This site was created in memory of our son, Zachary Dylan Jones. It is our hope to spread awareness & information for suicide prevention. If you or someone you know is considering suicide PLEASE call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 immediately!
There's nothing I can say, that isn't said in this paragraph and accompanying article.
Alcohol is an easy escape from the intense pain we feel.
Please consider reaching out for help over alcohol.
"The shrieking pain of early grief tempts the bereaved to escape in any way they can - to shut out the terrible reality of their loss, even for a short time. Usually they are not eating properly or sleeping well; and there are sometimes physical ailments such as stomach or chest pains, headaches, chronic fatigue and mood swings. A physician might prescribe medication for the symptoms that are presented without ever being told that the patient is grieving a serious loss. Or, if the doctor can find no physical cause for the distress, the chemically dependent griever may turn to relief from a "friend in a bottle." - Alcohol Not The Answer: http://hovforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=4481
Before I begin this post I want to make it clear that what I'm about to share is MY OWN PERSONAL experience.
I am NOT giving anyone else medical advice.
If you or someone you know experiences the same or similar symptoms as I did please see your Dr or visit your local Emergency Room.
I haven't been very open about the state I have been in the last couple of months...it's been difficult for me to write or speak openly about my grieving.
The past month has been particularly tough and after last night I felt as though it was time to write about it...
If I were to pin point where it started I would have to say it started in June when I decided to stop going to my group counseling sessions. My group counseling had become a bit overwhelming due to another participant. She was also grieving a suicide and while I can't reveal any of the details, I can say we saw things completely opposite of one another and I needed to step away from the group.
There were things that took place this summer that seemed to be one "jab" after another. Some too personal to share on a public forum, some that involve other family members that once again shouldn't be discussed on a public forum and some internal struggles I have been going through as I continue to adjust to life without my son.
Following Zach's death I gained 30 lbs in approximately nine months.
In July I decided to sign up for a weight loss challenge to help me drop the rest of the weight.
I quit that challenge just a few weeks in.
I hate to admit it, but part of me knew no one would stop me from quitting.
No one would ask me, "You're half way to your weight loss goal, why in the world are you stopping now?"
Knowing that no one would stop me or hold me accountable, I felt comfortable quitting.
Following that I started feeling down, however, instead of sweating my butt off and getting back to my workouts I started eating again...which ultimately lead to a 5 lb weight gain in just a little over a week. Another ding to my already sinking self-esteem and a step deeper into my depression. And yet, I didn't change it.
Fast forward a bit...about a week ago I mentioned to someone I love very much about how deep my depression was getting. That person's response was, "What is it now??? I mean, you can't change what's happened."
I immediately left the room, bursting into tears.
I felt as if this person thought all I did was complain, which for the most part I keep most of my feelings bottled up avoiding talking about them to anyone (especially since leaving my counseling group).
I felt as though I was a huge burden to this person and that they didn't have the time or want to be concerned with how I was feeling.
Two days later someone else I love very much made a comment about how I don't work out and that I'm lazy and not serious.
This time I was able to hold in my cries, but the lump in my throat and the tears on my eyelids were heavy. It affected me to the point I couldn't eat lunch with everyone else. I just sat quietly thinking about what a burden I must be to everyone around me.
That night I sat in my bathroom at home crying out to God...
"God, I don't feel you any more...have you left me???"
"I feel like you're not real, like you've abandoned me..."
"Why am I feeling this??"
"Why can't I feel you???" "Please don't pass me by...I want your spirit to fill me"
"I know you're there, I just want to feel you again..."
I cried and cried...
I felt as though I was being ungrateful.
Who am I to ask God to prove anything to me? I certainly don't deserve it.
He has blessed me and proven Himself to me more times than I can count.
Yet, I just wanted to feel something because feeling nothing is beyond words can explain.
For the first time in weeks I woke up Tuesday morning (8/21) with a bit of energy.
I took my daughter to school and when I arrived back home I spent hours detailing my car inside and out.
Following that I did some grocery shopping and went home to do laundry.
While doing laundry I started experiencing chest pains.
This wasn't the first time I've experienced these pains, but this time the pain was much worse.
The pain was heavy in my chest and in my back.
My arms started to feel numb and my legs started to feel detached from my body.
I laid down for a few minutes to see if that would help.
I remembered back to last Sept. when I thought I was having a stroke and it ended up being an anxiety attack.
I told myself to breath slowly, relax and that everything was just fine.
I got up and continued on with laundry and sorting out old clothing to be donated.
The pain then got much worse.
I felt as though I was going to faint.
My palms started to sweat.
I instantly felt scared and could feel my heart beat through my neck.
The faint feeling was so strong I wasn't sure I would be able to walk up my stairs to get to my car.
I took an aspirin and had my husband take me to the ER.
I walked in feeling incredilby faint and as if my arms and legs were no longer attached to my body.
A nurse took me in, gave me oxygen, started my vitals and immediately did an EKG.
The nurse assured me that everything was looking good and to start taking in deep breaths.
Shortly after that, the Dr. arrived and asked me how I was feeling.
By this time I had a feeling this must be another anxiety attack...yet wondered why it was so different from the one I had before.
I explained all of my symptoms to the Dr.
He then asked me about my stress/anxiety level.
I started tearing up as I told him that I had lost my son 16 months ago and that personally things were a little rough right now.
He said, "To be safe I'm going to order some more tests to make sure your heart is in good condition." I agreed.
The nurse soon followed with needles, baby aspirin and Ativan.
About an hour later my symptoms were gone.
The Dr. came back with good news and told me that my heart was in great condition, no signs of any damage, my blood work was excellent and my lungs and heart were also just fine according to the x-ray and that this was an anxiety attack.
I apologized for taking up a bed they may have needed for someone else and the Dr. reassured me (just as the Dr in Sept) that if anyone has symptoms like I had they need to see a Dr. It was anxiety for me, but it's not always anxiety.
My point in writing this very long blog post is that I realize that we all grieve our own way.
Even those closest to me are grieving in a different manner than I am.
It doesn't make them wrong and me right.
It just means we are different.
While I don't agree with the recent treatment I received from my loved ones,
I know they didn't mean it in an abusive or hurtful way. Instead of running and crying I should have stood up and said,
"The way you're talking to me hurts my feelings."
Instead I bottled it up and cried alone.
I am a grieving mother, niether of these people are.
Yes, they are grieving, but neither of them are grieving the loss of a child they carried, delivered and spoke to on the day their child passed.
Shortly after Zach passed fellow grieving parents said to me,
"Be kind to yourself."
"Be gentle on yourself"
"Allow yourself time."
I thought, I am...I am doing all of that.
Today, I no longer feel that I was doing those things.
Today I promise myself to be gentle on myself, to stop the negative self talk and to allow guilt free personal time for me.
I hope you will do the same.
I always like to reiterate that I am not a Doctor. I am not a therapist.
I am a grieving mother, sharing my story, my experiences, articles and information that I have found to be helpful and may be helpful to others.
If you need someone to talk to I encourage you to visit a church or find a grief therapist in your area.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or dial 911.
"The reality is that we don't forget, move on, and have closure, but rather we honor, we remember, and incorporate our deceased children and siblings into our lives in a new way. In fact, keeping memories of your loved one alive in your mind and heart is an important part of your healing journey."
as well as his two beloved rib tattoos, one being hot pink lips, the other a pair of dice (dice will not be yellow).
The rear of the t-shirt features his dates as well as website.
T-shirts will be white.
Proceeds from t-shirts sales will benefit ZachsFriends.org to support suicide awareness programs, education, anti-bullying campaigns, etc..
If you are interested in purchasing one of our t-shirts to show support at an upcoming Out of the Darkness walk, a suicide awareness event or just because you knew and loved Zach please contact us at: Zachsfriends@charter.net for ordering information.
T-shirt style #1 for men is a regular style t-shirt, women's features a v neck.
Each is $20 local pick up (Big Bear, CA area) or $25 shipped
T-Shirt style #2 is the popular burnout style. They are very lightweight and comfortable.
Each is $30 local pick up or $30 shipped.
Please note *The burnout style is lightweight and somewhat see through.
Child sizes available in 2T - youth XL for $15 local pick up or $20 shipped.
Group shipping rates available when ordering 5 t-shirts or more.
Zach & I - Feb. 2011 - 2 months before his decision to end his life.
It's been 14 months since Zach's death.
It's strange how grieving wraps it's tight grip around you and different times.
Last month I would have said, "I'm doing okay...I think I'm nearing the acceptance stage."
This month I'd say, "I'm angry. Very angry!"
This month...only 8 days in has been internal torture for me.
I'm angry, I talk with language like a "truck driver" and everything makes me mad. This is a very strange emotion for me because by nature, I'm laid back, caring and loving.
However, so far this month I feel like I need a warning sign that says
"Talk to me at your own risk!"
I'm very open about my therapy and talked to my grief counselor about these feelings. To my relief she reminded me that this is totally normal, that grief has a funny way of tricking us into thinking we are further along than we are.
Before I lost my son or even in the beginning months of grieving I thought that by the 1 year mark all would be okay. I'd be through acceptance and only be sad on the anniversary of his death, his birthday and holidays.
WHOA! Was I wrong!
We are grieving the loss of a FAMILY MEMBER...and not just any family member, our son...my daughter's brother.
This is not the same grief as losing our 90 year old grandpa who died in his sleep.
This is the grief of the sudden suicide of my 18 year old son.
My son...the boy I talked to just a few hours before his death.
The son who told me he would NEVER end his life.
The imagined images of the scene of his death are horrifying and haunt me.
I speak of them to only those closest to me.
The pain I see in not only myself, but my husband and my daughters is that I wouldn't wish upon anyone.
When people say, "I can't imagine..." It's true.
It's worse than you can imagine and I would recommend you don't even allow your mind to go into that deep, dark place.
I write Zach from time to time.
I water his garden and watch the flowers grow.
It reminds me that life continues.
Through all the pain and heartache, I know life continues.
We will continue to grow...even when we're angry.
We will continue to thrive.
We will also continue to hurt and cry and this I have accepted as part of my new "normal".
Today I write to remind those of you who are considering suicide that there IS HOPE! Even when you feel there is none, there IS!
Don't know where to turn?
Call 1-800-273-8255 and ask!
It's the Suicide Hotline and they are open 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.
If you are a friend of someone who is suicidal...make that call.
Find out what you can do to help!
Today, I wish I could see my son...even for a moment.
A moment to remind him how much we love him.
A moment to hug him.
A moment to feel him.
A moment to hear him.
A moment to see him.
I hope and pray that if you are reading this and feeling suicidal you will reach out for help.
Please KNOW that you are loved beyond measure!
You have a purpose...even if you don't know what that purpose is, you have one!
Fulfill your purpose!
Live your life!
Reach out for help!
Please...from a grieving mother, please reach out for help or help someone in need!
WASHINGTON -- Suicides are surging among America's troops, averaging nearly one a day this year – the fastest pace in the nation's decade of war.
The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan – about 50 percent more – according to Pentagon statistics obtained by The Associated Press...
I heard about this on the radio today and couldn't be more pleased that these bands are coming together for a topic so many others don't want to discuss....Suicide Prevention and Awareness!
"Awareness and prevention of teen suicide will be the focus of the first Rise Above Fest, which will be headlined and curated by Seether and take place Sept. 3 at the Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion in Gilford, N.H.
Taking its name from the Seether song "Rise Above This," which was inspired by the suicide of Seether frontman Shaun Morgan's brother, the festival will also feature Buckcherry, Puddle of Mudd, Black Stone Cherry and Otherwise. A portion of the proceeds will go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) New Hampshire, but Morgan tells Billboard.com that "there won't be a lot of preaching or shoving (the issue) down people's throats," though he hopes the event will inspire dialogue about something he feel is becoming "an epidemic."
1) I want someone who will listen to me when I speak and not tell me that what I’m saying is wrong or that I shouldn’t be feeling what I feel.
2) I want someone who will talk to me, honestly and with compassion. I don’t want to be talked at or ignored.
3) I want people to understand that I, along with my parents and other family members, have lost someone I love very much.
4) I don’t want my pain compared to my mother’s or father’s. You may think they feel worse than I do, but unless you are me today, going through this terrible nightmare, you don’t know how I feel.
5) I want my teachers to understand that even though it may not seem like it, I am doing the best I can. It’s hard for me to focus on schoolwork or anything else right now. But how can I tell you about my sorrow and fears and confusion, when I’m not sure myself what’s going on?
6) I want someone to look me in the eye when they speak to me.
7) I don’t want anyone telling me I have to be strong for my mother, father, sisters, brother, or anyone else. I don’t know what that means. Are you telling me I shouldn’t cry? Are you telling me I shouldn’t feel? When someone so important to me has died, what does being strong mean?
8) I want someone to tell me what it is like to grieve. I want someone who will help me understand what this is and if I will survive.
9) I want to talk to someone my own age so that I will know I am not the only one and that I will survive.
10) And most of all, I want your unconditional love, compassions, understanding, and patience.
A few months back my sister sent me a series of books called A Time To Grieveby Kenneth C. Haugk. It's a set of four short books that are to be given to grieving people at four crucial times during the first year after a loved one has passed. Each book focuses on what the person is likely to be experiencing at that point in grief and provides care, assurance, encouragement and hope.
I thought I was ready to read these books when I received them, but I wasn't. I opened book 1 only to close it a page or so in.
I simply wasn't ready.
A couple of days ago I decided to try it again...and to my surprise I was ready.
Most people could finish this little faith based booklet in an hour or two, but being the note taker I am, it took me two sittings to finish the book.
Book 1 explains some of the things we experience in grief, some myths and some of the feelings that seem so strange. It also talks about the pressure to be strong and what affects our grief.
While the books are meant to be given to a grieving person throughout the first year of their grief, it's my opinion that these books are appropriate to give at any stage of grief.
I'm nearly 14 months into my grief and for me, reading book 1 now was the perfect time. Some of the information was repetitive from what I've learned in online grieving groups and therapy, but some of it was new information or information I hadn't really thought about.
I related most to the "The Fog of Grief". This short chapter speaks about how we accidentally injure ourselves more and seem to live in a fog. This was a difficult time for me...I had bruises on my legs, cuts on my fingers, earaches, constant headaches, my nails were chewed down (which is something I've never done) and I forgot even the most simple tasks.
I felt as though I was going crazy.
Now, while I still have "foggy days", for the most part I'm past that stage.
I feel that if the other three books are similar to this one (I will write a review for each as I read them) they are an asset to anyone grieving the loss of a loved one. I also think they can be helpful to those who are just trying to understand what a grieving friend or family member may be going through.
* Most Americans are unaware of the high rate of suicide among senior citizens, and researchers at the University of Iowa College of Medicine have issued a wake-up call for the elderly, their families, caregivers, and physicians. Although older Americans make up about 13 percent of the population, they account for nearly 20 percent of all suicides. An estimated five million of the 32 million people 65 and older suffer from depression. They are a more determined group to act and they use more lethal methods. (http://depression.about.com/od/drugsalcohol/a/alcoholanddep_2.htm)
* Although older adultsattempt suicide less often than other age groups, they are more likely to die from the attempt. The suicide rate is highestfor adults 75 years of age and older.
* The National Institute of Mental Health reported the most recent U. S. suicide rate within the general population as 10.9 per 100,000, while the rate of those aged 65 years and older is 14.3 per 100,000.
I received an e-mail from Jessica V. from the west coast chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention asking if I'd be interested in sharing my story with their subscribers for Mother's Day.
While it was a bit difficult to write, the response I received following it's publication, made each tear I cried while writing it worth it.
Below is the link to my story. I encourage you to talk and share your story. You never know who's life you are impacting and quite possibly saving!
Today marks 20 years since I gave birth to my son Zachary.
I remember being in labor hour after hour just wishing for my labor to be over.
I wasn't definite on what I was having before he was born, but I had a good idea I was about to have a son.
I was young when I had Zach and a fan of two popular 90's shows. One being 90210 and the other Saved By The Bell. Thus, I named my boy after my favorite characters, Zachary & Dylan.
Seems silly now that I'm a "real adult" and not a 17 year old girl giving birth to her first child, but it's always a fun story to share with people.
I imagine that if Zach were here today he'd probably ask for the latest electronic device or maybe something for his car.
I imagine we'd be with him or planning another trip to see him.
I also imagine him spending most of the day playing around and making sure everyone knew he was no longer a teenager, but an adult...he's now 20 and everyone would know.
I imagine him talking with his friends and probably his dad about how they would have to celebrate his 21st birthday in Vegas. Even though we'd been to Vegas many, many times, Zach often talked about just he and his dad going to Vegas and having fun together.
While imagining all of these things brings a temporary smile to my face I know none of these things could ever happen for Zach and our family.
Zach's decision to end his life on April 8th, 2011 stopped all future event planning with him.
I've spent many hours blaming others for what they did or didn't do. I've spent hours blaming myself for what I did or didn't do. I have revisited mistakes I made as a mother, wondering if ultimately this was all my fault. I've spent hours in counseling and have heard the same thing over and over again...
"This is all normal"..."Your feelings are normal".
Being told everything you're going through is normal, doesn't always make the pain any easier to handle.
My baby boy should be celebrating his 20th birthday today with his friends and family. Instead we mourn his death and pray for healing and peace.
I'd like to remind you that whatever is happening in your life at this moment, good or bad is a moment in your life. Our lives are made up of "moments"...each one passing and soon you're living a new "moment".
Please don't let a bad "moment" dictate your decision to live or die.
What you are going through right now may be the worst thing you can ever imagine going through. I know I feel that way myself. However, you CAN and WILL make it through it. You were given this "moment" to develop who you are and shape your future.
For me, I find that using this "moment", (a "moment" that will last the rest of my life) to help others is the best way to remember my son and honor him.
Not just on the anniversary of his passing or his birthday, but every day.
Whether it be in writing, speaking with someone or simply wearing the Friend of Zach bracelets we had made, I choose to honor his memory by remembering him...the good times as well as the not so good times.
I remember to thank God for blessing my life with him...even if my time with him on earth was cut short, I'm still grateful for every moment I was given.
I give thanks and think about the joy he brought to so many lives.
Does doing this take away the pain?
I truly believe nothing will ever take away the pain and heartache of his death.
However, I can say it does help and it does bring me a sense of "peace" knowing that I'm doing something to honor his memory and his life.
Something to hopefully help others in need so their families don't have to live the life I am living.
Please REACH OUT and help someone you think is in need.
Even if you think they are "only doing it for attention".
IF they are doing this for attention, give it to them. HELP Him/Her.
Make that call - Call 911 or The Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
If YOU are considering suicide, PLEASE Reach Out for Help!
Call 911 or the Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
I'm not sure where the past year has gone or how I've mustered the strength to do the things I have done and where the strength was when I needed it but didn't have it.
Easter Sunday fell on April 8th this year. My family and I celebrated Easter by eating at Zach's favorite restaurant, Joe's Crab Shack. We also purchased and planted several flowers in his garden as well as some little garden "treasures" that reminded us of him. Each of us spent time crying and laughing as we shared stories about Zach.
April 19th marked 1 year since Zach's funeral. I felt fortunate to spend that day at Chalene Johnson's PUSH Live event in LA. Some grieving parents wouldn't dream of doing something so fun on such a sad, sad day. However, for me, I wanted to do something that would uplift me and in turn uplift my family. And it did just that. While I was there I learned a lot...a lot about personal development, a lot about why I'm doing what I'm doing...or not doing. While there we were asked a question. I came up with an answer that I've been telling myself is true, even though I know it's not.
The question was: "Do you believe that "fear" may be holding you back from doing some of the things you know you need to do?"
My answer: "Some. Maybe if I'm happy people will think I stopped thinking about Zach -- which could NEVER happen. Maybe others will forget him or not bring up his name because they will think I don't think about him. Maybe others will forget my amazing and loving son. That scares me. I don't want people to forget him and I don't want people to think that I've forgotten him."
I wonder how many other people think this way. How do we break this train of thought? If I had the opportunity to call Zach in Heaven today and ask him, "Is it okay if I am 'happy' or do something 'fun'?" He would say, "YES!! I'm happy, you should be too." Instead I sit back and worry about the judgement of other grieving parents and I shouldn't...and neither should you!!
I'm not suggesting that we will "get over our loved ones death". That's simply not possible. What I'm suggesting is that we take steps forward to live the best possible life we can and honor our loved ones by helping those who come into our lives.
I'm writing this today because I want everyone who ever stumbles upon this blog to know, that I am going to live the rest of my life being the best parent, wife, Christian, business owner and friend I can possibly be. Will I have days of overwhelming sadness? Most certainly...but I'm also going to allow myself to have days of overwhelming happiness. I'm going to listen, learn and grow. I'm going to use my experience and honor my son's memory by helping as many people as I can. I don't expect it all to come together overnight, but I do expect it to come together as well as it possibly can.
I didn't ask for this "purpose" in my life, but I've learned that if talking to others comes easy for me, which many times it does, then I should do it and I encourage you to do it as well.
When it comes to suicide awareness and prevention...or a cause you believe in, the best asset we have is our mouth and our experience. I feel it is our responsibility to help those who come into our lives and need us.
As I do in most every blog, if you are reading this and YOU feel suicidal or that no one cares or have read this thinking, "See my family will be okay after I'm gone." Please KNOW that, you couldn't be more wrong! I am not "Okay" without my son. As a mother, I feel broken. I probably always will. I feel as though I have a huge hole in the center of my heart. I cry out for him, I wish so much I could change the situation I am in. I hope and pray...I BEG you to reach out for help. Please don't make a decision that will forever hurt and shatter your family. YOU DESERVE TO BE HERE! WE DESERVE TO HAVE YOU! You are LOVED! You are NEEDED! Do you know someone SMILES when they think of you? It's true!
Please make the call to get help!
Call 911 or 1-800-273-8255.
They are there 24 hours a day/7 days a week.
If YOU know someone who needs help, make that call FOR YOUR FRIEND!! You will NEVER regret saving his/her life!