Sunday, August 23, 2009

Survivor therapy

Several people suggested I go to grief therapy following my son's death from suicide. Hospice offers group and individual therapy, so I called and scheduled a session six weeks or so ago. My fiancee, Lee and his son Taylor and I have attended three sessions so far, and I am hoping to bring Bill, my ex, and my daughters Jayne and Rebecca to future sessions. I had one scheduled for last Monday and Bill and Jayne were planning to go, then the therapist had to go out of town unexpectedly, so I will have to try again. It's so hard to get everyone's schedules together, but they won't go on their own. It's like trying to get someone to AA: the window of opportunity is very small and you have to get to a meeting when they are in the mood, or it closes. But I will keep going, join the group if I can, and lead by's the only way I can help my family. It has already helped Lee and Taylor. I think it has helped me some...

Mostly my therapy has been in reaching out to friends and acquaintances through Facebook. I have shared with some old friends and they have shared back. Private emails, instant messages, daily posts and threads all help. Even the silly games provide a good distraction. I am doing more things with friends than I used to. I hiked today with my sister-in-law. I've gone to the gym with a co-worker. I had lunch and browsed fabric stores and art galleries with a friend. At my son's memorial service I promised so many people we would get together for lunch and so forth, and I am slowly following through.

It's comforting to know that Andrew shared so many of the activities I am doing now...he loved to hike around the trails in SLO county. He and my daughters lived in Los Osos for a year together and he explored the nearby state parks that I am frequenting. He enjoyed art, and he even bought some fabric for me as a Christmas present one year...I used some of it for some quilt blocks. He cooked, and I bought him some cookbooks. I am trying to grow tomatoes, while Jaynie has been keeping Andrews tomatoes and zucchini and the rest of his plants alive for the past 4 months.

Andrew was a worker, so when I am doing a chore or cooking or recreating, it is impossible to do so without some memory of him. I try to honor his memory in performing each task.
I am so glad that his life was full of good things...his mental illness hadn't destroyed his basic lifestyle. In my work I see people who live on the streets like animals. They are lost souls. At least Andrew had a roof over his head, his own room, a job to do and people around him who loved him. He had his father, his sisters, his cousins and me. He also had a huge extended family who all looked upon him as a favorite son.

We couldn't save Andrew from himself, but we loved him and tried to reassure him every day. He scared us...we all knew he was a danger to himself. It's just that we thought we could talk to him and straighten him out, but it only helped temporarily. He needed medication and professional therapy, and I couldn't make him get it. In that, I failed, and I have a lot of remorse in that failing.

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