Sunday, January 20, 2019

On Depression






My husband told me to write today. I haven't written in awhile, it's been harder to write lately. I have actually had some good days in the last month, my first days without tears, without feeling swallowed whole by grief.

Two days ago it really hit me hard again. Depression. Today I feel like a failure. I feel like I can't be around anyone. Friends invited me to a fire to look at the moon changes tonight and as much as I wanted to go I feel like I can't trust myself to keep it together.

I am told I should get out...I have had so many suggestions of things that may lift this depression. I can feel within the difference between my grief alone and depression, right now I am depressed. The thing I have realized about depression is it's like a throbbing toothache. You can go out, try to have fun but the entire time you can't stop feeling the throbbing pain. It's not diminished by any external situation or environment. Even in my sleep, I dream of the excruciating pain.

I feel like a failure. I feel like a burden. I feel tired, useless, lazy, not human. I feel unloved...unlovable. I feel like nothing.


I know all this probably seems frightening to the reader or observer but here is what I have learned. This feeling is temporary. It feels like HELL but it's not going to feel like hell forever. I just have to push through it. For me, right now, that means burning some incense, meditating, getting enough (okay, too much) sleep. It means being honest about how I am feeling. Taking care of myself means wrapping myself in a warm blanket, crying when I need to cry. It means taking as much "me time" as I need right now. Thankfully I have the support to make that possible, I realize every does not.

I may always have waves of depression. I will always grieve my son. I WILL NOT always feel this low.

I have faith that there will be beautiful, magical times again.

I believe I will see my son on the other side of the stars.

I believe that this life, as difficult as it is, will be worth living.

It's okay that I am not okay. not right now. but I will be!




You're never alone. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you are struggling emotionally or thinking about suicide







Thursday, December 27, 2018

Month 5

I don't know how people do this, live life after losing their child, yet here we are day by day, sometimes minute by minute surviving. My husband Antonio and I go out into the world and try to act like everything is okay. People ask how we are, we usually answer "Ok...fine, we're ok" but if these walls could talk.... They would tell stories or thousands of tears cried, pleas to God to bring our son back, talks of memories and heartbreak....

This is our new "normal." As time goes on we end up crying more privately, the shower because a safe place to shed tears without upsetting anyone else. We try to think of happier times and keep going, we try to make a happy life for our 17 year old daughter at home.

We have heard that marriages often break up when a child passes away...but for us it has brought us closer in some ways. We both have been through the same trauma and can understand where the other one is coming from. He has been my rock, and I hope I have been his soft place to land during some of his tough times. I try to be. Sometimes I am angry and grouchy and I snap at him, or our daughter and I try to always apologize and make it clear that I am not angry at them but at the situation we are going through. Keeping communication open in our home has been really important. I want everyone to feel it's safe to talk about whatever they need to discuss. I never would have made it through this 5 months without my husband there...

I had originally had all these ideas of starting a non profit and making a difference in other's lives who might be struggling with suicidal thoughts or the loss of a loved one to suicide. I had to realize that I need to work through my own grief and take time to myself before really being valuable to others. Funny someone told me that at the beginning and I didn't understand it why that was... As the shock wore off and the reality set in I realized this is going to be a journey and not a race to be okay. I do try to reach out to other moms who have lost a child, I am open to talking to people who are hurting, Zuka's friends and loved ones can reach me on social media or at Zukaslegacy@gmail.com. I do have big goals and big plans but they are going to take awhile, I am okay with that.

I haven't gone back to work yet. I want to finish my degree and work while I am going to school, it's hard to get things done when nothing is really regulated. Emotions all over the place, sleepless nights, anxiety and haunting memories. I am working through it.... the Family is working on their own grief in their own ways.

We are surviving, I don't know how, but one foot in front of the other we are making a life of our new normal... sending lots of love and compassion to those who are hurting~~







These Dreams



I dreamed of you last night, except it wasn't you at all. I was losing my mind and when I looked around I kept seeing you. I ran up and hugged you and your sister would grab my arm, "What are you doing Mom? That's not him" and she would take a picture and show me that the person I was hugging wasn't really you and I would be so disappointed.... no, more like shattered. I refused to believe I was losing my mind and I kept running up and hugging you tight and then again having to let you go because it wasn't you... over and over again... torture


I woke up....so empty I didn't have tears to cry...I just laid there.... Again reminding myself you are gone. I hate having to remind myself...

My dreams.... my dreams aren't something I can control. I try to keep my grief under control during the day, I try not to think too much, try not to linger too long on your pictures hanging on the wall. I try to keep it all neatly folded inside...

but at night, my mind, my heart, my grief runs wild. I spend time with a 3 year old Zuka teaching him to read... I walk down icy Maine streets at night and see you happily playing in a distance where I can't reach you. I see you as a baby I am holding tight, I see you in a crowd on a boat and I make contact long enough just to hug you before you disappear again... and some nights you're standing in the hallway, 18 years old and calling out to me "Mom....Mom" and I can't wake fully to get to you...to help you...to save you...

I'm hanging in here....but These dreams.... these dreams....they haunt me....




Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas Paradox







It’s a weird feeling being happy and sad at the same time.
It’s not until now that I discovered this feeling. My first Christmas without you Zuka.
I put your favorite candy, Dove Chocolate in your stocking, I couldn’t help it....
Felt bad that I never got your dove the last holiday before you passed.



Your funny elf slippers were in the living room in front of the tree, your stocking hanging near your urn. There were pictures of my chubby cheeked little boy by the Christmas tree,
one with your sister and another with a Santa hat on and a huge smile. Happy and Sad. Happy Memories, and Missing you terribly.


I wanted to buy you presents, I had the urge to get you something, anything….
but instead I asked Santa for a cabinet to keep some of your memories in… It’s in the corner of the room, lit up beautifully. Pictures of you and your grandfather at your graduation, the family at graduation, your first picture, your last picture, a wrestling medal, your diploma, the shells from where we let some of your ashes go on the beach for your 19th birthday, a lovely candle Gloria made for us, a box of memories your loved ones wrote…. Beautiful… and Tragic.


The tree with sparkling lights, your first Christmas decorations, your first Christmas in Heaven decoration.Picture ornaments with you and your sister growing up, ornaments you both made through the years. Touching and heartbreaking…



My day was family, Your Dad and sister spoiled me with presents, presents from Grammy and Grandpa,a call from them Christmas morning...us opening presents….missing your presence…



Dinner with the family, smiles and Christmas wishes, jokes and funny memories, hugging little ones….then walking away to wipe the tears….remembering my little boy….


Coming home, quiet family time, looking at all my gifts, feeling loved, happy and content,
feeling lonely empty and lost. Confused.


I made it through Christmas my dear son, All the broken pieces of my heart still beating, still loving…

Still comforted and haunted by your memories….
I love you. I miss you to my core.


Always ~ Mom

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas Eve 2018


This is Zuka's First Christmas in heaven and it has been the most difficult holiday season I have ever had. It's supposed to be a time for celebration, it's heartbreaking to celebrate and mourn at the same time.

The feelings of loss and grief have been the deepest these last few weeks. I think it's settled in that he is not coming home and not having him here for the holidays physically hurts. When I think about him my throat feels like it's closing and my chest feels so heavy.

I have my 17 year old daughter at home, it's her senior year of High School and I want to make sure that she has a wonderful Christmas... I am shopping for her gifts and I keep seeing things I want to buy for Zuka. It's like my mind forgets momentarily that he is gone. That's the worst feeling, reminding myself he is gone and not coming back. Milah found a superhero subscription box she thought her brother would love and had to do the same. My heart breaks for her, My husband, My family and Zuka's close friends... it's so hard losing him... it's so hard celebrating anything now that he is gone.

The tears come more often now, I still cry daily but now it's several times a day. Decorating the tree was so hard, decorations from his first Christmas, decorations he made in school, decorations that mark different periods of his life. I bought the decoration above for his first Christmas in Heaven.

The one thing I asked for was a tall thing curio cabinet with a light to keep Zuka's little memory items in. My husband gave it to me early because it was too hard to keep hidden. I spent that night in tears picking the right things to put in my cabinet... I love it. It feels like such a beautiful way to honor him and keep him close to us,

I heard that the holidays are hard after losing a loved one....but I never imagined how hard it would be this first Christmas after losing my son. I miss Zuka so much. The fact that my family is in Maine and I am in Florida makes it even more heartbreaking. I miss my family every year....and now missing my son and my family... It's really hard to celebrate.

I am very fortunate to have my husband and my beautiful daughter who are very loving and supportive, and I am thankful for all the memories I have with Zuka. It's worth all the pain and suffering to have had the time I did have with him. I love and miss him so much.... I feel it in my soul...


I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and for those grieving and hurting I'm sending you so much love and (((hugs)))

Take care of you. be gentle with yourself.

Holidays and Grieving













Supporting a Loved One:

1. Acknowledge that this is a very hard time of year and acknowledge their pain.

2. Be supportive and understanding if they do not want to participate in holiday events or they need to take things slow.

3. It's okay to talk about the loved one that has passed on and use the loved ones name.

4. Just be there to listen and let them know they can come to you. Don't feel like you have to fix anything or have the right words, Being there are listening is definitely the best.




For the Griever:


The Holidays can be a very difficult time for those dealing with grief. There is so much pressure to be happy and engage in celebration. Holidays are about family and when a member of the family has passed away there is a big hole left where they once were. There are so many memories of past holidays, for myself unpacking decorations my from my sons first Christmas and the decorations he made in school was very difficult. This will be our first Christmas without our son, it has been incredibly difficult. It has been four months since he passed away and the closer it get's to Christmas the more difficult it becomes for me.

I feel like the most important thing is to feel what you are feeling and not judge that. If you feel you cannot celebrate at all, don't. If you have other children (like I do) and you feel like you want to still celebrate Christmas (or whatever Holiday you celebrate) you can take it at your own pace. If you need to step away to breathe or cry, that's completely okay. Don't judge yourself.

Be gentle with yourself.

I have seen ideas of starting a new tradition such as writing letters to your loved one or something else you feel honors their memory. 

If you need support there are many facebook groups for people who are grieving, or if you need immediate help you can always call the national suicide helpline at 1-800-273-8255. 

Great big (((((HUGS))))) from me!!


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Month 3 without Zuka




I haven't written in awhile, life has been overwhelming. It has been 3 months since Zuka passed away. I would love to tell everyone it's getting better but I still cry every day....but I have started to hide my tears now, I guess I think people might think crying every day after 3 months is excessive or whatever, I don't know why I care.

I feel so empty, I miss Zuka so badly. I think I have gone through each stage of grief repeatedly. I still have a hard time accepting that he is gone and not coming back. I have been angry and irritable and snappy. I have had days I want to sleep all day and yet I have had sleepless nights. I have begged God to rewind time, and I have had days when I didn't know if God even existed.

Zuka's birthday was 11/10, we went to the ocean and let some of his ashes fly out to sea, it was very windy. I wrote his name in the sand and spent time in the sun just contemplating life and loss...cried a few tears. Later we had cake and sang happy birthday to Zuka...

I still have so many goals for "Zuka's Legacy" but I have to realize it's going to take longer than I expected. I started out full speed ahead and right now I am just so exhausted.

Zuka passed away right before his birthday and all the Holidays. It's exhausting being heartbroken. I can't imagine him not being here for Christmas. I keep seeing presents he would like and having to remind myself he is gone, it's like my brain is trying to torture me.

This is why I haven't blogged lately, I feel like nothing has changed and I have nothing positive to say.

I still feel empty, I still miss him like crazy, I still would give anything to change what happened and have my heart back.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Zuka's Birthday 11/10





 



Please share!!

11/10/99 would be Zuka's 19th birthday!!!!

 We are asking friends, family, classmates and whoever is inspired to to a random act of kindness in Zuka's name.

You could even leave a little note about your inspiration behind the act but of course thats optional.

I am posting this idea in  advance so you have time to think about it and prepare.
If you would like to share your random act of kindness please email storie or pics to zukaslegacy@gmail.com

Thank you all in advance and please share!

Random Acts of Kindness Examples

* bake or but a treat for a grieving person/family
*Leave money on a vending machine for someone
*Bake cookies for the elderly
*Serve at a homeless shelter
*Do a 5k for a good cause
*Help at a veterinarian office
* Pick up litter
*Let someone go in front of you in line
*Give a stranger a compliment
*Make dinner for a family in need
* Insert coins into someone’s parking meter
* Leave letters of encouragement on people’s cars
*Buy a movie ticket for the person behind you
* Pay for someone’s meal at a restaurant
*Write letters to soldiers
*Donate Christmas gifts to a shelter or organization that collects them
*Participate in a fundraiser
*Use your allowance to donate to a charity
*Hold open the doors for people
* Thank a teacher with a gift
*Donate your old clothes to the Salvation Army
*Help a senior with their groceries
*Shovel a neighbor’s driveway when it snows
*Walk a neighbor’s dog
*Babysit for free
*Plant a tree
*Do a favor without asking for anything in return
*Do something nice for your principal and tell him its a gift from Zuka
*Buy an ice cream cone for a stranger
*Prepare a meal for a neighbor
*Donate to a mental health organization
* Donate clothing to a shelter
*Spend a day at a homeless shelter
* Give out random flowers with encouraging notes attached
*Bring in donuts for your co-workers/classmates
*Help a child or older person cross the street
*Give someone a gift card that you don’t intend to use
*Wash someone’s car
* Read to kids at the library
*Perform a concert at a retirement home
*Help do chores at a farm/harvest ranch
* Leave your waiter a generous tip
*Start mentoring a younger child
*Spend time with your grandparents or elderly neighbor
*Make a family member breakfast in bed
*Give out balloons to random strangers
*Pack someone a lunch for the day
*Write a kind or encouraging message on a napkin
*Do a sibling’s chores without them asking
*Offer to take a shopper’s cart to the line outside
*Help someone who has a flat tire
*hand out candy
*Send care packages to soldiers overseas
*Write someone an encouraging poem
*Send coloring books to sick kids in the hospital
*Help tutor a struggling student
*Pay for another student’s lunch
*Offer to give a friend a ride home
*Take the time to listen to someone
*Make someone a homemade blanket or scarf
* Leave some change on a wishing fountain
* Help out the janitors at school
* Donate your hair after a haircut
* Give your umbrella to a stranger
*Offer compliments to strangers and friends and family
*Buy your waiter/waitress dessert
* Wash a neighbor’s dog for free
*Buy groceries for the person behind you in line
*Hide money in random places for strangers to find
*Do whatever random act of kindness makes you feel good

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Just because I smile doesn't mean I'm happy

I don't think my blogs are helping anyone. Maybe one day they will, maybe one day I will find the secret to being happy again and you will see my journey but right now, nothing is getting better.

My daughter, Jamilah is in her senior year, her brother passed away her first semester, she works at a fast food place and she takes Advanced Placement classes, she still managed to make straight A's. She is so resilient, strong and intelligent, she's amazing and I admire her so much.

Me? I want to sleep half the time, I don't feel like dealing with the pain and I sleep. I had all these self help goals but it's so much easier to just sleep.

My brain still won't believe he is gone. I have to tell myself he isn't coming back and then I feel like my throat is closing up and 1,000 pounds are on my chest. I could have never believed pain like this existed. My whole body hurts but I feel it most in my throat when I think of him, it takes my breath away.

I wish there was a magic pill to take away the pain but then I'd probably feel guilty for not feeling it.

No one talks about him anymore, except my husband. It makes me feel alone, it makes me feel like no one cares about him anymore, like they just moved on. I know it's hard to be around a grieving person, I try to be as strong and fake happiness when I am around others. Sometimes it doesn't work and I cry in strange places, like in the middle of my husbands birthday dinner, while dining in public.

I know all my social media is hard to look at, I know I am obsessed with the memory of Zuka, or haunted, I don't know. I can't stop myself from posting pictures and memories. I know people don't want to follow me, I must look crazy. Maybe I am, I just hurt so damn bad and I would give anything to have him in my life again.

I wish I had words to make you understand the pain, there are no words, there is no description that can encompass this sort of grief. One would have to experience it to understand it and I wouldn't want anyone to go through a pain like this.

I'm exhausted, I'm angry, I'm lost..... I feel like everything I knew for sure before Zuka's death is just lost, like the entire foundation is gone....

Zuka's birthday is in 8 days, he would have been 19, but he is forever 18. This is brutal, this is torture, this is my worst nightmare and I can't wake up from it. Life is so damn hard. Missing him is killing me.


Someone advised me to check out Hallie Twomey's blog, look at her older post so midway through this post I stopped and took a look. I can relate so much, so maybe I am not crazy. The guilt, the what-if's, the pain, the tears and sadness and grief.... Yes, I could relate so much.

Hallie Wrote:
    "I am as empty as I've ever been.

"Just because I smile doesn't mean I'm happy."

This is so true of the smile we put on to make others comfortable... It's sad that our grief makes others so uncomfortable makes me want to hide away even more...

It's neatly 3 am.... I suppose I should try to get back to sleep.

life is hell. 




Halloween and Teens 2018










Yesterday was Halloween. Last year we got no Trick or Treaters but on the way home from y counseling appointment I decided that I wanted to participate in Halloween. Turns out my husband and daughter both had to work. I played music out the window and left my door open, yet I kept seeing them walk by.

I decided to take Zuka's speaker outside, I blasted Halloween music! I put the big bowl of Halloween candy bags outside in the lawn chair beside mine and waited. I ended up getting quite a few kiddos, about half of them were teens. I was so happy to see the teens, they were all so polite, several complimented me on my music and talked to me for a little bit. There was a couple who let the younger looking teens come over for candy and I told them to come get some candy.... several times I told different teens "No one is too old to get candy here!"

I thought about my son who was 18 and would tell me, "Mom, I'm not an adult, I still need parenting and advice." He hated when I called him an adult. It was like suddenly he was 18 and the world expected him to be a grown man but he wasn't, he still wanted to do the same things he did when he was younger, I really saw the way the pressure of "18" affected him.

When I saw those teens, saw them laughing and having fun, I thought it was wonderful that in some way they were clinging to their childhoods. Not ready to be expected not to like "childish" things anymore, not ready to be considered adults. I was so happy to see them, I wished them all Happy Halloween as soon as they started up my driveway..... just so very happy to see them... and each one of them seemed so thankful and just really cool!

When it was over, I came in and cried a bit, missing my son and appreciative of the night I had, where I somehow felt close to him by spending the brief time with these teens. It's funny, I never wanted to work with teens before, but now I am thinking of working with teens when I finish my degree, maybe working on a psych unit with teens....

Friday, October 26, 2018

2 months, 6 days, nothing positive






I know there is no correct way to grieve, there really isn't but still I feel somehow I'm doing it wrong. I feel selfish, I never really check in with anyone else to see how they are doing (except Milah and Tony)
I have no energy, I am so tired. I wrote a list of things I need to do each day and I get like one or two done. I feel miserable. I feel lazy. I feel depressed. I feel broken.

I obsess over Zuka, I try to occupy my mind but little things always remind me of him and I cry. I cry every damn day, I'm still in shock, I can't face the fact he is not coming back. I don't know how to exist in so much pain. I don't know what to do with myself. There is no pain reliever for a pain like this. I'm so angry . I'm jealous of other moms sending their kids off to college and I don't have my son. I get annoyed when people complain about little things, I know it's human nature but I'm dealing with my biggest fear, my worst nightmare coming true. I have to live with this every day, and dream about it at night. I feel like I'm being tortured. I can't imagine hell being worse than this.

I'm not afraid of anything anymore. Not to say I don't have anxiety and PTSD, but I can't think of anything I'm afraid of. I have faced my worst nightmare, I have already been destroyed, I've already seen hell.....what is there to fear?

I feel people get tired of my posts and my pictures of Zuka, I can't help it, he is what I think about most of the time, he and his sister Milah. I have never really openly told the whole story, except to a few close people but I am working on a book about my life which is really nerve wracking, I don't feel like I am a good writer but I need to get my whole story out, even if just for myself.

I wish I knew how to get through this, the psychiatrist and counselors say it's just going to take time.... just trying to live right now is hell.... I am trying to carry on... really every day I struggle to carry on



If you are considering suicide please get help, please don't put the people you love through this hell. I guarantee whatever you are feeling, they will be left feeling 100x worse...

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you are struggling emotionally or thinking about suicide



Monday, October 22, 2018

PTSD and me





PTSD is not the person refusing to let go of the past 
but the past refusing to let go of the person



Post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. For the full diagnostic criteria please click here
Basically when a person has been through trauma, certain events (called triggers) can cause a person to have anxiety, anxiety attacks, or fear. They may avoid situations that may trigger memories, people with PTSD may have nightmares related to the event. It can cause depression, irritability, detachment from others, problems sleeping and problems concentrating..
PTSD is not always an exact replay of the actual event, it's sometimes a replay of the emotions you felt during the event such as fear, helplessness and sadness (Alice Cariv)

I have had PTSD in the past concerning a bad car accident and a violent relationship with my children's father but nothing as bad as Zuka's suicide. When I was in the hospital I was diagnosed with PTSD, I was not surprised, I don't think you can go through something like this and not have PTSD. I had nightmares every night until I went to the hospital and they gave me a medication to help with nightmares. A couple of incidents have happened that caused pretty major anxiety attacks.

The first one happened the first time we went out after Zuka's death, We went with very understanding friends for support. It was really hard going out in public and never knowing what make you break down crying. We had a nice dinner and everyone was heading out but I decided to run to the bathroom real quick. On the way out the heavy wooden door banged behind me....Immediately I threw my hands up in front of my face, I was so afraid and felt like I was in shock, I started crying and ran out of there. PTSD can be embarrassing, all the way home I wondered what people who witnessed that anxiety attack must have been thinking.

The next incident occurred when I was at a get together and a guest (who had no idea what happened) brought in his new shot gun to show everyone, I was nervous but when he racked it, I did the same thing, threw my hands up, I was so scared, I started getting out of my chair to run out but my friend jumped up and yelled at them to take the gun out. I think they thought I was afraid of guns, I tried to explain and I was stuttering. It was a very traumatic experience for me, though no one is at fault!

I have had several other incidents, watching movies, loud noises, I just never know what will bring on flashbacks or anxiety attacks. The bad dreams haven't been about the exact incident but they are about fear and loss.

If you have been through or witnessed a traumatic event that causes reoccurring bad dreams, fear, anxiety, avoidance of situation you may find fear inducing you may have PTSD


Here are some things that may help


  • Seeking professional help from a counselor, psychiatrist or doctor
  • Meditation and practice self soothing
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol which may make the issue worse
  • Talk about it to a supportive friend or family member
  • Medication; anti-anxiety medication may help
  • Take care of yourself, get enough sleep, try to eat healthy meals
  • Journal about the incident that causes the anxiety attack
  • be easy on yourself and do not feel responsible for an anxiety attack, it's not something you can control. 
  • Do some sort of art work or craft to soothe yourself



Check out Kati Morton's Youtube  she has several videos on PTSD and many other mental health videos




Do you have questions, comments or anything you want to share, you can leave a comment below or email me at zukaslegacy@gmail.com