20 years, I have no sense of rhythm.  I think I could probably learn to minuet, I know I can polka, I can twist... the rest is all kind of smoke and mirrors stuff.  But in trying to plan a fund raiser in Michael's memory, a dance has been part of the plan.  Michael would love the idea.  He loved a party, he would want any kind of memorial for him to be a happy occasion.  He would want us to remember his smile, his humour, his love of music.

What do you think?  I want my boy remembered with love and with joy.  I want to celebrate the time he was here with us.  The troubled soul he was at the end of his life was still Michael, but it was the Michael who suffered from mood dysregulation.  He was still Michael. 

As I write this I'm bobbing in my rocking chair listening to "Old Time Rock and Roll" favourite song to dance to.....I've danced with Michael to this at my daughter's wedding...I danced to it when I was carrying him...and I may dance to it as he watches us from heaven.  Maybe. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

14 months plus

I had one minute of insight into Michael's suicide today and I can remember it to re-tell it but the moment has passed and the questions have started again.  This is how it went:

I had wanted to have a memory quilt made for Michael's daughter and I wanted something in his handwriting to her to photo copy.  The only thing she has is his suicide letter to her and I asked her mother if it would be alright to photocopy a line of it to put in the quilt and in going through papers to file Michael's income tax I found it.   The line reads "I will love you always and forever.  Love, Daddy" and then the date he wrote the later.  That date was 15 days before he killed himself and I realized that when my granddaughter is older she may ask why Daddy wrote a letter two weeks before he committed suicide.

I believe Michael had decided to take himself away from this earth, from his suffering, from the demons in his life unless one thing in his life changed and I believe he held out hope for that one thing until the late afternoon he died.  I think something must happen inside a person's soul when that time comes because he made phone calls but certainly to those he knew would stop him he didn't let on it would be his last phone call.  I do know he did let one person know what he was going to do and that person did nothing.  He made that phone call about ten minutes before he hung himself.  How I wish that person had called the police, the ambulance, us.....anyone...or said..."just wait five minutes, I will come over"...the phone call from Michael might have been one last call for help, or it may not have.  It may have been a "please take care of my family" call, I really don't know because I can never ask.  The pain would be too great.  I do know what triggered his decision that day, that hour, that minute and there is no blame to be attached to that.  But I wonder why the person he spoke to, the person he told he was going to kill himself, the person who knew he was unstable, didn't call anyone. If he had had another half hour I would have been home.  I can't stop these thoughts.  They drive me crazy, they give me nightmares.  they keep me broken.

I know this kind of thinking is common to suicide survivors.  Maybe the specifics vary a little but the unanswerable questions, by their nature, will never stop.  It was fourteen months yesterday that Michael ended his life.  Our pain is as great as it was the night he died.  I still wait for the phone to ring and every now and then I send an email to his account(s).  Please don't misunderstand me.  I am NOT looking for peace.  I am NOT looking for happiness.  I am looking for my son..I want him back. I will miss him with every fibre of my heart and soul until I join him.  But I will NEVER ever turn my back or ignore anyone asking for help.  In memory of my beautiful son who never turned his back on someone in need I will try.  Trying is better than not trying...I know I am rambling but my thinking is all over the place this afternoon. 

Will talk again soon.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dear Michael

Dearest child,
A friend came up to me today and told me he had been looking at pictures I have of you on my Facebook account and my eyes filled with tears.  It is so sweet to hear someone else talk about you and to know that you are remembered.  You didn't believe that you mattered to anyone but you did and not only that, you were cared about by so many. I hope you can see and understand that now.  Maybe we didn't show you enough at a time when you most needed to know you weren't alone, but I think it's a lesson for all of us: we can't let too much time pass without letting others in our lives know they are important to us.  I believe we are here on earth to look after each other.  Sometimes it's so much easier just to walk away from the tough stuff.  In your last year, even though you were going through such a terrible time I watched you reach out to try to help and support a friend of yours.  Did I ever tell you how moved I was by the compassion you showed?  I was going to say I was proud of you but "proud" makes it about me, and that's not what I mean.  I mean I saw you and that "There is a good man, a good soul".   You were at your best caring for others. I wish you had felt that you deserved the same patience and compassion from yourself that you were able to share with others. 

I am having to face returning to work at a time that I still feel very fragile so I've been thinking a lot lately about how I'm going to do it successfully.  And as part of that I've been making myself listen to music of yours and reading your poetry.  This is the stuff that still brings me to my knees but I have to be able to get up, even if it means falling again. 

I treasure every second I had with you.  Mom's get longer with their children than Dad's.  I had you all to myself the nine months I carried you.   I find myself still trying to figure out ways just to get a little more time with you.  Can you feel that from where you are?  Or are you just gone now?  I can't bear that thought.  You live on in my memory, in my heart and in my soul, so you will never be gone.  You live on through your daughter, through your sisters who each have similarities to you. 

I wish you were here with us this Easter season.  This will be our second Easter without you.  I miss you so very much.

I love you and wait for you to visit me in my dreams.
Always and forever,

Friday, April 8, 2011


Today I planted a white azalea in the garden.  I hope it takes - it was a bit rootbound but I dug lots of loose soil and talked nicely to it so here's hoping.  I moved it from the little broken angel garden and now have the excuse to get something for that.  I'm thinking of planting a clematis at Michael's spot but suspect it's still too cold/wet.

Looking out the window just now I realized that I don't count the days since Michael left now.  I have the weeks numbered on my calendar: that we're approaching 14 months.  I don't want it to have been that long because I feel that we get further apart as the time passes. 

I'm reading another book on suicide survivors; it's called "Healing After the Suicide of a Loved One". I find a kind of solace in reading all I can about suicide because there is peace to be found in giving myself the greatest understanding of this terrible phenomenon.  There is a short chapter that has really hit home.  It's entitled "Grieving is Not Loving" and the premise of this is that so many of us believe/know that we grieve because we love.  Difficulties start when we find we have gone a minute, or an hour, without grieving.  Guilt quickly follows a period of happiness because we feel we are betraying our lost loved one.  We feel that all our memories of our loved one must be accompanied by sadness. Now, I haven't gotten to the point yet where I can remember Michael without sadness but that's not to say I don't remember happy times with him; it just means that right now, my memories of our son are accompanied by pain. I am starting to be able to make an active choice to fight the pain when it comes, not often, but sometimes, and I think this is a huge step for me.   Michael wanted us to remember happier times,  not the bad times, so that's what I try to do and I have to be honest and say that I would rather Michael be at peace where he is than back here suffering like he had been for the last year of his life. 

Maybe it's those picture that make it hard.  Those are things I sometimes wish I could forget, memories I wish I could just file away in my long term memory but they play like an old news reel.  Because I know what is in my head, I give myself permission to be gentle with myself.   I'm learning to listen to the little voice inside me.  It's the one that says, "You can do this or "it's okay for it not to be the right time".

One day at a time, one day at a time, one day at a time.....

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


My Bleeding Hearts are coming through the ground.  I'd forgotten about them.  I received them in a planter when Michael died last year and transplanted them under a little tree in the back yard.  I'm so glad to see them because I know they will always be there and they seem appropriate for the area where Michael left us.

The sun has come out. I'm not sure if it will last but oh how good it is to see.  It's been an emotional day because I've been  doing things and making decisions (trying to) that I've been putting off for months.  In going through paperwork in a file with Michael's name on it I found his suicide note to us.  Although I should know it by heart it makes me cry to see his handwriting, to read his words.  This stands out:  "please know that I am content with my decision"...Oh how I hope that he found the peace he needed.
He ends his letter with "I love you"  Michael.  I love you too Mikey.  Mom. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Solitary paths

The clouds won't lift. I mean this literally and metaphorically. 
I find myself looking everywhere for Michael.  Why does the emotional part of the brain control the logical part? Maybe it's just part of "the process".  Or maybe it's only part of my process. 

That's one of the things about this road we are walking: we walk it in our own ways.  Our processes are individual, unique.  There will be commonalities, maybe a number of them, but each of us will experience this journey in our own way. 

My husband and I travel very different routes.  We're lucky because they are parallel paths but they are very different one from the other.  It's an effort sometimes to keep things level; it would be very easy for our emotional paths to cross back and forth.  Statistics show that a lot of relationships don't survive losses like ours, losses of children.  It's tough.  And, suicide is such a complex issue so filled with self-recrimination and questions that just can't be answered.  We both see counsellors and we don't question each other about those sessions.  At first we saw the same counsellor but my husband was trying so hard to make sure I was okay and I was trying so hard to make sure I didn't say anything which might be hurtful, if unintentional.  We haven't been able to find a suicide support group close enough to attend but that would be something we would attend together and something I would really advise anyone who has lost someone to suicide to seek: a support group. ( Doing an internet search under suicide survivor will bring up lots of information.  S.A.F.E.R. is one that we have dealt with by phone and email. )

For today, I'm giving in to the clouds and the rain and the cold.  Michael's candle has been lit and I'm going to spend the afternoon with my boy.