Sunday, November 30, 2014

My vision for book and my thoughts about a second book

My vision for the rest of 2014 and 2015

For those of you that haven’t heard I am writing a memoir about my experience losing my only sibling, Brian, to suicide in 2002.  I have “downloaded” a lot of the information from my journal and have recently started the first draft of my book.  My working title is Sibling Suicide: from despair to hope.  This has been 12 years in the making.  You might be asking why now?  Well, I recently earned my license for professional counseling (LPC).  I am working to put down my thoughts in book form rather than in journal form.  Currently I am taking the themes from my journal and expanding them.

As I do this I will be working with editors and my plan is to publish or at least have a manuscript to the publisher by the end of February 2015.  This means I have my work cut out for me.

Why write this book?  I must share my story.  When I went through the loss of my own brother I did not have the support that I needed.  My friends were well meaning and they helped.  Until November 2014 I had never met someone or talked with someone who had experienced a sibling suicide first hand.  Now I have and it has been extremely helpful.

That leads me to another point.  I had made a comment that I have the subject for my second book.  I know… I’m getting ahead of myself, but bear with me.  As I was talking with a fellow sibling suicide survivor I realized that all of our stories are different.  How amazing would it be to find and interview several individuals who are in different stages of their grieving process as a sibling suicide survivor?  It would be fantastic to be able to put these stories in a book and provide a resource that I never had when I first lost Brian to suicide.

Lastly:  Please as you feel comfortable ask me about these things.  They are not taboo.  I have processed them and am continuing to process them. By you showing interest it means a lot.  Please to not hesitate to talk to me about these things.

Friday, November 28, 2014

thoughts about God's faithfulness in midst of trial

Chapter about God’s faithfulness in the midst of trial

God’s faithfulness through everything

As I reflect on my own process of grieving I realize that I was making progress even when I thought I was stuck.  God’s faithfulness to me and my family is evident now that I look through my process of grieving.  He was there even when I thought He was absent as well as when I asked Him difficult questions.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Descriptive not prescriptive

This is something that would probably go into a preface, but I wanted to share this as I've recently been introduced to someone who has also gone through sibling suicide.  This will be the first person who I will talk to who also lost a sibling.  Everyone grieves differently.  There is not just one "right" way.  If you are reading this and you also have lost a sibling please reach out to me.  I would LOVE to talk with you.  We could talk via email, Skype or talk on the phone.  I desire to hear other stories as that informs my story.  Please email me at natewagner08 at gmail dot com and I will get back to you quickly.

It has become evident that this book is one that is descriptive rather than prescriptive.  In other words, what I did to cope may work for you, but the reality is that everyone is different.  Some people really enjoy writing as a coping skill and others have attempted writing, but it has not helped them.  To say that everyone MUST write their emotions to cope with a suicide loss is simply not true.  However, what I believe that everyone must express there feelings and emotions some way or some how.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Opening thoughts for book

I wrote over 100 days in a row, but since then I've been stalled in my book writing.   Here's my first thoughts about my introduction.

Opening scene:
Everything about the evening at youth group seemed normal.  Teenagers were interacting with each other as well as with the youth staff.  The mood in the room was joyful and there were Frisbees being thrown and it seemed as though everyone was having a great time. 

It was the first time I had ever gone to this house and therefore I was soaking all the scenes in as best as possible.  A few memories that jump out at me is that I got a phone call from my dad to come home.  I thought this very strange, but I did not think much of it in regards to what could be wrong.  Even in my worst thoughts did not bring up panic or fear in my heart.  I remember finding out that I needed to go home at the basketball courts.    I probably said something  like “oh, ok.”  I’m not sure why I didn’t have a cell phone at the time, but maybe I did but I didn’t bring it with me or something.

On my drive home all I can remember is one particular spot where I saw a deer in the clearing and that I was grateful that I was not driving too fast at that particularly spot.  I also remember that this is where the speed limit changed from 45 down to 35 and I believe it is still the same to this day.

Thinking back to this moment I still had no clue what I was about to learn from my parents when I got home.  I remember that my mom had people surrounding her which I thought was quite strange.  At this point I’m sure that I knew something was wrong.  My dad told me that my brother, my only sibling had taken his own life.  I was probably standing when he told me, but then I’m sure that I had to sit down to take it all in and try to respond.  I have no idea what my original response was except that I was in shock and that I could hardly believe what I heard.  I knew at that moment that my world had changed completely.

From that point on I would need to learn how to handle a tremendous amount of grief.  Innocent questions about whether I had any siblings would provide an opportunity to either share my grief or simply say “I’m the only sibling.”  This would not exactly be true since a more effective answer to this question would be something along the lines of “I lost my brother several years ago.”  This is true and it gives enough information without lying about it.  I know it was a challenge right after everything happened because I didn’t know what to say.

Despair would be a fair word to describe how I was feeling in the hours, days and weeks following this news.  I remember that I had a lot of support right away from my friends.  I remember that one of my friends dropped everything to come and spend time with me.  I specifically recall that he did not try to offer my answers or even asking me questions.  He did exactly what I needed… it was someone to listen.  This is what Job’s friends did correctly… when they started to speak that was when things went bad.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

What does a good day mean?

I have found that more often than not I felt drained because I was not being ministered to as much as I felt I needed to be.  Lord I pray that You will use the things I am learning to challenge me.   This is a tricky balance as it is important to have alone time to process what emotions we are experiencing as well as allowing others to help as they are able.

My good day was not good because I felt happy, but rather because I was able to go through the day without being overwhelmed with grief.  Simply put, a good day does not mean it is without struggle, but in this case it was that I was able to go through the day without having the tremendous burden of the dealing with the grief every moment.

Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your love.  Lord, no matter how painful it is I am willing to go through it with Your strength.  This is a courageous statement of how I desire to go through the pain no matter what, but needing God’s strength to get me through.

Lord sometimes I doubt that You are good.  I don’t trust You to be able to handle my problems.  If I have put You in a box that does not allow You to let this happen and You still be good.  You allowed MY world to be rocked (emphasis in original).  Lord You let me great internship end early.  How dare You not let me go and do what I love and be ministering to the Mexicans.  I’m angry at You Lord for allowing this to happen.  Lord if You are so good why did this happen?  As I try to make sense of what I’m going through in this section it is basically my thought about what it means for God being good.  Does this mean that nothing bad happens to me?  This is pretty clearly what I thought before this experience.  I told God what I thought about Him allowing this to come into my life.  I was really looking forward to going on the mission trip with the teenagers.  It truly would have been the best part of my internship.  I was angry with God for allowing this to happen… now I am grateful for being able to go through this challenging time.

Friday, November 7, 2014

What do I do if I'm lonely?

I am so very thankful to be going through this difficult time so that I may be able to help those who are going through challenging times.  I want to help anyone God has put in my path to help.  This doesn’t matter if it is as a client, colleague, or someone that I interact in my daily life.

I think that if I were to exercise and get up at a reasonable hour then problems would take care of themselves.  My physical fitness and wellbeing is so important in this whole process.  Running is huge in my process of getting through this grief.

I feel lonely right now.  I did not feel like myself tonight.  This is normal and it is important to reach out when we feel this way… but before it gets too severe.

Lord, I have passion and a desire for You to work in my heart in whatever ways that You want.  Lord I am all Yours.  This surrender at its core.

“C.S. Lewis once said ‘If I find myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for a different world.’” Quoted in Finding God by Larry Crabb.  I think this is so true and is a huge part of what has brought me through this dark place.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Am I willing to cry?

I expect that tomorrow will be emotionally exhausting.  I feel like no one has a clue what it is like to lose my only brother to suicide.  I still feel this way, but I know that it is extremely important for this information to get into the hands of those who need it so that others will know that they are not alone in this battle.

Lord life sure is hard.  I know that You are good and I am being put in the refining fire to purify me.  I feel lonely.  Even though I have mom and dad downstairs I want to have my friends.  I am glad that for a few days I can just focus on working through my issues.  This journey was very lonely even though I had people in my life that wanted to help.

I may write more than one book in my lifetime.  I’m pretty sure this is true, but I’m not sure what the other books will be about.  (Yes, I did say plural books).

Lord I pray that You would enable me to cry and to be able to remember all the great things that Brian and I used to do.  Lord I thank You that even through this tragic event I can say and mean it with all my heart that You are faithful and that has been tested by fire.   Tested by fire is a theme that is coming up over and over again as I re-read my journal.  I know that god is faithful and that He has provided the strength to go through this the first time and wisdom and insight as I go through it again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Do I miss Brian?

I changed the format...   Original 2002 thoughts are followed by my 2014 reflections in italics. 

Lord, it is so amazing that because of all these difficult situations You have made me into a writer.  I give you all the glory for that.  I’m still in awe of this fact.  I don’t think I truly believed I was a writer until I started the process of writing this book.

Lord, I’m having a terrible time concentrating.   During the several months after Brian’s suicide I had a very challenging time being able to do the work that needed to be done.

I miss Brian.  I sometimes wish I could say my last words to him.  I never let him know that I care about him and that I loved him. I think if I were to write a letter to Brian and go to his gravesite and read it to him that it would help me to work through any regrets I might have.  This was the best thing that I could have ever done.  I did write the letter to Brian and read it with a lot of emotion to him at his gravesite.  I told him exactly what I felt and how much it hurt me.  This was HUGE in my process and I recommend this for everyone when they are ready.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What am I thankful for about Brian?

I changed the format...   Original 2002 thoughts are followed by my 2014 reflections in italics. 

Lord, I am thankful for how You provide the encouragement that I need each day.  This is God’s provision for what I need each and every day.  No matter what I am going through He knows what I need much more than I do.  Break me and mold me into who You want me to be.  Do I feel drained because I am offering myself or because no one is giving to me?   I think the answer to this question that I asked changes.  I think at this point the answer was that I was not allowing others to truly minister to me.  Others can try (if they dare) to help, but it doesn’t help unless the person who is going through the difficult time allows them to help.

Lord I know first hand that grief is “price we pay for love.”  If I did not love Brian this book would not be written.  I might not have done a great job of showing him that I loved him, however it is clear that this pain is because I love him deeply, but didn’t get to show it to him.

Lord I pray that You would empower me to live for You Lord.  This is only possible with His strength.  It would be amazing to be able to get in front of class and share what God has taught me through these trials.  I didn’t end up being able to do this, but I plan on sharing this hope that I have through speaking opportunities related to writing this book and other partnerships to lessen the stigma of mental health.  Lord I pray that You would grant me the ability to love and cherish You.   I need God’s strength to do this.

Lord, if I had to say one thing I am thankful for about Brian without giving it a to of thought it would be the fact that I had 21 years of my life to get to know him.  Not everyone gets this opportunity.  I am blessed and I am so grateful for the many experiences that I had with Brian.  Lord I pray that You would help me to be able to work through the regrets of not knowing him as well as I would have liked.   Putting my thoughts and feelings down in this book has been a partial answer to this question.  The other part of the answer is the reality that he did not let me get to know him.  Looking back it seems like his own mental health issues prevented this.

Another memory of Brian that I am thankful for is all the times we went fishing together.  The best time was when we went deep sea fishing.  This experience was meaningful as we were able to not be in competition, but was able to work together.  In addition to that I remember all the times that we played video games together.  Even though, video games is not the best use of time or money it was a least a bonding experience that we had as teenagers.  Lord I am seeing that I do love Brian and that he means a lot to me.  As time pass I more fully believe that last sentence.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Would I believe what I was taught?

I changed the format...   Original 2002 thoughts are followed by my 2014 reflections in italics. 

Thank You that nothing comes into my life that doesn’t pass through Your hands.  This is my theology taking shape.  Would I believe what I was taught in church and in Bible College?  Would my experience of going through this derail my faith or make it stronger.  It seems pretty clear to me and anyone on the outside that my faith has been tried and tested to be true.  It seems clear to me that without this trial which I still deal with on a regular if not daily basis has shaped me into who I am today.

Take a look at the “helping those who suffer” paper that I wrote for Mr. Allen.  I wrote a paper for my theology of Christian life class that I had the semester after Brian committed suicide. This was very challenging because I tried to look at things from the outside when I was very much in the midst of everything.  I want to take a look at this paper and see if I can reference it in this book.

I was glad to be able to see my friend.  This friend continually encourages me to be patient with myself.  I know that I tend to want to have things resolve themselves more quickly than they typically do.  I also tend to give myself a hard time if I do not process things or do things quickly.  My friend let me know that it is okay to give myself a break.  Lord, sometimes it is so hard.  I have many times where I lament the reality that things are going as easy as I want them to be.  The pain feels unbearable.  Even though I do not enjoy it.  I am thankful that You are allowing me to go through this.   These thoughts are simply me being real and expressing gratitude for the strength to get through this difficult time.

It was cool to see a friend at church and she told me that she can see a depth that I didn’t have before.  Even though this tragic thing happened, You truly have redeemed it for some good.    Sometimes it is frustrating because as the person who is going through the grief it seems as though time is standing still.  This is simply not true and it is fantastic when others can see the progress and point it out to the person who is going through the difficult time.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

What's coming up next?

I'm very excited that I have made significant progress on going through my journal this weekend.  I have started to share some special insights that I have gained over the past 12 years since I lost my brother to suicide.

Starting Monday, November 3, 2014 I will be sharing journal entries from 2002 and my direct reflections in 2014.  Enjoy!  Would love to have some feedback about this :-).

Emotionally broken

Journal entries  11/13/02, 11/14/02
Lord I am completely drained.  Help me to rest in You.  You are the only One who can help me get through this.  Thank You for helping me to face that pain.  Lord sometimes this pain feels unbearable. Grant me the strength to get me through it.  Help me to transfer the knowledge of Your goodness from my head to my heart.

Do I really believe that You are big enough to solve my problems?  I know You are in my head, but not in my heart.  Lord I need to trust Your judgment even when I do not like or understand what has happened.

Lord I think I am angry at You for allowing Brian to kill himself.  Lord how dare You , how say You are a good God allow something like that to happen in my family?  Lord help me to express what I am feeling both by talking about it and writing and praying.

I definitely feel like both of my legs are broken and I am in a wheelchair and people keep telling me to get up and run around.

One thing that made me feel sad is when someone said jokingly I would kill myself.”  I knew that they weren’t serious, but still I wish they would be a little bit more sympathetic to my situation.  I thank You for this time that You have provided me to work through some things. 

As I’ve thought about how I want to move forward I decided that I would use most of what I’m writing and form them into blog posts.  I will be writing at least 1,667 words each day (on average).  This will likely make each post longer.

It seems evident that in my writing in 2002 I have spoken a ton about transferring head knowledge into my heart.  I went to Bible College for my undergraduate degree.  I had a lot of head knowledge, but this event helped me to transfer some of the knowledge into my heart.

At this point in my process I was angry at God for allowing this to happen (losing my brother to suicide).  In 2014 I am not angry at God because I have come to accept it (most days).  Actually, in 2014 I have gratitude for going through this difficult situation as it has made me into who I am today.  Without it, I sense that my counseling would not be nearly as deep.

I think the image of me having both of my legs broken and being in a wheelchair is an effective visual for what I went through.  People around me did not understand that I was hurting so badly and they wanted me to live my life normally.  I was physically and emotionally unable to make that happen during this time.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

looking outside of myself

Saturday, November 1, 2014
Journal entries 11/11/02, 11/12/02
Lord, I thank You that I had a wonderful talk with both mom and dad.  It was so cool to see how my relationships with them has developed so much over the past few years and especially over the last several months.

Lord, all of a sudden I feel really depressed.  I just want to finish this semester and to pass all my classes.  Lord help me.  I want to apply Your Word and hide it in my heart not just my head.  My heart has a tremendous burden because of the things with Brian.

Lord, You are good even when I don’t believe it.  In my weakness I come to You for strength.  I love You Lord.  Help me to trust You and rely on You for my strength.

Lord help me to look outside of myself to help others.  I want to look outside of my pain and suffering and see Your love demonstrated to me.  Lord may you work in my heart to draw me to yourself.  I know that I must look outside of my tremendous pain that I have in my heart, but You are allowing me to go through this for a purpose and may Your purpose be accomplished.

A friend of mine asked me if I had ever thought about going into the counseling program.  It seems like that is where You are leading me.  I love people.
Lord thank You for granting me the ability to write a book.

I don’t know why I don’t typically write suicide when I talk about how Brian killed himself.

Lord I am trying to hang in there, but it is quite difficult to be able to handle everything.  I know in my head that You do not give me more can we can bear, but I definitely do not believe that in my heart (at the moment).

2014 response
As I reflect on these journal entries I can see God’s faithfulness even though at the time I could not see it.  It is evident that even though I was not completely through the depression that I was making progress.  This provides hope for those who are going through similar situations.  The pain does not just go away… it takes time to process things.

I want to do my part to eliminate or at least lessen the stigma of mental health.  I am so thankful for the opportunity so share my story with those who will read it.  I know that this is something that a lot of people want to ignore, but it is not something that can be ignored any more. 

As I mentioned yesterday I will be writing a lot more than I will be sharing through my blog.  I am working on pushing through my journal and pulling out the themes that will be included in my book.  I’m actually having