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.