Please use this blog to help us remember Joshua Lee Anderson, who made the tragic and fatal decision to take his life on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Please post any memories or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Working Through My Grief - Day 11

More pictures from the burial service

Gillian putting a wind chime on a tree near Josh's grave

It is hard to believe that one week ago, we buried our son. Although today ended up being a fairly warm and sunny day, it began cloudy, grey and raining. A week ago, we made the trip to the cemetery and it was bright and sunny. God must've known that my heart could not have handled a day like today.

I have posted more pictures of the burial service, as many of my family members who were not able to come have been reading this blog. I also posted two picture that were taken yesterday, when Gillian and my dear friend, Roxanne went to visit Josh. Rox bought this beautiful wind chime - especially for him.

I've had many random thought this week that I thought I would share. One night, there was a steady rain. As I opened the door to let the dogs out, I thought about where Josh's body was resting. We had decided to pay a bit more for a vault rather than a grave liner as it is supposed to be airtight and waterproof. As I looked at the steady rain that night, I just hoped that it was waterproof, just like was promised.

I have also thought about the items that we placed with him. He has his favorite slippers on, his infamous sunglasses, a baby quilt that I had made for him that he never wanted washed, a yellow lacrosse ball, and a football that his uncle has just bought for this very purpose. It is interesting that the kids had items of their own that they felt should be with him. At the viewing, I heard that one of his teammates had brought a football and had all the players sign in. It is this football that ultimately ended up with him. Josh loved sunflower seeds and so someone else had brought a small packet to give to him. He liked wearing hemp-type band around his neck or wrist, so I am told that this was put in the casket. And lastly, a small picture of Giselle, who is Josh's best friend's baby girl.

This week has also been one of necessary errands. I went to the funeral home on Friday to pick up the death certificates. One of many decisions that needed to be made the day after his death was how many certificates we needed. We were told that each one is an additional $12 so one should be sure to order enough but not too much. We ordered three - I think this will be enough. I had never seen one of these before; it was heartbreaking to read some of the facts.
  • Education: 10th
  • Marital Status: Never married (and never will be)
  • Last Occupation: Student
  • Kind of Business or Industry: High School
I was by myself and had a good cry.

A couple of nights ago, I finally sat down and opened up all of the cards that we have received from so many. I had tissues nearby as they were so full of love, support and encouragement. Some cards had typed or handwritten letters enclosed within them, and we learned that many of our friends have suffered loss as well. Some can relate to what were are going through, others have feared that this would happen to them, and others have had a sibling take their own life.

While all the cards had very comforting words, there were some that really hit home to me. One card was a bright night sky with many twinkling stars. The words were as followed:
"Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones shines down to let us know they are with us."
Another card was particularly poignant:
"When we love with all we have, we grieve with all we are."
My feeling about this blog - it has been my lifesaver; a way for me to share what we have gone through in hopes that it would help other kids and parents. The stats have been astounding as there have been 8,747 hits so far. If you have read the comments, you know that people from all over the US and world have found it.

I have been reading the blog several times a day and if I am being totally honest, the comments have encouraged and saddened me. On the one hand, it appears that it is really helping parents see the need to connect with their children, have the difficult discussions, be more vigilant or have the courage to fight their school systems on behalf of the well-being of their kids. So all of this is very good. On the other hand it is too late for me and Josh. But how could I wish that this happened to another mother so that I could benefit from what they have learned? The saying, "hindsight is 20/20" has never been more true and in my case, more painful.

And yet I want to hear how this is helping as it enables me to see that my prayer (Lord, please don't let Josh's death be in vain) is being answered. So please do not hold back in posting your comments or sending your thoughts via email. In my grief and pain and never-ending sorrow, it helps and comforts me to know that maybe, just maybe, another child's life can be saved. Another family may be spared this loss. Another mother may never have to feel the anguish and pain that I do. Keep posting and sharing your stories as this helps me and everyone who has now become part of this blog community.

I have shared on a previous post that recently, peace has been eluding me. I find myself consumed and obsessed with trying to figure out why Josh did this. As mentioned before, we have a good idea of what he was doing that night that does not help to answer this question. So now I am wondering about what he was thinking. How does a kid who is so well-liked, athletic, good-looking, has a girlfriend and supportive parents get to this point? Nothing makes sense to me and it is like a fast-growing cancer within my mind and heart.

A dear friend shared with me after the service that every person has a purpose to fulfill on this Earth and that maybe Josh had fulfilled his and it was time for him to go Home. While this comforted me at the time, I could not reconcile this with the way he died. This would make more sense to me if he died via a tragic accident or some other way that was not of his doing.

Then tonight, another dear friend called. We have received many calls from friends and family (our kids included) since they knew this would be our first night alone since Josh's death. This friend connected the dots for me - I think. She said that there are many people who seemingly should die that don't (i.e. drunk driver that walks away from a terrible accident) and many people who seemingly should not die, that do (a young man like Josh).

Each person has a purpose on this Earth and as Josh was engaged in an activity that would end his life, God chose, in His infinite wisdom and knowledge, to let it happen. He could've caused me to wake up inexplicably, or done something to jolt Josh out of the mindset he was in, but He didn't. He let it happen - because He saw the bigger picture. As evidenced by what has occurred the past few days, in death, Josh's young life has touched and changed many people - including myself.

My friend also said that the saddest thing that could happen to anyone is if when they died, it didn't matter....if no one cared....if people weren't moved or changed....if their life and death was insignificant. This definitely cannot be said about Josh, and for this I should be grateful and proud that he had such an impact at a young age.

Thanks again for all of the prayers on behalf of our family - we do feel them and are eternally grateful once again for all the love and support.


Biggie-Z said...

Sue, our hearts are with you, as always. One of our friends from our polo team (Lauren met him recently), is dealing with similar issues with a 16-year old sister who his cutting herself. He has to be the father figure from 3000 miles away as their father passed last fall. Even as they talk to her and try to counsel her, no one knows why she is doing what she's doing. Sometimes there are no satisfactory answers.

Lots of love.

Anonymous said...

Though I am far away and not a close friend or family member, I am a mother and I am trying to walk this walk with you, though for most of this walk you have to walk alone with God. I don't know your particular pain but as much as I can I am trying to empathize and praying for you as often as I think of you.

It does help to see what you are thinking and feeling so that I can know that God is listening to prayers and sustaining you even though sometimes your pain must be unbearable.

What you are doing is helping anyone else who may be going through this but not knowing which way to turn. you are helping by not blaming God and turning to him instead for comfort. You are demonstrating that you inderstand that God is in control and though we may not understand (ever) why this happened He in is immeasurable love comforts us all in our pain because he understands the unbearable pain of loss.

You are showing us all by your openness that none of us is immune and that we all need one another to help , in our turn, carry each others burdens as we should.

Anonymous said...

As I sit looking at a picture of my own young son, my heart goes out to you. May God bless your family and all who grieve at this heartbreaking event.

Leah said...

Dear Sue-

Bob, Grant, David and I were not able to speak with you at the service, but we were there. Our hearts have been stricken since the moment we heard, and not a day has gone by that we have not thought of you and your family. My kids have fond memories of Josh. . .though they were very young, they both remember him.

Everyone of my family members has been deeply moved, and we have made changes. I have taken on some of the attitudes you have asked us to in your notes. . . to be vigilant, to seek greater understanding. Who could have imagined anything like this could happen? And yet, it is not far away from any of us. I am so deeply, deeply sorry that you have had to go through this. All I know is that God is the great Comforter, and He can see you through.

Love from the bottom of our hearts,

Bob, Leah, Grant and David

Anonymous said...

My dear Sue,

I thank you for continuing to share your thoughts. You are enabling me to walk this road with you even though I am far away. That means so much to me.

You were especially on my mind last night, since I knew it would be your first night after the kids left.

I also have become more vigilant and am seeking greater understanding from the young people around me and so has my husband. I believe that what happened to Josh will save many lives - physically, spiritually and emotionally.

I continue to be with you in heart and spirit every minute of the day.

Terri H-L

Anonymous said...

Dear Sue and Tim,
Your courage to post your thoughts on this blog continues to inspire me. I wanted you to know about something in our family that has changed as a result of your writing about Josh. Last week, there was an incident at a high school sporting event during which Amy had a great response - we learned about it from her coach. In the past, I would have dwelled on and over-explained the lessons learned but instead I have built her up over and over during the past few days for her character and courage to go against the crowd to do the right thing. She keeps looking at me funny so I know it is something I have not done enough of in the past. I keep thinking of you and what you would advise me to do. Thank you! love, Cathy R

sienna said...

my grandfather also gave his life in the same way as josh has and although i did not know him i have lived through the pain of never having a grandfather and hoping to never face that type of tragedy. Not i understand the true loss that is suffered when something like this occurs.
in the time that i spent with josh he was always wearing a livestrong bracelet and so was i. he said he never took his off and i hadn't either. but at his funeral i left mine with him so that he would always have it near to him like he had before when we were together.
i miss you so much josh. ill never forget the time we spent together.