Monday, May 21, 2018

Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning

We tend to remember what we were doing, where we were, who we were with when we hear of major, especially tragic, events occur.

My parent's generation had the assassination of President Kennedy. For my generation, it was when the Twin Towers fell.

But there is another, tragic moment that will forever be ingrained in my memory.

January 2, 2018.

I was at my daughter's riding lesson. It was a Tuesday night just before 6 pm. I remember the barn was unusually quiet for a Tuesday night, there was only one other parent in the viewing lounge with me.

Then my phone rang-it was my husband. When I answered, he told me my friend was coming to pick me up. I was confused since Kenzie's lesson had just started and I had my car with me at the barn. After me asking him a few times what was going on, he blurted out the words I will never forget as long as I draw breath on this earth:

"Logan blew his brains out."

My memory after that is in bursts...praying with my sweet friend on the way home from the barn. The police cars and ambulance and crime scene tape at our home. Talking to my mom on the phone. My husband's desperate cries for our son. The ride to the police station. Holding my girls. Telling my youngest daughter. The phone calls.

But that moment. That one moment. It will live in my memory forever.

Blessings,
Meri

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Life in the In Between

It has been 138 days.

138 days since my world crumbled.

138 days since that phone call.

138 days since the crime scene tape, emergency vehicle lights, and interviews with the detectives.

138 days since I have touched his face.

138 days since I have heard him laugh.

138 days since my son took his own life.

It has been 138 days and I am still living in survival mode. Just trying to get through one day at a time, so I can wake up tomorrow and try to get through another one.

I would call what I am doing "living" really. I am just dwelling in the "in between" space. That space between what my life was and what I hope it will eventually become.

But, the "in between" is lonely.

I am not sure when I am supposed to be able to get back to some semblance of normalcy, but I clearly have not gotten there yet.

Dishes pile up in the sink. Laundry piles up in the laundry room or on the floor of our bedroom. Dog hair and dust pile up in my carpet. Bills pile up on the counter. Oddly, money does not seem to pile up in the bank account....

And I just can't.

I can't find the energy to get it all done. I just don't have it in me.

See, what people don't necessarily understand about grief and trauma is that it is exhausting. It makes you sick and tired, physically and mentally. It drains you.

I don't know how to move on from here. I can't seem to get out of the "in between". I desperately want to, but I just can't seem to find the way out.

Blessings,
Meri

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Most Unwelcome Guest

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD.

Until recently, those 4 letters had little impact on my life.


And then, suddenly, they became a part of our daily lives. Every minute of every day. Impacting every single aspect of our family life.

50%-the number of marriages that end in divorce in the United States.

70%-the number of marriages that end in divorce in the United States once PTSD enters the picture.

Obviously these are not hard and fast numbers, there are many variables that contribute to the success or demise of marriage. However, when you are living in the muck of PTSD, those statistics can be incredibly disheartening.

Our life, our story, is now divided into two distinct parts-the "before" and the "after". Before our son took his own life and after. Before PTSD invaded our marriage, our family, and after.

Some days, I can manage it all with ease (or at least the appearance of ease). I can be the partner that shoulders the burden and manages all of the intricacies of daily life with 2 girls, 2 dogs, jobs, horses, and a giant gaping hole in the middle of it. Some days, I find solutions and get it done.

Other days, not so much.

Being the spouse of a PTSD sufferer is a very lonely place much of the time. PTSD has stolen my partner, my co-parent, my best friend. And while I have many friends who I know are praying for us and are always willing to talk, PTSD is a special hell that only those who have experienced can possibly understand.



On September 30, 2000 I vowed to love my husband in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad. I had no idea how those vows would be tested over the next 17+ years. As I studied and learned about God's plan for marriage, I set my mind and my heart to honoring those vows and determined to NEVER consider divorce.

Most of the time, I am able to clearly see through the muck and bumps in the road to the other side and recognize that, while this particular time may be trying, it is not worth ending my marriage over.

But lately, I wonder if we will be able to be part of the 30% that survive this PTSD invasion. Will we learn to live with the permanent changes it brings?  Will we ever get to a place where PTSD is not the constant elephant in the room?

I am not giving up. I love my husband with everything that I am.I hate PTSD.

But I hold on to the hope that, in the end the love will be be stronger than the hate.

Blessings,
Meri

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Letters

A few weeks ago, we received an envelope from Logan's old high school. Enclosed in the envelope were cards and letters from students and faculty about how Logan had impacted them when he was there.




I am going to share these letters (leaving the author's name out to protect their privacy).

To Logan's Family,
I am so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine you pain. Our school will not be the same without Logan. I did not teach him, but appreciated his smile and laughter in the halls.
-Faculty

Logan was the best friend anyone could have had. He was always there to make people smile. It meant everything to me and losing him hurts, but I know he is in a better place. Yes, I will always miss him, but I'll see him again. Just know he meant something to me and I am praying for you.
-Student

Logan's Family,
Logan was very special to me. He would always find the right words to say to put a smile on my face. I remember last year I was crying about some things and he came over to me and just hugged me. He told me everything would be okay. He came up to me every day after that and ask me how I was doing. I also remember before he left school, I didn't have anything to eat and Logan gave me his pizza because he didn't want me to go without. Logan was like I said VERY special to me. I know he is living it up in Heaven. Even though I miss him, he is in a better place. God's got this. I am very sorry for your loss. I miss you, Logan, and I love you.
-Student

Mr. & Mrs. Death,
I just wanted you to know that I am thinking about you and will continue to pray for peace and strength to move forward. If you ever need me, don't hesitate to call or e-mail.
-Faculty

To Logan's Family,
In a class of strong personalities, Logan always stood out as a helpful, bright and inquisitive student. I was deeply saddened to hear of his passing and my prayers are with your family during this hard time. I will always be immensely grateful to have had Logan in my class and will always remember him.
-Faculty

Mr. & Mrs. Death,
Here at **HS, we continue to think about Logan and your family daily. He was such a light in so many people's lives. Praying for peace and comfort for you all.
-Faculty

Dear Logan's Parents,
The words I have to say about Logan are endless. Honestly, he made me feel loved, wanted and needed here even when I felt alone. He made me feel like I had a person. He loved me, he was scared of me rejecting him. That's why he had such a hard time telling me.  I always loved Logan. A part of my heart will always have a void that only he could fill. I struggled a lot with depression last year and Logan always helped me. He's the only reason I am still here. I feel beyond blessed to have been able to know Logan and to have been so close to him. He spread love when he didn't even feel loved himself. He always put others before himself. I will forever be grateful for having him in my life. I will always love and miss him and I promise you he will be missed by many others, too. I will never ever forget him, he changed my life. Thank you for blessing some many lives with your son's presence. I am very sorry for your loss and I have so many memories with Logan that I would love to share with you whenever you would like. I will make sure Logan's memory lives on through me, because he was so amazing and caring to others.
-Student


I Am Not Strong

I have heard repeatedly over the past few months people complimenting me on how strong I am, how I am setting a good example for my girls, how I am supporting my husband, how I am coping with this unspeakable loss.

Let me let you in on a little secret of mine....

I AM NOT STRONG



I am setting the best example for my girls that I know how because I don't have a choice. I cannot stop being their mom just because their brother is no longer with us. But, I am also constantly working to put on a smile, or at least a facade of having my shit together when I am railing inside. When I am so completely lost and broken that I have no idea what to do or who to turn to.

I am supporting my husband because that is what wives do. That is my job. He has supported me through years of chronic pain and illness and now it is my turn. I don't know where the strength to do this comes from, but I press on each day.

I am not coping with the devastating, life-destroying loss of my only son. I am simply pushing it away until such time that I have the time and space to truly comprehend what has happened.

I am surviving (barely).  I have heard all of the advice-go back to church, get counseling, take care of yourself, talk to a friend.

I tried going back to church, but I have only been able to make it one Sunday in the past 2 months.

I know I should get counseling, but I am not ready to open up yet. I know that's not the right answer, but it is my truth.



I don't have time to take care of myself. My job still has to be done, my family still has to be fed and clothed and cared for. My girls still have riding lessons and horse shows. My husband still needs intensive therapy to deal with his PTSD. I quite literally, have no time to think of anything that would fall into the category of  "self-care".

I have a few good friends that check in on me from time to time. I have some wonderful, caring friends who are always there when I need them. The problem is that I am not very good at sharing my pain. Sometimes I don't want to burden others. Sometimes I am afraid of what their response might be. Sometimes I just don't have the energy to talk about any of it.

Grief is messy. Life is messy. There is nothing easy or standard about any of this.


So there you have it....I AM NOT STRONG. I AM NOT OKAY. I AM NOT A ROLE MODEL. I AM A HOT MESS. And right now...that's as good as it's going to get.

Blessings,
Meri

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

You Are Not Alone

On April 4, 2018, the Green Space at Auburn University was covered in backpacks. An organization called Active Mind,s which raises awareness about the escalating numbers of suicide victims among college students, covered the Green Space with the backpacks of students who will never graduate, never pursue their dreams, never realize their goals in life. Each backpack had a story of it's owner attached to it. Each backpack was there because the owner no longer is.

A friend of mine is struggling with a situation right now, a nasty, ugly situation. One she probably thought no one could understand. One that she had a hard time even typing the words, much less speaking them. Sadly, I know some of what she is going through (I am keeping details out of this post in respect for her and her family's privacy).

I joined a Facebook group specifically for mothers of children whose lives were lost to suicide and mental illness. I have been amazed (and heartbroken) to see how many new members join each day.

What I want you to see in all of this is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.



Whatever you are going through, whatever painful path you are walking, someone else is there (or at least close to there) as well.  When we experience incredibly difficult, sometimes unspeakable situations in our lives, our natural reaction is to hide. Hide from the pain, hide from the perceived embarrassment, hide from friends and family, just hide from life. You feel like no one could possibly understand what you are going through. You feel guilty because you didn't do enough or maybe pushed too hard.

Sweet friends, you do not have to hide. God sees your pain. I can't say that He will make it go away. The "God never gives you more than you can handle" line is bullshit. But I have witnessed myself that He sees your pain and provides comfort. Sometimes it is reconnecting with an old friend, sometimes it is a therapy group, sometimes it's connecting with someone who is walking the same path.

And sometimes-it feels like you are alone, adrift in a rowboat in the middle of a raging sea.



See, grief is not a nice, neat linear experience. And it is not limited to losing a loved to death. Grief can be from the loss of a dream, the disappointment when family members hurt us. Grief can be the loss of physical health and the ability to do the things you could do before you were sick.

But grief is not a nice neat series of emotions that progress one after the other until you are able to "put it all behind you".

Grief is ever-changing, an evolving, living thing. You don't "put it behind you". But what you should do, what you need to do, is to share. Know that you are not alone and share your burden with others who have had similar experiences.

It's not easy (especially if you are an introvert like me), but it is so important to know you are not alone and you are not responsible for whatever it is that happened to bring you to this grief.

Blessings,
Meri

Sunday, April 1, 2018

My Rock

For almost 8 years, I have suffered from several chronic illnesses, and my husband has always been my rock.

He has played taxi for our children, driving them to soccer, football, horseback riding and so much more.

He has done the grocery shopping, most of the housecleaning, and much of the cooking.

He has gone with me to what feels like endless doctor's appointments and sat in the waiting room during numerous surgeries and procedures.

He has held my hand when the pain has just been too much.

But then my rock crumbled and now he is the one who needs support.

See, he was the one who found our son's lifeless body after he had taken his own life. He desperately tried to save him even though he knew that the life had left Logan's body.

He now suffers from PTSD (including terribly vivid nightmares and flashbacks), and has been diagnosed as bipolar and clinically depressed.


If you get one thing out of this post, understand this-THESE THINGS DO NOT MAKE HIM WEAK.

Instead, the fact that he recognized he was struggling with more than just grief and sought professional help on his own speaks to the inner strength he possesses.

In the days after Logan's death, my husband was destroyed. He could barely function. And I was able to step up and handle the things that needed to be done. I know this strength did not come from me-it came from the Lord. That is the only answer because I was able to handle things that I had not been able to do for years.

Such is the ability that I have continued to have in the months since Logan passed. This ability to support my husband on this difficult and brave path he is walking comes directly from the Lord. I know this because I know it could not possibly come from my fragile, fatigued self.

So this is one thing I have learned on our grief journey. My husband is not a rock, I am not a rock-the Lord is the only true rock in our lives and all of my strength comes from Him.





Blessings,

Meri