December 22, 2015
I just got off the phone with my sister.
I have been so angry lately.
I was dropping F Bombs about Christmas.
She always listens.
Always says the right thing.
Never says it is going to be okay.
She just says "I'm not going to tell you I understand how you feel just know I am sorry".
I'm angry at Pat because Charlie has been crying lately at how much he misses him.
I'm angry that people pretend we are not still hurting and don't want to acknowledge that the holidays are stressful, lonely and sad for so many people. Cookies and carols can't always make people feel better.
I'm angry when I over hear women complaining about how tough it is that their husband is traveling and they have to do all of the holiday shopping, cooking and wrapping.
I'm angry that I am unable to find joy in the holiday I once loved so much.
I'm angry that I am too tired to cook so I'm getting take out a lot. I'm angry at the guy trying to hit on me at our favorite restaurant when I was picking up dinner. I'm angry he did not notice my body language that said "I am not here to flirt with you. I'm tired, my head is down on my phone for a reason and I'm getting pizza AGAIN". "What does your husband do?" Really? That is the best line you got? Ready for the answer dumb ass. I hope you feel like the asshole you are for asking that question. I hope you will never use that line again on any woman. We are not all married. We can take care of ourselves financially. Should I continue?
I'm angry that I just don't care about buying gifts or sending our Christmas cards.
I'm angry at myself for being angry.
My sister said "it's okay that you are angry but the negative energy you are taking on from other people and situations is ruining your day and upsetting you and in turn going to take away any positive energy you and the boys need. You deserve to have a nice Christmas."
And then she said "and if you want to fucking punch someone in the throat who says something rude or stupid to you, then do it if it makes you feel better."
Merry fucking Christmas!
I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants.
She is right.
I'm accepting that whatever I do for Christmas is okay. No expectations.
I'm allowed to be angry but I'm not letting it consume me.
I'm allowed to cry all I want and let it go.
I'm allowed to want to punch someone, but I won't.
I'm making the most out of our first Christmas on our own in Connecticut.
I'm not angry any more.
In fact I'm peaceful again.
I just put on my cheesy holiday necklace and I'm going to shop for the boys.
I might even hum a Christmas carol or two.
I love you.
P.S. Merry Christmas to all of you who read this blog and who who have graciously supported the boys and I with your thoughts, prayers and love. I hope your week is filled with simple moments, laughter and peace with those you love.
September 17, 2015
You were not my friend after Pat died.
I couldn't login.
When I did for the first time months after he died it took my breath away.
50+ friend requests from people I didn't even know.
Why the hell do you want to be my "friend"?
Because you want to support me?
I don't know you.
I hated you Facebook.
I felt violated, uncomfortable and strange.
A "friend" request because my husband died?
I didn't login for over a year.
When I tried again it was different.
The requests didn't bother me, rather the images.
Images of families, of dad's with their kids, couples on trips drinking margaritas, normal life I had had that was now gone. It hurt. I couldn't look.
Months later I tried again.
Every time I logged into my account Patrick's name and image would be in my sidebar.
"Stay Red and Never Walk Alone" is the image.
He loved Liverpool Soccer.
He would wake up early every Saturday morning with the boys to watch it live.
English soccer. They would cheer and scream. Yell at the screen.
Trash talk our English and German friends after a win.
I can't see it.
It is too much to bear.
I'm done with you Facebook.
Delete my account.
Wipe away the memories so the pain is gone.
Pictures and posts I can't stand to look at.
The same day I deleted my account I memorialized Patrick's page.
Yes, Facebook. You made me call customer service and tell you he died.
The date he died.
How I am related and more.
The business of death is unbearable at times but it has to be done.
I understand but you hurt me.
I sobbed in bed.
I ate a full sleeve of Girl Scout cookies...I hadn't had much to eat in a year.
Thin mints, a computer and tears.
I will never forget.
I never want his page to disappear.
Pat was funny, positive and full of sarcasm when he posted.
I read his posts and comments now and belly laugh.
He mocked our children and loved them unconditionally.
He was so proud.
He praised me and loved me unconditionally.
He was so proud.
He supported his friends and loved them unconditionally.
He was so proud.
His wit and love for those he cherished is always on the screen.
You have captured his words and wit for us and I thank you for that.
Two years after his death and after our move to the East Coast I thought it was time.
Time to join life again.
Time to connect with those who love and support us.
Time to celebrate with those who are celebrating and support those who are suffering.
A new Facebook account.
Old friends. New friends. Friends of Patrick's.
I welcome you.
Yes we are okay.
The boys are growing.
We are happy again.
And now Facebook, you have become my voice.
You are my friend again.
With one simple post you gave me the chance to tell my story and help raise money to support the counseling center who saved us.
You have given people who are quietly suffering the loss of a loved one to suicide the courage and confidence to say "I hurt too. I loved him/her. Let's talk about this."
You have offered those who don't know what to do do something to support a friend and community of people who are hurting by creating awareness with a simple click.
You have given us a voice.
Thank you Facebook.
P.S. I have created a fundraising page to show my thanks and support the counseling center in Menasha, Wisconsin who saved the boys and I. Help me honor Patrick, those you love who you lost to suicide, show support to survivors of suicide and raise awareness and acceptance of mental health issues and suicide by purchasing a "Be Brave" bracelet to support The Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley, Inc.
Click this link to buy your "Be Brave" bracelet and $10 will be donated to Samaritan Counseling Center. https://www.bravelets.com/bravepage/thewidowproject
Thank you to all who have shared my post, bought a bracelet and support the cause. I am grateful.
August 22, 2015
Breathe, go through the motions but be dead inside.
Choose life, love, happiness and you.
Your boys lost one parent.
They don't need to loose another."
The words I will never forget from the man who helped save my life.
Grief counselor. Gentle soul. Beautiful man.
He told me the truth.
"Year one will be a blur."
I was a walking zombie and just getting by.
Family and friends took care of us.
Fed us. Loved us. Whatever needed to be done.
"Year two will be worse" he said.
And oh it was.
"What the fuck happened" I would say to myself as I stared in the mirror?
20 pounds gone, aged, can't smile and I don't know who is staring back at me.
How old am I?
Is he really dead?
I woke up every day and reality punched me so hard in the face.
The life I knew was over. Pat was gone. I was on my own.
The day Pat died my life blew into a 1,000 pieces.
My life shattered.
I needed to figure out how to put it back together.
I was sitting in the depths of hell and I needed to crawl out.
"Year three will be a cross road. Rebuild or die inside."
Choose to live.
Choose the pieces you want to keep.
Let go of the pieces you don't want.
Don't feel the guilt.
Year three came early...I was dying inside.
I was loosing myself.
I needed to start to rebuild now.
I couldn't rebuild in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Too many memories.
I carried pain from those who loved us and him...they were grieving too.
Too many eyes watching, wondering, judging.
I can't breathe.
I am suffocating.
I wear heavy chains to an old life I can't live again.
I don't want to live some pieces of that life anymore.
Toxic relationships I'm done with.
Time to go.
I am not running away.
I am running to.
To life, breath, peace, new memories, new experiences, quiet, simplicity and creating a new beautiful life for the 3 of us.
I want to be anonymous.
I want to go out without being stopped. Being stared at.
I want to heal in peace.
The boys need to heal in peace.
Jack and Charlie need to just be kids, not "the kids whose dad killed himself".
They would carry that heavy weight forever if we stayed.
That will not be their burden to bear.
I didn't ask for anyone's approval but from the boys.
This is our life. The only opinions that matter are ours. 3 opinions. That's it.
"Are you okay with this? Can we try? We have to try."
"Yes mom, we need to try. We don't like the sad looks from strangers walking by as we shoot hoops outside. I know I am the kid who is getting a pass because my dad died. I don't want to be that kid.
I'll be having a great day and a stranger will walk up and say "I knew your dad". My day wasn't so great anymore because I was sad then."
Family and friends who saw me dying supported us 100 percent even though their hearts were breaking too.
Go and be free, live and find life.
A life you 3 deserve.
"We love you, we will miss all of you but you have to to live again. We want you to live."
So many said "we were waiting for you to go and will cheer you every step of the way."
Those who didn't get me commented, criticized, created stories of why we were leaving, some very painful and hurtful. People are still talking and judging 3 years later.
I realize now that those comments and judgements have nothing to do with me.
Those are their own issues and fears.
I lost friendships and moved on from friends because of the comments.
It is okay.
You can't hang on to relationships that hurt.
Life changes and I have accepted that people change too.
I looked at a map of the United States.
Where could we move to where we know 1 person?
Scottsdale, California, Boulder, New York?
Water, city, new life with movement and being anonymous.
A city with good schools, family oriented and comfortable for the boys.
4 seasons. I used to love Spring. Maybe I will again.
My visits to my friend in Manhattan saved me too.
I would spend hours walking the streets, sitting with a glass of wine people watching.
I was slowly coming to life again.
Nobody looked at me. Nobody cared.
Life. Movement. Anonymous.
I felt at peace and I was home.
Every time I got on a plane to go back I cried.
"Where am I moving to" I asked him?
Not the city.
The boys can't handle more change.
The beach is there. An hour train ride into the city. Good schools. Community.
I asked my friend who lived outside of the city.
She had saved me too with weekly texts of support, friendship and no judgement.
"Where am I moving to?"
This city or that city could work.
A friend says Fairfield is nice.
They both said Fairfield.
We are moving to Fairfield, Connecticut.
1,000 miles away.
It looks pretty online.
I hope it is nice. *
Mother Teresa said "Life is life, fight for it."
I fight for and choose life.
If you are dying inside, choose life.
Fight for it.
It is yours.
You only get one.
*We moved to Fairfield, Connecticut almost 2 years after Pat died. I'll share more about the move in future posts. We have lived here 13 months and it was the best thing I did for the boys and I. The move was extremely hard at first and still not always easy but we are enjoying a simple life, breathing, creating new memories and living again!
August 11, 2015
First day of school.
Parent Teacher Conferences.
Baseball, basketball and football games.
School Open Houses.
Events with kids we did together and now I am on my own.
I don't cry through the events anymore, well some I do, but I try not to.
The first year I couldn't make it through one without falling apart.
Where is the exit?
Tissues in my hands ready to run.
Hold it together Sandra.
Cheer and clap.
Sob in my car.
Time has softened my heavy heart.
A teacher conference without tissue.
Damn you are healing Sandra.
Cheers to you girl!
Charlie asks me not to cry before we go to these events.
He knows a song or a kind word from a teacher or coach will put me over the edge.
"Please Mom don't cry".
"I promise Charlie I will try not to" I say with a smile.
I think he tells his friends "there she goes AGAIN!"
I don't tear up as much anymore from pain, grief and sorrow.
Instead I feel pure joy and love for my children.
The sadness is quiet and the pride lights me up.
Watching them perform and play. So proud am I. So happy they are smiling and feeling pure joy themselves. Teachers telling me how well they are doing in school. How kind they are to others.
I am amazed at their strength.
I am in awe of their grace.
I am so grateful I have them in my life.
Grateful we have each other.
Grateful they have each other.
Sometimes the emotions still come. I can't stop.
I breathe deeply, look up and try to keep the tears from running down my face.
My thoughts take over.
"You should be here for them."
"He should have you here cheering for him and telling him how proud you are of him."
"Is he feeling badly his dad is not here like the others kids dads that are here?"
"Jack and Charlie, you have no idea how proud I am of you and love you."
The water works start flowing...
It lasts for a short while and I let it come.
Get it out.
Who gives a shit who is watching.
The man next to me is uncomfortable.
The woman next to me smiles politely and looks away.
Black stripes of mascara on my face.
Snot on my sleeve.
The stranger behind me hands me a tissue.
Thank you for the tissue and kindness.
Clean yourself up girl.
You got through it.
I have learned not to be afraid of my emotions.
Don't be afraid of yours.
Breathe through them.
Sit with them.
Let it out.
Laugh and move on.
Do what you need to do.
Don't let anyone tell you how you should feel or not feel.
They are your emotions, your memories, your moments.
I'm honoring mine.
My tears are tears of joy.
Celebrating Jack and Charlie.
Will they always come...probably.
P.S. Sorry Charlie...you will have to deal with my roller coaster emotions forever.
I will always cry.
Love, Mom xo
May 28, 2015
"What? Is that why you think he did it?
I never looked at another man.
Never thought of another man.
Fuck you!" I said.
She is a bitch.
She was having an affair.
Their marriage was on the rocks.
He was having an affair.
He had a drug problem.
He had a gambling problem.
And the list goes on...I heard them all.
Terrible things said about a man who died from mental illness.
Horrible things said about a woman who lost her husband, father of her children and best friend.
Disgusting things said about 2 young boys father and mother.
Do people say terrible things about a wife, marriage and man when he dies of natural causes?
When he dies from an illness?
When he dies in an accident?
Why do sharp and evil tongues come out with suicide?
So much more hurt given to those already hurting.
Fear of the unknown?
Fear of mental illness?
People are evil... but so many more are wonderful, supportive, caring, empathetic, loving, giving beautiful human beings.
I choose them.
I let the evil go.
In the first few months after Pat died, evil words would send me in a tail spin for days.
Words would make me cry, unable to breathe and hurt my deeply broken heart.
That ended. No more.
No more energy given to evil.
Now I laugh and say to myself "ignorant asshat".
Take your words and shove them.
I"m only giving my energy to myself, the boys, those we love and living a simple and authentic life.
If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
Didn't we learn this in kindergarten?
Why do so many adults and their children forget this golden rule?
Words will not break me.
Words will not break Jack and Charlie.
Do not let words break you.
Do not give evil energy.
I know it is hard. I know it hurts.
I know people you trust will say things.
People you never expect...
Take a deep breath. Hold your head high.
You know in your heart what is true.
No explanations needed.
Your circle of true friends and family will become small and strong.
You will be okay.
May 20, 2015
How many years would I be married now? I forget sometimes because this was the third wedding anniversary without him. Time is flying by yet stands still for me at times.
My wedding anniversary.
A week after his birthday.
A day after Mother’s Day.
The hardest week now I face every year. So many emotions to deal with on my own. Maybe having these days so close together is a blessing as I can work through the week and be done with it. Work through with the pain and heartache of being reminded my partner and best friend is gone.
I am 1 instead of 2 in marriage and parenting.
I am single now.
I am a single parent now.
This week reminds me of this and hurts me to my core.
But this year was different.
Different because the hurt was there but my thoughts were of hope.
Hope for my future. Hope of healing. Hope of peace.
I look back on how far I have come these past 3 years and quietly smile. Who was that girl 3 years ago? I feel like I don’t know her anymore. I know she is gone and somebody new is here. Somebody I like and I don't feel guilty about liking her...
I remember not knowing how I should act or be. Do I cry, toast him with champagne, scream and swear at him? The week leading up to the date was torture. I couldn’t face the day by myself but I also couldn’t be with people. Family and friends who had memories of our wedding day were suffering too. They didn’t know what to say to me...didn’t know if they should acknowledge it or not. We were all in an such an uncomfortable, painful place and didn’t know what to do.
Leave town…run. The pain is suffocating.
I flew away. My friend took me in. He didn’t know what to do either so we quietly made it through. He remembered that cold day in May as well...toasting his two friends celebrating their love and new life together. A painful day for both of us.
I slept through most of my first anniversary without him.
I hadn’t slept through the night since the day he died. Funny how I will forever remember the date of the first night I had slept in 9 months.
A new anniversary for me.
I got through the day. So painful but I did.
I told myself then I would always do something for me on my anniversary.
Not for him. For me. Because I am still here. I am alive. I need to live. I want to live again.I felt dead inside.
My anniversary was Mother’s Day. The boys didn’t know. I did.
I smiled and took them to a Brewers game with my mom and dad. We laughed and cheered and had a beautiful day together.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom. I smiled.
Happy Anniversary to me. I silently cried inside.
2 best friends. A plane ticket. Sun. A bucket of beer. Memories shared. Laughter. Sleep. No tears. Finally a glass of champagne toasting him. Bittersweet memories.
I have found peace.
The heartache is still there but the day wasn’t so painful.
The days leading up to it were not so painful.
I am living. I have hope. I am okay today.
Time does heal if you let it.
Grief is messy. You can’t rush it. You can’t wish it away.
You have to accept it. Sit in it and learn how to live with it.
But you can find peace with it. Learn how to live again. You and I will get there. I believe it. So should you.
If this is your first anniversary on your own or your tenth, do what is right for you...
Celebrate the day. Quietly forget the day. Cry through the day. Sleep through the day.
Whatever you need, do it. But always remember to celebrate you.
May 4, 2015
Holidays and birthdays.
I cry through them.
I sleep through them.
I fake a smile through them.
I sometimes pretend they don't exist.
I travel on them to avoid them.
I drink too much on a few of them.
I can't breathe days before them knowing they are coming.
I celebrate and laugh during some again.
I take pictures on a few of them again.
I am peaceful again on a few of them.
My 11 and 15 year old have to deal with them too.
The boys celebrate some and want to forget others.
The boys struggle sometimes with their emotions leading up to them.
The boys sometimes agree on how we handle them and sometimes don't...those are the toughest.
I know it is hard for them to articulate how they feel. It hurts to watch them hurt and not know how to say how much it hurts.
The 3 of us talk about holidays and birthdays in advance. We have a plan. We know details. We are all aware of how the day will be but all know if it blows up and we need to leave, we leave. If we need to disappear for a bit, we do it. If we want to cry through the whole damn day, we cry. If we want to blow the day off and go to the beach to laugh and enjoy each other, we do it.
Just get through the day.
I have learned to tuck my needs away.
Suck it up Sandra....you can do it.
Smile. Cry later.
Do what the boys want and need. But sometimes the boys don't know what they want and need.
How do I handle a day one wants to quietly move through and one wants to celebrate?
Go with your gut Sandra.
Tomorrow is one of those days.
Cinco de Mayo.
Grief is a wave. It moves slowly and softly yet can pick up speed and come crashing down. Pat's birthday is as unpredictable as the waves. You think you are going into the day gently and then you crash. You can't breathe. You are mad, sad, pissed off and the next moment you are smiling celebrating him...missing him more than ever.
And then back to gentle as I share stories of birthday celebrations with Jack and Charlie.....a sombrero wearing doll holding a Corona in the front lawn wishing him a happy 40th, a shot of tequila with friends singing happy birthday in multiple languages, a Miley Cyrus birthday cake because that was the only one left at the bakery or a beautiful dinner in a quaint French town with his lovely laugh, a goatee and leather jacket.
Memories I have and cherish.
Memories I want the boys to know.
Memories that make me smile and also makes my heart ache.
Memories we hold onto because he will always be 41.
Now we move forward and create our own celebrations. Doing it the old way is too painful. Painful because he is not here. Our celebrations have changed...some for the better. Less stress, more family time and little care or concern about "what you should do". Rather enjoying and loving the people we are celebrating with.
Tomorrow is one of those days. The 3 of us will all celebrate Pat in our own way. We will talk, cry, laugh or scream. Whatever each of us chooses to do it will be okay.
We all ride our own waves.
I know our family and friends will celebrate him in their own way. Thank you for loving him and remembering him. I know you don't want to tell me but I know you ride your own waves too.
Tomorrow we will eat pizza and enjoy Dairy Queen ice cream cake...Pat's favorites for his birthday.
Tomorrow will be the 3rd year we celebrate without him.
Tomorrow will be different than the past two birthdays without him.
Next May 5th will be different too.
And we will all be okay.
If you have a birthday of your loved one approaching....be gentle with yourself. Talk to your kids about what they want to do. Celebrate. Don't celebrate. Just remember to breathe. You will get through it and be okay.
P.S. Happy Birthday Patrick Joseph Began. I think I will be having a few margaritas to celebrate you.
April 9, 2015
"You are going to fuck those kids up if you tell them it is suicide."
"I will fuck them up if I don't. Would you rather have them hear it on the playground or school bus? It was suicide! I will not lie."
From that moment I knew I had to protect them. Protect them from words, fear, anxiety and guilt of others. Protect them from ignorance.
From that moment I knew I had to be honest and never lie to them.
From that moment I knew not telling them the truth would dishonor my husband and his private fight with mental illness....their father who loved them more than anything. The man they loved. The man who loved me more than anything. The man I loved.
That moment hours after my husband died will forever be burned in my head and heart. I don't remember much from the first few weeks after Pat died but I do remember so clearly how the air was sucked from my lungs and I knew I would have to fight for these kids and for Pat's memory. The man who was kind, gentle, funny as hell, caring and loving. The man with the amazing laugh. The man who had helped 3 friends get help for anxiety and depression. Fight or flight.
My gut told me to fight.
My gut from that moment has never been wrong.
I am not angry at the person who said it. I now know that comment was made out of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of death. Fear of suicide. Fear of stigmas. Fear of mental illness. Fear of looking in deep and seeing ourselves and our own struggles.
Mental illness is a disease. Why would I hide the disease that killed their father? We don't hide cancer or car accidents. We talk about them. Let's talk about suicide and mental illness. It's not dirty or shameful or selfish. It is real.
Mental illness is a disease. Period. If we talk about it, people won't be afraid to get treatment. If we educate ourselves about it, we can help others we see who may be struggling. If we are empathetic to those who suffer from it, they won't feel so alone and isolated. If we share our stories, we can help others heal.
Honesty has helped us heal. Be honest about suicide, mental illness, death and grief. It will help you heal too.
March 31, 2015
So here I go...I have been thinking about writing this blog for a long time but I just wasn't ready. After 2 and a half long years since my husband died, something in me shifted. I have started to laugh more, taste my food, drink less (coffee and wine), read again, work out, eat better and smile more. Why?
I finally let go.
I looked at my two boys, Jack and Charlie, and thought "we have walked a long dark road together but I know we are going to be ok". We finally let go.
Anger, fear, guilt, terror, spite, despair, paranoia, rage...at times they had taken me over but I am done with them. I have let them go.
My deep sorrow, pain and heartache is quieter. It is still there but softer. Grief will live with us forever. It hits us and takes our breath away but we know how to work through it with the tools 2 years of grief counseling has given us.
I've accepted the new me. I've accepted we are now 3 instead of 4. I've accepted the boys lives are taking a different path if Pat wouldn't have died. I have accepted we all are surviving the trauma of suicide and are taking it one day at a time. I have accepted we now live a strange life I never could have imagined unless you are in it. Strange but good again.
Time does heal. Cliche yes, but time has healed the boys and I. With help from our loving family, dear friends, grief counselors and acts of kindness from strangers, we are healing and so grateful.
We are o.k. We finally let go.
If you have just started down your journey as a suicide survivor, I want you to know you and your children will be o.k. again. I just wanted somebody who had lived it to tell me their kids were not just o.k., but amazing. Actually, my kids are amazing. Jack and Charlie are kind, funny, beautiful old souls who every day amaze me with their courage and strength. Kids are tougher than we think. Be as honest and open with them. Talk to them about their grief even though it hurts like hell. Give them a voice - their voice as a suicide survivor.
I'm not an amazing writer. I can be crass and raw and use too much profanity. People have tagged me as a "straight talker" and "bitch" for years. It never really bothered me. I stood and still do stand up for what is right and I believe in. Maybe that straight talk saved me and gave me the strength to be honest, open, raw and real with my boys and myself. Honesty so many survivors of suicide struggle with because of the stigma attached to mental illness and suicide. We all choose our journey of grief, and I choose to be as open as I can be. It has been a process to get here but I'm talking about suicide. I'm talking about mental illness. I'm talking about grief counseling and school psychologists and crazy situations I have been in. It may not always be comfortable and safe. But I finally let go.
I'm not afraid of what people will think. All that matters is what my 2 boys think. They are amazing and support me writing this blog. No fear here. I give myself permission to live again. I hope this blog will help you live again too.