Monday, January 31, 2011

I wish I had ruby slippers

Sitting in the dentist's chair this morning, looking back at the mountains I realized that it's quite likely that Michael sat in the same chair..this was the first dental clinic I brought the kids to.  Driving through town passing the condo's he had the paperwork for on the morning he died, I look away.  How I wish we could just wake up somewhere else.  We are free to move of course, but our granddaughter is here and we are her only link to her Daddy here. 

I'm losing the grip I've had on my emotions for so long.  That may be a bit of a hasn't be "so long", and I haven't really had a "grip", but I've coped.  I'm tired of doing all the things I've done this year to get by, tired of walking, reading about suicide and suicide survivors, tired of I tired of hurting?  The place of Grief is a very difficult place to be but I don't want to be anywhere else. That would invalidate Michael leaving this world at his choosing.  Do I wallow in grief?  Is grief self-indulgent?  I don't think so. Answering the second question first I would say, grief just is what it is and it's relative to the person affected.  In regard to the first, wallowing sounds like a fun thing to do and there isn't anything fun about drowning, sinking, might be better terms to use.

I grew up with a grandmother who had a strong Scots-Presbyterian background..and some of it had rubbed off on her.   Part of that belief seemed to be that it is/was a bit of a sin to be so self indulgent as to think about your own state so much.  I guess that point has some value...and I must say note that I do understand that there a millions of people with far greater problems, worries than mine.  Please understand that I write only about my journey.  My journey, like my grief, is what it is.'s uncharted, unexpected, uncomfortable. 

Michael's candle has been lit, I've turned on Turner Classic Movies and I've settled in for the duration of the day.  It's 3:30.  I want ....... what the heck do I want?  I want another chance.  I want to go back..way back.  So so far back.   My reprieve is here...I can hear his key in the door.  I am thankful for every blessing I have in my life...and I have so many.  But I think I'm broken...kind like Humpty Dumpty and all the king's horses and all the king's men....are just all the king's horses and all the king's men.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Missing Mikey

I really miss Michael.  Aside from grieving over him, I mean.  I MISS him.  He was so funny sometimes.  A lot of what he said was so...I guess.."out there"..that all we could do was laugh.  When he died, he was angry at us, but in a journal he wrote a month or so before he died, he called me "his rock".  I can't find that anywhere now.  I would give anything to have it. ... because I know if he had made it just a little longer, he wouldn't have been angry with me.  It's very selfish I know...Michael's leaving seems to be about me then...that's only because I can't explain myself properly.  Michael's leaving was about him...I just wish he had left under different wish he hadn't left.  I really miss my son. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

around and around we go

Today I am tired.  My brain hasn't slowed down in the last couple of days.  We have a family expression - we say the squirrels are loose.  My squirrels need to tuck themselves away for awhile and let me relax.  The only way I can describe my thought process right now is to ask you to imagine yourself on one of those little-kid merry-go-rounds,  unable to get off.  Memories, memories.  I'm adding to my list of things that I find hard to see - calamari..strange the things that hurt.  Michael loved calamari....he had terrible eating habits...KFC, MacDonald's, onion rings, hot wings...yet he was loving learning to cook and when he cooked, he cooked healthy things. 

It's the 21st of January today.  We are closing in on January 24th which was the last happy day of Michael's life.  On January 25th, I knew he had made his decision.  I can tell you almost to the day what he did or said for the last 31 days of his life.  I'm guessing this is why the days and nights are so tough right now. 

To work hard at suppressing these feelings would make me feel that I was dishonouring my son and so I let them come. I could sure use some emotional sea-bands though. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

If chairs could talk what tales they would tell

When my grandparents moved to BC in the '30's they brought along furniture and I have two of the old wooden chairs.  I've refinished them and they are beautiful.  Michael used one of these last year when he took his life and I am torn between wanting to smash it into tiny pieces, and putting it where no one can ever sit on it again to avoid damaging it.  I know my daughters and grandchildren will not want this chair, but right now I do.  In the end, I don't want anyone else to have it - it was my grandparent's chair, then mine, and finally, it was Michael's chair. 

Walking this morning, I listened to Michael's playlist and there is a song which speaks of waiting for an angel to take someone home, because they don't want to go alone.  In my heart I see my son, asking his angel to come soon, changing his clothes,  fashioning the noose, and stepping up on that chair, trusting it wouldn't be long before he was taken home.  Maybe this is morbid talk is it?  It is the reality of what goes through my head daily, sometimes hourly. 

The grief of a loss to suicide is made so much worse by the knowledge (and in my case) understanding of the unbearable sadness, hopelessness, and loneliness the lost person has endured.  Can you imagine how terrible life must be, in the heart and soul of that person, that leaving this earth FOREVER, is the only option they can see? 

I knew my son was serious about taking his life.  But deep down inside I hung onto a tiny thread of hope that we could save him.  He would not go to the hospital (they won't take patients only feeling at risk.  I would not call the police (charging a suicidal person is no help) and an ambulance will not attend without the police.  I prayed.  I bargained.  But Michael had reached his point of no return. 

Over this past eleven months I have come to realize that there is so very little understanding of, or even compassion for, suicide.  How I wish I could change that.  People assume that suicidal talk is attention-seeking behaviour.  They are right.  So, please, pay attention.  Listen, hold, don't wait to be the angel that takes a person to his final home.  Please be the angel here on earth.  Suicidal really IS preventable.  I believe this, but it takes more than one or two people to help someone in crisis. 

Each day that we get closer to the anniversary of Michael's death is harder.  I am frustrated and angry, not with individuals, but with systems and beliefs.  One Sunday, only weeks before my son killed himself, I asked someone at church to please keep Michael in the prayers of the people.  At this point, Michael was threatening suicide daily, and frequently self-harming.  This person, actually said to me, "That's just bull**** - it is so cowardly."  I'm sure that was said to show sympathy for me, but I felt so alone.

Michael, I miss you so.  I will fight for you until my end.  I love you.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Driving uptown today I passed my granddaughter walking along with her maternal grandmother and I was struck by how much I miss the little things like lots of time, spontaneous visits, sleep overs.  It was the trigger for todays slide down the snake  I finished up what I had to do and came home but later I realized I had forgotten to mail an important letter.  While in the store I ran into a friend who also suffered a loss this year, and I was able to listen to her and hold her as she cried, and that was the trigger that helped me up the ladder.  Knowing I am not alone on this road, and understanding how helpful it is to have someone listen I am able to be someone else's support when all they need is a safe person to talk to, someone to say their loved one's name to. 

And so I shout his name as I walk.  I call him and wonder if he knows I'm calling him. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Slow, deep breaths.

Last week one the local grocery stores started to bring in daffodils and irises.  Normally I welcome the spring flowers; they have always been my favourite.  This year I can't look at them.  They remind me too much of losing Michael last February. 

Right now I have the television on TCM and am watching some old movie showing the Golden Gate bridge.  I hate the bridge because it reminds me of the plans Michael had made a few weekends before he died.  I realized too that I will always hate the I5 highway, at least as far as Olympia Washington, because that's how far Michael got the night he left here headed for San Francisco before I managed to convince him to come home. 

Today I ran into a friend who told me to embrace and forgive and ask forgiveness from all the things I am avoiding, everything I am angry at,and all those  who remind me of painful times.  I can't do this, at least not yet.   Is it rational to blame flowers, roads, bridges, music and books for Michael's death?  Of course not, but right now I'm not interested in freeing myself of pain.  I don't think that time will ever come, and I don't think it would be right if it ever did. 

I planted narcissus all along the side of the house in the fall.  Now I wish I hadn't.  Last year I had the yard filled with flowers because gardening helped me deal with my grief.  This year I don't want to do anything that I did last year.  I don't understand why, but it's the way it is. 

The last couple of days I've found comfort in keeping close to home, knitting, reading and baking.  The curtains are closed, the fireplace is on and I am here with my son.  I go out each morning for a couple of hours, meet friends for a cup of coffee, then come home.  

The dread and slow panic is starting to build as we close in on the last six weeks to the anniversary of Michael's leaving.  But I am learning to breath my way through panic.  I'm learning that some questions will never be answered, some questions should never be asked, and ultimately the decision to find peace was Michael's and not mine.  I will always love Michael and honour his decision.  Rest peacefully beautiful boy. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

January 13th.  It is a "first" for my husband; it's his first birthday without his son.  It will be a quiet evening spent just with our granddaughter.  The birthday cake is sitting waiting to be put together, the presents are upstairs, hidden.  I know he won't talk about it but  it's going to be hard day for him.  Today is also a Thursday.  This one is the 46th since Michael's death, so it's a double-whammy day. 

Because we anticipate the first occasions spent without Michael we make it through them. I'm going to bet that this weekend will be harder for my husband than today.  We steel ourselves for the birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and other significant dates, but we let our guard down once we are through them.

I started to write a number of times this week but struggled to find words to describe the journey without baring my soul and making the readers of this journal, uncomfortable.  And so I waited until a day when my feels are not so raw. 

One of the expressions used by a psychologist we see is to "keep out of harms way".  He means: stay out of or away from situations we know will cause us pain.  We do this in different ways but we both do it.
I have not returned to work yet and I stay home a lot.  Home has always been my comfort zone though so I do not see this as an avoidance technique.  I see it as doing what I have to do, right now, to continue to function.  Oh, I do go out everyday, if only for a few hours.  There are friends and acquaintances who I know understand.  There are no expectations of me in any way and part of the reason for that is most people have their own story, issues they are dealing with, perhaps keeping themselves out of harms way.

My home is where my son's ashes are and I feel very close to him here.  I don't know if a time will come when I am ready to let him go.  Maybe.  But not now.  Today I will sit with him by the fireplace, and burn his candle and talk to him. 

The other day I moved Michael's bookcase into the room he used here and I brought all his books back into the house from where they had been stored.  I love having those books here.  I run my hands over them and know that his hands have been there too.  I have used the last of one of the colognes Michael used.  So many times over the last 11 months I have walked into his closet and closed the doors so I could breathe in the scent of the cologne on his clothes and when the scent faded I resprayed.    And so, I am going to buy another bottle.  Wondering if this might be a bit of an irrational thing to do I did mention it to my psychologist.  She had one simple question:  does that scent give you peace?  That's what this is all about: finding peace.   We all find peace in our own ways.  Sometimes it reminds me of walking through one of the long dark tunnels near here without a flashlight.  In the dark it is easy to miss little bumps and hazards.  I am without an emotional flashlight so I'm bumping and feeling my way through this part of my life, with no knowledge of what comes next.  But as best I can, I am keeping myself out of harms way.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Snakes and ladders

Every now and again I have a time when I think that I just can't go on, when the pain, the memories and the guilt are overwhelming.   In those moments I am learning to reach out, because I'm frightened.   What helps me most is too be told it's okay to feel this way.  Christmas Day was 10 month since Michael died. That sounds like a long time; I know some people think I should be getting  on with life by now.  But I can't. 

There aren't very many support resources for suicide survivors and living in a rural area makes it hard to access the ones that are available.  An acquaintance suggested I try the Hospice Grief support group but talking to strangers about something so very personal and private will be hard.  I do have a counsellor and I am thankful that I have benefits that cover her services.

And I'm very tired.  It's probably just from going through such an emotional time and now, anticipating the anniversary of Michael's leaving us, next month.  I'm tired of working at being strong and being positive and being at peace.  Some days I feel stronger, more at peace than others and those are good days. But on the days when I'm weaker I need it to be okay to be weak. 

So, all this is just to say, there are days when the steps are all backward steps.  I know there will be a time when I start to move forward again and in the meantime I'm just going to ride this out the best way that I can. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I've just read a post on Michael's memorial page and a few of the words really jumped out at me.  The last three days have been very difficult.  I feel raw and vulnerable again and I haven't been sure why.  We knew Christmas was going to be tough so we worked at preparing for it, planned strategies for dealing with emotions as they came up and when the sadness started to overwhelm us, we just tried to ride out the wave.  But we didn't consider New Years, probably because it's never really been an important celebration for us. 
For some reason on New Year's Eve day I started remembering individual occasions over the past three years.  I can't share these on this blog.  They are just too painful and too private.  I will write them in my private journal because the re-telling of them will be therapeutic.  But what I picked out of the letter to my son on his page was the phrase "...won't let the pain you had to endure bury me".  And I realized that now that those memories are starting to come to me, that I am being buried by them. 

Up until now I have worked at blocking a lot of thoughts to protect myself.  I have been trying just to deal with the loss of my son.  But now everything has started to come back, so many unhappy memories, and I don't have the power to stop them. 

Perhaps this is another stage of grief.  Maybe I can't put off the inevitable any longer.  I am going to have to deal with each and every one of these recollections and do something with them.  I don't really know how to do this yet but I think the first step is realizing that it has to be done.  How I wish there were a drug or some kind of procedure that would just erase those memories.

I failed to protect my son from fear, pain and sadness and I am angry at myself and angry that there is also no external help available (unless perhaps one is wealthy).  It has been a long time since I have been angry.  It's a healthy anger I's not focused on anyone...I am angry at 2010.  Does that make sense?

I expect I am just back-sliding a little.  But I don't believe the path of grief is laid out in any pattern.  And I'm not sure where I am on it....still very close to the beginning of a road I will travel for the rest of my life.