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

Better Days Ahead

533 days

I finally left my house last Sunday; it was homework from my therapist that I go to a park.  My intention was to go on Saturday but I just couldn’t make myself do it but I got up on Sunday morning, grabbed my journal, went to Biggby and got a coffee and went to this cute little park, in Cascade, that is right on the river.

I walked down to the river and as I was walking down the steps I saw a bright, red cardinal.  That was my first sign that Derek was with me.  I sat on the top step, overlooking the river and was just quiet for a few minutes; taking it all in.  It was beautiful outside.

I listened to the sound of the river rushing past, felt the sun on my face as it poked through the trees and felt the soft breeze in my hair.  I wrote in my journal, which I haven’t done in months, and talked to Derek.  As I was sitting there I felt something heavy across my shoulders, it was the weirdest thing.  I think that Derek was sitting next to me with his arm across my shoulders.

I was there for a little over an hour and I could feel Derek there in the river, the sun and the trees.  It was a wonderful experience and I will be going back to that park soon.

I don’t know if it was getting out of the house and being outside, or what it was, but after I left the park I went and got groceries, something I haven’t done in weeks.  When I got home I did the dishes, started laundry, swept the kitchen floor and cleaned the kitchen counter off.  I haven’t done that much in a day in months!  It felt good though.

I’ve been having more good days than bad lately and that feels good too.  I just have to work on not isolating so much.  Sunday was the first time, in weeks, that I had left my house on the weekend.  I don’t even go outside on the weekends, I sleep and sit in front of my tv.  I know that’s not good for me but it’s what I do.  This Saturday I’m going to try and make it to the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market.

It just takes so much energy to get up, shower and get ready and then go somewhere; that sounds absolutely awful to me for some reason.  I don’t like talking on the phone either.  My perfect weekends consist of sleeping, watching tv and having no contact with anyone.  I wish I could do it

I know that I need to change this and I am working on it with my therapist, going to the park was the first step and that worked out great so I’ll get where I need to be.  Baby steps.

Of course I think about Derek every day and I always will but I don’t always cry when I think of him now.  I do get sad and I probably always will.  I wish there was someone that I could talk to about Derek, someone that knew him and had some of the same memories that I have.  I love talking about him and telling people what an amazing man he was.

I love you Derek and I miss the hell outta you


Good Days & Bad Days

525 days

I know that in my grief journey I will have good days and I will have bad days; I have to learn how to embrace them both.  I’ve had 525 bad days and it feels like I’m sinking deeper and deeper into isolation and depression.

Something is different this morning; last night, before I went to sleep, I talked to Derek for a long time.  I told him that I didn’t know how to be happy without him here and that I would give anything to be able to give him one more hug and one more kiss and tell him how much I love him.  I asked him how am I supposed to find happiness again and how am I supposed to go on without him.

I don’t know if he visited me in a dream last night or what but when I woke up this morning I wasn’t tired!  I was in a great mood and I FEEL different!  I think today is going to be a good day and you can bet your ass that I’ll embrace it!  I know that’s what Derek would want.  I know he doesn’t want me isolating myself and drowning in depression, he just wouldn’t want that for me.  Derek always wanted me to be happy and I have to learn how to do that without him here.

I know that my life will never be the same but I have to learn that I’m not betraying Derek by having happy moments.  Sometimes it feels like I’m carrying all of the pain that Derek felt while he was here on Earth, because he’s not feeling any pain now, his soul is free and he’s free from all of his demons and free from the hold that the drugs had on him.  It’s what I always wanted for him but he just couldn’t achieve it here.

My therapist is always asking me about who I have, in my life, to support me and she can’t believe that I have nobody.  I thought that when Derek died that would bring my daughters and I closer together but that hasn’t been the case.  I am closer to one that I see once a week but the other one won’t even speak to me.  She is an adult and I have to support her decision to not have me in her life but it sure does hurt.  My therapist says that I need to start going to a grief group so that I can find people that will support me in this journey.  I haven’t been able to gather the courage to go to one even though I’ve been invited to 2 grief groups.

I have learned, in my life, that I am the only one that I can depend on and I don’t feel like I need anyone else to help me through this journey.  It’s not like I would call anyone and say hey I need to talk are you available?  That wouldn’t happen, I need to do this on my own and I will.

So I will go to therapy every week and art therapy once a month and that will be enough for me.  My therapist is going to teach me how to work through my anxiety which is huge and she will teach me other tools that I will need to get through my grief journey so I can come out the other side a changed woman but a woman that can embrace the good days and the bad days.  A woman that will forever grieve her beautiful Boy but in a healthy way.

Derek thank you for whatever it was that you did last night; I will always love you and I will always help people just like you so that no other Mother has to have this as her new normal and her addicted child will believe that they are worthy of happiness, something that you never believed even though I told you all the time.