Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Last night my children and I had therapy again. There was a new person who joined the group and her reason for being there was suicide. There are now actually four of us in group as a result of suicide. Only one mother’s children know the truth.

I brought up my biggest fear and concern to the group. My children don’t really know how their father died. I have had a conversation with them in my head a million times. I start by saying how daddy suffered from depression but when I try to make the transition to what he actually did to himself, my heart starts pounding and I can’t continue. This is really why I haven’t told them yet. I just couldn’t find the words.

We went around the room and many people also said they were afraid to tell their children, because they didn’t want them to think it was their fault. Or add any more fears to the already growing list young children are afraid of after a death. The therapist gave us her opinion. She said that children can handle almost any news we tell them better than we give them credit for.

I said that I felt like maybe I missed my chance in telling the truth as they have never really asked me specifics about how their daddy died. They accepted when I told them daddy had a boo boo in his brain and have mostly focused on the fact that he is just not here anymore. The therapist said I did not miss the boat- in fact them being in therapy is the perfect time to tell them. Once they know what happened, they can talk about it here with the therapists in a safe and comfortable place.

Maybe it is that the year is coming up. Maybe it is the fear and anxiety of them not knowing that has weighed on me so intensely these past few months. Maybe it is the acupuncture I got on Monday. The woman stuck me with a ton of needles to alleviate stress, anxiety and grief. Maybe it was just time for me to find the words.

Tonight at dinner I sat across the table from my two babies and asked them if they had any questions about how daddy died. They both sort of shook their heads. I said to them, there are things I want you to know about how daddy died. I want you to hear them from me and not anyone else. My son started to cry and my daughter looked at me angrily and said – stop saying the words daddy died – you know this makes him cry! My son nodded his head and said, maybe you could say “passed away” instead. I almost went hysterical then. They are so smart and so wonderful to each other and here I am about to drop a bomb in their laps.

I took a deep breath and this is what I said: Daddy had a boo boo in his brain and this boo boo is called depression. When daddy looked out into the world he only saw darkness. He didn’t see anything good in his life. I pointed to them and said he didn’t see you two, he didn’t see me, he didn’t see anything at all. He just saw black. When daddy felt this happen to him he decided that he had to die. He couldn’t live just seeing darkness. He took his car into our friend’s garage and he breathed the poisonous fumes and in a minute he died. This is called suicide.

My son looked at me and asked – daddy did this? I said yes. He asked why the fumes were poisonous. I said when you are in a small space without any air you cough and it makes you close your eyes and then you die. He said daddy coughed for a minute like this – and then he started coughing for a long time. I got up in the middle of his mimicking, opened a beer from the fridge, sat back down at the table gulping and gulping and trying to keep myself in check.

I told them that I called the ambulance but it was too late to help daddy. He knew what he did and is in a much better place. They just sat there looking at me. So then I told them I have two more very important things to say. One is that even though daddy only saw darkness he loved you both more than anything else in the entire world. The other really important thing is that I love you more than anything else in the entire world and I am always here for you.

They didn’t ask any more questions. Nobody cried. I sat at the table starring at them in wonder. How did they handle this news so well and how did it take me eleven months to tell them? I feel horrible right now, but really relieved. Horrible that I told my children the terrible secret that I have been holding inside for so long; but relieved that I finally said the truth. Relieved that I don’t have to worry anymore about them hearing the truth from someone other than me.

Now I must go as I am so not done drinking beer tonight. As well, October is only a day away and more firsts and fears await me.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Get It

I get that this isn’t my fault. That there was nothing I could have done to stop this. I get that it wasn’t because I was a terrible wife or a bad friend to you. I get that it wasn’t because of the mortgage or other problems. I get that I missed every single sign because there were no signs to see. I get that when I looked into your eyes and saw your stress – the same kind I see in lots of other people – I never saw death.

The anger subsides the more I tell myself this. The more I try to understand that in your final hours you didn’t see me at all. You didn’t see your three amazing unbelievable wonderful children. I get that I could not have stopped you because you could not have stopped yourself. The anger slides away as I realize you just must have been suffering so immensely, that you couldn’t think of any other way out of the darkness you were in.

The sorrow and pain I feel now is that you did suffer so very much and I didn’t know. The pain I feel now is that I truly didn’t know you were in such a dark place. This I am so sorry for my love. This is what I feel now. I realize after eleven months it wasn’t my fault and it really wasn’t your fault. It is just that now I have to pick up all the pieces and take care of the children and there is no one left to blame. You are dead and there is just no changing this one simple fact.

You have been the topic of conversation in our house much more than usual. I suppose it is because the children are in therapy that you are in the forefront of their brains. So now every night my son cries at some point and my daughter turns to look at him, wondering why he is crying. It is so interesting the difference between how the two of them grieve you. Your daughter was a week shy of her fourth birthday and soon she will turn five. But what does she really understand about death? Only what I tell her. She knows you are gone, but doesn’t really grasp much more than that. Does she miss you? Absolutely; but talking about you never makes her cry.

Your son however, mourns you like me. Just talking about you sets him off crying that he tends to just not want to talk about you at all, as he hates to cry. We sat at dinner the other night and when I mentioned you the crying started. I looked at the two of them and said, “We are going to talk about daddy for the rest of our lives. Sometimes we will cry when we talk about him. Sometimes we will laugh, remembering how funny he was. Sometimes, maybe we will do both at the same time.” Then of course they tried to laugh and cry simultaneously which caused their milk to spill from their noses and mouths – it made a mess, but made the moment not so terrible for them.

As for me, I am trying not to think about the month of October. The more I try the more all consuming it becomes. I am trying to figure out how the hell I have survived this past year. I am trying to figure out how it is really possible that you have been dead for almost a year. It just can’t be so. I see you so alive and so clearly as if I just saw you a moment ago. I can’t breathe when I think about the reality of you being gone. I am just devastated that you are dead. It doesn’t seem to matter how many years will pass – I miss you and I am devastated that you are gone.

I never thought I would be healed by the time I hit a year. I never thought I would wake up on October 24 and feel great. I do however wonder if I will ever feel differently again. I want to talk about you and remember you more and more as it gets closer to the date. I just want the year to come already and yet – I dread it coming. I can’t possibly find the strength to acknowledge you have been gone a year.

My whole life makes zero sense to me now. I can’t keep a thought in my head. I can’t make small talk to people who don’t know what happened. I need a new fake smile because everything else seems to be failing me now. I don’t want people to look at me and see suicide and death – but it is all I see these days. All I know is mourning and I hate this – the sadness and sorrow that fills me. I just want to be the girl I once was. I just want to be a great understanding mom. I am not sure how to be a normal person anymore. This part I just don’t get at all.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fight Club

Last night the children and I attended our first family therapy session. My brother teased me that if I kept this up I was going to turn into the girl from Fight Club – who constantly goes to random group therapies for the rush of it. Trust me; this is not, so not going to happen to me.

On a positive note – the kids are in a group with other small children who all lost their fathers. Kind of sick that this is what I find positive. At the very least they met children who have suffered a loss similar to their own and hopefully won’t feel so different when this experience is over. I however had to sit in another group with the parents and listen to more horrible, sad and tragic stories.

I am able to relate to everyone on one level. We are all raising children who have lost a very close loved one. We are all trying to figure out the best ways to approach their questions, their sadness and their anger. Hopefully I will gain some useful information that can help me navigate through all this death crap.

The reality is that for me the connection begins and ends with my children. I don’t belong in a room with people who have lost their spouses to cancer or disease. In fact I envy the simplicity of their situation. If I said this out loud they would be appalled with me. But they cannot possibly understand how much I wish my answer was something simple like heart attack, car accident – whatever. Anything to me seems simpler than suicide.

So I will sit in this group for the next nine sessions and do it for my children. My friend asked me what did I get out of yesterday's experience. My answer was how much I appreciate my monthly suicide group. How much it means to me to be able to talk about suicide without having to explain so much of how I feel everyday. I don’t want to rehash the day I found you with another group of people. I don’t want to have to explain my guilt and sadness and anger – I just can’t do it anymore. I have relived the day you died a million times in my head. Please don’t make me say it out loud to a group who just won’t get any of it!

I had a pretty horrible weekend. For a variety of reasons – but the biggest one is that I totally lost my ability to fake my emotions. In fact, I am almost pleased about this turn of events. This Friday you will be dead eleven months. So for eleven months now I have had a big fat fake smile plastered onto my face. I wanted everyone to look at me and think I was doing fine and could handle it all. You know what? I am tired of trying to make everyone else feel good about me. I am tired of trying to conceal my pain and angst. I am just really freaking tired.

So I sat in the park and sulked. I didn’t want to talk to anyone and would have sat in my house all day sulking if I didn’t have two small kids who needed fresh air. I just wanted to be left alone and for the first time in eleven months didn’t go out of my way to hide this fact. I upset a lot of people and I feel bad about this – but sometimes I just can’t pretend like everything is fine and everyone who knows me and loves me is just going to have to accept this.

I know this is a rough time of year for all of my friends with kids in school. Everything is changing and nothing is really in routine yet and everyone is out of sorts. I get that this is partly the cause of my stress. Once we get into the swing of things everything will be a little bit calmer and easier. At least I really hope so.

But right now I feel like I live in a tornado – life is a whirlwind of actions and everything is flying over my head and I am busier than I ever was before. I have lists upon lists of stupid idiotic stuff to take care of and it all just seems impossible.

Everyone keeps asking me what are you doing to take care of you? What are you doing for yourself? Please stop asking me this utterly annoying question. You know what I am doing to take care of me. I fantasize about throwing rocks through the window of my old house or crashing my car into the idiot driving in front of me or screaming at the oblivious self centered parents at my kid’s school. That is my big thrill at the moment. This is not the answer you want – but this is what makes me feel better. I don’t do anything rash or ridiculous or break the law. I am trying to keep myself together. I am trying to put mascara on without a nervous breakdown – this is what I am doing for me.

I am trying not to think about Friday. I am trying not to think about how I have one more month left and then I must face the year. I am trying not to think about how much I love the month of October and yet only horrible terrible things have happened these past few years. I am trying to do my best despite the obstacles life is throwing at me.

I am trying not to turn into a Fight Club Girl in any regards – whether it refers to therapy or kicking someone in the shins for saying something so utterly stupid to me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Too Much

I am having an impossibly difficult week. I don’t know why every single thing just feels like it is too much for me. Dinner, homework, laundry, therapy – everything is overwhelming and stressful.

I am frustrated with myself because I am going backwards. I am not sure what the trigger is but it all just feels like too much.

I drive by the garage where you died a million times in a week. I barely even glance at it anymore. Yesterday morning after I took the children to school and left for work I drove past the garage – but this time was different. For some reason I glanced over to the sidewalk and your body was lying on the ground. I saw myself kneeling over you hysterical and I almost crashed into a parked car reliving the scene in my mind. I don’t know where the ghosts came from – but they were there and very real. I spent the entire way to work reliving that scene over and over in my head. I can barely recall anything from this past year – but the day you died – I remember every minute of it as if it were happening again.

I am having serious trouble with my time management and dealing with the children. I am just overwhelmed with the start of school and our new schedule. I am annoyed and upset that I am having so much trouble with this transition. I got through almost all of last year’s school year alone. I was fine – I did everything I was supposed to and more. What is it about this new year that is breaking my spirit? I keep asking myself this and wonder if I was just in shock for most of it that I didn’t feel anything. Maybe the start of the new school year by myself is just a reminder that this is my life now. I will always be alone and every year will just be me and there is no going back to the way it once was.

I went to therapy last night. I told the group how everything somehow feels like it is too much for me and then I cried. The moderator reminded me that October is approaching and maybe deep down this is what is really troubling me. Maybe he is right. Next month you will be dead a year and it still seems impossible. How – how have you been gone for so long – when just yesterday I saw you on the sidewalk. Maybe I am just going crazy.

I feel like I have been living underwater for all this time. When I do finally come to the surface the first breath I take will be one where I am gasping for air – trying to make sense of it all. Sometimes I feel like I have reached the surface and sometimes I feel like I am still drowning.

I did feel better after I left group. Being able to share my feelings and hearing how others are struggling with the ups and downs - it feels like the weight of the month has been released – at least for a little while. One person said that it has been over a year since his loved one died and he has not changed, but everyone around him has moved on. It is true for me too. On the outside my life is moving forward; I take care of my children and do everything that must get done. But on the inside my heart has not moved an inch since the day my husband died. But no one sees what is inside my soul. No one sees that I am devastated inside – they see what I want them to and they see a mom who does it all and never complains.

It feels very unfair to be falling backwards. Like the moment I let the anxiety of life take over, the demons from my loss don’t waste even a second to pounce on my fragile state. Like I am always at war with the outside world and even myself – like showing any weakness is my worst enemy.

Apparently I have to learn to fight harder and shield myself with better armor. I have to learn to calm down, deal with my time management and not let our new schedule get the better of me. Starting back to school seems to be harder on me than it is the children. I only want to be a great mom and a calm mom and I guess it means I have to try and push myself even more. This would be a difficult time of year even if my husband were alive. I keep trying to remind myself this. That even if I wasn’t overwrought with grief and sadness - the stress of life would still be here and I just have to keep moving forward.

Friday, September 10, 2010


For the past two days I have been doing a lot of reflecting. The Jewish New Year is upon us and this is a very special time. As Jews we are supposed to be asking G-d for whatever we want for the upcoming year. I spent hours in synagogue yesterday with my eyes squeezed tight as can be – praying and also trying not to cry.

What do I really want to ask G-d I kept thinking? What do I want for the New Year? My first reaction is to say I want a year opposite of the one that just past. But then I think about this thought and say no – this isn’t entirely true.

I obviously don’t want to suffer a loss of any kind. But I have learned a great deal about myself and others this year and I wouldn’t take that away for anything.

I learned that I am stronger than I ever thought possible. That throughout mourning and tragedy I can still laugh at myself. Despite the fact that my children have lost their father – they are still amazing children who play and laugh and love life. You would never be able to pick my children out in the park and know immediately they lost their father.

I learned who my friends are – really and truly deep down to the core. I learned that despite how much I fight with my mother – I would be utterly lost without her. I learned that my family is still morning for my husband and feels a sadness I wish I could take away from them all. I learned that my friends still think of my husband fondly and I am not the only one who misses him terribly.

I learned who I can call at 2am with any crisis. I have watched my family, friends, community and strangers rise above and beyond what any one person deserves. I learned that no matter what has happened no one judges me, treats me differently and I only feel compassion and love.

I have learned about myself a great many things. I realize now how much stress affects me and I am stressed all the time. I learned to ask for help when I hate asking for help. I learned to say NO when something really just got too much for me. I realized that being a mom has saved my life.

I realize that this past year has shown me how much I should appreciate my life and my children and not to take even the tiniest thing for granted. I learned not to complain because it just doesn’t solve anything. I learned not to be angry at people and try to rid myself of past grudges because life is just too short.

So what do I want to ask G-d for this New Year? Not too much as I have been blessed with so much already. All I really want is to stay healthy so I can care for my children. I want my friends and family to stay healthy as well. I want to be able to someday somehow be as good a friend to someone else as I have received this year. I want my family to stop being sad for me. I want all my children to have a productive school year and feel as blessed and special as they are.

The only other thing I ask from G-d is for direction. To put me in a place where I can be happy again in life. I want to find a career that allows me to be there for my children and also put food on the table. I want to find something that is just for me and that I love – whatever it may be.

I want to laugh again and really feel like it is OK to be laughing. I want my husband’s soul to be at peace. I want to visit his grave only sometimes and not every week. I want to find some happy medium between mourning him and remembering him.

Thank you G-d – Amen.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Life Now

There are moments when I don’t think about you at all. Our days are busy and the children always want or need me in some capacity and I just act like a regular mom. It seems to be getting easier, the not thinking about you part. Except when I crawl into bed each night, look at your side and remember that it is going to stay empty. I try to push the thoughts away.

Then there are days where there is a crisis with a family member or a friend and the first thing I instinctually do is reach for the phone to call you. I watch as my hand moves to grab my cell and my brain stops me before I dial, but my heart wants to call you nevertheless. Then the pain comes back and I miss you terribly.

There has been a lot of drama lately and more than once over the past week I have gone to call you. Knowing that I can’t seems to make whatever crisis I am dealing with that much worse, because you are just dead, completely unreachable. I can’t hear your voice and you aren’t here to help me in any way. I miss talking to you and having you as my voice of reason. I miss you telling me that everything is going to be OK. Deep down I really just miss you so very much.

Our son looked at me the other day and said, “Mommy it is almost a year that daddy is dead.” I looked at him and just said yes, that is true. I was waiting for him to say something else, anything else. But he went back to building his Lego City and that was that. It is amazing to me how little we talk about you now. I still ponder whether this is good or bad. I wonder if maybe it is time to open the boxes with your photos. That maybe your image won’t be so difficult to look at and the children need your face around – to remind them how much they were loved by their daddy. But I am a coward at heart and don’t know when this will happen.

Our baby girl starts Kindergarten in two days. You aren’t going to be here to watch her set off with her brand new backpack and go to school like the big girl she has grown into this year. You won’t be here to make fun of me when I fall to pieces moments after I walk out of her classroom. She won’t miss your presence as you have been dead over ten months now – and this is a long long time for her. But me – I will sob extra tears for her growing up and you missing yet another milestone.

The Jewish New Year is also this week. Another holiday I must get through without you. I am apathetic about this holiday – no surprise. I will go to services, go to some meals and do it all for the children. My heart just isn’t into anything these days. I go through the motions for my kids and because it is what I am supposed to do – keep my life normal and all that. But it saddens me that everything I seem to do these days is just going through the motions. True I don’t mourn and cry like I used to. True time makes the pain edge it way slowly away – but life is just not the same and maybe it never will be.

Yesterday I took the kids to the park. I was the only mom. It was only because I have no idea what day it is that at first I couldn’t understand where all the women were. Then I realized it is Sunday – aka mommy’s day off. Dads are home and they are the ones taking the kids to the park while moms do anything but go to the park. I didn’t dwell on this fact – I just pretended like it was a Tuesday. I played soccer with my son and tried to teach my daughter to ride her bike without hitting the fence.

This is just life now. Getting through each day, dealing with any crisis that comes along, showing my children a fun time and trying not to look like the mourning widow I really am deep down inside.