I had to return to my GP for a new referral to my psychiatrist. I had the Locum doctor who was obviously unfamiliar with my background.
While answering the standard questions about medications etc, another question was asked.
“Are You Better Now?”
And within seconds my eyes began to fill with tears and I took a deep breath before responding, “Well I do not cry every single moment of the day now.” And then the next 10 minutes of the appointment was spent trying to not cry because all I kept thinking was,
“How does anyone feel ‘better’ after child loss or losing a loved one?”
Because, no I am most certainly NOT feeling better. I am simply learning how to wear a mask and hide my emotions most of the time. I no longer struggle to hide my emotions from the general public, because most of the general public do not wish to see a woman sitting, drinking coffee, with tears streaming down her face. It makes them uncomfortable and wonder if I am about to leap up wielding a weapon and harming others. I can tell because of the looks of horror and uncertainty on their faces. As well as the fact I have had people move seats away from me lol.
Amazing that as a society we view genuine emotions with horror and discomfort, yet we encourage people to show a ‘strong face’ etc, in times of despair. Oh sorry, but my son died 2 1/2 years ago and you believe this to mean my feelings of despair should be over by now? Well let me tell you that I shall NEVER be over my feelings of despair and loss, regarding my child. And until or unless you experience this type of loss, you have NO RIGHT to expect me to meet your beliefs about this type of grief.
I am angry, so very angry. My son did not deserve to die how he did. My children did not deserve to lose their little brother. Jaie’s Fiancee and daughter did not deserve to lose him in any way.
So I am angry to be asked “Are you better now?” I am angry my baby is dead. I am angry his little girl will have no living memories of her daddy. I am angry that my eldest son spoke of everything being ‘tainted’ by Jaie’s death. I am angry that my daughter does not have an argument with her little brother, but in the next moment is defending him against anyone else. I am angry that his Fiancee has been placed with so much sorrow and stress on her young shoulders. I am angry I couldn’t help my son.
But I am not angry with Jaie. I am simply devastated that my youngest child felt so bereft of hope he took his own life. I am saddened he did not realise that he had an illness which destroyed his mind and life. An illness which was manageable.
‘Love Sometimes Comes Like a Dream & Leaves Like a Nightmare’
Thank you to Jenn for her passion and dedication to this crusade. I struggle with jokes about suicide. I accidentally made a random comment a few weeks ago, that the moment it left my mouth I could have hit myself for it and I am a survivor of suicide.
Seemingly harmless statements and jokes, are not so harmless, when you consider for the approximately 1 million people who die by suicide each year, worldwide… There are millions of people left behind after their traumatic death, who love and adore them and we struggle to find our feet in a completely changed world.
This is shared from my Facebook wall July 23rd 2014 …
People tell me I get lost in my grief when I start to speak of Jaie and his death. They do not understand I am not ‘lost’ or ‘stuck’ in it. The grief is stuck in me. I have lost a part of my soul. And speaking of Jaie and how his loss is impacting me over time, helps me to accept this deep burden of loss. There is, quite literally, no way I can change, A. How I feel B. How it affects me C. How much I miss my son (as do my other 3 children and granddaughter) D. How long this takes. Because I will NEVER get over losing Jaie. Not in a million years. E. That the loss of Jaie is SO painful and I am wounded so badly by his death, that walking away from anyone or anything who causes me stress or compounds my grief, is relatively easy. F. Do not be afraid of not understanding this pain. Be grateful and respect that I AM. G. You do NOT want to EVER feel this type of loss. But child loss especially. So forethought and compassion when speaking needs to become second nature to ourselves. How about other people show the same respect and compassion as well…
‘Sometimes Love Comes Like a Dream & Leaves Like a Nightmare’
***WARNING*** This might be a “trigger” to suicide loss survivors. I feel it is time I use MY voice on this topic. It is time that those that have not had to walk in our shoes, and I pray they never have to, maybe understand just for a moment how painful jokes about suicide truly are to a suicide loss survivor. I hope that maybe, just maybe, this will help to educate and make a difference. I hope this is shared and that when it is read people will finally understand how something as simple as changing a few words in their vocabulary can literally change the entire day, or even days, of a suicide loss survivor. Ever heard of a thing called PTSD? Please educate yourself on it, it is not uncommon for suicide loss survivors to suffer with it. Something as simple as a “joke” could literally set…
Well meaning loved ones and people with the very best intentions ask me if I am alright often, which makes me feel worse than I already feel because I cannot find the words or reasons why I feel so down.
This puts me into a cycle of feeling guilty for not being more productive and being in a better headspace than what I am. So I begin to feel even worse and eventually I end up crying or withdrawing even further into myself so that I will stop impacting those I love with my negativity.
Depression is not something I can just switch on or off. It is not something I choose to feel or not feel. It simply is what it is and I struggle everyday to some degree with feeling like crap …
Suicidal thoughts still cross my mind and suicide is most certainly not something I would ever want to do to my children, family and friends or followers … But it is my reality and by being aware and mindful of these thoughts and depressive states, is what helps me get through them safely …
Learning to speak with someone who I can trust and tell them the truth about what my depression and anxiety tells me and why I might be so quiet and not talking all that much. But it is still difficult to do this. I still stumble over telling them what is making me awkward and difficult to interact with …
I wish this was not how it is. I wish that none of this was real and that my brain could go back to where it once was and working how it once was …
‘Love Sometimes Comes Like a Dream & Leaves Like a Nightmare’
I know, I know… Many of you are probably reading the title of this post and thinking,
“Gifts?!? From grief?!? Are you delusional?!?”
Let me babble for a moment please. When riding the new bike home yesterday, it struck me, I have received very specific gifts since losing Jaie to suicide. Very important, yet not recognised gifts, have been offered to me as a bereaved person. This is one important reason I love to ride. I think, reflect and have therapy, all at once.
Now prior to losing Jaie, I had been an optimist and would always look for the rainbow after the rain. After losing Jaie, I never thought it possible to even smile again, let alone feel like I could actually rise from these ashes and begin to take small, but very determined steps forward.
You see, even though I was a community orientated member of society and was more empathetic than the average person, it was still not enough to make a marked difference (at least this is what I believe). Since Jaie’s death by suicide, I have become even more. And less.
More tolerant of those who are in pain and suffering, less tolerant of spiteful behaviour and nastiness. More empathetic with those struggling and less wasteful of my time on those who try to create drama, simply for the sake of it. I no longer feel even slightly inclined to try and live any part of my life trying to ‘understand’ another view, where on some aspect of life I know for a fact they are not for me. So I refuse to waste any time or effort on them or those involved with them.
The ‘gifts’ I have received after Jaie’s death, are not gifts a person truly ‘chooses’ to accept. Because accepting them makes this grief very real, very confronting and at the first recognition of these gifts, it is emotionally and physically crippling. Recognition of these gifts mean that there is no longer any ability to deny the reality of my adored and much loved son, being dead.
Jaie’s death has provided me a strength I never thought possible for me to achieve. Well obviously, because there is no way anyone could have ever said to me, “One of your children will die and you will have to continue to live.” I would have told them “Uh Uh … I’ll be going with them, don’t you worry.”
However, here I am, almost 2 years and 2 months since Jaie died. I am still alive and fighting to survive in this changed landscape, as a bereaved mother.
So now I must continue to wield these gifts with extreme discretion and care. We know only too well the harm which can befall those of us, who we do not even know are vulnerable. I guess what I am saying is maybe the universe somehow selects some of us to be the sufferers? The bearers of trials and tribulations, so that we are provided the necessary skills and experience, to not only survive tragedy, but to make a mark in the world after it?
Trust me, I would do anything to not be a part of this club, but after experiencing firsthand, what suicide grief is like, it is not something I would wish upon another. Our future experiences will now be, forevermore, bittersweet … any happiness will always have the shadow of pain across it …
‘The Gifts of Grief’ …..
‘Love Sometimes Comes Like a Dream & Leaves Like a Nightmare’
Well friends, we have finally gained official Not For Profit status. Took some time but better late than never.
Loose ends are being tied up and slowly but surely, the momentum is gathering to create something which will truly help those at risk of suicide and to provide postvention support for families impacted by suicide.
We have several large corporations/businesses coming on board supporting us for our future journey and the only way is up from here … positive vibes and positive ripples. With the communities being the people who benefit from it, which is the desire from ALL involved.
As I have previously discussed, I have attended a 2.5 day training program ‘Train the Trainer’ – Lived Experience with Suicide Prevention Australia and Roses in the Ocean (November 2015). Recently I completed event training with the Queensland Mental Health Commission & Roses In The Ocean in Brisbane (April 26th, 2016). On April the 27th, 2016, I also attended training in Postvention support with Standby Response (United Synergies) in Maryborough and a networking / renewing the partnership session. After meeting the Queensland Mental Health Commissioner (Lesley) on April the 26th, it was encouraging to see and hear how much dedication for a better mental health system, Queenslands own Commissioner has. Bronwen from Roses in the Ocean is still another amazing and inspiring person involved with this battle on suicide.
Olwen, our suicide support group Coordinator, has been carrying this banner for suicide prevention and awareness for 25 years (this year). Owen lost her youngest son Chris in 1991 to suicide and has been battling the systems and the stigma around suicide. Owen is inspirational and does not mince words. She is genuinely kind, generous and empathetic. I am so very grateful, Standby Response forwarded my contact details to Olwen. Between them all, they quite literally saved my life and have supported me (and my family) through this horrific journey. Owen is a wealth of experience, ideas and information and will be involved with planning certain areas of Jaie’s journey (I must advise Olwen is not a fan of my bike, so I just do not speak about it with her lol). However the wealth of knowledge Olwen can contribute toward the prevention of suicide, is immeasurable.
Anyway, thank you to all of our dedicated followers and all who have helped us reach this pinnacle moment and I hope that you are able to stick with us for the rest of the journey to help others ❤ … For those who are new to our journey, welcome and we hope that Jaie’s Journey can help to make a positive influence in your own life ❤ …
‘Love Sometimes Comes Like a Dream & Leaves Like a Nightmare’
Whenever I look at a photo of Jaie,I instantly reach toward it as if I can brush his eyebrow into a neat shape. When he was a baby and a little boy, this was one of our rituals if he was hyped up or just wanted mommy love ❤ …
He had the most amazing eyelashes (compliments of his fathers genes) and the most unusual green coloured eyes (normally), which were chameleon eyes and could change colour with his moods … No one in my family or his father’s family, have the same coloured eyes as Jaie … So we have lost this individual and unique part of him, with his death …
I am struggling to keep my emotions in line. Some days are harder than others. The motivation behind what is proving to be an ongoing journey, which I should have begun decades ago, is cruel and relentless.
‘It is what it is’
I spend days sourcing so many options of support and activities to promote awareness of suicide and prevention in the long term and once I confirm certain events, I can then promote and make them public.
One week, and the offical work will begin to take shape … Six weeks and the backbone component of Jaie’s Journey, will commence … In 10-12 weeks, new connections will be made on a scale that I understand at this moment, is immeasurable until then … 24-26 weeks, let us hope that the growth and connections are continuing to grow firstly within the local community and outwards from there.
‘Love sometimes comes like a dream & leaves like a nightmare’
So here we are, on the brink of Jaie’s second Thanoversary (Thanoversary – return to the date of the death).
I began Jaie’s Journey – Our New Normal After Death by Suicide to begin a movement that would not only provide support for those at risk of suicide or suffering from depression and mental illness, but specifically to provide validation, understanding and support for those bereaved by suicide. Through much research, it has been discovered that those bereaved by suicide become a higher ‘at risk’target group, due to the level of trauma and guilt involved for these survivors of suicide.
Having an ability to access the internet to try and find others empathetic and truly understanding of how this form of grief presents, is invaluable. Jaie’s Facebook page is public, but let me assure you there are many private groups on Facebook, specifically providing support for those bereaved by suicide. I would love to name them here, however due to there being many living ghouls out there who are simply curious for whatever reasons, I cannot name any groups here. Yes, you read this right… Some individuals target suicide bereavement support groups for their own gains and interests. They masquerade as bereaved parents/children etc and request to join the group/s.
What have I learnt in the almost two years since my youngest son killed himself? Many things … Some good, some bad and some I am still trying to figure out.
We have been fortunate to have an amazingly strong network of family and friends surrounding my children and myself. These folks are some of the most incredible and wonderful people a person could ask for, as a support network.
We have also discovered that certain individuals will target vulnerable and grieving people and their families, for their own gain and interests. The unscrupulousness in this world simply stuns me still.
I have been very fortunate in that even one of my main professional support persons has experienced the loss of a child. Not through suicide, but I know that they at least understand me when I ask the question, “This pain will never leave me will it?” I know that their answer is empathetic and genuine in the ways that count. I am still under the care of my psychiatrist (almost 2 years now and many more to go), as well as having returned to seeing my clinical psychologist for much needed ongoing treatment. I cannot ‘talk the talk’ if I am not able to ‘walk the walk’.
I am receiving so much positive feedback on Jaie’s public page, it helps me make it through the bad days, knowing that a difference is being made. I have always said that, if by speaking out means saving even just one life, then it is worth it.
With the support of many individuals, businesses, community groups, larger organisations, national alliances and friends, Jaie’s Journey will be moving into a different level of intensity over the next 6-12 months. There is a lot happening in the background, which I am unable to speak of yet, but slowly and surely, things are falling into place. Sponsors are sticking with us and looking forward to helping out, ideas are forming and being implemented to help us grow, so that we can really begin to reach those who need to be heard and validated. Ongoing training is being provided by organisations which have their collective hearts set on making a real change within our communities, in the safest possible ways.
One thing I am still discovering is the extent that suicide has impacted our community already. Almost every person I have contact with has been affected by it in one way or another. Which in itself, is disturbing and upsetting. We cannot afford to become or remain complacent… We cannot afford to start believing that “Sh1t happens and we just have to deal with it”. We simply cannot.
2014 saw the suicide toll rise to 2864 lives lost … My son Jaie is one of those lives taken and I am angry, furious that he became a statistic for something he had never even spoken with me about. Furious, because I had often offered to help him find a counsellor for his anger issues at least (prior to knowing he had bipolar), and he never accepted the help. Furious I didn’t force him to seek counselling. Guilt that I never forced him to seek help. Anyone who knows Jaie, knows he could never be forced into doing anything he didn’t want to do.
So, we enter into the last week of his second year and dread entering into the first week of his third year gone from us. The triggers are many (more so than normal) and I am shut down a lot of the time, so that I can keep a lid on my emotions. When I begin to cry I struggle to stop. My heart did not just break when I realised my baby boy was dead… it continues to break every single time I take a breath, knowing that he is no longer breathing …
We have Jaie’s memorial weekend, next week and it will be good to have his loved ones with us. we have activities planned that Jaie would enjoy. Nothing over the top. Just BBQ’s, swimming, campfires and water fights. And remembering our much loved boy.