Category Archives: Grief

Making Lemonade Out of This Shit ….. The Benny Fund

making-lemonade-out-of-this-shit-grandma-jill-L-HcPhUXy

MAKING LEMONADE OUT OF THIS SHIT – GRANDMA JILL

Posted in  Paperblog.

The following was written and posted on the internet by The Benny Fund and I subsequently  found it on PAPERBLOG and  decided to post this as it was heartwarming to find it on the internet. Thank you so much Benny Fund for your support as well as for the email you sent me after reading my book. Here is a part of it :-

RE: David’s Story by Jill Sadowsky.

Grandma Jill,

Thank you to my kind (virtual) friend and inspiration, Grandma Jill. I started to read Jill’s blog during the depths of depression. She blogs about mental illness, and her entries on schizophrenia started to resonate with me when I had concerns about my brother. After his suicide this last August,(2014) I reached out to Jill as a resource. She has been an endless source of inspiration and knowledge. David’s Story is a remarkable, yet heartbreaking tribute to her late son. She details her family‘s journey as well as her frustrations  with the mental health system and in this, she is not alone. She tragically lost her son to suicide as we lost my brother. I read most of her book ‘David’s Story’ within days, but I delayed reading the last few chapters for months. I could not bring myself about to deal with the reality of suicide given the rawness of my feelings so did not have the courage to finish Jill’s book. I spent the last hour sobbing uncontrollably. Her book hit at my core. Jill’s persistence was and remains enviable. Her courage is admirable. Her compassion, incomparable. If you have the chance, please read David’s Story which is on SMASHWORDS OR THE AMAZON KINDLE STORE.

‘A person diagnosed with a mental illness, as well as his/her family, is usually the very last one to speak out about it due to the stigma. Mental illness is far more common than diabetes, heart disease or cancer yet is far less spoken about.  It is NOT a character flaw. It doesn’t help to tell someone to get over it. But it helps to show compassion as they are struggling. Find ways to give support. Maybe it’s time to deal with it openly with the emphasis on kindness and acceptance.’

An excerpt from Jill Sadowsky’s book.

 

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They slipped flyers of tombstones into our mailbox … ?

pile of flyers     pile of flyers    pile of flyers    pile of flyersNot long after our son died, our mailbox filled with flyers advertising tombstones. We were expected to shop around. Would you like a rough or a smooth stone? Must it be thick or thin – marble maybe? We were also bombarded with telephone calls asking how much we wanted to spend on our beloved son’s tombstone. One tombstone representative was so argumentative, that I doubt whether he would ever eat food that agreed with him. Another man asked whether we wanted space on the side of the grave for plants or for a memorial candle. Not one of them expressed any kind of empathy or understanding about what we were going through.

Much later, we chose plain, rough marble, as plain as our son’s lifestyle had been.

funeral wreath

 

He’s at rest in God’s hands, but ………………

funeral flowers While attending a dear friend’s funeral, it  triggered memories of the grief I’d felt when our son died; after he ended his life. I remembered some of the things that well-meaning friends and relatives had said to me. One stood out more than the others. It occurred when he cupped my face with both hands and said; ‘He’s at rest in God’s hands.’ My reply? ‘But, it was in God’s hands that I watched him suffer.’ I’d sought out God when in desperate need, only to find his door slammed shut in my face. I’d bargained with him, believing that if I obeyed the rules, he’d protect me, but life does not work that way.

Here are some comments and questions we heard during the days after we’d buried our son.

‘You really should have consulted with a herbalist, you know.’

‘You were supposed to watch over him 24 hours a day.’ What happened? Who was supposed to be watching over him that day?’

‘Why didn’t you change his medication?’

‘Why didn’t you make an appointment to see another psychiatrist?’

‘You could have tried something else, couldn’t  you?

‘Were you and your husband very strict when your children were young?’

What I needed most was to cry. I needed to cry until I had no more tears to shed but was unable to do so. Maybe because I had cried so much over the years. Then, a group of my son’s friends from the Mental Health Society came to visit and told us that they’d held their own private memorial service. This touched me in the deepest crevices of my soul and finally, I managed to release the well of tears I didn’t even know I had left in me to shed – tears that started and would not stop flowing.

Not long after that, a grief therapist brought by a well-meaning acquaintance rang our front door bell. According to him, I had good memories to comfort me and I could look forward to the future with hope. What I was feeling at that moment, was the raw grief of a shocking tragedy and his response sounded like psycho-babble. He insisted that we needed his help and that was when my gentle husband walked him firmly out of the front door, assuring him that we would manage without him … thank you.

 

What to say to someone who is grieving

What I would say to someone who has lost a child?

I’m so sorry. I don’t really know what to say, but I want you to know that I feel deeply for you and your family and I only wish I could do more. I will be thinking of you. It must be impossible to absorb the tragedy of losing a child this way.

Very few people spoke to me this way when my son took his life, and those who did, probably had no idea how good it made me feel to hear their honest and meaningful words. It was so good because they did not ignore all reference to my child. They opened the conversation for me to talk about him at my own pace which helped a great deal. Nothing that anybody said could alleviate my pain but there were things that eased my heartache somewhat.

Being in the company of others who have experienced the same pain and loss, really made a difference. My family stayed home for the seven days of mourning which is a Jewish custom when dealing with mourning and grief after a funeral but, when that week came to an end, I had to reacquaint myself with the world of the living – with ‘NORMAL LIFE’ … whatever normal life was, and that was a frightening prospect. I had to figure out how to live with a huge hole in my heart. I wasn’t really ready for that. I still had more grief to process. I was afraid to attempt normal living in my damaged condition. I needed more time, so this is what I did.

I donned a pair of sturdy rubber gloves and started spring cleaning, moved heavy furniture and waged chemical warfare against any living creature that dared enter our home. In short, I scrubbed my life down to its bones. I needed the physical workout, but even that was insufficient, so I went out into our large garden and dug and weeded till exhaustion left me unable to think straight.

Much later, when I collected the mail, I found flyers advertising tombstones – singles or doubles, black or white, decorative or plain. A friend who dropped in to see how I was, advised me to dump them in the garbage bin, saying: When you are ready to deal with tombstones, you will choose one, but now is not the time. How right she was.

That same friend took me food shopping and from time to time, persuaded me to visit a mutual friend but, we always found more than one guest present. What I needed to hear was; Meet my friend, Jill who lost her son recently, which would have freed me from replying to the dreaded question; How many children do you have?

That question preoccupied me as well as my late husband, as most people tend to ask that question at some stage. My heart raced when I sensed it was on the agenda and I wondered what I would say/could say. ‘ I lost a son but have two daughters, OR I have two daughters.’ But that felt as  though I were deleting my son’s existence. We never managed to resolve that issue.

 

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Face grief with a smile

a willow tree

It’s difficult at times, to face grief with a smile.

It’s hard to make myself believe it will pass in a while.

And when the pain is sharpest, words do not avail.

When tears fall hot and heavy, the best intentions fail.

And yet, however heavy, the burdens that I bear.

When no one else will listen, my girls will always hear.

When no one else has spare time, they will lend a hand.

Although some may forget me, my daughters understand.

 

From SANE Australia … suicide prevention

The clip below was produced by SANE, Australia, and is one of the most sensitively portrayed videos I have yet seen. It sends a message of hope to a person who is in such a deep depression that he/she is contemplating putting an end to his/her life.  Their message is:-

S T O P. There is help out there.

http://www.sane.org/projects/suicide-prevention

 

 

The first in a series on a pretty taboo topic ….

Suicide is a pretty taboo subject. As if managing the stigma of mental illness isn’t sufficiently difficult, suicide carries its own emotive responses; everything from embarrassment, humiliation, shame and denial, to stone-walling and ignorance. I am one of the many people seeking to change the public perception of what it is to live with and face the aftermath of the suicide of a loved one in a family … our son.

If a person wants to end his/her life, there are usually warning signs. The loss of a parent or another loved one can have a shocking effect on an individual who has an emotional problem; the loss of prestige at work or at school can have a negative effect. That same person could have been a victim of domestic violence, bullying at school or even via one or another of the popular social media.

If a friend starts talking or writing about suicide;  if there is a sudden change in that person’s behavior, it can be a warning sign. If a good student’s grades drop or if he/she stops smiling or ends his/her relatioship with a good friend suddenly and without apparent cause, becomes tearful for no apparent reason, or stops participating in his/her usual activities, beware. If your friend talks about the piles of pills he/she has collected, beware and enlist help.

Students should turn to an adult for guidance. It is advisable not to hesitate as you might be able to save a precious life.