Posts tagged ‘Grief Loss and Bereavement’

Suicide Kills More than One

Last February marked 12 years of living with being the mother of a child no longer on this earth. You somehow get used to living with this pain. I imagine it’s somewhat similar to becoming disabled in some way that will never heal, but you learn to work around it. I still don’t know how to answer when asked how many children I have. I say five, but feel like I’m lying. But if I said anything else I’d be damned by the pity. So I say five.
  I try to believe that Jason is still with me like they say, but that seems poor compensation. What is a relationship without interaction? He may be at my side all the time, watching and listening, maybe trying to comfort me. But this scenario would only be frustrating to us both in my mind. He could be screaming and I’d never hear a sound. I could scream at him and never really know if he could hear it.
The senselessness of it never goes away. You can never forget – the most mundane things pop him right back into my head.
The guilt is the worst part I think. I am wrapped up in a cocoon of it. I am the judge and the jury and have sentenced myself to life.
  Not that I haven’t wanted to die many times. But 12 years ago when my oldest son took his life I still had had his sisters and brother aged 19,16,13, and 8. But I don’t think I did them any favors because my whole world was shattered, my spirituality was in tatters, and for a very long time the mother who was always there for them might as well have been dead.
  I had been a single mom for two years, going to college to become a nurse. After 20 years of being married to a jerk I finally felt happy and in control of my life.
  Most of the guilt I feel is from emotionally abandoning the rest of my kids. But if one of them could actually die, then couldn’t any of them? I could feel that truth so deeply that my formerly deeply felt connection with them snapped. I grieved that and felt the guilt eating at me from the inside out. I was completely alone. No one understood. I didn’t want them to anyway. It would hurt them too much.
  My memories are scrambled. I am a whole other woman from the naive one before 12 years ago. I barely remember her now. My kids unfortunately don’t remember her either. They only remember the one they met after.      When I was finally able to work on getting that precious connection back, the one that had previously meant the most in the world to me, it was too little too late. My oldest daughter doesn’t tolerate me. Although we live in the same town we don’t see each other much. She’s too busy. This year she was even too busy to do anything but text me on my birthday. No gift, no card. Just a text on my phone saying happy birthday. She won’t tell me why she wants nothing to do with me. But I know.
  My second daughter lives 6 hours away. She doesn’t speak to me anymore. I call her now and then to leave a message on her phone that I love her, but her heart has turned to ice. And not just towards me. The coldness she showed her two little ones broke my heart. Of course I feel responsible. I showed her the way. She also stopped speaking to her younger sister, her closest friend, because the man she lives with is a pathological rager who can only feel relief through control of everyone in his environment, especially my daughter and grandchildren.
  My youngest daughter talks to me on a regular basis. We are pretty close. But she suffers from acute anxiety. But I do too, so we have a lot in common. She came back home last summer, but I couldn’t make her and my two grandchildren stay. She moved back where her estranged sister lives only a few miles away. Their children, who were once very close don’t see each other. Her older sister’s husband has done what his kind do and isolated their family from anyone close enough to upset his home where there are holes in the wall from his outbursts and doors ripped from their hinges. Both of their children are on anxiety medications. 
  One Halloween I was walking a step behind this person and my grandson when out of the blue he pushed him down to the ground. I was so shocked I couldn’t speak until I brought it up to my daughter later. She tried to cover it up saying that’s how they played. Normally I’m pretty good at letting things go and not interfering, but not this time. I told her that was NOT playing. When I returned home from that visit she didn’t speak to me for months. I had gotten too close to the truth. I worked hard to get back into her good graces somehow and we were close once again for a while. But it didn’t last and I don’t know how to get there again with him still in the picture.
  My youngest son was still pretty young 12 years ago and very easy going. But he kept me grounded by getting into mischief constantly. He never speed moving when he was awake and I could never take my eyes off of him for a minute. It was a blessing that he seemed so unaffected by our family tragedy and brought life and light to us all with all his craziness.
  As he grew up he kept his sweet disposition, even through his teens. I could always trust him and he made great friends in high school, who always ended up at our house. None of them got into drinking or drugs, and I became their second mom. They’re awesome kids!
  But I had to quit the nursing program. Couldn’t do it. Couldn’t take care of myself or my kids properly, much less other people. Something good inside me was gone. I’d had depression my whole life, but kept it in check until that one day when the police officer called me and said the unthinkable. My son? Suicide? A garbage bag? Suffocated? No! Impossible! We just got back from visiting him. He was fine. I thought. Better than ever, or so he led me to believe. But before I drove away from him for the last time, something whispered in my ear. The other kids were eager to go, but I made time to sit in his room with him before I would leave so we could talk alone. It was my final gift from Jason.
  As I was about to pull out of the drive, I jumped out of the car and hugged and kissed him a second time. He knew I loved him. He was 23 years old and we understood each other like no one else. He took what I had taught him and flew so high with it. He amazed me. He was the most beautiful soul.
  I’ve been working so hard on myself lately. If I’m not gonna die then I need to live. The thought crossed my mind recently that I got to live 41 years before this changed everything. That’s something I want to be thankful for. A lot of people don’t even live that long. Jason didn’t.
  I used to feel guilty for any happiness I felt after he passed. It felt horribly wrong. But I can’t really live if I’m feeling sorry all the time. I have to change my way of looking at things. If he is around me I’m only making him miserable being sad. I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to figure that out.

Losing Your Only- Surviving the Loss of an Only Child by Dr. Debi Yohn

A Comment From Dr Debi Yohn About Losing Your Only

My current book, Losing Your Only is written to the Parents or Loved Ones that have lost an only child.  This book is written from my own personal experience.  When my only child was killed in a car accident, my life took a different path.  I was living in Shanghai China.  He was going to college in USA.  In my grief, I discovered that my purpose is to motivate, and support parents and all clients live to their life potential. Losing a child is horrific, losing an only child brings it up a notch.  So what do we do with that kind of experience?  We have decisions to make.  We can live or we can die with the child.  I decided not only to live, but to thrive.

About Dr Debi Yohn

Dr. Debi Yohn is an international psychologist, author and speaker with 32 years experience living and working on 3 continents. Her work has taken her to Saudi Arabia for 7 years and Shanghai, China for 8 years. While in Shanghai, she founded “Lifeline Shanghai” a “911” service to help English speakers in need. She currently lives fulltime in Huatulco, Mexico and travels the world working with her clients, writing and managing her diversified business and charitable interests. To read Dr Debi’s full bio, visit


I use the term the other side to refer to the place where we reconnect with our loved ones that passed on before us. In the Christian belief system, this place is heaven, but other cultures have other stories and names for it. Whatever your vision of the other side is, it must be a beautiful place.

Larry also began to receive messages from Levi. The night before the funeral, Larry woke up because he felt someone rubbing his head in his sleep. At six foot three, Levi stood eight inches taller than Larry and always looked down onto and rubbed his dad’s shaved head, which he said felt like velvet. This was an endearment of Levi’s that was between him and Larry. Larry found comfort in this dream, which he felt was Levi’s

way of letting him know he was okay.

I work with many clients that have lost a loved one. Often they lament about not having received any signs even though they so desperately want something that will let them know that the person who has passed is still part of their life. However, when they start to reflect they usually realize they have indeed been given signs, but have not been open to receiving them. Mid-sentence during a counseling session, they suddenly have an “Aha!” moment and remember something. For you it may not be something big and obvious, it may not be the sign you expect, but it is there.

The signs our Only sends us may take special, unexpected forms. There has always been a connection between Levi and hearts. When he was a toddler, he was a romantic—probably because his dad was. He would bring me flowers, sticks or rocks. As he got older, he would look for anything heart-shaped—rocks, shells, pieces of wood. He gave me hearts throughout his lifetime. I always exclaimed how beautiful they were and

I always kept them. They were my prized possessions. For my birthday or a special occasion, he would look for something heart-shaped. They became his signature.

At the funeral Celebration we held for Levi, my dear friend Carla approached me and gave me a very large heart-shaped box. She said, “I don’t know why I bought this for you, but I got this very strong message that you were supposed to have this.” At the time, I didn’t think of it as a sign or a message. I was just puzzled that someone would give me an empty box at such a time.

…. Since Levi’s passing, many of those who were close to him have received hearts. Levi’s dad has gotten the most, finding them on his airplane seat, his desk and in restaurants. Hearts aren’t the only messages I feel he sends. Music was a very big part of Levi’s life. He loved the radio and watching MTV, and had a vast collection of CDs. He also loved to dance.

Since his passing, I often hear a song in a store or wake up with a tune in my head and wonder if it’s him sending me a message. Sometimes the timing is just too perfect or the words are just what I need to hear. I like to believe that this is coming from Levi. It makes me smile.

Many skeptics will dismiss the idea that you are receiving signs. But regardless of whether the thing you interpret as a sign is merely a coincidence or not, enjoy it. Choose to believe. We won’t truly know how the universe works until we are on the other side. Until then, keep your mind and heart open to the possibility that your Only may contact you in some unique way. Parents who have lost their children often describe receiving signs from them, and most draw immense

comfort from this.

The Ultimate Test

In the dark hours that followed Levi’s death, I remember wondering if I was being punished for not initially wanting a child. With time, however, I realized these were the typical, unstable thoughts of a bereft person.

Losing your Only will test your spiritual belief as nothing else ever will. We can be angry with God and we may even doubt the existence of a higher power that takes away our child. In fact, our loss may be the ultimate test of our spirituality, one that forces us to truly live whatever religion or spiritual practice we have embraced. As parents we may have taught about the power of God, and that God is good.

We talked the talk, but walking the walk now proves hard. I continue to believe that God is good, and that we have been chosen for this experience for some reason we may never understand. For now, we have a choice—w e can die with our Only, or we can live a full and generous life.

We are sad for our loss. We miss them. We love them. But if we truly believe, we know our Only has moved on to a better place. They are with those who have passed on before them, which may include grandparents, other family members, friends and pets. So we can choose to feel grateful. We were given the gift of this child, and though our time with them was all too brief, we can smile knowing that they are happy, warm, fed, and healthy. After all, isn’t that what parents want for their children?

Prior to such an event, we may experience intuition without fully acknowledging it. After such an event, our intuition becomes more important. I believe we are all able to receive comfort intuitively, to accept guidance and consolation, be it in the form of kind words

and gestures from friends and family, silent strength from our higher power, or even signs from our Only. When you lose your Only, your spirituality may take a giant step forward.

Thank you for your interest in Losing Your Only, by Dr Debi Yohn. This is a very personal story which helped Dr Yohn discover her purpose – to motivate and support parents and others to live life to their highest potential. The digit version of the book is currently available at If you would like to be notified about the upcoming print and audio release, please visit this page and send Dr Debi your name and email address.

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