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July 2018

I Didn’t See That Coming

Suicide.  You hear that word and you immediately form an image in your mind of the type of person that would do this.  Quiet, fragile, unstable, unpopular.  I’m sure there are many potential descriptors, but these are the words that pop into my head.  Suicide for me was the stuff of anxious waif-like teenage girls or financially distraught middle-age men.  Yes, I have watched too many movies, lol.

But bad news, friends.  Everybody is doing it and one size does not fit all.  Wouldn’t it be convenient as a parent or a teacher to be able to look at a child and decide if they meet the suicide profile?  Unfortunately, as in the case of my son, it can be very, very tricky.

John and I certainly did NOT see this coming.  Luke had a lot going on, and I will detail the rise and fall of Luke Inwood in the coming weeks, but he just wasn’t THAT kid.  King Luke had friends and was popular at school and was handsome as all get out (because that matters).  When I ask his friends group if they thought Luke was anywhere near this point in his thinking, it is always met with a resounding “Hell No”.  I will forever be haunted by the words of Logan when he found out that Luke had taken his own life.  “But Why?” he asked.

And that’s how we all felt.  What could possibly be so wrong with his life that he felt he needed to end it?  That he couldn’t imagine spending one more day on the Planet Earth?  Turns out it was a lot and it wasn’t just one thing or one moment.  It was a lifetime that led up to that fateful day.  It was his perception of self, and wrongs against him from childhood, and teenage drama. It was unacknowledged anxiety, and undiagnosed depression, and incorrectly medicated ADHD.  It was school, and detentions, and being targeted by teachers.  It was a nagging mother who pushed him to meet his potential and a father on a pedestal whose ideal he would never live up to.  It was life.  Some of these thoughts were true, and some of them were perceptions that Luke had created in his own mind.  Turns out, the perception is all that mattered.

So, here’s what I need you to know:  If your child died by suicide, you need to try and forgive yourself.  The guilt is enormous when a child dies in this manner and “why didn’t I see this coming” is a question you will ask repeatedly.  The simple answer is because your child didn’t want you to.  John had approached Luke that very Sunday to talk about what was going on in his world and to lend support if he needed it.  “I don’t need your help” he had replied with a sarcastic laugh.

I also need you to know that suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens.  “More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease COMBINED” – the Jason Foundation.  Most importantly, suicide for teens has increased 70% from 2006 to 2016.  70% friends!!  So even though it might look like an adjusted child, and talk like an adjusted child, and walk like an adjusted child, it might not be.  Somehow, we have to work together to figure this out.  #NotOneMore Xxx

 

 

I need you to know

If You Loved Me

So, I have been writing for almost nine months and never talked about how Luke died until last week.  This was intentional and mimics how it was in my real life at the time of his death.  When Luke passed away it was presented in the newspaper and on social media as a car accident.  I never knew what anyone actually knew about the truth and so I said nothing.  I didn’t avoid it if it came up, but I never sat down with anyone and was like, “So, about Luke killing himself.”  All of us who have lost a child have unique circumstances and they each present their own challenges and death by suicide is no different.

When I found out Luke had left a note, it ripped my heart out.  We went from thinking that he had passed away in this horrific accident to having to recognize that he had chosen to die.  Chosen.  Now you and I can discuss all day whether that is the right word to describe what actually transpired, but in that first moment, that first reading of the letter, chosen was the word I thought.  And the why that goes with it is huge.  Why would he do that?  Why would he chose to end his life?  Why would he chose to leave us?

And that was the hardest thing to understand.  How could he leave US?? His mom and dad and brother?  We knew things were rough, but never in a million years did we think he would do something like this.  I have learned with research that when someone enters into the process of suicide it is like being in a black tunnel and the person doesn’t see anything but the end of the tunnel.  They just want an end to the daily feelings of pain and suffering and feelings of worthlessness.

And as Shakespeare would say, therein lies the rub .  This child feels hopeless and unloved and not worthy of their space on Earth and so they make the decision to end their life, but with this one impulsive act, their feelings end and the parents’ feelings begin.  WE feel hopeless and unloved and not wanting of our next breath on the planet Earth.

I think for me, I just couldn’t understand that Luke never grasped that everything we did, we did for him.  That all that energy we channeled into helping him with his sleeping and his gaming and his school and his basketball, all of it, was because we loved him.  We LOVED him.  I woke up worrying about Luke Inwood and went to bed every night worrying about Luke Inwood, but he didn’t get it.  Part of it was his mental illness, part of it is inherent in being a teenager, all of it resulted in him not recognizing that we loved him.  He just. didn’t. know.  Cue the sad song.

All I Want

So here’s what I need you to know:  If today is your Day One and your child died by suicide, first of all my heart is yours and I am sorry, so sorry that you are going through this.  It is hard to wrap our brains around our children making such an incredible decision and it is also hard to then imagine that they are in so much pain that this represents the most viable option.  That is HEARTBREAKING to me.  That my child SUFFERED, friends.  But dig deep, fellow mamas, and pull out a picture of your baby and remember -you were their whole world once upon a time.  NOTHING changes that.

For all of you reading this who are lucky enough to be unscathed by suicide, tell your child you love them.  Daily.  More than once.  If you aren’t saying I love you at least three times a day, you aren’t doing it right, friends.  And that’s the only way we are going to change this: One kiddo at a time.  Let’s promise to love them all to life.  LOVE>

I need you to know, The FIrst Days

And just like that… he was gone

So this is what I need you to know:  On April 14th 2015, after the culmination of too many difficult things, what we now refer to as the Perfect Storm, our Luke ended his own life.  I wanted to write about how I think that day went down, but it is too personal and too hard and so I will keep it to myself for now.  What I will share is this song – I play it and put myself into Luke’s head for that final hour and I cry.  It is true, what they say friends, sometimes… love is not enough.

The Sound of Silence

 

 

 

I need you to know, The FIrst Days

The Dark Days of Summer

I teach.  It is the most incredible job that has a number of positive points, not the least of which is that I have eight weeks every year to recharge and refocus.  You all call it summer.  🙂  I love this time of year and the opportunity to slow down.  Sunshine is my happy place and I make sure to take at least an hour every day to get outside and just be.

April 2015.  After Luke passed away, I buried myself in my work.  I spun through the days, not focused on my grief, thinking only of the students, until suddenly it was the last day of school and we were done.   I can’t recall exactly how I spent my first day off, but  I am a creature of habit so I am going to guess it went something like all my summer days do.  I probably woke up with the sun peeking through the blinds.  I like to go downstairs and enjoy not one, but two cups of coffee, slowly, while I watch Good Morning America or the local news if it’s early enough.  Next, as I am famous for saying, “I brush my teeth, wash my face, start my day.”  Then I walk.  Usually I am solo and listen to my music as  I make my way to the cemetery.  I sprinkle in a few house chores, water the outdoor flowers, and make meals along the way.  Most importantly I spend that hour or two outside.  If I’m really lucky, I read.  Early to bed and the next day I repeat.  Sounds heavenly, right?  If you know me you know I do not overschedule any day, but especially not my summer ones.  So, it’s pretty much perfect.  Only it turns out, it wasn’t.

The dog days of summer had suddenly become the dark days of summer.  With no students or job to focus on, all I could think about was Luke.  Non-stop.  From the minute the fog would clear enough to remind me that he was gone, he was on my mind.  His last days.  His friends.  His heartaches.  My heartache.  Now with all this time to think, I was consumed with all the events of his life and with circumstances around his passing and trying to figure out where the heck he was now.  Time and time again I would find myself with tears running down my face.  Folding laundry, walking, washing dishes.  It became almost debilitating – I didn’t want to feel that way, but the sadness would be just so overwhelming and once I started down the “sad path” I couldn’t get myself off of it.  I would spiral to a dark, quiet corner of my mind and be stuck. The what ifs and the whys and the waterworks became my day.

So here’s what I need you to know:  If today is your Day One you are going to need a distraction to survive the upcoming months.  Thinking is not your friend.  I have blogged about how important my job was in getting me through and after experiencing that first summer I am a firm believer in trying to get back to something that gives your day purpose.  Work, volunteer, babysit, bowl.  Do something that stops you from spending ALL DAY focused on missing your child. Not crying in front of Logan was important to me – not that there is anything wrong with that – but I didn’t want him to worry and it served a second purpose of helping me hold it together.  So, find a distraction and keep busy.  That grief will find a way when you’re ready.  Xxx

I need you to know, The FIrst Days

Where Does the Love Go

When I blog, I always start with an intention, but sometimes my heart and my thoughts take me in a different direction.  This was the case when I wrote about The King of the Courts Tournament a few weeks ago.  My writing became more about the actual tourney and why I love it so much (see Best Day of the Year, lol) instead of what I originally planned.  I wanted to talk about the challenge, after losing a child, of finding “somewhere to put the grief”.

When you lose a child, all that love and energy that previously went into that human being is just, well, there.  It builds up and builds up and builds up until it has to come out – as tears, as screaming, as incredible overwhelming sadness that puts you on your knees.  And then you get this feeling that you need to put it some where.   A lot of us put it into the children that get left behind.  This was an easy one for me.  As I have remarked previously, there was no way we were going to let Logan be more impacted by the death of his brother than need be.  His parents were going to be present and loving.  He was not going to lose us, too.  So I focused.  And everything that had gone into the day to day of loving Luke went twofold into Logan.  It is the same for many families.  Channeling your love into your children or your grandchildren is an excellent way to put this grief somewhere that feels like moving forward.

But there is also this component of making the death stand for something.  If I am going to survive losing this child, we think to ourselves,  it has to be for SOMETHING.  A reason.  A purpose.  Out of this need we create foundations, or non-profits, or golf tournaments, or walks, or anything to make the loss of our child feel a little less.  And isn’t this a wonderful thing?  We help the world, our community, by organizing and running these events, but at the same time we help ourselves.  How healing is it to see people gathered to remember your child and to pledge to make it so no other family has to experience what you have? (if this is appropriate for your case).  I think about the incredible Jamie Marrone and her family and their work with Emma’s Brunch, and the amazing Thibodeau Family who are changing laws for the better around defibrillators.  I think about Hope Lives Here and my desire to help just one momma get through losing her baby and feeling just a bit less alone.  The grief, that energy, that LOVE, needs to go somewhere.

So this is what I need you to know:  If today is not your Day One, but maybe your Day 101, think about how you are channeling your grief.  What are you doing with all that love?  There is no right or wrong answer, of course, but I do know that that energy needs to go somewhere.  I sat with mine for almost three years before I figured out exactly what I wanted to do to remember Luke in a way that feels honest and worthy to me.  So, take your time.  There is no pressure to handle the love for your child in any one way.  You do what feels right for you.  Check out different organizations created in memory of a child; maybe start one of your own.  And as my young friends would say – Love > Loss.  Always.

Wishing you peace Xxx

 

 

 

Things that help