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.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Working Through My Grief - Week Two

Last night was a weird night. All I kept thinking was, "Two weeks ago, at this time, Josh was alive." I was looking at my watch and remembered that his girlfriend was over for a couple of hours before dinner. Why didn't I sit down with both of them and talk about the future - what we could expect from the School Board hearing in a couple of days (most likely expulsion from FCPS), what our course of action would be, and encouraging Josh to hang in there until the summer, when he could hopefully find a job and spend the rest of the time hanging out at our pool with friends. (For those who are new to the blog, please refer to the following post to understand the circumstances surrounding Josh's death:

At 10:30pm, I remembered that Tim had said that they were watching TV and Josh was appeared to be quite relaxed while playing with our two dogs.

Around 12:30 am was the last time that I saw my son alive. He was still watching TV and drinking a Sprite and I told him to go to bed so he could get up on the early side (11 am) to get some school work done. Why didn't I sit down, hug him and ask how he was doing?

I know that many young people are reading this blog and I have wondered if I am being too open and honest with my thoughts and emotions as I struggle with his death and in particular, the mode of this death, suicide. But then I think, "No, this is real. This really happened. They knew Josh, many have been in my home and hundreds came to his service. I want them to know how difficult this is on a parent. I've told several of his closer friends, Don't ever do this to your mother." I think they listened and heard what I was saying. I value their feelings, so until I get comments or emails from these young adults asking me to censor my posts on grieving, I will continue.

As I have posted previously, I am trying to understand Josh's thinking that horrible night. I believe that to comprehend even a little bit, I will have to understand more about suicide. If I had struggled with this personally, I would have a frame of reference with which to think about this painful topic. However, I must admit that I am almost void of this (although not entirely, as I did fleetingly think about it the day after Josh died).

My neighbors have been wonderful; bringing meals over every night so I would not have to deal with the mundane task of preparing dinner. Yesterday, I returned a bowl to someone and as I shared about how much I was struggling to understand what happened, we ended up talking about suicide and what Josh might have been thinking. She thought that during that night, this option must have seemed to be not just the only thing to do, but the right thing to do. Of course, I and everyone who is thinking clearly knows in the heart of hearts that there is nothing "right" about taking your own life, but then, in that moment, his mind had to have been somewhere else.

I have been pondering what she said and want to ask those of you that are part of this special blog community and have some experience with suicide, to help me understand this. I have been touched by those who have bravely posted comments about their own personal struggle. Can we continue to help one another? Can you tell me where someone's mind can go? How does someone in the midst of that pain, chose life? How can a young person, who is not fully mature in their thinking, process this deep, dark place and make a better choice? Where can young people turn to, if they are not able to talk to their parents?

I would be so grateful if we could have open and honest dialogue on this topic. The pressures on our young people are so vast; academics, athletics and social. I want them to have a safe place to seek help or answers and to know they are not alone.

On another topic, I wanted to share about the enormous range of emotions that engulf me - sometimes all in one day. On one extreme, I am completely numb - my heart, my mind and my soul. You could yell at me, kick me, slap me and I would not feel it. My eyes are completely dry and I feel nothing. His death does not feel real and I have a hard time comprehending that he is gone.

At the other extreme, I am so emotional that it feels that every cell in my body is a nerve that is feeling this pain. It is overwhelming and more than I can bear. I have to stop everything, stare at something and just weep. My shoulders shake with crying, my nose is running and I can barely breathe. I would do anything to have my son back - even at the expense of my own life.

Then I feel anger. So angry that I want to take a kickboxing lesson or class so that I can kick and punch a something until I hurt myself. I am so angry at him for doing this - it makes no sense and it is such a waste of a young, vibrant life.

So I vacillate between these emotions with varying degrees of each, in-between. It is exhausting. I have been contacted in various ways by those who are like me - have had a child who has taken their life. It doesn't matter what age the son or daughter was; as most parents know, your kids never stop being your kids, not matter how old they are. I confess that I have not been in touch as I do not feel the energy to have these discussion just yet. However, if you are reading this post and are comfortable, perhaps you can write a comment and share something from your experience that you feel would help not only myself, but others as well.

I have been reminded of a couple of things during this painful time. One, we are not alone and two, we need each other.

Please continue to keep the Anderson family in your thoughts and prayers - we are strengthened and encouraged by them.


Anonymous said...

My dearest Sue, I have no personal experience in this area, but I hope others will share. Please continue to do whatever you need to do to get through this time, even if it means expressing your rawest emotions here. Thank you for allowing me and many others who love you so much to walk with you at this time through your posts.

You continue to be in my constant thoughts and prayers.


Anonymous said...

Dear Sue,
I have been reading your blog everyday now for the past 2 weeks, and although I never knew you personally I have come to have a special place in my heart for you and your family. When I heard of the sad news I could not sleep thinking about you and your husband. I too have no personal experience with what you are going through, but have had to deal with some real hard life situations. I am a 3 time cancer survivor and have lived with cancer now for 5 years. I can relate to your different range of emotions because i deal with that myself. I know that this is selfish on my part but please don't stop sharing your heart and feelings on this blog. You will never know how many people you are helping by your openess. You are helping MANY MANY parents, including myself. If I had the power to take away your pain I would, but all I can offer are my prayers.


Roxanne said...

Everytime I read one of your posts I am amazed at how open you are being. I appreciate it so much as my heart is right there with you. I am so glad to read what you are thinking from day to day and it gives me direction in my prayers for you.

There was only one time in my life that I ever had thoughts of suicide. I was 16 and a Junior in High School. My boyfriend and I had just broken up. While we were dating his Mother had died of cancer which was so tramatic. I totally believed we would always be together and that nothing could seperate us. But it did.

I remember that my feelings of dissapointment were soooooooooo strong. I would go to the pool and all i could think about is jumping off the high dive and drowning myself. I had heard that it was not painful but rather peaceful. I felt so heartbroken that feeling peace is all I could think of. I just wanted the pain to stop. I had loving parents, sooo many friends, great grades at school, I was college bound I had always been a happy person. But, at that point in my life I had slipped into a deep saddness, a deep depression and all I could think of was my saddness. I climbed up on the diving board several times and even jumped off but I did not have the courage. I literally cried myself to sleep each night for over a year. On the outside I did my chores at home, my school work, I was still getting good grades, I was socializing (laughing, talking spending time with my friends) going out on dates, a part of my church teen group and choir, several school activities, I ran track, I spent time with my family, etc. But inside the pain was soo great and my thoughts would turn to this darkness over and over. I did not even think about what it would do to others. For some reason all I could feel was the pain I was in.

I have only sharred this with one or two people in my life...when I look back.. I know this was not me. I was soooo sad that I could not see all I had to live for. I just wanted the pain to stop.

Enough time past and college was a good distraction and the pain finally eased and no matter what I have been through in my life I have never had another thought like that...I have never returned to that dark place. I can not even believe it was me. But it was.

I don't know if this helps you at all but my summary of my experience is that the pain and dissappointment consumed me it was all I could think of or feel.

I love you so much and hope that this in some small way may help you. Roxanne

Biggie-Z said...

(the following comment was edited to remove an identifying detail)

Dear Ms. Sue.

What your neighbor said was true. I've been there. And I feel sick to my stomach when I consider that Josh is gone because he took one step more than I did. I will never, ever forget how much I loved Josh, and I don't know if I can ever forgive myself for ever having considered ending my own life. I know that I have to forgive myself, though, and I want to share with a bit of what it was like in my darkest times.

I wholeheartedly believed that it was the right thing to do. People often talk about suicide being something selfish, I can't help but get angry. It's so hard to consider that someone's min could be so tortured that it seems like a good thing to do, but it happens.

I sat down and thought about every person I had ever known. Satan is very powerful. His lies are incredible. Within minutes, I began to believe that me taking my life would reunite my family and friends, help my father's business and relieve the stress I put on my mother. I remember sitting there in the dark. I was sitting there for no more than 20 minutes, and then I knew. I knew I was ready. Ready to die. It took no time at all. Yes, I had been depressed and was always one to look on the dark side of life...but not even an hour after having been with my friends and brother at college, I was ready to end it. I thought about my friends coming together and talking about what they would have learned from me. I saw my teachers and classmates searching their own souls, and rejoicing in my decision. I saw my enemies smiling to themselves and my room being cleared out. I saw my pain as being gone, and I saw a new life for my community.

I also saw my mother feeling relieved. This, I think, is the hardest thing to realize. After coming to the funeral and reading this blog daily, I don't think I will ever again doubt my mother's love. No matter what happens, I will never, ever think that my mother wouldn't be broken.

I don't know if this makes any sense. It barely makes sense to me. I wanted to go, and I thought I'd be doing the right thing. I knew I would never again have to worry about my salvation or my circumstances, but more importantly, I honestly believed that now OTHER people wouldn't have to worry about those things, either. It...I don't know. It seemed like the right thing to do. All reasoning flitted away. Everything good that had ever happened was swallowed up, and the idea began to blossom. And the flower was beautiful. It smelt of peace and hope. If it gives you any comfort, I will share that I believe that Josh, too, for a moment was free of all trouble and was at beautiful peace. No pain. It gets to a point where it seems like such a beautiful alternative for everyone that you can only smile to yourself and wait to see Jesus on the other side. I had cried myself to sleep so many nights and I had bottled my feelings up for so long. I knew it could be over. Life was so, so dark that I can't even believe that that was once me. But it was, and death seemed to be the brightest thing. It's a delusion. Something believed by only one person at the given time. It's so different, so strange. I don't even know if I will ever understand where my mind was those nights...

I have tried twice, now, to take my life. The first time, I was frightened by the prospect of the darkness of death and ended up throwing up. The second time, however, I doubt I would have made it had someone not come in. How I wish Josh could have had an angel like mine. I wish this and I pray this, but I know that nothing can change what has happened. My mother was completely unaware of my pain, and I often wonder if she could have even changed my mind. The ones I loved most turned into my greatest burdens.

I never want you to feel like this is your fault. I've read what you've written, and I know that you will feel that way. But I didn't think it was my mother's fault, and I know Joshie would never blame you. Joshie loved you; it's just that, in that moment, his definition of love was very, very different from yours or mine, now.

I don't understand God's plan. I don't think we ever will, and I don't think this part of it will ever seem fair. To anyone. Least of all to you.

At the end, Josh was calm. He was warm and he felt love. He knew he was going home. I wish his home ... could have been home enough for him. God has set eternity on all of our hearts, and some of us...just feel it more. Want it sooner. And it feels so right.

I'm sorry if this is hard to read...It was hard to write. I'm very upset with myself and I only wish I could have gotten on TV or something when I began to get better--depression IS a disease--and spoken to the children of the world: spoken of hope and love and laughter and memories...

When Puccini was diagnosed with cancer, he announced that he had one last opera to write. His friends thought he was mad. They wanted him to rest, but he was determined to write a masterpiece. His friends asked him what he wanted them to do if he didn't make it. He simply said, "You can finish it for me." Puccini died before his opera was completed. And his friends were left with a decision--whether or not to finish the opera. They chose to, and in 1926, Turandot opened at the Teatro La Scala in Milan, Italy. Turandot is a masterpiece. Everyone knows and loves Nessum Dorma. His friends finished it for him.

Josh's life was a masterpiece. He didn't live to see the effect it had on everyone. We saw it, we felt it. but now we have the same responsibility that Puccini's friends had. We have to finish it for him. Life will go on. We will always remember where Josh stopped and we had to start back up again. But that's the challenge, the dream of life. To fight together and share the beauty of the music with everyone we meet.

My heart is so broken for you and your family. I love you all so much and I think about you every day.
I am so sorry for your loss, Sue. I pray for you continually.

Love and peace,

Smyling said...

Dear Sue,

You don't know me... I was devastated to hear about Josh. Although I do not know you yet, my heart & prayers are with you. My daughter tried to hang herself when she was 17. She wasn't able to do it and so she overdosed on insulin. Thanks be to God, we found her in time.

She is now 25 and after another attempt, she is currently in the hospital. After 5 days, she came off life support. And now we are able to talk with her and move forward to getting her the help she needs. In fact I am on my way there now.

I want you to know that I shared with her about Josh yesterday. Sharing the little I know about Josh & you allowed us to talk about things we aren't normally able to, things that she needs to hear & know.

I know nothing will ever make this better. And though I share your pain, I do not understand what you are going through. But please know that God has already brought good out of Josh's suffering. I am grateful to you for being so open & sharing yours & Josh's story.

When my daughter & I talked this morning, we talked abut Josh again. She has decided that it's important for us to be open in what we are going through - so that maybe like you - her story can help someone else.

Please know that all of us are wrapping our arms around your family in prayer. Tell your husband if there is ANYTHING we can help out with, just to ask. My father was on life support and close to death for several months recently. And my coworkers stepped in and did anything we asked...delivering things to our clients, atending settlements, whatever. So please do not hesitate to let us help you.

One day we will meet in person, but until then, from one mother to another, please know that our hearts & prayers are with you.


Stacy S. said...

Dear Sue, I also do not have personal experience in this I have had several cancers over the last 6 years so am able to relate to the rush of feelings and then to the point where someone could punch and beat on you and you would not ever feel it. Last night I ask Scott "how do we know if our son is ok? He must have a form of dark times himself. I wonder what would it be like to of had a mom that was sick time after time. He has several notebooks and does allot of journaling. Also, writes alot of songs so maybe this is how he deals with my sickness. I have learned that however long it takes (still taking me 6 years) the calmness will come and God will not let you leave his arms .Another thing I have learned is that we mourn in different ways. I pray and I pray and I pray for you serveral times throughout the day. All my love. Stacy S.

vreed55 said...

i don't know if you remember me,but i grew up with gillian an spent some time with your family, both at R camp, and at your house. when i found out about josh i was shocked to discover how sad i felt about him, even though i barely knew him, but there are some things i would like to share, hopefully to help make you, if not feel better, at least have a better understanding of maybe what he was thinking about.
I have struggled with depression all of my life. you know my parent, and can probably understand alot of the pressures i felt to hide my emotions. i often felt like i had to be perfect, boost my parents reputation, not make mistakes...but inside i was just a lonely kid wanting comfort and love. for most of highschool, i tried to fix my depression with drugs. i did anything i could get my hands on, and the whole time, no one knew. i still went to church, had great grades, and was involved in several school programs but i was hurting so much, maybe like josh. i tried to end my life twice. once i purposely overdosed on heroin, but instead of dying, i just got really really sick. i also took several sleeping pills to end everything. i was un-succesful, which now, i am grateful. how i only wish josh had had the same trouble that i did. but sometimes, i think that people feel too much. i believe that i feel more then many others. i feel the need to impress and make proud everyone i meet...not just in a normal way, but almost obsessive. i dedicate myself to friendships more so then most, and i hurt more when something happens more then most. this is a gift, and a curse. the good things, are great. the relationships, the love, the joy...their extreme. it's like being high on life, but when things are bad..their really really really horrible. maybe josh felt the same way. he loved the good times, but the bad were just too hard to live through. and maybe, his heart was just too big to go on. i know for me, the idea of dissapointing my parents was too much to handle. i lied to them about everything because i didn't want to see their faces. i loved them so much i couldn't stand to see them dissapointed, and maybe josh felt the same way. it's hard for us kids to understand the limitless love our parents have for us. maybe josh didn't want to cause any more "trouble" for you and tim, even though in retrospect, i can see that a child is never trouble...only love. to this day, i feel hopeless and sometimes there seems to be no future. but from reading what you have to say, and seeing how greatly josh has affected the lives of others, i feel that maybe i am worth something...maybe life is worth living. i can't tell you for sure what any of us crazy kids think about when we want to end it all...i do know that it is not selfishness, only children hurting. people like josh, and me...just not knowing where to go. i hope this helps you..and if not, at least know that i feel that i have learned the value of a mothers love and i know that josh's un-timely death has changed the way i think, and view the relationships i treasure most.

Josh's mom said...

I want to thank those who have posted comments and those that I have spoken to either on the phone or in person. I am not sure what to say, other than thank you so much for sharing your hearts and intensely personal stories and experiences.

I have read each comment several times - your words are staying with me day and night. I have them in my heart and am processing what has been shared with what I am feeling about Josh's suicide.

I can say that it is helping me better understand why he chose this path, although no one will fully know and I will just have to accept this fact. This is very hard for me - still a struggle.

Please continue to comment as you are comfortable - it is so helpful to me and to others.

God Bless,

Jim Watson said...

Sue and Tim,
This is my first post but obviously won’t be my last; the reason for the delay is my heart has been just too very heavy with grief. Judy and I are so very, very sad for your loss of Josh and want you to know we continue to pray daily; will to be there for whatever you or the kids or your family needs from now until ever; we will keep in touch always to listen most and share when needed. I still can’t get to where my heart is about Josh because it’s still to numb to know.

However, relating to ‘things’ that cause us problems sometimes very overwhelming; depressing and life stopping at times. I wanted to share a comment that a stranger shared with me when I was going through a very depressing time in my earlier life (mid 30’s) that may help some in understanding what path we are on in life.

We were at a neighborhood party and I expressed just some of my depression with this person (who happened to be, unknown to me, a psychologist) and she called me the next morning with her concern for my well being. I explained I felt like I had nowhere to go in my career or life because I’d been places I never thought possible, upset many with my behavior, could not see a future past today and had thoughts of ending my life. I felt like my life was a book that I had finished reading and there was nothing left to do. She had a simple answer for me: our lives are not a book but a library, go out a find another book to read. It was a simple comment that changed all my thinking patterns to a more positive direction and has lasted in mind for over 30 years.

For the kids (and we are ALL kids) who read this blog, remember you can get answers to issues, please just be willing to ask the questions or let others know what your feelings are with your life on a regular bases. As your Tim said to a group of some of the awesome ‘kids’ in Josh’s life at your house (I’ll have to paraphrase); there is nothing so difficult in your life that your God; parents; grandparents; brothers or sisters; aunts or uncles; friends; teachers; coaches and unknown others can’t help you through, NOTHING.

You know Judy & I feel God has a plan and purpose for our life’s and knows its outcome before we are born. He works all things in our lives for the good and we have to trust His wisdom, grace and love in the hardest of times. I know you believe this as well. And we know Josh is in heaven by God’s invitation for that we are very sad at this time, but know we will ALL be together soon very soon.

God bless you both, we love you GREATLY!!


Anonymous said...

I have had thoughts of suicide even as an adult. I think what goes through your mind is how worthless or disappointing you think you are to those around you eve to God. You can convince yourself that not being here is the best solution for everyone. I remember when I was about 13 I told my brother I wanted to kill myself and I was going to take a bunch of pills. He told my father and I remember my father being angry and saying to me how do you think that would make us feel.

My father was not a very expressive or emotional man but i knew he was hurt by what I had said.

I think you become so absorbed in what you yourself are feeling that you dont' think it will hurt anyone.

I think you hear only negative things and I think you hear Satan telling you how everyone would be better off, I think he is the one who whispers in your ear how much easier it would be on everyone, he makes you think that you are doing the right thing the best thing for everyone concerned. He even convinced me very nearly that even God saw me as a waste of space and a disappointment. I can almost see him in my minds eye convincing me to go on do it, knowing full well that this is not what God intends. This is what I believe.

When ever I am tempted to think this way which I still am, I think to myself who is this talking and who is this telling me to end the life, which has been given to me. I thin as long as I do live I will never really believe deep down I am as valuable to God as the next person, I just hope I am. I have such a negative self image and sense of worth.

What could anyone have done to convince Josh that he was loved. I think he knew, that I bet he cried as he went through what he did step by step. He knew he would miss you, he thought you would feel better, he thought you would be relieved because I believe that is what Satan convinced him of.

I am sorry that Josh is gone and I have been reading this in order to some how understand myself. Our lives touched albeit briefly and a long time ago. My daughter remembers Josh from teen camp. I keep you in my prayers because I know that this is an everyday, it will be this way from now on for you situation and that troubles me, but you have friends family and the Lord who is your constant Guardian even in terrible times.

Keep sharing even the hard stuff.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sue,
It is very hard to describe the feelings that lead someone to want to take their own life and it cannot be fully understood unless you, yourself, have been there. You are right, the normal functioning brain somehow prevents us from killing ourselves--the thought itself is repulsive. However, to those who are suicidal, I firmly believe that the brain is not functioning in a normal manner at that point. I have struggled with depression for more than half my life. Medication has helped me about 50% and a good counselor has made up for the rest. It has been a long, long road and for the first time I am at a good point in my life where I have learned to cope with depression in a nondestructive manner. I have no idea what distinguishes those who kill themselves from those who wish to kill themselves but do not. I took a class in college on human resilience; there has been much study but it is still unclear as to why some of us push on, while others give up.

The times when I cut myself with a serrated knife (sometimes up to 25-30 times at once), or purposely combined and took too much medication, all I wanted was for the pain to stop. The emotional pain (in fact, everything you have been feeling during the grieving process—the anger, the sadness) was entirely unbearable. The only way to relieve the pain was to hurt myself because the physical pain was far more tolerable than the emotional anguish. It felt good to hurt myself (which is scientifically explained by the release of adrenaline and endorphins from our brain when we are injured) because I could punish myself for all that I was feeling. Hurting myself was not only a relief but primarily a punishment, something that I deserved. I hated myself. I felt terrible guilt and anger in my life, and terrible, terrible loneliness. At my very lowest point, when I was 15, I felt like I could have exploded from my skin. It was the middle of the night and I was hysterical, shaking, wanting to kill myself but not having the will to get up off the floor. I felt like I was losing my mind and thought I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. I was utterly terrified and didn’t know what to do. I looked out the window and saw the moon. I was looking for anything, any focal point, something to make me calm. I did not grow up in a religious household and my single mother was very anti-religion. I didn’t know what else to do so I looked out the window and said, “God give me peace.” That’s all, just once. I hoped maybe He would strike me dead but instead I felt a wave of calm wash over my body. I stopped crying, I stopped shaking, and felt sleepy. I went to sleep and the next morning called a friend who had been inviting me to church. I went to Oakton that week and became a member of the church a few months later.

I felt good for awhile but was frustrated, disappointed, and scared to realize that I still had thoughts of wanting to hurt myself. I thought that a relationship with God would cure all that. I felt like I was doing something wrong and felt very guilty for feeling the way I did. I thought this meant that I wasn’t a good Christian. What I have learned, is that temptation always remains; it is the battle of life that we must fight. I still continued to hurt myself into my adult life (so far this has been a good year and I long for the day when I can withstand every temptation to hurt myself). I have still felt helpless and hopeless but I don’t want to end my life anymore. I attribute this to consistent medication, my counselor, and my wonderful husband who has helped me through many difficult times. I hope this helps you in some way and I am available if you have any further questions or want to talk.

Many prayers and love,
Jessica C.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sue,
I've been trying to think of what to say that will be helpful. I've hesitated posting a comment, but hopefully, this will help in some way. I know I've been helped by reading all that you've shared.

I found my lowest of lows during college, and a year or two after I became a Christian – which didn't make sense to me at all. I wanted to be gone – not necessarily to die, I don't think – but I didn't want to be a burden to others, to feel the intense pain that I felt inside, and I didn't want to cause others pain. Of course there's no other way to be gone, than to die. At different times I was convinced that others would be better off without me. I felt like just being around others I caused them pain, because if they could choose between someone who could make them laugh and someone who was so caustic inside, who would they prefer?

What did help me, was having a few key people around who were there for me even if they didn't understand; a few who really stuck by me through all of my thoughts. I still don't understand why they did. I also believed somewhere deep within that God did make me for a reason. Also, I have trouble being 'fake' so often my emotions are written all over my face. I may try to hide them, but for those who really know me, they could see through it.

Even now, I have friends, but it's hard for me to believe they love me, or why they love me. Unfortunately that causes me to shrink back in friendship, even though I desperately want to be a good friend and need their friendship. I even ask my husband why he loves me…. It's difficult for me to see the value that I add to other's lives – and yet I desperately want to make a difference. It's difficult for me to believe how much God loves me and how much he believes in me.

I've found it difficult to open up to people for several reasons – one – I don't want to burden people with all of my emotions and pain, two – it's hard to find someone who understands where I'm coming from in my thinking – especially since I'm viewed as being a nice, intelligent, accomplished girl. From the outside, I have no reason to be "sad". On the inside though, I feel so caustic at times.

I'm still looking for a way to work though my thinking. Often my husband doesn’t remember that my nature is to be negative and that depression is a part of me – because I don't present that way on a daily basis. Sue, your expression of your true feelings here have helped me to see that it's ok to voice pain. Logically I know it helps so that others can share the burden, and we can see that others really can relate. It's ok to have those moments. What Josh decided to do, and your desire to understand what he was going through has helped me to see that I still have a lot of pain inside to deal with somehow. I fear situations of loss because I don't know how I will deal with it, or if I will hurt others in the process. I had 2 miscarriages about 2 years ago – I didn't know how to deal with the pain of those losses and hurt some very good friends as a result. These friendships are still damaged even though I feel I've made every effort to go back and repair. Unfortunately I don't feel like they'll ever trust me in the same way again, and that really hurts. I feel condemned and unforgiven at times.

It was encouraging to read Jessica C's comment because even today I have temptations to hurt myself physically so that the emotional pain won't hurt as much. I feel guilty for that because I am a Christian and feel like I should be past this now. From her comment I see that it's a temptation and I need to confess it, and fight it.

Thank you for doing this Sue. Thank you for sharing your pain so honestly. I believe that both you and Josh are having a very widespread and lifelong impact on many other people's lives.

misskathleen31 said...

To Sue and the Anderson family,

My prayers and deepest sympathies are with you as you grieve the loss of Josh. I can't begin to imagine what you all are going through right now. I hope that the love, support, and prayers are a continual source of some comfort to you.

I know this thread is a couple months old, but I wanted to share my experiences with you. I've been working through depression for the past 12 years and over time I've coped with it some unhealthy ways, including under- and over-eating and binge drinking.

I have had dark moments when I seriously considered causing myself physical harm. No matter the fact that I know my family and friends love me, that they would give me any kind of help and support in their power, and that my death would cause them a lot of pain... the impulse was still there to hurt myself physically in order to relieve emotional pain.

Sue, in one of your posts you talked about how those who have attempted suicide describe feeling not themselves. I had never thought about that, but it totally makes sense. At times when I've considered suicide, my thought processes are completely irrational and the anxiety is absolutely overwhelming.

I honestly can't offer any more insight than that. I don't know the reasons suicidal thoughts, whether they're chemical imbalances, emotional upset, etc. All I know is that I feel I've been spared, and that it's by God's grace that I haven't carried out any attempts.

I am absolutely grateful for this blog and your openness and sharing. In one of your posts you described wishing Josh could have held onto some of your faith for things to get better until his own faith took root. It is this that keeps me going in the hard times, knowing that other people have faith in me... trying to see myself through their eyes, to incorporate some of their love for me into love for myself. Hearing your profound grief and love as a mother inspires me to continue in my struggles with mental health issues. And, already Josh's death is not in vain as it has encouraged me to persist in this fight and to be open about my struggles.

Love to you all .

Josh's mom said...

Thank you so much for the post on July 16th. It meant so much for you to take the time to write. As a result, I re-read the post and all of the comments - it had been a while.

Four months later, it encourages me to continue with with my posts on the blog when I hear that by sharing the grief/pain/sorrow that I feel as Josh's mother, it is actually helping others who struggle with suicidal thoughts/attempts to realize that their own mother would feel the exact same way.

I will share what I said to some of Josh's closest friends who sat in his room just a day after his death, "don't ever, ever, EVER do this to your mother." I don't think that Josh could've gone through with taking his life if he could see what it would do to me - my heart is broken and it feels like a part of me is gone.

One of the saddest things for me is to think that I was totally oblivious to the enormous and overwhelming pain that Josh must have been feeling that night. If I had known, I would've done anything and everything to help him. I confess to feeling angry at Josh for not talking to someone who would've helped him (us, counselor, girlfriend, friends). The outcome could've been so different - I don't know if I will ever get over this feeling of regret/guilt.

One thing I have learned from all of this is that life is too short and fragile. We've got to share with others what is going on inside and get help. If what happened to Josh and what is being recorded on this blog is getting that important message out and maybe, saving lives, I am grateful.

God Bless