When My Grief is Tiny Ripples…

638 days….21 months and 1 day

The 2 year mark is fast approaching and I am finding it so hard to believe that it’s been that long when most of the time it seems like just yesterday.

I still can’t believe that you are gone but I have accepted it and know that your soul is at piece.  That gives me comfort most of time but there are times, when I’m being selfish, that I want you back no matter what that looks like.  I would take all of the chaos and fighting if it meant you didn’t have to die.

I’m doing well these days, I think about Derek every single day but my grief isn’t huge crashing waves; more like tiny ripples.  I’m thankful for that.  I know that I’ll have bad days I just know that I have to go with it and that it won’t last forever.

I’ve had more than one person ask me if maybe I shouldn’t have started Derek’s Place so soon after his death.  That maybe working on that is taking me away from things that I need to do for myself.  I do that, I take on other people’s issues and find projects to do so that I don’t have to look at my own issues.  However true their statements may be Derek’s Place is a thing and I’m not walking away from it.  I just have to find some balance between DP and taking care of myself and allowing myself to grieve for my Son.

Derek’s Place gives me a purpose and it’s the best way that I know to honor Derek’s memory and his life, he would have loved Derek’s Place and what it’s going to mean to people like him.  Good people that dream of a better life, a family and success but think that they aren’t worthy of any of that because of SUD, homelessness or other mental health issues.  We are going to show them love, compassion and understanding so they start to believe that they ARE worthy of everything they dream of.

My new meds are working so good!  I seriously haven’t felt this good since Derek died, I can actually see myself being happy and finding joy in things.  I’m staying at my daughter’s now, temporarily, and I think that’s going to be good for me to be around her and my grandkids.  I can see myself getting out of the house and doing things other than DP events and fundraisers.  As a matter of fact I’m going to one of my daughter’s friend’s houses on Saturday and we’re all having dinner and a bonfire.  I’m actually excited about it!

I have a lot of goals that I want to accomplish while I’m living at my daughter’s house; I want to quit smoking, start exercising, start eating healthier and be debt free, except for my car payment.  I haven’t started any of these things yet but I have only been there for a few days.  My problem is that I look at that list and think that I have to do everything at once and I get overwhelmed so I don’t do anything.  My therapist said that I need to pick one thing and focus on that and move on to the next thing once I have accomplished the first task.  This is a great plan!  I pick quitting smoking as my first task…I pick this because once I quit smoking I will be able to exercise better and smoking is the most detrimental to my physical health, in my opinion.  Plus I’m tired of smelling like smoke and I DON’T want to be out in the cold smoking this winter.

I’ve been trying to quit smoking for 2 years and I can’t figure out why it’s so damn hard this time.  In 2009 I got a prescription for Chantix, smoked while taking it the first week and took the Chantix for 60 days.  I didn’t smoke for 6 years!  It was easy, I didn’t have any of the horrible side effects and I didn’t crave cigarettes.  This time I stopped smoking on Christmas Day 2017 and then started again on January 10, 2018; 2 days after Derek died.  I was so mad at myself but when I went to my Dr she said there’s no way that you can quit smoking right now!  You need that to help you get through your day.  In July of 2018 I decided that I was ready to quit so she gave me more Chantix, I’m still smoking.  Every once in awhile I’ll quit taking the Chantix because it’s stupid to pay for both cigarettes and Chantix and then I’ll say ok I’m ready now and I’ll go get the Chantix but the most time I’ve had, not smoking, is 16 days.

Sometimes I get lonely and sometimes I’m sad that Derek’s not here but I allow myself to feel those feelings and don’t just bury them and try to forget about them.  I think that’s so important and most people don’t realize that.  In the past, when I have lost a loved one, my Mom, my Dad, my Ex, I cried and was sad for about a week and then I just went on with my life.  I thought that’s how it worked but I was wrong.  Of course I get sad when I think about them not being here but I don’t think that I went through all of the stages of grief.

All in all I’m grateful that my grief is just tiny ripples, right now, but when those waves come crashing down I will be ready!!

I love you Derek and I miss the hell outta you



To Be Honest….

626 days

I’ve been thinking about whether, or not, to write this blog for a few days now.  However, if I’m going to share my grief journey, in the hopes of helping other Mommas out there, then I have no choice but to write this blog.  I have to be completely transparent and share every place that this journey takes me…even the darkest ones.

Last Wednesday, September 18th, I was sitting in my car, at lunchtime, and this overwhelming feeling that I didn’t want to live any more came over me.  I just started crying and felt like I didn’t want to feel this grief anymore, I was tired of isolating, being depressed, being anxious and everything that goes along with grieving for Derek.  I even thought about how I was going to end my life and this scared the Hell outta me!

I contacted Casey and asked her if she would be available to talk after work; she wouldn’t be available until 7:30 or so but I told her that I would be at her house, that I had something important to talk to her about.  Ashley asked if I wanted her there too and I said yes.

When we were all together I just said that I didn’t know how to say this except to just come out and say and and I said “I don’t want to live anymore”.  They were shocked and Casey said so are you telling us that you’re going to leave here and go home and kill yourself? I said no I’m telling you that I don’t want to live and I need help because this is scaring me.

So Casey called Pine Rest and talked to them and told me that they had a bed and would I go?  I reluctantly agreed to go and she took me there.

All I know is that I don’t ever want to go back there again!  By the time I was checked in it was 1 am on Thursday and they gave me some sleeping meds.  I slept ALL day on Thursday; they would come to my room and tell me when there was a group and I would say ok, they would come and tell me when it was time to eat and I would go eat and go back to bed.  I was so exhausted and I was sleeping hard!  Finally after I had dinner I decided that I was not going back to bed so I found a book to read, took a shower and sat in the community room reading.

I did meet with the psychiatrist on Thursday and he changed my meds for me because mine obviously weren’t working anymore and asked me if I had any questions.  I said when do I get to go home?  He said you just got here so we’ll revisit that on Monday.  I said there is no way I’m staying here until Monday!  I have an event that has been being planned for months and it’s on Saturday and I am not going to miss it!  He said so basically what you’re telling me is that you want to be on your new meds for 1 day and have me let you go home?  I said yea pretty much.  He said that wasn’t going to happen, I was pissed!

On Thursday night I was talking to my nurse about it and that I was under the impression that because I checked myself in I could check myself out; she said no that’s not how it works.  I told her about my event and that I wasn’t having any thoughts of taking my life, I hadn’t had any bouts of anxiety since I’ve been there (probably because I slept all day) and she said that she was going to put in the notes that I should be allowed to go home on Friday.

I was in group on Friday morning and the nurse came in to get me to see the psychiatrist and when I walked in he said how are you today?  I said I’m ready to go home!  He said that’s what I hear.  We talked about my new meds, he asked me how I was feeling and I said great.  He said ok, this has never happened in my lifetime but I’m going to let you go home today.  I wanted to hug him.

Ashley got there to pick me up around 1 pm on Friday and I was free!

My new meds are working great, I am moving back in with Casey and I feel better than I have in a very long time.  I know that this is part of my grief journey but I don’t ever want to have those feelings again; it really scared me.

My friends, Wendy & Johan, are fostering Derk for me for awhile and he is loving it over there!  I’m going to go see him on Sunday, I miss him more than I thought I would!  It’s not that I don’t love him because I have realized, in the last week, that I really do but I was in such a dark place for so long that he couldn’t even take care of him the way he needed to be taken care of and when he would try to make me happy it just irritated me.

I have learned that it’s ok for me to grieve for Derek but I don’t have to wallow in it, I’m not betraying him by being happy or taking care of me and I also know that he’s probably really pissed at me for staying in that dark place for so long.  I know that there are going to be dark days in my future but they should just be days not months.

My therapist says that I’m being way too hard on myself and that maybe that’s where I am in my journey right now and that’s ok; she says Theresa Derek didn’t even die 2 years ago!  That’s not a long time.  I understand that and I know that there is no time limit on grief and everyone grieves differently but I really am tired of living the way that I was.  I want to be around people and make healthy choices for myself.

So I’m ok, now, but I wasn’t for a really long time.  I will always love and miss Derek so much but I’ve said it before, and I believe it, Derek wouldn’t want me living the way I was.  I wasn’t actually living, just existing and going through the motions.  I don’t want to do that anymore and right now I feel like I can move forward a little bit.

Just promise yourself that if you EVER have the feeling that you don’t want to live anymore, you will reach out for help!  There are a lot of people in my life that love me and I’m sure that you have people in your life that love you too and they would be devastated if you weren’t on this Earth any more.

Love you Always Derek




Forgive Me…I Am Grieving

598 days

My life is so different since Derek died; there are so many things that I don’t do any more.

I don’t make cool things from Pinterest anymore

I don’t do things with friends anymore

I don’t answer my phone anymore

I don’t read anymore

I don’t journal anymore

I don’t spend much time with my family anymore

I don’t leave my house much anymore

I don’t keep my house clean anymore

I lost interest in making things so I got rid of all of my project pieces, doing things with friends means that I have to leave my house.

I talked to my therapist about some of these things that used to bring me joy but now I don’t do.  She keeps saying “Theresa, you are grieving for your Son, it hasn’t even been 2 years since he left you”.  She thinks that I don’t answer my phone because on January 8, 2018, I answered my phone, when the Dr called, and she told me that she was so sorry but they weren’t able to save my Son.  When I asked her why I have 8 books that I’ve started to read and haven’t been able to finish one of them she said because I’m not ready for the end.

It’s not that I don’t love my family and want to spend time with them, because I love my daughters and my grandkids so much, but being with them is a constant reminder that Derek is missing and he won’t be at any more family things.  When I do go to family things I feel like an outsider, like I don’t belong there.  It’s a reminder that we will never get to spend life with Derek as a recovering addict; because when he was clean he was the most awesome person.  He would make us laugh so much, he would never judge and he loved playing with his boys and his niece and nephews.

My therapist is helping me to get out of my house more, it’s hard though because I have social anxiety now and don’t like to be around a lot of people.  However, if it’s something that has to do with Derek’s Place I will go anywhere for that.  Otherwise I have no problem staying in my house all weekend, watching tv and sleeping.

I used to love getting up on Saturday morning, getting a cup of coffee, turning some music on and cleaning my entire house.  Now it’s just too overwhelming for me and apparently it’s all because I’m grieving.

It’s tragic how grief affects people physically, mentally and emotionally; I never knew.  I had someone tell me, last year, that I was using grief as an excuse for not doing something.  I said, ok you pick which child of yours that you want to die and then you tell me that it’s an excuse.  I don’t want to be like this and if I knew how to change it I most certainly would!  But I have to let myself grieve and I have to let it take as long as it’s going to take or I’m not going to be any good for anyone at Derek’s Place.

Derek’s Place gives me purpose and it brings me joy and it gets me out of my house and it allows me to help people like Derek.  Addicts that are struggling to get clean or stay clean; they need to know that they are worthy and that they absolutely are loved and deserve to have a wonderful, drug free life.  That they are capable of being happy, holding down a job, having a family to love and being loved.  This is my vision for Derek’s Place and I will not stop until my vision is seen.

So if you ask me to do something and I say no or you call me and I don’t answer my phone….please forgive me because I am honestly just grieving.


I love you Derek and I miss the hell outta you

The Waves Keep Crashing

589 days

I like the analogy of the waves and grief; how in the first days and months of grieving the waves are 100 ft high and they just keep coming, you can’t catch your breath and you feel like your drowning.  That’s the reality and how I felt for almost the entire first year after Derek died.

The waves still come but they are smaller and they don’t come as often now.  But when they do it takes me back to the day that I lost my beautiful Son.  The other night I took Derk out before we went to bed, as soon as we got outside it started raining pretty hard and I looked up at the sky and I lost it.  The tears were pouring as hard as the rain and I fell to my knees asking Derek why?  Why did you have to go?  It lasted for about 10 minutes and the tears stopped as quickly as they started.

I think of Derek all of the time, several times of every single day.  Sometimes the memories make me sad and sometimes I still don’t believe that he’s really gone.  He’s just living in Philly, with Sam, and he’s busy with work and that’s why I don’t hear from him.  Sometimes when I remember him I remember the emaciated addict that hasn’t showered or eaten for days and I feel a pain in my heart because I knew that he was in so much pain and I couldn’t take it away.

Have you ever really looked into the eyes of an addict in active addiction?  The pain, the sadness, the despair is all right there for you to see and there’s absolutely nothing that you can do to help them.  Just let them know that you love them and that you will do everything to help them in recovery.  Derek knew that I loved him but he couldn’t figure out why I loved him, he thought that he wasn’t worthy of my love; he didn’t understand that a Mom loves her child no matter what!  He could have been a murderer and I would have still loved him.  I knew that the things that he did in active addiction weren’t really him.

Whenever Derek had a little bit of clean time I knew it because I could see it in his eyes…his smile was back in his eyes.  I loved seeing that and I would tell him so.  He would send me pictures of him hanging out with his friends, in recovery, and he always looked so happy.  Or when he would spend time with his best friend that had moved to Jersey…he knew that he could have fun without drugs because he did it.  Then the shame and guilt of his addiction would start haunting him and he would start using again so that he didn’t have to feel any of it.

I’ve always thought that something traumatic happened to Derek, when he was a little boy, and that’s why he started self medicating; we talked about it once while he was in rehab and he said he didn’t remember anything.  I can’t think of any other reason why he started drinking and drugging at such a young age.  Unless addiction is genetic and he was born that way and as soon as he took that first drink and smoked that first joint it was all over for him.  Alcoholism was rampant on his Dad’s side of the family and my Dad was an alcoholic and heroin addict.  What could a young boy be so troubled about that he started self medicating?  Another question that will never be answered.

Sometimes when I think of Derek I see him with his boys or his niece and nephews; always smiling and having a ball with them.  Derek’s profile picture, on Facebook, is one of him taking Alexander trick or treating.  He was so happy to be able to do that that year and you can tell by the smile on his face.  He loved his boys so much and spent a lot of time, on the phone with me, crying because he wanted so badly to be able to spend time with them, help raise them, go to school functions and just watch them grow up and he didn’t know if he was ever going to even see them again.  I think those feelings caused a couple of relapses too.

Like Derek didn’t choose to be an addict I didn’t choose to be the grieving Mom of one but this is my life now and I’m learning how to live my life without him.  It’s painful, it sucks but I have no other options.  I will always grieve for Derek but there will be a day when I learn to live with it better and I will always love him and always be his Mom.  He was an amazing Man and I’m proud to be his Mom.


I love you Derek and I miss the hell outta you

Addiction is Hurting My Heart

567 days…how is that even possible?

I received an email, this morning, from a Momma whose daughter and niece are in active addiction here in Grand Rapids.  She reached out to me because she doesn’t know what to do.  She told me the story of how her daughter is on parole and walked away from rehab and is using on the streets.  She’s coming to Michigan and going to take her daughter to prison to turn herself in.

So here I am, sitting at my desk, with tears rolling down my face because I’ve been there and I would do anything to be there again just to have Derek back.  I can feel her helplessness and hopelessness, her love for her daughter and her want to help her.  She said it seems to me that the system is flawed.  Boy is it ever!  It’s set up for them to fail and that makes me so angry.

Her daughter, I’m sure, is going to run either before her Mom gets to Michigan or before she leaves to drop her off at prison; she is NOT going to want to withdraw in prison.  She needs detox and rehab now, before she turns herself in.

Usually, an addict wants help when they are coming off the drugs because they don’t want to feel all of those feelings that the drugs cover up.  However, when they call Network 180 and go through the evaluation process they are told that a bed will be available in, let’s say, 3 weeks!  Are you kidding me?  In 3 weeks they’re going to be high again and aren’t going to give a shit about that bed; they aren’t even going to answer your phone call.

If you are lucky enough to get a bed right away the time frame that you can stay at a rehab facility, in Kent County is anywhere from 7-28 days.  Again, seriously?  That is not nearly a long enough time for someone to be clean before being sent back out into the world.  Which is what happens, they finish their time and are sent on their way; what the fuck are they supposed to do?  Not everyone can afford sober living, they don’t have a job to pay for it and those places are not cheap.

There’s no aftercare in Kent County, nobody for them to talk to or relate to or support to help them to stay in recovery, find a place to live, get a job or whatever they might need.  That’s why Derek’s Place is so needed here!  I want to help all of the people, all of the people that are in recovery, all of the people that are homeless, all of the people that have a mental disorder, all of the people like Derek.

This is my passion and what I AM going to do with the rest of my life, this is what keeps me going and brings me joy.  I want to sit down with all of them and listen to their stories and be there for them and let them know that they are worthy of having the life they dream of, that it isn’t just a dream; I want to make them believe that it can be a reality!  I want to give them the tools that they need to obtain happiness and joy and the life they deserve.

I’m starting with the homeless this Saturday, I’m not going to just drop off some sack lunches, I’m going to sit with them and listen to their stories and find out what they need and what they want and I will help them get it.  I’m going to share my story with them and tell them about Derek’s Place and let them know that when we are open they are welcome to come there and utilize all of our resources.

I know that I can’t do all of this by myself, I need help and lots of it!  I need the support of the community and a good strong Board of Directors that has the same passion as I do!  It takes a Village and I’m looking for my Village now!

It’s going to happen, maybe not in my time frame but it will happen.

I love you Derek and I miss the hell outta you

People Like Derek….

553 days

On Saturday, Derek’s Place held a taco dinner fundraiser; we had enough food for 150 people to have 3 tacos, beans, rice and chips and salsa.  We had about 15 people show up, that’s it, 15 people came to support Derek’s Place.  We advertised in every way that I knew how, fb, flyers, the community calendars for both wzzm 13 and wood tv 8, craigslist and word of mouth and only 15 people showed up.

I didn’t want to throw all of that food away so when I realized that nobody was going to come to our event I decided that any leftover food I would take to Heartside Park and feed the homeless.  So that’s what I did, I packed up all that food into my car, drove to the park and when I carried the first pan of food over to a picnic table all of these homeless people came over, asked me what I was doing, they helped me carry everything over to the table and waited until everything was set up before they started fixing their plates.

They asked me why I was doing this and so I told them about the fundraiser and how all of this food was leftover and I couldn’t see throwing it away when I knew they were all at the park and were hungry.  They asked me what the fundraiser was for so I told them about Derek’s Place, about Derek and how I wanted to help people like him.

They were so appreciative and thanked me so many times, they were all very polite and helpful.  They were kind and caring and I enjoyed the time that I spent there talking to them and helping them to fix plates and making sure that everyone got something to eat.  It was a very heartwarming experience and I will for sure do it again.

As I was getting ready to leave, one of the men asked me if he could talk to me for a minute and I said yes of course.  So we went away from everyone else and he holds out some money and said I took a collection and we want you to have this.  I said Sir I can’t take your money, that’s not why I did this!  He said we want to help you with Derek’s Place, and we want you to have this.  I started crying when I took the money and told him that this donation means more to me than any other donation we’ve gotten.

I couldn’t believe that these people that literally have nothing but the clothes on their backs gave me a donation of $5.  That’s a lot of money to them and they gave it with love because they wanted to help me open the doors of Derek’s Place.

These are some of the people that Derek’s Place is going to help, people like Derek, addicts, homeless and people with other mental health issues.  Derek was an addict, he was homeless sometimes and he had bipolar disorder and I know that he would have appreciated a free meal when he was hungry.  Derek was also a good person, with a great big heart just like the people that I met on Saturday.

Derek’s Place is needed in our community and I don’t know what to do to get our community to understand this and support us.  I will not give up on this and one of these days they’ll get it and they’ll support us!


I love you Derek and I miss the hell outta you

Signs from the Other Side

550 days

On the 4th of July I had a reading from a Medium; it made me cry.  She told me that Derek has transitioned and is in the light, that he wants me to be happy and not feel guilty for it.  She also saw a cherry tree and didn’t know the significance of it and I told her that any tree was significant because Derek was a tree climber.  There was also a woman giving me a rose and wanted me to know that she was there for me too….that was my Mom.  They both wanted me to know that they are always with me but I have my eyes closed so I can’t see them.  I think that I am so focused on my grief that I’m not open to seeing what’s right in front of me.

I’m getting better every day though, I can laugh and not feel guilty.  I’ve been getting out of my house more which makes me feel good.  Derek’s Place is moving along just as it’s supposed to; even if it’s not as quickly as I would like.  We’re getting ready to go to a 2 day training at the original Recovery Cafe in Seattle and I think that’s going to be awesome.

I still have anxiety most days but, with therapy, I’m learning how to deal with it.  I have a great team, looking out for me, with my Dr and my therapist.  They are working together to help me through this and I am so very grateful for them.

I think about Derek every single day and it makes me sad that he was taken so soon, I still don’t understand it and I still have moments where I’m mad at God for taking him.  I remember moments that Derek and I had where we would just have deep conversations and he would tell me how scared he was, how he hated his life and couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t stay clean.  He would share his hopes and dreams with me…He wanted to be clean, he wanted to be a good Dad to his boys, he wanted to marry Sam and have a family with her, he wanted to be successful in his business….he wanted so much but didn’t have faith, in himself, that he would ever have it.  In the end he was right because he died before he could have everything that he dreamed of.

Derek’s Son, Christian, is doing well; he has his Dad’s personality for sure and he makes me laugh all the time.  I haven’t seen Alexander since Christmas and I miss him so much.  I worry about both of them and what their future will be, I don’t want them to grow up to be addicts and Derek wouldn’t want that for them either.  Nobody wants that for their child, it’s a horrific life to live.

I miss parts of the old me, the sense of humor, the joking around, the woman that wasn’t afraid to leave the house and try new things but the new me is stronger and some day I hope to get some parts of the old me back.  Sometimes it’s one day at a time and some days it’s on moment at a time but I’ll get there.

I love you Derek and I miss the hell outta you