Monday, May 25, 2015

Happy Memorial Day

Years ago, I lived across the street from a cemetery, and every Memorial Day they would fill the front lawns with flags. It was as spectacular sight, and it was peaceful to walk around and in them and to see the decorated graves. I never felt more patriotic and proud of my country than when I was surrounded by all those stars and stripes.

For most of us, we think of hot dogs, chips, and barbeques on Memorial Day. It’s the start of the summer season and all the activities and vacations we have planned. It was that way for me for a long time. That was before I personally knew men who served our country, before my dad committed suicide, and before I visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. They were humbling experiences. Memorial Day still means those summery things to me, but now it’s also a day to stop and remember those who made all those summer activities possible.

This Memorial Day as you pack up for a day at the beach or wherever you’re going, take a moment to thank all those who gave up their lives for our freedom. Also take a moment to bless their families and friends.

And of course, remember all those who died by suicide and their survivors. This is a great day for all of us grieving a loss to pull together and offer our support.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Callous Suicide Announcement

I found this article in the news today titled "First Great Western apologises for 'callous' suicide announcement'." A staff member at a train station made an announcement that the trains would be delayed because someone “couldn’t be bothered to live anymore.”

Unbelievable! It’s amazing how judgmental and insensitive people can be. To make it worse, a lot of the comments on this article are just as heartless and insensitive as the announcement. It’s a sad commentary on our society that people don’t understand the horrendous amount of pain the victim was in, or the hurt and trauma the family will have to heal from. Comments like this will only make it harder on them. I hope one day the stigma of suicide is gone, and that the staff member who made the announcement, and insensitive commenters, are able to learn. For now, I am grateful that the staff member apologized.

My heart goes out to the family of the man who committed suicide. May you find peace and comfort and the support you need to help you with your grief.

What would your reaction have been if you were on that platform and heard the announcement?


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Author: Sherman Alexie
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

This probably isn’t a book you’d normally go to when you’re looking for grief books. The main themes are about cultural differences, poverty, and alcoholism, but there are also themes like isolation, loneliness, grief, loss, and overcoming adversity that make this story worth reading.

Click here to see what Goodreads has to say.
Junior is a 14 year-old Indian boy who lives on the Spokane, WA Indian reservation (the “rez”) with his mom, grandma, alcoholic dad, big sister Mary, and his best friend Rowdy. They are all poor, and Junior feels like his parents could have been something more if they had the chance to leave the rez and go to college. He decides he wants to try and be more and enrolls in the local high school for white kids. Many on the rez see this as a betrayal, and Junior spends the story trying to fit in with the white kids, but not losing his Indian heritage at the same time. As the story progresses, his family is hit with several losses right in a row. Junior copes with all his trials with bluntness, humor, and determination not to be stuck in the past. As an aspiring cartoonist, the book is filled with his drawings that humorously illustrate his thoughts in each situation.

A coworker gave this book to me six months after my dad died. She knew I had a hard time concentrating enough to read, but she assured me this was a light and fast. She was right. Though the book deals with heavy topics, they’re handled in a graceful way that makes you laugh alongside Junior instead of both of you sinking into despair.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

New Book Review Section Coming

I love to read! There’s nothing I enjoy more on a rainy day than sitting in a quiet house, wrapped in a blanket, reading a good book. That’s why I decided to add a new section where I review fiction, non-fiction, self-help, and inspirational books related to grief, loss, and suicide. Keep an eye out for these new posts under the category "Book Reviews."   


Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Tribute to My Mother

My mom and I have had our ups and downs. Our family was full of turmoil during my teen years, and I left home on bad terms. It’s taken a long time to forgive her. She made a lot of bad parenting choices, and I wasn’t always the perfect daughter. But through all that, I never doubted she loved me.

One of the ways she showed she loved me was to help me take care of my dad after his stroke. She’d been divorced from my dad for 17 years, but they made an effort to be friendly for the sake of my brother and me. I am grateful I never had parents who hated each other and fought all the time…well, my step-dad is another story. He was the source of most of the turmoil, but I’m not going to get into that.


Like I said, my mom was there for me after my dad’s stroke. She drove me to visit him, helped me shop for him, helped me do his laundry, adopted his cat, and helped me find placement for him. She was driving the car when my dad called the cops on me from the backseat for kidnapping him (we had guardianship and needed to place him in a facility though he didn’t want go). She even fought off his crazy ex-girlfriends who were only after him for his money (the stroke impaired my dad’s judgment and he’d write a check to anyone who asked no matter the reason), and the caregiver trying to blackmail him.

And she did the ultimate crazy thing. She didn’t want my brother or me to see my dad’s condo until the mess from his suicide was cleaned up. The cleanup crew couldn’t get out for another few days, so she went in there and cleaned up the worst of it before my brother and I arrived in state. I can’t decide if she was absolutely stupid or crazy protective of her kids. Maybe both.

I’ve been back in therapy working on the issues with my mom. It’s time to get that relationship working again. I’ve been caught up in resolving issues with my dad and step-dad for so many years. The living and worthy of my time need my attention. I don’t want my mom to die without her knowing that I love her and that I miss her. The last words I said to my dad were, “I love you. I’ll call you later.” I didn’t have the chance to call him later. I have a chance to call my mom.

My mom is coming to visit me for the first time in two years next week. She will meet her granddaughter for the first time, and her mom is coming up to visit at the same time. We’ll have all four generations of women in the same room, an uncommon thing since we all live in different states. It’s going to be intense. There will be a lot of talk about difficult things. But we will be talking, and more importantly, listening. We will be building what we should’ve had all along.

Mom, I love you. I never stopped. Even when things were hard, and I was confused and I made decisions that hurt you. I’m sorry. You made decisions that hurt me, too. I still don’t agree with a lot of decisions you made, but I’m ready to forgive you and focus on our future. I don’t know how much time I have left with you, and I don’t want to waste any more of it.

To those of you without a mother this Mother’s Day, I am thinking about you and I wish you peace and comfort on this day. No matter what your relationship with her was like, I encourage you to focus on the positive things you had together.

To those of you still blessed with a living mother, I encourage you to use this day to tell her what a special person she is in your life. No matter what your current relationship is, she will always be your mother and she will always love you.