Wednesday, February 20, 2019

6 months, Suicide and Selfishness

It has been 6 months since Zuka died. A very hard 6 months which has taught me so much about grief, loss and what really matters in life.

I came on here to give and update on my life, and how I feel at 6 months but, honestly not much has changed. I'm still devastated, it doesn't get easier, though I may do a bit better with handling my grief from day to day than I did at first. Which mostly means I try to avoid thinking about it, and I hide it better.

What is really on my mind tonight is the idea that suicide is selfish.  I have seen it posted on social media and heard the phrase in movies and it really angers me. Zuka was the kind of person who really cared what other people felt. He had a hard time asking for things and would often call me first to either get advice or to ask me to ask for him because he was afraid of putting people in an awkward position. It doesn't matter how mad we were with one another, he always made sure I was okay and told me he loved me. Even if he was about to hang up the phone on me. He hated to see people hurt and he hated even more to be the cause of that hurt. In fact, he took it extremely hard when he knew someone was upset with him.

I know many people who suffer with depression and bipolar disorder, or suicidal thoughts feel like they are a burden to other's. They don't want their own mental health to cause any unhappiness to anyone around them. When Zuka was down, he was often alone, he didn't want to be grouchy or have others witness his sadness. I know I have felt this way myself, with depression, anxiety and even with my grief.

Depression kills people. At the moment a person decides to take their life they are feeling like there is no hope, no other option, a level of anguish that you would have to experience to understand. The only way they can see to end that pain is to end their life. End their suffering, and end the burden they FEEL like they are to others. It's mental illness. It's tragic. It's horrific, but it is NOT selfish!!

I will always miss Zuka. My heart will always ache. There is a void in my life that nothing else could ever fill but, I will never ever be angry at Zuka. He did the best he could, until he just couldn't anymore. He didn't live a selfish life, he would have given you the shirt off his back.... He certainly didn't die a selfish death. 

I love you always Zuka! 

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

Remembering Zuka, Jake Craig

A Very Sweet Message I got from Robert Craig!

"Jennifer, I wanted to pass this along to you. My son Jake Craig attends a private school in Pennsylvania. He was recruited for wrestling. He really liked Zuka and the two grew close during the season that he wrestled in Maine for Skowhegan and the summer wrestling trip to Virginia Beach. Jake took Zuka's death extremely hard.
So this season he dedicated his wrestling to Zuka and his memory. I'm proud to tell you that today Jake won Pennsylvania Prep States! If you look closely at his headgear you can make out a "ZM" in honor of Zuka. He told me to tell you that this one is for Zuka. He meant a lot to my son. Thought you should know."

(shared with permission)

REVIEW: It's Ok that You're Not Ok by Megan Devine

Here is my GoodReads review:

I lost my son to suicide and my good friend sent me this book. It is awesome, I have found it so helpful. This book has helped me deal with the well meaning but not so comforting things that people say to the grieving. This book taught me there is no "correct" way to grieve and that my feelings are "normal." It gave me great comfort to know I'm not losing my mind, I am grieving. The inability to think clearly, to remember things, the foggy brain, all parts of grief. 

As a mental health professional and someone who has suffered a great loss, I feel like Megan Devine truly understands. Whether you are dealing with a loss or other grief, supporting someone who is grieving or you just want to have a better understanding of grief, you should check out this book! I wish everyone would read it and society as a whole would be better equipped to support those who are carrying the weight of grief. I highly recommend this book! 

find on Amazon:

It's Ok That You're Not Ok: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn't Understand

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Saving a Life

I have come across meme's and posts online that basically say we should not tell a suicidal person to stay alive because of anyone else but themselves. The basic idea, it's not fair to guilt someone into staying alive. Now, I get where they are coming from but here is my take on this issue as a suicide loss survivor and someone who has been suicidal.

A person who is suicidal often thinks very little of themselves but,I believe they care immensely about those around them. They often feel like a burden to others, like maybe people would be better off without them. I believe some people stay alive for the people they love, and maybe that will buy them enough time to get the proper mental health they need.

When my son died, it's no secret that I wanted to die too. I didn't feel like I meant anything. I felt guilty, like I should have been able to save him. I felt like I failed. Well let's be honest, all I felt at first was the most gut wrenching hell I could never have imagined before. I didn't know how I would ever breathe again without Zuka. I didn't want to, I wanted to be with him. The pain was overwhelming. Words are inadequate to explain to you, and I pray that you will never truly understand. But then....there was Jamilah. I could not live for me but I HAD to live for her. I couldn't never put her through that pain.

I wanted to die when I was 18, I didn't value myself. I felt like my family would be better off without me. I was told by my peers that I was fat, useless, ugly, that no one would ever love me. I couldn't deal with the pain. When I look back, after going through what I went through with Zuka, I am so thankful I didn't die that night and put them through that.

Sometimes we can't live for ourselves. In an ideal would we would feel the self worth, self love, to live for ourselves.....but I doubt a suicidal person is feeling that. Of course, this is just my opinion...I don't feel bad saying if you can't live for yourself, live for ME....until you build the strength to live for yourself.

Zuka tried, Lord he tried, He promised his friends he wouldn't hurt himself. If he had been in his right mind that night, I know he would have lived for those he loved, even though he wasn't able to keep fighting for himself.

My son is dead. I would have said anything, done anything, pleaded, and not felt any guilt for anything I needed to do to keep him alive that night. I didn't get that chance, what happened was spontaneous, the decision was made in a second and he was gone. There was no threat, no discussion, no note. he was just gone in an instant.

Suicide is not selfish.... and neither is begging someone to stay alive... even if it's not for them right now.... feelings, depression, they don't have to be permanent....but suicide is.

One of the biggest reasons I share my story is so that maybe someone who is thinking of hurting themselves will see how much it will destroy people who love them, and maybe it will help them hang on until they can get help. maybe....

I also write to let people know they aren't alone, they aren't going crazy. Grief will shake your very foundation and make you doubt everything you have ever known. You will come through the storm, but you will never be the same.

Please know YOU matter! You are worth it! Depression, Mental Illness lies to you. The world would not be better without you...You deserve to be here, you deserve so much love! 
                                       I wish you all so much love and peace!!

Saturday, February 2, 2019


August 20th 2018 Zuka ended his life. I had the urge to blame myself, I played scenarios in my head. What if I had just said the right things that day? What if I had ignored his pleas and taken him to the psychiatric hospital? What if I hadn't brought him back to Florida? What if I never sent him to Maine in the first place? What if I never moved to Florida in the first place? What if I came out of the bathroom seconds before I did? Like the butterfly effect I tried to play out every scenario in my head.

I decided very early on I wasn't going to play that game. I heard those close to him looking for ways to blame themselves, "What if I was a better dad?" "What if I was a better friend" what if I did this, or that and I decided that we needed accept that he was gone and not allow any talk of guilt or fault.

I would love to tell you that means we no longer thought, somewhere in the back of our minds that there had to be something we were missing, we must have overlooked something that we could have done to save Zuka.

I had people message me telling me it wasn't my fault. They assumed I blamed myself. Other's sent me their long though-out theories of why they believed Zuka took his life. Some were hurtful, people assumed I didn't know he was depressed. They assumed he hid his pain. They assumed I didn't understand.

I understood Zuka. He understood me. I have to laugh because that's why we butted heads so much. We were so much alike. We talked about this a lot this summer. If anyone in this world understood me, it was him. I was always especially close to him because of this. I understood Zuka, I understood his pain, his ups, his downs. I knew Zuka! What I didn't know was how to save him.

I tried from the time he was tiny to protect him from the world. He was a sensitive soul. He was a sensitive human from the moment he came into this world. When the raindrops hit his sister's face she laughed and would stick out her tongue to catch the raindrops, Zuka cried. When the sun would shine through the window of the car onto his car seat he would become agitated, she would smile. Certain textures of food or clothing bothered him. He couldn't stand a lot of noise and confusion. His preschool class had a special little room made so Zuka could go and listen to meditation music when his classroom was too much to take. Preschool!

I had been trying to shelter Zuka and protect him for 18 years, the one thing I could not protect him from was himself. Not for lack of trying. We had long talks, I often checked in with his emotional state. We tried hospitals and medications. We tried counselors and other supports. I can't begin to tell you the struggles that went on before he moved to Maine. I am sure people wonder why he moved there, I wonder if they blame me, I wonder what theories people developed in their heads. It was for Zuka's well being and out of respect for his privacy, the little he has left, I will leave it at that.

I know we did a lot. I know he tried really hard to fight too.  I know how hard I tried to "fix" him, sometimes at the the detriment to my own health and well being..... it doesn't stop the "What ifs".... It doesn't stop the guilt. I know no matter what the method was, he would have found a way if he wanted to leave this earth. I know there was no right thing to say. I know I was trying to respect his wishes and find another way when he begged me not to take him to the psychiatric unit that day. I Know this was not my fault, or anyone else's fault. I know it wasn't Zuka's fault. This I know is a fact.....but in my heart....

               As your mother Zuka, I was always be so sorry I couldn't save you.... 
                                                   I'm sorry I couldn't save you!! 

Friday, February 1, 2019


what you see, and what you don't see

I was talking with my doctor yesterday, by the way, the best doctor I have ever seen. She is my regular doctor and spends more time getting to know me than any counselor I have ever seen, a truly caring, compassionate woman. So yeah, she was asking me yesterday about my anxiety level and if I have driven yet. I have not. I have not driven since Zuka passed away. She asked me, "What is that fear about?"

I had to think. I don't truly know what the fear the fear is about. I told her, "I think it's about messing up." I tell myself, "Tomorrow I will drive to the store and I will shop, all alone." I tell my husband this and I truly mean it... but then the next day comes and I can feel the anxiety creeping up my spine and around to my stomach and then my throat like it strangling me and I find reasons why today is not the day I should drive.

I wish I could tell you that's it's just driving, but the anxiety pops up all over the place. Last week we pulled into a store I hadn't been in since Zuka passed. In fact we went to that store the day Zuka passed, just hours before. I needed something only this store had and my husband was unable to go into the store because he was dealing with another issue.

I felt the anxiety, I told myself that I will be fine and I entered the little store. Luckily I was the only person there. I picked up my item and went to the cash, in my mind I could see Zuka standing there with me, the way he was that day. My hands started shaking as I tried to ignore my feelings, then the familiar tightening of my throat until I felt I couldn't breathe. I started crying. I immediately started saying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" because I hate when I make other uncomfortable with my tears. I quickly explained why I was crying and she came around the counter, told me it was okay and hugged me. She was very kind, I still felt mortified.

I shouldn't feel mortified. I know this but I do. I hate crying in public, I hate losing control. I think this is my biggest anxiety and fear... that I will lose control. I am afraid of the unknown. I am afraid of how my grief makes others feel. I am afraid of showing the face I don't let other's see...the sad, scared, vulnerable me.

somehow it's much easier to show the world online than it is in real life.... to admit that I am so afraid of life right now. I am so afraid to show my anxiety.