Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year...already?

While it feels like the rest of the world is celebrating this New Years Eve, I'm thinking about 2011.

I've said it before and will say it again...A part of my life stopped on April 8th, 2011 and the world continued to move on without me.

Where have the past months gone?

How can it be that Zach's death anniversary is so close?

Will the heartache I feel ever ease up?

What can I do to help others so they don't make the same choice?

So many things have gone through my head today...I just can't believe in less than an hour it will be a new year...

I decided to ask my family if they would like to join me in a special New Years balloon release for Zach.
They did.

We each wrote a note to Zach...

Part of mine read... "I wish I could hold you in my arms."

If you have thought about suicide, please think about this simple sentence.

You may think that no one will miss you, no one would wish to hold you in their arms...I'm here to tell you, you are WRONG.
You are LOVED!  More than you may ever know.

You bring HAPPINESS to those who love and know you!

Things WILL get better!

Please reach out for help.
Please don't make the same decision as Zach and so many others have.

Please read my words, feel my pain and CHOOSE LIFE.
PLEASE ask for help!

Please call 911 or 1-800-273-TALK.

It's a New Year.
Things WILL get better.
You may not feel it right now...but LOVE SURROUNDS YOU!

My hope and goal for 2012 is to spread awareness for suicide prevention and education.
I vow to use my experience, pain and tears to help others.
I hope one of those people is you.

Happy New Year,

Zach's Mom 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas in Heaven by Unknown

How beautiful and true this poem is for those of us with loved ones in Heaven.

I see the countless Christmas trees
Around the world below,
With tiny lights like Heaven's stars
reflecting in the snow.

The sight is so spectacular
please wipe away that tear
for I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs
that people hold so dear
but the sound of music can't compare
with the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you
of the Joy their voices bring
for it is beyond description
to hear the Angels sing

I know how much you miss me
I see the pain inside your heart
for I am spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year

I can't tell you of the splendor
or the Peace here in this place
Can you just imagine Christmas
with our Savior face to face?

I'll ask him to lift your spirit
as I tell him of your love
so then pray for one another
as you lift your eyes above

Please let your hearts be joyful
and let your spirit sing
for I am spending Christmas in Heaven
and I'm walking with the King

From one grieving family to another, my thoughts, prayers and love are with you this Christmas season.

Zach's Mom

Christmas in Heaven - Devotion by Greg Laurie

I received this today and wanted to share it with you.

"Christmas in Heaven" Harvest Weekend Devotion for 12/24/2011

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Christmas is a day of joy. But for me and my family, it is also tinged
with sadness, because it is a day when Christopher's absence is
intensely felt.

I have to tell you, Topher loved Christmas! It was always a big deal
to him as a little boy, and when he became a father, he wanted it to
be a big deal for his daughters. He always was so thoughtful in his
choice of gifts and often made them by hand, which was always a
special treat for me. He also had fantastic "wrapping skills," which I
am completely devoid of.

On that first Christmas night, while the shepherds kept watch over
their flocks, the angel brought this good news: "Do not be afraid, for
behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all
people" (Luke 2:10).

This is how heaven celebrated the first Christmas. On this holy night,
in effect, heaven momentarily came to earth. Heaven and earth are
always co-existing, but sometimes they can seem worlds apart and other
times separated by only a thin veil. When tragedy hits, when illness
prevails, heaven can sometimes seem distant.

But when we join the angels in worship, and see God in His greatness,
heaven can seem so very, very close. For us as believers, we are just
a heartbeat away from heaven right now. As David put it, "There is but
a step between me and death" (1 Samuel 20:3).

Christmas in heaven is better than Christmas on earth. It is pure
bliss. Not twinkling lights, but the radiant light of heaven itself.
Not metal angels on trees, but real, holy angels of God all around.

You see, in heaven there is peace. On earth there is war. In heaven
there is perfect harmony. On earth there is often friction among
family and friends. In heaven, feasting and perfection. On earth there
is fattening food and expanding waistlines.

We don't need to sorrow for our loved ones who are celebrating
Christmas in heaven, but we do sorrow for ourselves over their

Today, however, remember to let the ones on earth you love know it.
Tell them verbally. Because you never know if you or I or someone we
hold dear might be in heaven next Christmas.

So have a blessed and merry Christmas day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The News Stories I Haven't Shared...

Even today, Eight months after Zach's suicide I have a hard time watching the local news coverage done on Zach & Halee's death.

I'd like to share it with you now.

Please reach out for help!
Be the help someone needs!
You could be saving a life!

Monday, December 5, 2011


We all hurt.
We all cry.
We all need to be loved...even if we think we don't deserve it, need it or want it.

I cry often.
I cry out for my son.
I cry his name.
I cry "Why?"

I hurt all the time.
I feel as if I have a hole in the center of my chest.

I'm not the only one.
My husband, my daughters, my sisters, my mother...
Zach's friends.
We all hurt together.

With the holidays quickly approaching I ask that you reach out to someone in need.
If you are the person in need reach out for help.

Suicide is not the answer.


If you or someone you know is considering suicide,
There is HELP!
Please make that call!

Call 911 or 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

While tears run down my face because I will never be able to fill the hole in my life I give Thanks to God, my family and my friends for holding me up when I want to crumble to the ground.

You provide your arms for hugs, your ears for listening, your words for encouragement and your hearts for love and for that I am forever grateful.

My husband has held me up in his arms when my legs have fallen from under me. My daughters have held me in their arms and reminded me of the undying love in our family. God has provided me faith and visions of my angel son.

Today, through my many tears and cries I give thanks...without each and everyone of you I would not be where I am today...I would not have the strength I have today...I would not have the love I have today. Thank you God and thanks to each of you reading this today. ♥

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Family: Teasing pushed 10-year-old to suicide

This heart breaking story comes from the Chicago Tribune

The family of a 10-year-old Illinois girl found hanging in her closet believes teasing and bullying by classmates drove the little girl to kill herself.

Vermilion County Coroner Peggy Johnson said Tuesday that the final results of the autopsy on Ashlynn Conner won't be ready for some time but it appears she took her own life Friday night.

Ashlynn's family said she had been teased by children at Ridge Farm Elementary School and in her neighborhood in the small town for several years. Ridge Farm is about 45 miles southeast of Champaign.

"When she started cheering for youth football, we'd gotten her hair cut in a bob," Ashlynn's grandmother, Lory Hackney said. "The kids started making fun of her then. They started calling her a boy.''

Since then, she'd often been called fat or ugly, her family said.

County Sheriff Pat Hartshorn said investigators are considering bullying as a possibility. "We are not ruling out bullying, but we don't have any firm evidence to support bullying," he said.

Suicide among young children is uncommon but does happen hundreds of times a year.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 200 children between the ages of 10 and 14 killed themselves each year between 1999 and 2005, the most recent year for which data is available.


In the US, a suicide occurs every 15 minutes...every 40 seconds world wide.
It's time we start talking to our kids about suicide.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hundreds Remember Jamie Hubley - 15 year old victim of bullying

This story touched many hearts, including mine. 
Please take a moment to read about the life and death of 15 year old Jamie Hubley.

Together we can make a difference! 
Stand up to bullies, report them, tell others. 
Serious changes need to be made!

If you or someone you know is a victim of bullying and/or considering suicide, please ask for help. 
Be the help for someone else. 
 Make that call for help!

You are loved more than you know!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Through my tears and pain I will make a difference

"I'm still alive, but I'm barely breathing...

His best days are my worst....

What am I suppose to say when I'm all choked up and you're okay?

I'm falling to pieces...

They say bad things happen for a reason, but no wise words is gonna stop the bleeding...

I'm still grieving...

What am I suppose to say when I'm all choked up and you're okay??

Now I'm trying to make sense of what little remains...

I got time while he got freedom...

What am I suppose to do...what am I suppose to say??

I'm falling to pieces..."

My son, my son...You are loved and missed more than lyrics could ever express.
Through my tears and pain I will make a difference.

Love, Mom

Original Song: The Script - Breakeven

If you or someone you know is considering suicide,
There is HELP!
Please make that call!

Call 911 or 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Glow in the Dark Friend of Zach Bracelets Now Available

Our new Glow in the Dark, Friend of Zach bracelets have arrived.

Each bracelet is $3.00 shipped or $2.00 local pick up.

Money raised will continue to fund suicide awareness and prevention programs.

Ordering information can be found HERE.

Thank you all for your continued support, prayers and love,

Zach's Mom

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Reality of Suicide

A few weeks after Zach passed away I found this group "Putting a Face on Suicide" on Facebook.

I highly recommend you to "Like" them and help to bring awareness to suicide and suicide prevention.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Six Months Have Passed

Six months have passed since friends, Halee Lucas & Zach Jones left us.

Please take a look at these two beautiful kids and remember that suicide does not discriminate. 

It happens in all races, cliques, ages and religions.

If you or someone you know is suicidal, please do something!
Call 911
Call 1-800-273-HELP ~ Open 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.

Ask for help...
Be the help someone needs!

Get involved!
Speak up for suicide awareness and prevention!
You could be saving a life!

Forever loved and missed...
Halee Lucas  October 17, 1995 - April 6, 2011
Zachary Jones   April 27, 1992 - April 8, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

When I look off into the distance...

When I look off into the distance
I'm thinking of you...

I remind myself how sweet it was to hear you say "Hi Mom!"

I remind myself of your contagious laugh.

I remind myself of the time you and your sister were chasing each other round and round the house...
You two sounded like a heard of elephants.
The laughter and screaming is something I hope I never forget.

When I look off into the distance
I wonder if you're there, behind a cloud...
Can I catch a glimpse of your face?

When I look off into the distance
I think about those last moments of your life...
All alone.

I wonder if you thought of us
I wonder if you considered calling someone
I wonder what your final prayer on earth was

When I look off into the distance
I think about how happy you must be in Heaven
I think about that smile you would flash and get your way
I think about how big your family is now

When I look off into the distance
I cry...because I miss you.

When I look off into the distance
I hope and pray that you will always be by our side
Protecting and guiding us

When I look off into the distance
I want you to hear me say


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guest Blogger: Family Struggles Lead to my Brother's Suicide.

I'm 24 I lost my brother and best friend on June 12 this year, only a few hours after my husband and kids left his house.

He was bullied our whole life by our dad and the last six years by our dad and girlfriend. The Friday before this Sunday our dads girlfriend tried to frame my brother for forgery because my dad wouldn't own up to giving him the check. My brother worked for my dad for three years before being fired and given that last paycheck.

My dad says he doesn't remember because a few weeks before he got drunk and wrecked his motorcycle and suffered brain injury's but was checked out early from the rehab center by the girlfriend because it cost to much money and then didn't allow my brother to speak to our father and it got to where my dad wouldn't speak to me if she was around.

I cut off contact (with my father) and my brother took his life instead of doing the same. My brother left behind a daughter and tons of people who loved him.

~Paige L.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Guest Blog: I Never Thought --- In loving memory of Brandy


I never thought I'd meet my best friend during inpatient treatment fighting
for our lives.
I never thought I'd find someone who would help me fight my demons while
they were fighting theirs.
I never thought I'd bury my best friend on my 18th birthday.
i never thought it'd be almost 10 years later and I've still not made sense
of why.

Brandy and i met at Texas Children's Hospital in early 2001 where we were
both being treated for severe eating disorders. While most of our days were
full of strictly monitored events, we became incredibly close during our
down time. We shared our life stories with each other, our dreams and goals,
what our lives were like back home (we lived 2 hours away from each other),
and what landed us with the life threatening eating disorders we were
fighting. While there were other patients in our group, it was Brandy and I
against the world. We WERE going to conquer the world once we got out of
the hospital.

We spend much of the following summer together - visiting each other at
home, going down to the bay, hanging at the beach, hanging out with our
friends and dreading the start of a new school year. i was going into my
senior year and Brandy her junior. we knew we'd both be busy with our
friends, school & activities, but promised to talk at least once a day.

September 17, 2001. I woke up this Monday morning super excited about this
week - i was turning 18 on Wednesday!!!! This day started like any other -
went to school, out to lunch with my group of girl friends, home to tackle
homework and hang out. Around dinner time, i get a call from Brandy!
yay!!!!! she was supposed to find out whether or not she had won class
treasurer so i was super exited to hear how her day went. "Hey girl!
So.....did ya win?!?!!!!!" Silence. Absolute silence. Silence for what
felt like years but I'm sure was just moments. Brandy's dad was on the
other line and very sternly (totally out of character) asks to speak with my
parents. My heart sank. I ran downstairs, handed my mom the phone, ran to
my dad and said "she's gone".

And she was.

My best friend was gone. My best friend had shot herself in the head and
was gone. Why? I'll never know. I still ask myself that question. I
still wonder why she didn't go to anyone or make any comments to set off any

I'll never forget my 18th birthday, sitting in the most beautiful Catholic
church looking up at her casket bawling ; at the cemetery as her casket was
lowered into the ground; as we just sat there in silence. My best friend
was gone. All of the hopes and dreams and goals she had set for
herself were no longer an option. Brandy had left so many people
heartbroken. Myself included.

This September 17 marks the 10th anniversary of Brandy's death. Not
something to celebrate. Every birthday of hers that passes makes me wonder,
"what could've been?", "where would she be?", "where would she be?", "what
would she be doing?", "WHY DID SHE LEAVE?!?!?"

I'll never know why my sweet friend left. To this day it pains me not
knowing why she left. My daughter is named after her & has Brandy's
pictures in her room. We were supposed to fight together. But clearly
Brandy had demons larger than any one of us knew of.

*SUICIDE IS NOT THE ANSWER*!!! There are so many people out there who care
and who want to help! I know that there are times when we all feel like
we're alone and that there's no good way out of this but THERE IS!!!! There
is life outside of this terrible black hole. Just know that you are not
alone. No matter what you're going through at a certain time, someone else
in the world is going through the same thing. Just reach out and ask for
help! People care! More than you'll ever know! There are far too many
resources out there and far too many people that care for you to just make
such a costly decision.

Two things that I'll end with -
Faith, Hope and Love (in the end, these three things matter most)
The sweetest things in life come to us through tears and pain.

You're more important than you think you are.

Friday, September 2, 2011

World Suicide Prevention Day is Sept 10th, 2011


World Suicide Prevention Day is held on September 10th each year. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented. Disseminating information, improving education and training, and decreasing stigmatization are important tasks in such an endeavour. The theme in 2011 is "Preventing Suicide in Multicultural Societies".

The themes of the last two years of the World Suicide Prevention Day have focussed on suicide prevention in different cultures across the world. This year's theme aims at raising awareness of the fact that all countries in the world are multicultural. Many countries harbour different minority groups, in the form of various indigenous and/or immigrant groups, refugees and/or asylum seekers. Some countries comprise many different ethnic groups due to artificial borders having been drawn by former colonial powers. This means that in all countries there are a variety of ethnic and religious groups living in the same society.

Multicultural societies require cultural sensitivity in all suicide prevention efforts. However, a common mistake is to treat culture as something objective that explains differences. When we find differences between cultural groups in a society, e.g. suicide rates and risk factors, we tend to explain these in terms of cultural differences. This can, however, conceal the real reasons for differences that may or may not have something to do with culture at all. Examples of other factors that may be important are unemployment, poverty, oppression, marginalisation, stigmatisation, or racism. Moreover, culture is not a static or measurable variable; rather culture describes the dynamics evolving in an interaction between individuals and their surroundings. So, at the same time as we need to be culturally sensitive and aware of potential cultural differences, we must not let "culture" overshadow other important factors that might be at play. Neither must we overlook similarities in our vigilance to find differences.

The WHO estimates that about one million people around the world die by suicide every year. However, many countries still lack reliable suicide statistics, and even countries with reliable statistics may lack knowledge about the magnitude of the problem in (some of) their minority populations. This knowledge might also be challenging to acquire due to stigma having a larger impact in various minority groups compared to the majority. Nevertheless, such information is needed. Some studies have shown that suicide rates among immigrants are more similar to the suicide rates of those in their original country compared to the new country in which they have settled. Other studies, however, show that this varies across country and subgroup. Therefore, we need to be careful about drawing universal conclusions.

Risk factors for suicide vary across cultural groups. Knowledge about common risk factors in a society often stems from research in majority populations. However, in a multicultural context we need to be aware that some risk factors may play different roles in the suicidal process as well as in suicide prevention for some minority groups compared to the majority population. For instance, risk factors for elderly men in the majority population may have little relevance for young immigrant girls. In addition, other factors that might have a different impact on minorities compared to the majority population are attitudes towards suicidal behaviour and suicidal people (e.g. taboo, stigma), religion and spirituality, and family dynamics (gender roles and responsibilities).

Studies have shown that stereotyping might be common in the health and social care system in dealing with minority groups. Therefore, we need to be careful to distinguish between how the rules and traditions of a cultural group define how members of that group may or should behave and how individuals from a cultural group actually do behave. We must not let stereotypes rule what we perceive or do. Some of the previous research reporting average values for immigrant groups or comparing heterogeneous groups of immigrants with the majority population in the country may contribute to such stereotyping in suicide prevention. However, it gives little meaning to compare the relatively homogeneous majority population in a small country such as, for instance, Norway, with Asian immigrants to this country since the latter group can comprise people from a vast number of very different countries, cultures and religions, as Asia stretches out from the Middle East to Siberia. In the health and social care system the individual must not be met as a representative of a cultural group, but be allowed to be themselves with their own beliefs, attitudes, understandings, thoughts, and knowledge.

Gender issues and racism in therapeutic settings are important to be aware of in multicultural societies. Use of interpreters in the health and social care system also requires special attention when a sensitive issue such as suicide is on the agenda. Often, minority populations in a community are small and interpreters are recruited from the same social circle as the client. If suicidality is particularly taboo or stigmatised in the minority group, it may be necessary to check the interpreters' attitudes towards suicidal behaviour and suicidal people because these might affect both what is being said by the client as well as what is translated and how by the interpreter.

National suicide prevention strategies have now been implemented in several countries, but not all of them reflect the fact that the country is comprised of various minority groups. The strategy/program is often aimed at the majority population and a specific cultural perspective or focus is missing. Strategies therefore may need revision with this in mind and countries still not having initiated suicide prevention efforts should integrate a cultural perspective from the start.

Even though suicide is a complex and multifactorial phenomenon with cultural differences, there are still some suicide prevention efforts that might have "universal" effect.

•Experiences of connectedness are important in the mental health and wellbeing of all people. Thus, communities that are well integrated and cohesive may be suicide preventive.
•Educating professionals of health and social services as well as communities in general about how to identify people at risk for suicide, encouraging those who need it to seek help, and providing them with needed and adequate help can reduce rates of suicide. These efforts require both cultural sensitivity and cultural competence.
•Methods of suicide vary across cultural contexts, but restricting access to whatever means are commonly employed has been found to be effective in reducing the number of suicides (e.g. safe storage of firearms, pesticides and medicines; restricting access to bridges and high rise buildings commonly used as jumping sites).
•Educating the media on how to report on suicide responsibly, and
•Providing adequate support for people who are bereaved by suicide.
Suicide prevention in multicultural societies needs to be targeted as a multidisciplinary effort. Effective suicide prevention involves a multifaceted and intersectoral approach to address the multiple pathways to suicidal behaviour in a socio-cultural context. People who can contribute to suicide prevention include, for instance, health and social care professionals, researchers, teachers, police, journalists, religious leaders, cultural leaders, politicians and community leaders, volunteers, and relatives and friends affected by suicidal behaviour. People also tend to open up to bartenders, hairdressers, and taxi drivers, among others. In short, suicide prevention is everybody's business, and thus everyone can contribute.



WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY, September 10th, is an opportunity for all sectors of the community - the public, charitable organizations, communities, researchers, clinicians, practitioners, politicians and policy makers, volunteers, those bereaved by suicide, other interested groups and individuals - to join with the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the WHO to focus public attention on the unacceptable burden and costs of suicidal behaviours with diverse activities to promote understanding about suicide and highlight effective prevention activities.

Those activities may call attention to the global burden of suicidal behaviour, and discuss local, regional and national strategies for suicide prevention, highlighting cultural initiatives and emphasising how specific prevention initiatives are shaped to address local cultural conditions. Initiatives which actively educate and involve people are likely to be most effective in helping people learn new information about suicide and suicide prevention. Examples of activities which can support World Suicide Prevention Day include:

•Launching new initiatives, policies and strategies on World Suicide Prevention Day
•Holding conferences, open days, educational seminars or public lectures and panels
•Writing articles for national, regional and community newspapers and magazines
•Holding press conferences
•Placing information on your website and using the IASP World Suicide Prevention Day banner, promoting suicide prevention in one's native tongue (
•Securing interviews and speaking spots on radio and television
•Organizing memorial services, events, candlelight ceremonies or walks to remember those who have died by suicide
•Asking national politicians with responsibility for health, public health, mental health or suicide prevention to make relevant announcements, release policies or make supportive statements or press releases on WSPD
•Holding depression awareness events in public places and offering screening for depression
•Organizing cultural or spiritual events, fairs or exhibitions
•Organizing walks to political or public places to highlight suicide prevention
•Holding book launches, or launches for new booklets, guides or pamphlets
•Distributing leaflets, posters and other written information
•Organizing concerts, BBQs, breakfasts, luncheons, contests, fairs in public places
•Writing editorials for scientific, medical, education, nursing, law and other relevant journals
•Disseminating research findings
•Producing press releases for new research papers
•Holding training courses in suicide and depression awareness
•Becoming a Facebook Fan of the IASP (
•Following the IASP on Twitter (, tweeting #WSPD or #suicide or #suicideprevention
•Creating a video about suicide prevention (/
Lighting a candle, near a window, at 8 PM in support of: World Suicide Prevention Day, suicide prevention awareness, survivors of suicide and for the memory of loved lost ones.

 Please copy and save any of these banners to show support on your Facebook and Twitter Page.              

See the candles we have "lit" on our Facebook Page                               

Friday, August 26, 2011

...and the days continue to pass without Zach

I often look up at my office calendar while I work and see that it's still on April... 

I felt as though I couldn't move it forward.  It was a symbol of the day a part of me died.  The part of me who created, raised and loved Zachary. 

I thought, "How can I move this calendar forward when this is the month the life I have lived stopped?"

Tonight I looked at the calendar and turned the pages to August. 

I felt guilty and sad.  
As if I wasn't remembering my son properly by moving the calendar forward. 
Yet, I know that the days will continue to pass without Zach.

This was just another small step in my grief process. 
A step that I hope others will think about. 

Whatever you are going through, you can make it through! 
Suicide is NEVER the answer! 
You are loved, needed and wanted! 
No matter what you or anyone else has told you, you're an amazing person, put on this earth for a reason!

Just as the days continue to pass without Zach, the days will continue to pass in your life and whatever it is you're facing now is just a moment in your life. 
You can and will make it through anything! 
You will grow and sometimes change the course of your life due to the things you go through. 
 Use any and all "life tests" to better yourself. 
Prove that you are stronger than anything you are going through.

Do it because YOU ARE LOVED!

*Please note* We are NOT professional therapists or grief counselors! If you or someone you know is considering suicide -
Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Pain You Can't Wash Away

Yesterday I made a goal to wash Zachary's clothing for the quilts I've promised to have made for my daughters. I also told myself to take out the items I've promised other family members...I blogged how the day went.

9:15 am

I start out the day with energy…I put the clean clothes away and set Zach’s box, suitcase and bag of clothing aside.

Instead of starting a wash of Zach’s belongings, I decide to wash some other clothes…

Noon:I opened up the Home Depot box with the blanket I made Zach and the electric blanket we gave him for Christmas last year. The box also held his journal, several notes to and from his friends.

I felt anxious as I went through it. I read a few of his words from his journal and had to close it. Seeing the despair he felt was too overwhelming for me to read right now. I read a couple of notes he received and a poem he wrote to his friend Halee who passed away 2 days before he did.

I pulled the blanket out that I made him and took a big whiff of it. The smell of cologne, cigarette smoke and "pure boy" were still there. The small zebra pillow that his youngest sister gave him was packed in with the blanket. I had already given and washed the 2nd pillow to her and thought I would save this one. I carried the two items to the wash machine, took a couple of photographs and closed the door. As the water began to run, I sat in front of the washer and the tears began to pour.

My husband joined me and we talked about Zach and how sad we are. I cried, “I just wish he’d come home.”

As I walked out of the laundry room I notice my hands smell like Zach. I feel as though he is with me, watching me and has his arm around me, helping me with this.

This process is one of the hardest I’ve ever had to force myself to do.

1:02 pm.

The blanket and pillow are finished washing. I’m about to put them in the dryer. I’m happy I will be able to use the blanket tonight. I smile when I think about how protective Zach was over this blanket. I know I will treasure this blanket forever.

The next task may not be as easy…it’s time to wash Zach’s clothing. I’m washing it so it can be taken into the quilt shop and my daughters can have the quilts made that I’ve promised them.

The importance of all of this is that I live in an area where wild fires are prevalent and can destroy homes and belongings in a matter of minutes. I know that my girls can grab a blanket on their way out of our home if there’s time, but we as a family would not have enough time to grab boxes, bags and a suitcase full of Zach’s items in the event of a fire. I know that by having all of Zach’s most recent belongings and the items he felt were most important to him in one suitcase/box or bag would be easier to save in the event of a fire.

Most of Zach’s clothes are now in the washer. I cried while unpacking his shirts. I placed the shirts on the laundry room floor, took photos and started the washing machine. I watched the first few minutes of the cycle and left the room.

While going through some of his things I found lots of coins, which he loved. I also found notes, bottle caps, body jewelry and other various things he had collected. Some things brought a slight smile to my face…other things brought tears to my eyes.

It’s now 3:35 pm and I’ve decided to stop sorting through Zachary’s belongings for the day. I'm almost done going through them, but am stopping short of completing the box of items that are full of cards, letters, mementos, and the items we received from the funeral home. I will go through those items this week.

I don't have to write it for you to know that dealing with the suicide of my son is the hardest and most heartbreaking thing I/WE (every one of us in my family are deeply hurting) have ever dealt with.

As I've stated before, it is my hope that by sharing my heartache and my journey of grief, you will reach out for help or reach out and help someone that needs it in your life.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

It's not just a box to me...

One of the boxes shipped to me with Zach's journal, a blanket I made him as well as notes and photos.

One of the biggest struggles I've faced is opening the boxes and the suitcase that have been shipped to me or brought to me with Zach's belongings in them. 

I have a hard time opening them, smelling his scent...just realizing and facing this is all I have left of him on earth...It's so painful that I can't seem to even open them.

A couple of months ago I spoke to a local quilt shop about creating two quilts for each of Zach's little sisters.  I have a small box of his clothing that needs to be washed before the quilts can be made.  I haven't been able to bring myself to wash those clothes.  My daughters have asked me when I'm going to have them even offered to wash the clothes herself and my response has been tears.

I have made it a goal to wash the clothes and send off the personal items I've promised to others tomorrow, 8/21/11.  I've been inspired by watching a program on television where people who have lost loved ones continue to collect items and how destructive the end result can (not always, but can) be.  I want the best for my family and I want to follow through with my promise to have these quilts made for my daughters and follow through with sending the personal items I have promised others. 

Inside I know that I'll feel better knowing that my girls have their quilts, knowing that all of Zach's belongings are in one spot and not scattered in several different boxes.

I recently taught myself how to create stuffed animals.  I told my family that I will create these stuffed animals out of Zach's jeans for them.  I know that this will be a tearful and tough process, but I also know my family will love and treasure these "jean animals" and that will bring a smile to my face. 

I feel that by avoiding the task, I'm avoiding a part of grieving.  A part I need to do.

I feel as though Zach would want me to do this.  I know he's not coming back to earth to collect his items.  I know I can put his items to good use.  I know I don't have to (or will I) get rid of or wash everything.  I will do what I can and take a break whenever I need to. 

You may be wondering why am I blogging about this.  This is the true aftermath of my sons suicide.  It's my daily struggle.  It's something I know never crossed his mind and may not have ever crossed your mind as part of what's left behind when someone ends their life.

Please use our heartache and your love for others to reach out for help if you need it or be the person to help that friend or family member in need! 
If your gut tells you something isn't right it probably isn't. 
Make that call! 
911 or 1-800-273-TALK
You truly could be saving a life!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pennies, Prayers and Fountains...Remembering Zach

I usually wouldn't blog about a trip to Vegas, but Vegas holds a spot in our hearts when it comes to remembering Zach.

We started bringing our kids to Las Vegas, NV seven years ago when we moved to Southern, California.  We always had a good time swimming, eating junk food, shopping, walking the strip and taking funny photos. 

A few months before Zach passed his dad and he talked about taking a Guys Weekend trip to Vegas.  Zach & I laughed as he said he'd "drag" his dad to some "girl shows".  He was sure they would have a fantastic, fun weekend together.  I know they would have...had they had the opportunity to take that weekend together.

I knew as I packed my bags that I wanted to bring a part of Zach with us to Vegas.  I knew he'd like to know that there's a part of him here...

I decided that I would bring some of the pennies I have found since Zach's death and throw them into various fountains.

With each toss I pray and wish for something.

The first fountain was near the pool at the Hilton hotel.
I kissed the penny and tossed.
My prayer was for comfort...Comfort to all those hurting.

The second fountain was inside the Bellagio.
I kissed the penny and tossed.
My prayer was for peace...peace to all those needing it.

The third fountain was inside the Bellagio as well.
I kissed the penny and tossed.
My prayer was for Faith...Faith to everyone.

The fourth penny went into the Bellagio fountain show.
As the water shot out into the beautiful sky I threw the penny as far as I could and simply said, "I love you Zach".

I gave pennies to both my youngest daughter and nephew.  While my nephew decided to toss his penny into a fountain, my daughter wanted to save hers.

My husband took a self portrait of tossing his Zach penny into the same fountain. 

The following night I continued to toss pennies...

I kissed and tossed the 8th penny into a fountain at the Mandalay Bay.
My prayer was for wisdom...wisdom for all of us.

The 9th fountain was at the Luxor.
I kissed the penny and tossed it
My prayer was for Strength...I know there are days each of us feels as though we don't have any.

The 10th and final penny was kissed and thrown into the fountains outside Caesars Palace.
My prayer was for Love...That each one of us knows and feels the love that surrounds us.


While the process of tossing pennies into fountains is a nice and fitting way to remember Zach, with each toss comes pain and heartache.
I wish my son were here tossing coins into fountains, wishing for his own things...making us laugh and picking on his little sisters.

I ask that if you or someone you know is considering suicide to please be the person to make that call.  The call to ask for help, the call to help your friend and/or family member!  I hope and pray that this blog and my grieving journey will help others.  Together we CAN make a difference!

*Please note* We are NOT professional therapists or grief counselors! If you or someone you know is considering suicide - PLEASE seek PROFESSIONAL help IMMEDIATELY!
Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255!