Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Why I Speak About Suicide

There are always people that ask me when I speak about losing my daughter to suicide, “How can you do it?”  It is simple to me, I have a big voice and little fear of crowds, so I can do a small part to help spread hope to those affected by suicide.

In the two years since we lost my daughter, I have spoke several times.  Some telling our story, others sharing education and prevention to schools and communities.  There hasn’t been one time that I wasn’t nervous, because I want to be sure I am conveying all the hope I have to share with this world.  The hope I have is for others to understand that suicide and mental health needs to be treated just as physical health is. 

We as a community and a culture need to do better, we need to invest in more research, more advocacy, more education just as we have with other medical conditions.  Through the years we have all witnessed other medical conditions gaining the research and education and have seen huge strides in survival from those conditions.

While I stand before a crowd to talk about our story, I know much of our story is not unique, there are so many families that are experiencing the pain mine is.  This makes it even more important to continue to share.  Those families all need to know they are not alone, and that there is hope. 

As with any disease, we can’t save everyone, but we can do better!  This is why I choose to volunteer with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).  The funds we raise in our communities help to fund research, advocacy, education, and survivor support.  Working with AFSP, I feel like in some small way I can help others and be a part of the changes that need to happen in our world. 

So, simply put I stand before people to talk about suicide because hope guides us through many paths in life and shows us the way.  Being the “Purple Ninja Mom” is something I have and always will be proud of.  My daughter’s battle with depression was long, she fought it hard every day, and we did right beside her.  When her battle ended, her hope didn’t.  I will carry on her hope and her mission to help anyone battling this disease with the hope in my heart that other families won’t have to fight this battle in silence.

Live life to the fullest and always “Fight Like a Ninja”!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Two years have now passed since my daughter took her life.  I stand still in the world changed, broken down, lost, scared, and far from who I was before.

I still have days that cut right through my heart and bring me to my knees with grief.  I hope I always will, as that grief is that place in my heart that she holds.  However, now I can look back on days and remember her life and the beauty that she brought into this world. 

The enjoyable days I have grown to appreciate.  Butchie makes me laugh and makes me so proud of the things she is accomplishing.  How I wish Brittany was still here to share in all of her successes and see the lovely young woman she is becoming before my eyes.  It is still so hard to see her struggle with her grief and missing her sister. She is so damn strong, probably stronger than she ever should have to be.

There have been days I have wished over and over to join my daughter, not wanting to die but wanting nothing more than to be with her.  The dark days have me wishing for anything that would end this pain of the life sentence without my daughter.

I’ve spent the time in grief wondering what I did wrong, what didn’t I do, and how I failed her.  There is something in my heart that makes me doubt so much although, my head keeps telling me that I did everything possible just as every parent questions choices we have to make.  Her illness created a battle inside of her that I can only imagine had to be far worse than this.

This world without her has changed me, everyday I try to hold on to hope.  Some days it seems to be a fine thread that is very frayed, and others a thick rope to carry me across rough paths.   All these tears I shed are making the armor I wear to take on the world stronger, but some days I wonder if I am just hiding behind it too.

I stand in this world a warrior, a very broken-hearted warrior with an armor of tears forging through the battle of living the rest of my life without my daughter.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


When my daughter died by suicide in March of 2016, I never imagined that the colors would come back to life again, that I would never see or feel joy again, and that I would never be able to remember her without totally breaking down and crying.  I received a message from someone at my church after mass one day, she too had lost a child, she offered a statement that I didn’t realize would impact me so much at the time.  She told me, “There will come a day that you will remember your daughter LIVED and not just that she died.”  I thought to myself, this is not possible, I will always remember that my daughter died!

As I approach the 2nd anniversary of my daughter’s passing, I can say that this wonderfully kind woman is right.  Not only can I see the colors of the world again, I can feel joy, and I do remember that my girl LIVED and not just that she is gone. 

So to this lovely woman from church, you were right…..and I thank you so much for giving me that sliver of HOPE, even when I couldn’t see it. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Barter I made...

Everyone has a story, and every story is important.  This is a story about why I do the work that I do.

Almost a year and a half ago, my daughter died by suicide.  It was the most painful day of my life.  As a parent, my worst nightmare became a reality.  Nothing will ever make it better, nothing can ever fill that void.  That first night when she died my heart broke, never to be the same again.

I didn't sleep much that night, I laid in bed, but didn't really sleep.  I screamed, I cried, and I wept, then at some point my body shut down.

When I awoke I laid there.  There's always been those first precious seconds of everyday when nothing is real yet, and that next day was no different.  Then it set in, for the first time that day those precious seconds were gone and I was zapped into real life, my daughter is gone.  It was more than overwhelming that morning, I began to sob again.

I am mother who has lost her child, God had trusted me with her to raise and I failed.  How can I do anything, let alone get out of that bed.  I had nothing inside me at that moment.

I've always had my faith, but was never that churchy person.  When I started to yell at God, to beg for him to make this all be a nightmare, and not my reality.  I knew it wasn't something He could do,  so in that moment I began my bartering with God.

For years through my daughter's battle with her mental condition, I would tell her, "I know you don't have hope right now, so I will have enough for both of us."  This is something I said many times to her during her long battle, and now I was in that bed and had no hope left.

In that moment I knew I couldn't stay in that bed and hide from the world, but I still couldn't get up.  So I prayed to God, I needed hope, I needed hope it get out of that bed and take care of my family.  I had no idea where it would come from.

So the bartering began, I knew I couldn't promise to never do anything wrong again in my life, I am human and I screw up a lot, that wouldn't really be a barter God would take.  So in that terrible moment I said, "God, fill me with the hope I need to carry on, and I will promise to do what I can to fight this disease, to comfort others with this disease, and to be there for those feeling the pain I knew I would always have."

Then something I had never felt before happened, almost undescrible.  There was an electrifying feeling that came over me and went right to my heart.  For a second I thought, maube God is taking me to be with my girl.  Then I could feel it, it was hope.  God was filling my heart with HOPE.

He accepted my bartering, He was giving me what I needed in that dark time to get out of that bed and take care of my daughter, my family, and anyone else that needed comfort.

I leaned on my family and my friends to get me through that time, then my chips were called in.  I was asked to share our story in the hopes of helping others, when this call came I again felt that electricity of hope.  I remember telling myself, I bartered with God and He doesn't forget that.  I was positive I was supposed to do this.

I began speaking and telling our story and working with The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Surviors Joining for Hope.  I talk with schools, communities,  and well anyone that will listen about how to help others that may be struggling.  I also work with suicide loss survivors, not to "fix them, because God knows I can't but to listen, to let them know they are not alone.

The barter that I made with God that morning was more than just that, this work that I do is as healing for me as I hope it is for those I work with.  The big guy knows what he's doing when He barters.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Year of Grief

It’s been a year since my daughter took her life and I stand in this world much different today than I ever have.  I am broken down, defeated, lost and will never be the same again.   I stand here as a mother who has lost a child.  This past year has been full of grief, hope, and as much strength as I can put together to face every day.

The most difficult part of losing my daughter has been watching my youngest daughter struggle through the grief.  Seeing her struggle through her grief and wanting to fix it and take away the pain, makes my broken heart hurt even more.  There is nothing more painful than seeing your children in pain and not being able to take it away.  Her grief is different than mine, I understand the loss but will never fully understand her grief as a sister and best friend.   I can only be here for her and give her comfort, supporting her through her grief to find healing.

I have learned that relying on others and letting others help has been the most challenging for me, and I haven’t quite figured it all out yet.  I have never been good at relying on others, and now when I am grasping to hold onto the hope I have asking or allowing others to be there is challenging.  I know that I have loving, supportive, caring friends and family that want to be there, but I have always been the one to reach out to help others.  I am trying to let that go and let others be there for me…I am trying.  Walking through this grief is something indescribable to most people, and it has a way to make you feel alone in a crowd of people who love and care for you.  

The waves of grief have taken me through so much already and I know that they will keep coming.  In moments that I find myself smiling and enjoying the moment I feel guilty that I’m enjoying things without her.  When I’m overwhelmed with sadness and fall apart I feel disappointed that I’m not being strong enough for my youngest daughter.  When I sit and think about the time we should have had together the three of us, I am angry.  I roll through these emotions and jump from shock, disbelief, depression, hope, acceptance, love, and hurt.  I am often conflicted about my feelings and how to best express and share them. 

There are days I just fight to survive, others I take on with gusto, some I just get through, and some that I am full of strength wearing my tears as armor taking on the world.  I don’t always know what strength I will have each day, and some days what I think I am ready for turns into something much different. 

The pain my daughter’s illness caused her had to be even greater than the pain we are all in without her here.  Her illness was truly debilitating and she fought with everything she had against it.
The reality of grief is that it is different all the time.  It changes day by day, hour by hour and even minute by minute.

I will forever be reaching to my daughter and for the rest of my life not finding her there and that is how I explain my grief.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Friends Through Grief

Friends Through Grief

Though this past year since my daughter took her life, I have found that there are many types of friends, some that should be in my life and some that just need to be just where they have left themselves, out of my life.   My daughter’s battle through depression was a long road that ended in the most terrible way.  I was always her advocate and focused on the help that she needed.  This left little time to be with friends.  Some understood and some did not.

Through her illness there were many times I had to cancel plans, change plans, or make plans at the drop of a hat.  The friends that understood that, understood that my priority was being a Mom and those that didn’t fell away. 

I will likely never be the same person I was before losing my daughter, this loss has changed me in a way I can’t describe. The grief will never go away, and the friends that understand that are the ones that have been carrying our friendship over this last year, because I just couldn’t.  

Friends can bring more pain to your grief or they can support you in your grief and know that just being there is what a friend truly is.  Each type of friend has brought something to my life and taught me things that I needed to see.  Some brought hurt, and many brought love and support.  I am grateful for my friends those that are here and those that have moved on. 

The “I’ll always be here friends…” these are the true friends, the ones that check in when they are thinking of you, the ones that stop by just because.  These are the friends that understand that there aren’t words to make things better, there isn’t really anything I need other than just to be my friend.  Their contact may be a simple message, card, phone call, or even a random drop by the house.  They don’t stop for anything but to let me know they care, the words are not always profound but they mean more than anything else.  These friends are unconditional and stand beside me and just listen, talk about my girl with me and truly listen to what I am saying.   These are the friends that I can count on, the ones that have not only basked in the sun with me in my happiest of times, but are now sitting in the rain with me in my darkest of times….and they brought an umbrella for us to share.
The “See you around friends….” These are the people that were “friends” before anything happened, they were around right away when everyone was watching, but now are gone.  These friends wonder why I haven’t done things for them during my grief.  They don’t really want to know how I am doing, they just want to know why I’m not doing things.  They have made it clear that my grief is a burden to them and that they don’t want to be with me through anything real.   These are the “friends” that just fade away from my life and as much as it hurts, I have to let them.  I will love them and forgive them…..from afar.

The “Chosen as Family Friends…” this is the friend that was there though everything, the one that would check in though the long battle leading up to my daughter’s death.  The one that did so much when my daughter died but I had no idea because I was just in a haze.  Even now they just do things for me because they know I’m terrible at asking for things.  They are the ones I can always count on for anything, even if I don’t know what I really need.

The “Were they ever a friend friends….” These “friends” are the ones that called or messaged to be nosey.  They asked lots of inappropriate questions and said really off key things, like “She’s in a much better place” and “She is spreading her wings and flying now”.  Seriously, my daughter was 17, is there a better place to be than here with her family?  These friends didn’t ever think to check in when the battle was tough with my daughter’s illness, they only came around to be nosey during a crisis.  They are the ones that don’t understand the grief, and I hope they never have to.

The “Friends in Grief friends…..” these are the people I have met since my daughter took her life.  They have surrounded me with love, support, and positivity because they know exactly what I’m going through.  They understand the loss, the grief, and don’t push me to feel or do anything I’m not comfortable with.  They listen and ask questions, they hug and they support me doing new things.  These friends bring a new spin on my future and help me find my new normal.

Through all this grief, losing a friend was never something I would have thought could hurt so much, but it does.  I remain focused on the love, support, and friendship of those that are in my life, new and old. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

My Face Will Leak!

My Face Will Leak!

I will let my face leak whenever and where ever I need. I'm not hiding or running from my grief, I live my life pretty loud and proud, and my grief will be no different. Grief sucks and if I have to hide it, it makes me feel ashamed of it. So I will grieve when I need to.

If you see my face leaking, then know that I needed to cry in that moment.  I’m not afraid of my tears, I’m scared to hold them in. 

While in the grocery store, picking out some oranges the other day, I swear I heard my girl behind me.  I quickly turned around to see that it wasn’t her and this moment brought me a flash of happiness and then a crash of devastation, it wasn’t her.   I know that she has been gone now for almost 9 months and she will never be the voice behind me in the produce section, yet for those fleeting seconds, I hear her voice and hope she is.  In this moment I needed to let my face leak.

We are encouraged to share all the joyful things in our life, why do we have to deal with grief alone?  

Grief is the form love takes when you lose someone so very special.  Having this grief shows we loved so much and so great that the grief hurts this much.

I will no longer apologize for doing what I need to grieve, because what I’m doing is not wrong.  What I need may be different than what you need, but it is not wrong.