Author: Donna Kirk

Alone. Photo: Stefano Bertolotti/Flickr/Creative Commons

Praying for connection

I am sitting in my living room in my new home. I am grateful for my life at this moment and for moving and setting up a new residence outside a small city where we have lived for almost two years. This place and space my husband and I have created is pretty good. Although, this phase of retirement living in a new place is very quiet these days. There are days and weeks where life and people I knew are just a blurred  memory.  Other days the memories are more vivid. These past two years have been a time of rest for me.  The Lord  has led me beside still waters, refreshed my soul and breathed new life and hope into me. Creating a new circle of friends is difficult. Yet, I know that God created us with a need for relationship.  From past experience, I know that it takes time and often years to find friends that you have a connection with. Stepping out of my comfort zone and extending myself to others …

Photo: other think/Flickr/Creative Commons

Grief and time

I stood at the counter and watched as the cashier carefully wrapped my Willow Tree ornaments. I had purchased four of these ornaments for each of my immediate family. The statue is called “brothers.” The younger  brother is on the ground looking up at the standing older brother who is looking down. It was the first Christmas in my grief. Losing my oldest boy a year earlier made the holiday painful. The clerk looked at me as she wrapped the ornaments.  She asked me if these were for someone who lost a loved one. I said, yes, I lost my son. “Well,” she stated, “if this is your first year, the second year is just as painful.” “However, the third year is a little better.” she added, “and then by five years you will find it so much better.” Wow! A complete stranger had just made my world open to a possible future I could hope for. What a gift! In grief sharing with others who have lost a loved one, I have mentioned this …

Photo: Trey Ratcliff/Flickr/Creative Commons

The first prayer

After I lost my first-born son, Graham, to suicide, I still had my sixteen year old, second born son to care for. I watched my adolescent boy reeling from his own grief as he sat on the couch in the basement for days on end. He had made up his brother’s bed and formed the blankets to look like he was still sleeping in it.  He could not accept that his brother was gone. My perspective on life had tilted dramatically.  I knew that I could no longer “take care of everything.”  I was no longer superwoman. All that I felt I could do was pray for my son. Behind our house there was a two-mile hike up to a huge coulee.  Once you reached the top you just had to sit down and admire the scenery below. Farmers crops and cows grazed at the base of this coulee. Hues of gold, green and geometric patterns stretched out over the wide open land before me. From the rock pile on top of the plateau, I …

God want to heal our brokeness. Photo: Howard Hall/Flickr/Creative Commons

Circle of Love

It had been a year since I lost my son to suicide and I was invited to join a new women’s group at church. I wanted to stay home and not risk baring my heart to anyone. God knew I needed this group of women and gently pushed me out the door of my comfort zone. To be honest, I was angry with my son for choosing to leave us the way he did. I am a resilient person and found myself able to move forward in my life despite our loss.  My resiliency, though, left me unable to express myself and release my grief. There were five women in this group and each of us had our own pain and grief to deal with. Some of us were angry with God for the circumstances we were facing.  Others, like myself, were angry at our loved one for the choice they had made. We were all here to release the pain and guilt of poor choices made and we began to realize that we needed …

Photo: Justin K./Flickr/Creative Commons

It doesn’t have to be a life sentence

I lost my eldest son Graham in 2004 to suicide. Six years later my grief took me to a five-day seminar to help deal with the emotional upheaval in my life due to his death. I had filled out their forms, answered questions, shared my story and the reasons why I wanted to attend the seminar. On the first day, we all received a name tag. One facilitator came up to me and gave me mine. I glanced at it as I took it from her hand. The words “life sentence” we’re neatly printed on it.  It caught me completely off guard.  It took a few days into the seminar to face the cold hard facts. As  judge, juror and prosecutor, I had sentenced myself to a life-time of guilt and shame  for the death of my son. Death from suicide carries a stigma with it and the grieving is more complex. I could not understand why my son took this drastic measure. He willingly left us. I did something wrong. My husband and I …

A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:4

A safe place to grieve

My first-born son, Graham, died when he was eighteen years old. He took his life while stranded on a country road in his vehicle. A few months after he passed away my grief counselor advised me to find a place where I could go and “let it all out and cry hard to release my painful emotions.” At that time I was not able to speak about my son’s tragic death to anyone.  My heart felt like it was frozen. Even when I was alone the tears would not come. I didn’t trust myself or anyone else enough to talk about it and expose my raw emotions. I was too hurt to do that. I have always found great comfort in writing.  It was easy for me to pour out my thoughts and feelings on paper. I missed my son terribly so I wrote him a letter to tell him things about myself and how his family was coping. I wanted to share it with him! “And God will wipe away every tear from their …

Dealing with the pain of grief.

How grief tilted my world

My first-born son, Graham, died on January 15, 2004. He was 18 years old.  He took his own life while stranded on a country road in his own vehicle. My world took a serious tilt. My perspective on life shifted to the dark side. Everything and everyone changed as I viewed them through the eyes of grief. I didn’t know what to do with the people who surrounded me and engaged in life with me. I was terrified to talk about the loss of my son. Not feeling free to share feelings and thoughts hindered my grieving process.  I read the Bible and books on grief and suicide hoping this would help me deal with people’s questions and comments. Nothing could prepare me though. I had to face it alone and walk through the unknown waters of grief and let the waves splash over me. People meant well and out of the uncertainty of what to say their comments sometimes came across the wrong way — like my son’s suicide was probably for the best …