Josh is buried at the Fairfax Memorial Park. Enter the cemetery from the Burke Station Road entrance. Second left will be the Garden Of Prayer.
On the right is a tree with two wind chimes. The one with chili peppers was just placed today - given to us by dear friends in honor of one of Josh's favorite band.
Walk to the right of the tree and you will find a temporary marker.
Tim, Gillian and Josh's uncle Steve placing flower petals on his grave site.
We stood for a while, in silence and in tears to remember our beloved son, brother and nephew.
I have heard there are stages of grief. One of them is denial. I have been living here for the past few days. Today was hard, though, as an article about Josh's death came out in the Washington Post. It is hard to be in denial, when there, in black and white, is a picture of your son and a story that explains the circumstances around his death.
As mentioned in a previous post, it was hard to read some of the comments on-line. While many were supportive and compassionate, there were others that were judgmental and at times, cruel. I will refrain from doing so now, and will rely on others to share the comments that they feel I should read.
Because the blog address was in the article at our request, and after seeing some of the insensitive comments on the Post's web site, we decided to moderate the comments before they are published on the blog. It is very important to me that this remains a safe place to share not only my feelings/thoughts, but yours as well. My daughter-in-law and sister-in-law are performing this important task, and I am so grateful to them. I am glad we decided to do this, as I've heard that one particularly nasty and mean comment was deleted.
Since my brother was in town, and it was going to be such a beautiful day, we decided to play golf. For those of you who play or in my case, attempt to play, it is a hard enough game when the body, mind and soul are in balance. For me, it wasn't until about the 13th hole that I was able to stop my mind from thinking about Josh, the published article, all the comments, etc. etc. Not that this completely left my mind, they were just not at the forefront as before.
I was really thinking about Josh because last year, he had come out with us several times. He and I would play best ball from the front tees, be given a stroke for any hole over 300 yards and give each other high-fives when we ultimately beat Tim, who is a single-digit handicap golfer. We didn't play with Josh on this particular course - I think it will be a while before I can play on one that we had.
My feelings and questions about the mode of Josh's death have been greatly helped by the comments on a previous post and via conversations with others. I am so thankful that you have opened yourself up to share your intensely personal story/experience as a way to help not only myself, but others.
In this short time, what I have learned from all of you is this: The struggle with depression, suicidal thoughts, attempts and those that actually succeed in taking their own life is all around us. And many of those that battle these thoughts and feelings can, on the outside, look quite happy. Have a lot of friends. Be involved in activities. Get good grades or be successful at work. And yet they are really, really hurting inside. So badly that the thought or idea of taking their life appears to be the right decision, for everyone involved.
There are those who talk to others about these feelings of wanting to hurt themselves or take their life. Or they actually do hurt themselves as a way to feel a different pain other than what is in the mind and soul. I've heard that those who talk about these feelings are crying for help and this should never be ignored or dismissed as it is real and shows someone who is in the depths of despair, but willing to reach out and receive help.
Then there are those who do not talk about these thoughts and feelings, even if they are asked point blank, as in the case of Josh on several occasions. Those who keep this to themselves are really the ones who are most likely to attempt and succeed. For those of you who are reading this post and fit into this category, I plead with you to open up and let someone know what you are thinking. I wish to God that Josh had done this as he had many who were willing to help him, as I am sure you have as well.
I have also learned for those that actually attempted to take their life, when they look back at that event, they say that their mind was no longer in reality. Be it a chemical imbalance or psychotic break, I do not know. But the description is eerily similar. The mind is in a different place altogether; rhyme or reason is out the window and in fact, it is difficult to recognize that person as themselves. Therefore it is an irrational and unexplainable act - something that cannot be comprehended.
This new understanding has helped me to answer some of the nagging questions that I had such as:
- How could a well-liked, athletic, popular kid who seemed to make everyone around them happier, do this to himself? I am seeing now that this may not be so unusual.
- How come no one, not one person, knew he was thinking about this? Again, it is very scary to learn that those who don't talk will be the ones to most likely succeed.
- And finally, how could he even do this? I am beginning to think that the Josh who did this is not the Josh that we knew and would perhaps be unrecognizable even to himself.
This may seem odd to you, but it is my prayer now, that God and/or Josh would give me a sign to let me know that all is well. That my thinking is correct and his soul is truly at peace. I hope that I haven't had my eyes and heart closed to miss this sign. If you would pray anything for me, please pray for this.
If you are comfortable, please keep posting comments. I believe that the stories and experiences that are being shared are for a reason - not only to help me but to help one another.
As always, I and everyone in my family appreciate the continued demonstrations of love, support and prayers from so many. While they cannot take away the pain and loss that we feel daily, they make it more bearable.