Category Archives: Grief and Grieving

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.

 

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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‘Making Lemonade Out of This Shit’ Grandma Jill

1 lemonade out of this shitI decided to post this as it was heartwarming to find it on the Internet.

Grandma Jill,

MAKING LEMONADE OUT OF THIS SHIT

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 started having concerns about my brother.  After his suicide this past August, 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 David.  She details her family’s journey as well as her frustrations — although she is not alone — with the mental health system.   She tragically lost her son to suicide just as we lost my brother last August.  I read most of  ‘David’s Story’ within days, but I must admit that I delayed reading the last few chapters for months.  I couldn’t bring myself to deal with the reality of suicide given the rawness of my brother’s death.  As I came close to the end of a train ride, I finally mustered up 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 is incomparable.   If you have a chance, please read “David’s Story.”

“A person diagnosed with a mental illness 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. It is NOT a character flaw. It doesn’t help to tell someone: get over it. But it does help to show compassion as they are struggling. Try and find ways to give support. Maybe it’s time to deal with it openly with the emphasis on kindness and acceptance.” — Jill Sadowsky.

Visit her blog (https://jillsmentalhealthresources.wordpress.com) or read “David’s Story.”

Reviews on “David’s Story

“Jill Sadowsky bravely and generously shares her experiences with her son’s schizophrenia. While her story is harrowing, her strength is inspiring. She has led the way to removing the stigma associated with mental illness. Despite the heart-ache I felt, I could not put it down. Well written and without a whisper of self-pity.”

My sincerest thank you for sharing your family’s story with us. Your book is a wonderful tribute to your late son, David. By having the courage to share this story, you ensure that the dialogue around mental illness will continue, which ultimately will lead to greater understanding and compassion. After reading through your blog, I purchased David’s Story trying to find some solace. Less than five months ago, my 24-year-old brother, Ben, died by suicide. Although he was never officially diagnosed, there were many similarities between Ben and David. I shared the book with my family with the hope that they too would find some solace. It has helped us all with the healing process and has made us feel a little less alone on this journey. Thank you again for your courage. You are a remarkable and strong woman.” My deepest gratitude, Holly Neiweem (http://bennyfund.org)

“Sadowsky has written a wrenching memoir of her son’s mental illness, which was eventually diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia. The book is not as dark as I expected; there are many moments of joy and humor and family togetherness. But Sadowsky’s fear and worry for her son come through, as well as at times fear of him, what he might do in the grip of a delusion. I appreciate her honesty and openness. Through all the fear and anger and frustration, what is most apparent is the love, not just for this difficult and damaged boy, but between all members of the family.”

“I didn’t know what to say or do — How many of us have been caught up in a guilt-ridden conscience battle when considering contacting people whom we know are dealing with specific problems. Somehow it is easy when there is a physical situation that can be referred to in terms that we all know and understand. BUT it is the OTHER situations that cause us the most difficult of decision making. But beyond the decision there is the feeling of “not knowing what to say or do.” Many life situations have rituals that give us security to deal with a specific event – religious traditions are most helpful and are guidelines as to what is expected and we can lean on these rules to guide and give confidence as to what is to be done. But then there are the matters as “mental health” that is not so clear-cut or so obvious and do not have the ground rules to follow. We are lost, we feel guilty that we do not know what should be said or even if something should be done.  That is why “David’s Story” is going to be a bible to many who have watched from the sidelines not knowing if they should or how to get involved. So many social taboos are associated with mental illness that no guidelines are there or modes of behavior or social etiquettes to deal with these situations. There are many such cases where society has not given us the tools to cope, not only as the actual participants directly affected but also those of us who are on the periphery and who would want to help but are at a loss as to what is expected or what will not be offensive.  At last an open book, a true exposure by those most affected, is going to offer key codes of reaction that will be treasured guides to those many, many people who just were at a loss as to what they could do.
Jill Sadowsky not only has opened her heart and soul to relate such painful aspects of her life but she has opened the world of mental health to the better understanding by all of us, giving us vital information that can guide so many, to be able to reach to those in need of support – hopefully we shall know what is needed.  From a friend who was lost – I thank her for her courage to help us know better what to do whenever it is necessary.”

 

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David’s Story and author bio

David's Story cover kindle

BUY David’s Story by Jill Sadowky from Amazon’s Kindle Store or from Smashwords.

When we talk to G-d, it’s called prayer, but when G-d talks to us, it’s called schizophrenia – is Lily Tomlin’s quote that I chose to use in my book.

Dvora Waysman, author of 11 books, wrote: ‘David’s Story is a heartbreaking study of the progress of schizophrenia, destroying not only one life, but making tragic inroads into the lives of every family member. This story gripped me from the first page and I grieved along with the author. I highly recommend it. Jill Sadowsky’s honest recording of her son’s little-understood mental illness is written with sensitivity and compassion, born out of love and pain.’

AUTHOR BIO: Jill is an English Teacher and a volunteer for the local Mental health Association. In January 2012, she received a prestigious award for her voluntary work in the field of mental health, during the time her son was ill, something she still continues to do.

Her first book, Weep for Them, was written under a pen-name and David’s Story, was her second.

Personal Account, a long essay, was published in the US Health & Human Resources Publication.

An Account of Their Lives with Schizophrenia was one of two articles published in the Israeli Psychiatric Journal.

She has been published in three anthologies as well as in Kaleidoscope in the USA.

She won first place in two international short story competitions recently, including her story, A Grave Surprise in Dream Quest One, and several of her short stories have been accepted for publication in North America and England.

The picture below appeared in the Jewish Telegraph, Manchester, UK on April 5, 2012 under the following heading.

PROFILE

THEY CALL JILL ‘MESSIAH’ BECAUSE SHE BREAKS TABOO OF MENTAL ILLNESS and the story appeared underneath the picture below  (too long to publish here)

                         jill photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by children on the day they were sent to a gas chamber in 1944

for a blog girl watching sunsetOn a purple, sun-shot evening Under wide-flowering chestnut trees Upon the threshold full of dust Yesterday, today, the days are all like these.   Trees flower forth in beauty, Lively too their very wood all gnarled and old That I am half afraid to peer Into their crowns of green and gold.   The sun has made a veil of gold So lovely that my body aches. Above, the heavens shriek with blue Convinced I’ve smiled by some mistake. The world’s abloom and seems to smile, I want to fly but where, how high? If in barbed wire, things can bloom Why couldn’t l? I will not die! 1944

Anonymous (Written by the children in Barracks L 318 and L 417; ages 10-16 years)   in the Terezin Concentration Camp on the outskirts of Prague. If those children had been able to remain optimistic until the end,  how dare I give up, ever?

So many people wanted to comfort me …

  SO MANY PEOPLE WANTED TO COMFORT ME.  SO FEW SUCCEEDED

People aim to comfort a parent who has lost a child. So few really know what to say.

Our son, Doron, was a healthy, strapping young man who loved sport, particularly surfing. When he was drafted into the military and into a fighting unit, the last thing we contemplated was illness. He was far too healthy. Sometime during his military service, something happened to his mind and much later, long after he completed his three years compulsory military service, he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Then, before his 34th birthday, he released himself from a mind that tormented him and as his mother, I was released from watching him suffer. We were parted forever . I mourn him, I miss him, I’m angry and sad, particularly because he ended his life to quiet the voices in his head that no modern medication managed to alleviate. It took a long time for me to forgive him for taking my son away from me. I wondered when and whether I would ever be happy again.

Few people knew what to say to us grieving parents, particularly because suicide was concerned. What does one say to grieving parents? What does it mean to offer condolences? Well, all I can tell you is what we didn’t want to hear.

I would die if I were you: This is only a manner of speaking and not remotely true. Human beings are built to withstand all kinds of calamities and they survive although probably changed forever. However, they continue to live. When we heard the above, we felt as if this person were predicting that we would never be happy again and that if we do manage a semblance of happiness, we should really feel guilty. Believe me, I felt cursed and didn’t need anyone to make it worse.

So what could that person have said? This must be the hardest thing in the world for you. Remember that I am thinking of you.

I can’t imagine how you must be feeling: This didn’t work either because if the idea of losing a child couldn’t be so terrible unless you could imagine it. Grief is isolating. I felt as if there was an unwritten line drawn between the rest of the world and myself. I felt so very alone and vulnerable. I needed empathy, not pity. So, what would I have preferred to hear? I feel so sad for you and your family. What can I do to help you?

I have no idea what you are feeling: But you do. You feel sadness because the death of a child by suicide after a long illness is one the saddest and incomprehensible things in the whole world.
I feel so sad would have sounded so much better.

While growing up, we were taught rather shallow, standard things to say when people die but most of what we learned lacked emotional engagement which is the very thing that grieving people need – in fact, it’s what they long for particularly in those early days when the grief is raw.

We should think deeply about what they would most like to hear. I have seen grieving parents actually cringe. I believe that the best way to comfort somebody is to listen to them because in this situation, it is not about you, but about them. That person has a great need to talk so let them. Allow them to say what they feel. The flags below show the stages that grieving parents will go through.

Grief tags 2

Do not stand at our graves and weep ….

 

snow on either side of the road

Do not stand at our graves and weep

We are not there, we do not sleep.

We’re a thousand winds that blow, we’re the diamond glints on snow.

We’re the gentle autumn rain.

 

When you awaken in the morning’s hush, we’re the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight, we’re the bright stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at our graves and cry, we are not there, although we died.

In memory of my late husband and our son who left us long before his time.