Now Available! Why Whisper?* by Joanne Mazzotta

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Within the deepest grief there is a muse. This soft sad voice lends you its song that is looking for a sound to sooth the soul. Somewhere along the journey of grief there is art, soothing memories, and love. And there is God.

As the circle of sorrow closed, my life changed forever. Finding balance in my sorrow, I found a kind of strength that cannot be defined, and yet it is there holding my hand, telling me that life is still beautiful and telling me, “love is as perennial as the grass.”

I paint on rainy days on the top level in an alcove in my historic home, and lose myself in expression without effort and without pain. I am grateful to the muse. With oil paints and canvas I am able to forgive myself and everyone else for being human. I am able to leave sorrow alone. I am able to decide not to grieve while I float above the hurt, brush in hand, not wondering what result will appear when the painting is finished.

Godspeed my son. I love you.
Mom

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On Days Like Today . . .

My son died today, or was it yesterday, or was it 15 years ago, but not in May. It was a cold November day, or was it night? Or does my son die every day? I think he dies every day and yet he is alive, here in my heart, and when I talk to him, he answers me… right here, right now.

I love you Danny.

I love you too mom.

I miss you

I know mom, I’m so sorry

Are you proud of Kayla Danny?

There is no pride here mom, just light and love.

Are you sure I’m not imagining that?

I’m sure mom

I don’t understand death, I want to but.. sometimes my answers don’t sooth me.

I know mom, you’re not wrong but you’re not there to understand, you’re there to live out this part of your soul journey.

That makes me angry. It hurts and I hate the pain.

I know mom, but it’s just a bump in the road. You will remember when you are home, here with me, that your life is just a dream and your lessons are good ones.

I don’t like that answer, Danny. I hope I don’t have to do this one again

You don’t mom.

I’d like to believe you. This is damn depressing Danny.

Remember the beauty mom, and remember all that you have to be grateful for

I’d give it all up to stop this pain Danny, just stop it completely. I haven’t felt true joy in a long time.

I know mom, I’m sorry.

My game face is getting tired. I just want to go radio silent and be left alone to sit by the ocean and add my tears to it. The weebles are on their way to a good life, that’s good enough for me. Kayla is so beautiful and I’m glad she’s back with us, poor baby suffered so much with no daddy. She’s one of my eight, and I felt such a hole in my heart without her. I am so glad she is strong and that pleases me.

I know mom, I’m sorry.

GO fly Danny. I will make another day here good. I guess I haven’t run out of strength yet.

I love you mom

I love you too Danny boy.

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NOTES TO MY CHILDREN

I wrote this book as a gift to my children who are now adults with children of their own.

Mother’s never stop writing notes to their children.

Because life twisted and turned, and we held on to each other in every way, I leave my words in this book for them to hold and share with their own children on rainy days when memories invade their hearts.

May they always find my love, and my warm arms around them in the form of words only a mother can say. This book is my legacy, and my song.

I thank them every day for choosing me for their mother when the choice came, before they shed their wings in heaven. They have made my life so rich, and so beautiful.

http://www.amazon.com/Notes-My-Children-Joanne-Mazzotta/dp/1530067324/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1458780894&sr=8-3&keywords=notes+to+my+children

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Latest Amazon Review of Why Whisper?

By Simone Beaudelaire

This review is from: Why Whisper?: A Memoir (Kindle Edition)

According to Sarah Wall (who quotes Ellis and Bochner), “‘Autoethnography does not proceed linearly’, is complex, is not conducted according to a special formula and can be likened to being sent ‘into the woods without a compass’.” (“An Autoethnography on learning about Autoethnography” from the International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 2006). In Joanne Mazzotta’s “Why Whisper?” This explanation comes clear.

Like grief itself, the narrative wanders from past to deeper past, dragging the reader in and out of the stages of grief. The experience of reading is like the experience of grief itself. You wish for the return of hope long before hope arrives, and when it does, it is not what you expected. Darker and more visceral, the hope that emerges after the loss of someone you love twists and shapes you with all the delicacy of a blacksmith’s hammer into something you never knew you were able to be.

Part tribute to her lost son, part gut-wrenching howl against the unfairness of fate, part unflinching look into the intricacies of codependency, Why Whisper plumbs the depths of human experience, and yet maintains its poise and elegance. Ms. Mazzotta is a gifted writer and I hope she will write again. Do I dare to hope she chooses something happier?

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November 9, 2015

As the sun rises on November 9th. I find myself here, in a new house, alone with my thoughts at 6:00 AM. It is another anniversary of the day that changed my life.
I’ve worked very hard for 14 years to reclaim a life I thought my son took with him when he left this world. Indeed, he took the part of me that didn’t know how valuable life is, but he didn’t take all of me. In fact he gave me a part of me I didn’t know I had mulling under all my concerns and fears. He gave me the real purpose of life. Moreover, he gave me the gift of knowing how powerful love can be.
I had to go on for my children, and am always surprised that I could. The alternative would have broken more hearts and I am proud and pleased that I had the guts to prevent that. And, good for me, that I did because I have felt so much joy in them, and in their children. I would not have wanted to miss that.

Some may say, I’ve said all there is to say about Danny, his life and his death. That’s a fallacy. As long as I live, I will be the mother of four children. Mothers take bragging rights. Danny is still beautiful, still fun, still brilliant and still my oldest son, with a flair for life. He may not have intended to die. But he did and yet he never will be gone, as long as I am alive. When we meet again, I may know what he intended to do, and in that space in time, I will feel totally at peace with this experience I am living in.

Today as my family gathers to pay honor to him, we pay honor to ourselves at the same time, for being the family I dreamed of since I was a little girl. I believe with all that I am that Danny will join us at my table in spirit and in love.

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Perfect Explaination

I emerge from this conversation dumbfounded. I’ve seen this a million times before, but it still gets me every time.

I’m listening to a man tell a story. A woman he knows was in a devastating car accident; her life shattered in an instant. She now lives in a state of near-permanent pain; a paraplegic; many of her hopes stolen.

He tells of how she had been a mess before the accident, but that the tragedy had engendered positive changes in her life. That she was, as a result of this devastation, living a wonderful life.

And then he utters the words. The words that are responsible for nothing less than emotional, spiritual and psychological violence:

Everything happens for a reason. That this was something that had to happen in order for her to grow.

That’s the kind of bullshit that destroys lives. And it is categorically untrue.

It is amazing to me—after all these years working with people in pain—that so many of these myths persist. The myths that are nothing more than platitudes cloaked as sophistication. The myths that preclude us from doing the one and only thing we must do when our lives are turned upside down: grieve.

You know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve heard these countless times. You’ve probably even uttered them a few times yourself. And every single one of them needs to be annihilated.

Let me be crystal clear: if you’ve faced a tragedy and someone tells you in any way, shape or form that your tragedy was meant to be, that it happened for a reason, that it will make you a better person, or that taking responsibility for it will fix it, you have every right to remove them from your life.

Grief is brutally painful. Grief does not only occur when someone dies. When relationships fall apart, you grieve. When opportunities are shattered, you grieve. When dreams die, you grieve. When illnesses wreck you, you grieve.

So I’m going to repeat a few words I’ve uttered countless times; words so powerful and honest they tear at the hubris of every jackass who participates in the debasing of the grieving:

Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.

These words come from my dear friend Megan Devine, one of the only writers in the field of loss and trauma I endorse. These words are so poignant because they aim right at the pathetic platitudes our culture has come to embody on a increasingly hopeless level. Losing a child cannot be fixed. Being diagnosed with a debilitating illness cannot be fixed. Facing the betrayal of your closest confidante cannot be fixed.

They can only be carried.

I hate to break it to you, but although devastation can lead to growth, it often doesn’t. The reality is that it often destroys lives. And the real calamity is that this happens precisely because we’ve replaced grieving with advice. With platitudes. With our absence.

I now live an extraordinary life. I’ve been deeply blessed by the opportunities I’ve had and the radically unconventional life I’ve built for myself. Yet even with that said, I’m hardly being facetious when I say that loss has not in and of itself made me a better person. In fact, in many ways it’s hardened me.

While so much loss has made me acutely aware and empathetic of the pains of others, it has made me more insular and predisposed to hide. I have a more cynical view of human nature, and a greater impatience with those who are unfamiliar with what loss does to people.

Above all, I’ve been left with a pervasive survivor’s guilt that has haunted me all my life. This guilt is really the genesis of my hiding, self-sabotage and brokenness.

In short, my pain has never been eradicated, I’ve just learned to channel it into my work with others. I consider it a great privilege to work with others in pain, but to say that my losses somehow had to happen in order for my gifts to grow would be to trample on the memories of all those I lost too young; all those who suffered needlessly, and all those who faced the same trials I did early in life, but who did not make it.

I’m simply not going to do that. I’m not going to construct some delusional narrative fallacy for myself so that I can feel better about being alive. I’m not going to assume that God ordained me for life instead of all the others so that I could do what I do now. And I’m certainly not going to pretend that I’ve made it through simply because I was strong enough; that I became “successful” because I “took responsibility.”

There’s a lot of “take responsibility” platitudes in the personal development space, and they are largely nonsense. People tell others to take responsibility when they don’t want to understand.

Because understanding is harder than posturing. Telling someone to “take responsibility” for their loss is a form of benevolent masturbation. It’s the inverse of inspirational porn: it’s sanctimonious porn.

Personal responsibility implies that there’s something to take responsibility for. You don’t take responsibility for being raped or losing your child. You take responsibility for how you choose to live in the wake of the horrors that confront you, but you don’t choose whether you grieve. We’re not that smart or powerful. When hell visits us, we don’t get to escape grieving.

This is why all the platitudes and fixes and posturing are so dangerous: in unleashing them upon those we claim to love, we deny them the right to grieve.

In so doing, we deny them the right to be human. We steal a bit of their freedom precisely when they’re standing at the intersection of their greatest fragility and despair.

No one—and I mean no one—has that authority. Though we claim it all the time.

The irony is that the only thing that even can be “responsible” amidst loss is grieving.

So if anyone tells you some form of get over it, move on, or rise above, you can let them go.

If anyone avoids you amidst loss, or pretends like it didn’t happen, or disappears from your life, you can let them go.

If anyone tells you that all is not lost, that it happened for a reason, that you’ll become better as a result of your grief, you can let them go.

Let me reiterate: all of those platitudes are bullshit.

You are not responsible to those who try to shove them down your throat. You can let them go.

I’m not saying you should. That is up to you, and only up to you. It isn’t an easy decision to make and should be made carefully. But I want you to understand that you can.

I’ve grieved many times in my life. I’ve been overwhelmed with shame and self-hatred so strong it’s nearly killed me.

The ones who helped—the only ones who helped—were those who were there. And said nothing.

In that nothingness, they did everything.

I am here—I have lived—because they chose to love me. They loved me in their silence, in their willingness to suffer with me, alongside me, and through me. They loved me in their desire to be as uncomfortable, as destroyed, as I was, if only for a week, an hour, even just a few minutes.

Most people have no idea how utterly powerful this is.

Are there ways to find “healing” amidst devastation? Yes. Can one be “transformed” by the hell life thrusts upon them? Absolutely. But it does not happen if one is not permitted to grieve. Because grief itself is not an obstacle.

The obstacles come later. The choices as to how to live; how to carry what we have lost; how to weave a new mosaic for ourselves? Those come in the wake of grief. It cannot be any other way.

Grief is woven into the fabric of the human experience. If it is not permitted to occur, its absence pillages everything that remains: the fragile, vulnerable shell you might become in the face of catastrophe.

Yet our culture has treated grief as a problem to be solved, an illness to be healed, or both. In the process, we’ve done everything we can to avoid, ignore, or transform grief. As a result, when you’re faced with tragedy you usually find that you’re no longer surrounded by people, you’re surrounded by platitudes.

What to Offer Instead

When a person is devastated by grief, the last thing they need is advice. Their world has been shattered. This means that the act of inviting someone—anyone—into their world is an act of great risk. To try and fix or rationalize or wash away their pain only deepens their terror.

Instead, the most powerful thing you can do is acknowledge. Literally say the words:

I acknowledge your pain. I am here with you.

Note that I said with you, not for you. For implies that you’re going to do something. That is not for you to enact. But to stand with your loved one, to suffer with them, to listen to them, to do everything but something is incredibly powerful.

There is no greater act than acknowledgment. And acknowledgment requires no training, no special skills, no expertise. It only requires the willingness to be present with a wounded soul, and to stay present, as long as is necessary.

Be there. Only be there. Do not leave when you feel uncomfortable or when you feel like you’re not doing anything. In fact, it is when you feel uncomfortable and like you’re not doing anything that you must stay.

Because it is in those places—in the shadows of horror we rarely allow ourselves to enter—where the beginnings of healing are found. This healing is found when we have others who are willing to enter that space alongside us. Every grieving person on earth needs these people.

Thus I beg you, I plead with you, to be one of these people.

You are more needed than you will ever know.

And when you find yourself in need of those people, find them. I guarantee they are there.

Everyone else can go.

Author Unknown

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Words from a friend…

Printed on the front cover of Why Whisper? and in my heart forever, and ever… Thank you Mick.

You feel like your heart is in a vice and every drop of your mother blood is being squeezed out of it.
The chasm that walks alongside you everywhere you go and which you ignore by distracting yourself opens out and becomes a Black Hole that threatens to swallow you.
Yet despite this you know that Danny is happy and well and working over there doing what Danny does best: helping the lost ones find the light.
He is still your son and you are still his mother and he is closer to you than your own breath.

Mick O’Malley

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As November Aproaches …

He died on November 9, 2001. Has it really been 14 years?

I have lived so much life between then and now. Six babies were born and I was fortunate to be their part time caretaker, they learned to walk and talk, play and fill my house with laughter that sounded like angel chat. Nothing in this world could have made me more happy than those new souls who filled my house, even in the throes of grief. I focused on them which eased my heart for hours at a time. They taught me how to live in the moment because that is what children do.

As the years passed, Christmas’s were celebrated, travels were enjoyed, summers, winters, spring and fall happened 14 times. Family gatherings, where we sang and danced as we held each other in harmony and love came and went with much gratitude, and yet Danny was not with us and no one was more intensely aware of that than I. Yet, I was grateful for his life, and as the years passed, his life began to speak louder than his death. I love to talk about Danny. I love when others tell stories about his adventures. He had many!

No mother can “get over” the death of her child. In order to do that, she must “get over” the life of her child and that is not possible.

Some may wonder why after 14 years I still feel the need to write about Danny. After writing a book about him, one may wonder what else I could possibly say?

To whom do I speak, and why? I speak to those who suffer any loss. I want them to know that healing happens. I speak to those who have never known the touching promise of compassion for their sorrow. I am able to say with pen in hand, in words and with love, to those I cannot see, that I care, and I understand how you feel. If my son did not die, I would never know how to do that because the person that I was before that happened could not have known what I know today. I didn’t know how deep my love could go. I did not know the capacity of my own strength, and I did not know the power of either.

At the risk of making others feel uncomfortable, I will never stop speaking to Danny’s life because when we love someone, we love them forever. And don’t we all talk about those we love? That is how we pay tribute to them, and honor them.

I feel peaceful knowing Danny is in the most unimaginable beautiful place where there is no pain, and no tears. I can see him smiling there where all those who we think we lost are right there with him in complete peace.

Godspeed to all of those we love who went home to heaven before we get there.

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September October November

 

Autumn is the time of year when grief for my son visits the most and I learn that it is chasing me, biting my heels and offering me an opportunity to get closer to it, so I can be free of it. And yet, that doesn’t make sense, but it has to be true because I believe with everything that I am, that we must give grief a voice, so it won’t defeat us.  One of the most important things we can do is grieve. There is a kind of beauty in it. If I hide grief and feel ashamed to speak to it, then I must live my life numb, and small.

Grief is not about hiding, being alone or feeling ashamed to speak. Rather, it is wild; it is a untamed energy. It is an eruptive state. What we need is adequate time to cry, to scream, to be angry and to weep from the deepest core of our souls. We need to express the fullness of the grief we carry.  But shame keeps people from sharing because we live in a culture of hurrying about, being strong, and hiding sorrow.  We don’t want to burden others. But, in healthy cultures, one person’s wound is an opportunity for others to bring medicine.  However, if you hide your pain, you keep your true friends spiritually unemployed.  Maybe a friend would feel honored to be trusted with your pain.  When I hide my grief and there is no one there to say, I see the pain you are in.”  part of me breaks off and remains silent, only to revisit me in September, October and November.

In order to continue in this life after a tragedy so unspeakable it leans toward extreme shame and fear due to the stigma of suicide, I had to hold grief in one hand and gratitude in the other.  If not, I would have missed the beauty and laughter of little children, the kindness of friends, beautiful art, the smell of spring, the quiet beauty of falling snow, the warmth of traditional gatherings in my home, and the smiles of strangers who caught my eye in my daily travels.  I would have died with my son, even if I continued to breathe. I was blessed with 3 other children and they gave me 7 more children. I wouldn’t miss them for the world, so I had to find my way out.

I wondered often, even years after my son died, “How much sorrow can I hold?”  If I only grieved and didn’t live, I would be in complete despair. If I put on my game face every day and only spoke to the gratitude, peace, love and perfection of life, and never the sorrow, my heart would in no way consider compassion for others who suffer.  

We are too hard on ourselves, and driven to make ourselves better all the time, as if the better we become, the more people will like us. We’re too hard on ourselves  for our losses, our defeats, our wounds, our failures. Those parts of us that don’t measure up. We, in our culture have separated.  One of the most important things we can do in this culture is to mourn, because it is a truth that keeps us from turning our backs on what is happening  to us, our family and friends, after a loved one dies.

Speaking strictly for myself, I have always had a terror of weakness. Raised in a traditional Italian family, my plight was locked up in the shame of not being able to serve.  Being a strong woman was my only option. No crying was allowed, or I would be in fear of being snubbed, or at least resented.  But psychobabble aside, the death of a beloved son cost me those old tapes and brought me to grief; a great teacher. I can easily see that grief is at the very heart of every depression. No matter what happened in a person’s life, it can be traced to loss of a loved one, war, health, a relationship, a marriage, or a child.

It wasn’t until I learned to fully express my grief through the journaling of  what became a book titled, Why Whisper? did I find permission to heal. I had no one to listen to my grief, so I wrote of it, and uninhibited, I painted the pages with my hurt more candidly than I imagined I could.  Within that discovery I found thousands of tortured souls who picked up their mast and floated with me to a place they didn’t know existed and gave me the freedom to be authentic, to be human, and to address the myth of perfection.  There is no such thing as perfection; there is only compassion in a million forms, and there is love. 

So I say to you, go communal with your pain. Gather with friends at least twice a month, share a meal, poetry, art, laughter, and let there be no, “don’t go there” subjects.  Be willing to let yourself be seen in your emotional nakedness. You might be surprised to find that we are all the same. We are stronger in our fragile state than in our game faces. 

I heard a story from a friend who once met a very happy woman. He said, “You have so much joy”, she answered, “That’s because I cry a lot.”

Ironically, that made me smile.

 

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August Again

 

 

No matter how many years pass since our Danny left us to go back to that home in the sky, his birthday looms large in my heart around this time of year.  My heart feels the rumbling on the anniversary of his death. Pictures of him haunt me so deeply, as I resign to his reasons for leaving..  continuously.  I don’t want to cry anymore, I don’t want to feel grief anymore.  Throughout the year, every year, the loves in my life keep me grounded, and supply me with so much love and so much beauty; for that, I stay grateful.  Yet, his birthday has a meaning only a mother knows. Not to discount the sadness our entire family feels. There’s just something about birthdays. It was the first day I met him.

I loved him right away. I wanted him, and waited for him, and treasured him,, what a beautiful baby!  He was talking too soon, and playing with my head too soon, and teaching me how to be a mother 24 hours a day. Danny like all of my children gave me gifts I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.  He, (in particular) redefined fear for me, but had never developed it himself.  He was daring and witty and approached life with a belief that he was invincible. He was wrong.  Or was he?

Danny redefined so many things I used to believe in; he managed to redefine grief too.  He taught me how to do it without falling apart.  Danny was not afraid of anything, not even death, so I shall not be afraid that he does not exist anymore.  He does.  He proved that more than once.

Sure I know he still exists, and I believe that he was done here. But I’m not done, and his family is not done here. We miss him every day while we’re stuck in our human jackets and we all weep on his birthday for things we can never forget; like his baritone voice, the way he made us laugh when we should have been crying, his variety of Danny type deeds, his ability to chuckle while life tossed him from side to side, when his luck ran out.  We miss his beautiful face and his antics, like the times he took on challenges he knew nothing about, and learned as he went. The way he said yes to requests to fix things, like install sump pumps, or rewire electricity or, fix broken engines, and figured out how to do it after he got there.  The way he laughed at us when we worried about him, and the ways he hurt himself in his later years and terrified everyone with his bad decisions.  So much comes to mind during Danny season, and no matter how I go on with life, (and I do)  his birthday still gets to me in a million ways.

Godspeed Danny Boy. May you wreak havoc in heaven where no one cries.  Have fun blowing the minds of angels and making them laugh…

 I love you forever, Momma

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What Grief Means …

An old man said this when someone said to him. My best friend died, and I don’t know what to do.

I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents… I wish I could say you get used to people dying. But I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was.

Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see. As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive. In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function.

You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life. Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out. Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.

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Danny’s Mother 2015

A mother of 4. 3 who walk and one who soars

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14 Thoughts From A Writer

1. Life is a precious unfathomably beautiful gift. It has been a very bad match for those of us who were born extremely sensitive. It is often hard and weird that we wonder if we are being punked. And it is filled with heartbreaking sweetness and beauty, floods and babies and pimples and Mozart, all swirled together.

2. Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.

3. Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even the people who seem to have it more or less together. They are much more like you than you would believe. So try not to compare your insides to their outsides. Also, you can’t save, fix or rescue any of them, or get any of them sober. But radical self-care is quantum, and radiates out into the atmosphere, like a little fresh air. It is a huge gift to the world. When people respond by saying, “Well, isn’t she full of herself,” smile obliquely, like Mona Lisa, and make both of you a nice cup of tea.

4. **Chocolate with 70% cacao is not actually a food. Its best use, is as bait, in snake traps** (hear hear!!)

5. Studying or writing about your life: shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart–your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born

6. Families; hard, hard, hard, no matter how cherished and astonishing they may also be. At family gatherings where you suddenly feel homicidal or suicidal, remember that in half of all cases, it’s a miracle that this annoying person even lived. Earth is Forgiveness School. You might as well start at the dinner table. That way, you can do this work in comfortable pants. When Blake said that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love, he knew that your family would be an intimate part of this, even as you want to run screaming for your cute little life. But that you are up to it. You can do it, Cinderellie. You will be amazed.

7. Food; try to do a little better.

8. Grace: Spiritual WD-40. Water wings. The mystery of grace is that God loves Tony Abbott and me exactly as much as He or She loves your grandchild. Go figure. The movement of grace is what changes us, heals us and our world. To summon grace, say, “Help!” And then buckle up. Grace won’t look like Casper the Friendly Ghost; but the phone will ring, or the mail will come, and then against all odds, you will get your sense of humour about yourself back. Laughter really is carbonated holiness, even if you are sick of me saying it.

9. God; Goodness, Love, the Divine, a loving animating intelligence, the Cosmic Muffin. You will worship and serve something, so like St. Bob said, you gotta choose – so choose carefully. Emerson said that the happiest person on earth is the one who learns from nature the lessons of worship. So go outside a lot, and look up. My pastor says you can trap bees on the floor of a Mason jar without a lid, because they don’t look up. If they did, they could fly to freedom.

10. Faith: Paul Tillich said the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. If I could say one thing to our little Tea Party friends, it would be this. Fundamentalism, in all its forms, is 90% of the reason the world is so terrifying. 3% is the existence of snakes. The love of our incredible children, our dogs and cats is the closest most of us will come, on this side of eternity, to knowing the direct love of God; although cats can be so bitter, which is not the god part: the crazy Love is. Also, “Figure it out” is not a good slogan.

11. Jesus; Jesus would have even loved horrible, mealy-mouth self-obsessed you, as if you were the only person on earth. But He would hope that you would perhaps pull yourself together just the tiniest, tiniest bit–maybe have a little something to eat, and a nap.

12. Exercise: If you want to have a good life after you have grown a little less young, you must walk almost every day. There is no way around this. If you are in a wheelchair, you must do chair exercises. Every single doctor on earth will tell you this, so don’t go by what I say.

13. Death; wow. So efffing hard to bear, when the few people you cannot live without die. You will never get over these losses, and are not supposed to. We Christians like to think death is a major change of address, but in any case, the person will live fully again in your heart, at some point, and make you smile at the MOST inappropriate times. But their absence will also be a lifelong nightmare of homesickness for you. All truth is a paradox.  Grief, friends, time and tears will heal you. Tears will bathe and baptize and hydrate you and the ground on which you walk. The first thing God says to Moses is, “Take off your shoes.” We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know.

14. I think that’s it, everything I know. I wish I had shoe-horned in what E.L. Doctorow said about writing: “It’s like driving at night with the headlights on. You can only see a little aways ahead of you, but you can make the whole journey that way.” I love that, because it’s true about life also. I wish I had slipped in what Ram Das said, that when all is said and done, we’re just all walking each other home.

Oh, well, another time. God bless you all good

 

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Fourteen Years and Five Months Later

Today, like every day, I talk to Danny while I have my first coffee. I look up at the sky and remind him of my love. Sometimes I ask him questions though I know the answers.

There is one question I never ask, “Why did you take your life, Danny?”

I don’t ask because I know why. He was done doing what he came here to do. He stayed 32 years and gave us lessons along with laughter and so much beauty. He played with life, and lived it with a kind of abandon that we all deem dangerous. He hated no one, nor did he try to change  anyone no matter their opinion of him or the things he did.  He thought about us when he was happy, but never when he was sad, which was rare because he was usually always smiling, until the end, when he prepared to leave. He was trying very hard  to meet our standards, but he must have found them boring, very boring. Our first lesson.

It has been fourteen years, but to me, his mother, it feels like one continuous day. However, I don’t want to grieve anymore and I don’t want to belabor pain. It is not my wish to remind anyone that my son died. I want to share beautiful moments, and my gratitude for all the beautiful things I can remember about Danny.  I think that is what he would like me to do. He didn’t like pity, and I don’t either. Compassion is okay; my compassion, not anyone else’s .

There are millions of people who have suffered loss; the loss of parents, spouses, children, siblings, and even their minds, in war settings. To stay in the mire of grief serves no one, and nothing. It is simply a decision to miss out on life itself. Expressions of grief through the window of darkness is to die while we live. Reaching out to others who are in the first stage of grief is a way out of the door and into the garden so precious and so beautiful it would be a shame to miss the sounds of children laughing, and the sight of colorful flowers, the majestic mountains, art in all its forms, music, gentle touch, the feeling of being loved by friends and lovers, or the glittering lights dancing on the ocean on a summer day. A real shame. Danny didn’t miss those things, not ever… until he was done here. Now he can enjoy it all from where he is. Godspeed.

Today I say, thank you to God, for Danny, for all of my children, and their children. How could I not?

.

 

 

 

 

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Easter Sunday 2015

Another holiday has come to give my family an opportunity to be together with so much love I cannot be sad. It would be impossible however, not to miss Danny’s smile; the kind of smile I can see with my eyes. I have no doubt that he is with us, to be sure. Danny is with me where ever I go and what ever I do, but when we gather he tampers with lights.

Two days in a row he had me thinking the dining room lamp needed a new bulb. I turned on the switch and the light did not go on. I got on my knees to be sure it was plugged in ( I had no reason to think it wasn’t, but I checked anyway) Both times the light went on when I got up. It stopped me in my tracks and I felt him in the room with me both times too.

The last time we gathered he made the chandelier blink on and off while we were chatting round the table. Can it be he is able to play with electricity that way? It has to be true because it happens consistently.

Today Danny will make us smile and that is so him. He won’t be ignored. :) He won’t be forgotten, and he will be with us all day. Danny loves holidays.

Godspeed Danny boy. Happy Easter my love.

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When Grief is New

When grief is new we stand alone in a crowd, waiting. We return home to the abyss numb and failing to become one with the moment, or the memory.
We weep in confusion, when grief is new

Hardy able to remember where to walk or how to talk.
We weep intensely, like fire on ice and relief does not consider us. Time has no meaning and the past, present and future cannot exist, when Grief is new

We never tire of pain with no name. It hurts inside and outside and all over the room. Sleep offers no promise that day will come without sorrow. We don’t try to feel good, we can’t, when grief is new

When grief is old, we function on a level we didn’t know existed before. We smile again, and work again, we walk and talk again believing we can heal, and we do, from the days when grief was new.

We meet other souls in grief and we offer them our hand. We tell them we are survivors of suicide, and they don’t hear us, they don’t want to. They remind us of those painful days and nights, when grief was new.

We weep with them. We understand them and we pray for them… That is all we can do, while their grief is new.

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Why Grieve?

Today I read a blog about grief. Writers were in pain. Each reading spoke to grief as if it were a permanent condition, and it made me sad.

Some were sure they would never be the same, and I agree. Other’s referred to loved ones who passed as, “lost.” It brought me back to the years I believed the same.

Some were shocked that the second year after their loved one died, they thought it would be a bit easier to breathe, to live again, to feel better. I know. I believed the same thing, but instead I was trying to out run grief. The second year is full of terror and it feels as if something horrible is chasing you, so we run. The third year is filled with guilt and something haunting, like the idea that you are to blame; especially when the loved one died by suicide. No one is responsible for a suicide, ever, not even the one who died. It is a way to die, like any other way.

I agree the 2nd year is worse. We must grieve, but know this; grief is a furious energy. Eventually we transfer that energy into something else. Some turn it into something worse and it can kill you, and even 20 years later will seem like a minute.

When we find a way to let go of the grief, we can begin to honor that life we think we’ve lost. They deserve honor and respect. There are many things we can do to honor them. I began to write about it and learned to bring that person back to life with mentions and plantings. I hung his pictures on my walls, and touched his gifts every day. I put flowers in the ocean and sent balloons with notes into the sky for him. I sang songs to him, and played Danny Boy on my piano which brought visions of his beautiful smile to me instantly. I began to think of his life more than his death, and felt grateful for his life. I thought about his death less and less. I didn’t want to face his death every day, so I decided to face his life. I didn’t want to be defined by his death. I wanted my friends to see me healed and changed for the better. I didn’t want them to remember his death either. I wanted to laugh with my friends, and dance with them, to enjoy life.. to live life. I wanted to be open to them for help if they needed it, and bless them with my love, like my son would do. I wanted to finish his unfinished symphony with joy, not hell, horror and pain. He would not want that.

When I meet someone new, I didn’t want them to know my son died. I wanted them to see me as I am, Joanne. Just Joanne who lives harmlessly, who paints, and writes, loves her family, jokes around, and embraces them with all that I am. I don’t want to be some pathetic mother who lives for sorrow. I don’t. I live for my children and their children and for the husband who let me grieve in peace. For grief is important for a time, not forever. I refuse to recycle it for the rest of my life however large it looms in my heart, and however much it took my attention, it is not bigger than who I am. My son is one of four children God entrusted to me. He died but he isn’t lost. I still have four children I adore, and will live for them all, every day.

When we are able to let it go, grief turns to love, and the love will save our lives. We are all together in this. Millions of people are in the tunnel, but the tunnel ends and death stops defining us. We reach out to life again and find it more beautiful than before. They are never lost. We are lost for a while, it’s true. But they are as close as we allow them to be.

Let grief have it’s way with you; cry, scream, get angry, feel it or it will never let you go. Running keeps it on our heels. I promise that when you let go of the grief, you will not free fall, you will land in the arms of the angels.

Godspeed to our angels  

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That Day and the Days That Followed

“I could hear my heart beating . . . I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.”

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Grief Storms

C.S. Lewis wrote once that the only place where we can be safe from the dangers of love is hell.. And why would we want to be?

I ask, with most of the human race, “What is the price of love?” However, deep within me, I know the cost of living with no love, has a price that is painful beyond measure to pay.

As I have loved deeply as a mother, wife, lover, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend, it occurred to me after leaving the tunnel of grief the death of my son catapulted me into; to find the sun on my face once again, that it was love itself once shared with someone that healed my heart, not grief.

Despite the feeling of loss, the feeling of complete sorrow, which is natural when we can no longer trust life, I was able to see the sun again because I loved at all. The choice was mine to live or die, because I loved at all. To live with the truth that I am loved cost me nothing but gratitude for life itself, and in my search for a way to express it, I found more love.

Grief is an imperative component of life. It visits and gives us the darkest message so necessary to be alive. When we grieve, we begin to understand that we control nothing. We are angry and believe that someone has been taken from us. We think we’ve been abandoned.

I hate the word “egocentric” It sounds inconsiderate to be angry with the reality of the death of any loved one. It threatens to give the impression that the loved one has no journey in life but yours. That is never true but it speaks to separation from who you are when you allow the idea that your loved one’s death is a loss. I struggled with that proposal. I learned grief is the reaction to a belief that death means loss. It is not. Because we loved, it cannot be a loss. Nevertheless, grieve we must.

However, I found that grief closes the curtain between a departed loved one and me . . . whether that loved one is alive or not. It was only when I hung my grief on a hook and left the tunnel that I found the price of love is not a burden at all. It is a privilege.

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It’s Christmas Eve Morning

This morning, this day, this night, is significant to me for more than one reason. It is the day before Christmas and the genetic material inside of me is programmed to love it. I love it because it is a time when we gather as a family, with the children God has been kind enough to send into my life.
Christmas Eve is the night of the seven fishes. I don’t know why, for sure. I thought the Italians made it up. However, it remains our tradition and we will pass it forward to the children forever, I’m sure.
This tradition is stronger than loss, grief, bittersweet memories, despair, regret, and it is a testimony of our capacity to love even though some of our loved ones have gone home.

It has been a good year, filled with changes. The empty chairs are now filled with new souls to love and I thank God for that. This Christmas is also overflowing with gratitude for our blessings. I’ve met new friends, and embraced them. I’ve cried less, and loved more. I’ve asked for less, and got more. I’ve let go of past wounds, and judged less. I’ve forgiven more and cleaned up my side of the street where I found forgiveness for myself. . . more.

I no longer wonder why my 32 year old son decided to depart this life. My Danny is no less a part of this Christmas than any of my children. He is where ever I go and to be honest with you, I have no doubt that he is helping me understand why he had to go home to his maker despite the hurt and heartbreak it caused us as a family. We are healed because we love, because we needed to learn to love better and because everything is in divine order.

Now I can really say, “Merry Christmas to all of you, to Danny Boy and to all the angels on the other side,” and mean it!

Peace be with you on the Christmas..

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It’s All About Me. Right?

As I look back on my life, I see how far I’ve searched for answers to parts of life I was incapable of understanding. I searched in the eyes and words of people I considered wiser than I am. I’ve searched in books galore like, The Little Prince, and Man’s Search For Meaning, and inside of passions I’ve felt for others, for art and for children. I’ve explored deep inside my motives for giving, when I had no more to give. I have loved and hated, and felt deprived of peace because I gave and got hurt in return. I’ve had private pity parties and quiet tantrums when I bought love and there was no guarantee on that love. I felt small and unimportant. I yelled at love. Eventually I resigned to the truth which yelled back to me that perhaps I didn’t truly love at all.

I have justified my bad doings and felt guilty for those doings. I’ve searched for my own punishments, and bowed my head to God for shame. But … I never stopped searching.

I’ve read poetry that spoke to love, and long stories of how that works. Living in this world does not continually offer love. Sometimes it offers opportunities to give unconditionally and feel good. It also offers fear and shock, and it offers suffering. However, there were times when I felt the war I waged on life was a war against my own perception of life, so I searched some more, yet I found no hook to hang my pain on.

I wanted a hook.

If hiding in a pretend world kept me safe, then I did that. People laughed at me for being an impossible optimist. While, “Rome was burning down around me” I smiled and believed nothing was impossible for me to do. After I did it , I wept alone.

The energy I spent (Often wasted) took me to places I can’t imagine going to today. I laugh when I think about those places. Yet, they made me who I am today. All of them!

As a grown woman approaching the last lap of my life, I look back at my foolishness, my lack of wisdom, and critique myself poorly. I blame no one, and I blame no childhood trauma, or relationship chaos. There is no guilt, no dishonor, and no regret. I no longer lament over things I cannot change. And my search brought me here to this place where I know that no one could have stopped me from being me; therefore, to those I love (truly love) I wouldn’t dare try to stop any of you from being you. Whatever is happening in your living that hurts you, or puzzles you, I know you will figure it out while on your search in this enormous classroom we call, “Life.” We are composed of lessons. We do what we come here to do. I did that, and I survived by the grace of God.

I am happy to say, I still search, but life is much easier when I live harmlessly with myself.

I wish you love.

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This I know is True

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I Feel

This is the time of year when many people are feeling wonderful inside, for the celebration of a profit who dons the name of Jesus Christ. Some question his existence, and some ask, if indeed he came as the son of God, why he had to die to save us. Moreover, there are those who never question.

I know that history tells us, he was the most evolved human being on this earth at any time. (This I believe) I believe it because I know and have seen proof that we as humans can project goodness and healing. It is how we are wired. Yet, we often forget this. We forget that good begets good, perhaps because Jesus Christ was good and they killed him, and that scares us.

How the tale goes tells us he was all forgiving and all understanding of our human condition. He is a symbol for how beautiful we can be. He is legend for the good of mankind. And yet… we forget, despite the fact that there is no other symbol for possibility for our capacity to love.

To be Christ-like deem us capable of nonjudgmental kindness, openhearted and serene in the knowledge that there is a source much larger than life who can save us from our own insecurities, fears and lack of self esteem. Nevertheless, we forget… the truth of what our mission is.

We get frightened of loss, and of poverty and rejection by someone we are not feeling love for at all. We sell out at times because we don’t trust ourselves, thereby forgetting how to evolve in a peaceful way, so we fight so we battle, we suffer … because. . . we forget.

To try to achieve a Christ like state of being is much easier than reacting to life with fear. Fear brings us to that place where pain becomes a part of our psych, and we struggle to get out without losing our control of things we never had control of at all.

If we strive to become Christ like, with all the flaws being human requires, will they hang us on a cross as they did Christ? Some say, the kinder we are, the worse people treat us, yes? Why is this? Can a good man be a threat to those who feel less worthy of grace? Perhaps.

These are my questions. And no, I don’t go to church, nor am I religious, but I believe Jesus Christ was here because his name has lived on for centuries. I mean he got more than 15 minutes of fame. Just sayin.

This Christmas season I chose to feel humble, and sane in the fact that I can be grateful for the symbol of goodness that showed us how to forgive, and how to be peaceful in the knowledge that love is all there is. And, we can chose it. And so I feel good. I paint pictures, I lay down my burdens. I reach out to those who need. I connect with children.

And, I chose love.

Merry Christmas with love.
Joanne

A painting mood

.

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Love Vs Ego

Ego is a hard master
Ego places conditions on love.

Ego wants to own everything, including each other. It says, “If I’m in a relationship and I love you, and you decide to love someone else, I can’t love you anymore.”

If you really love someone, they are free to be who they are.
Being able to love someone without attachment is to love completely…

‘The greatest test of loving someone is to say, I leave you free to be yourself to think your thoughts, to indulge your tastes, to do exactly as you please, and I will still love you. Hardly anyone can pass that test.’

This I know is true because when my son made a decision to end his life, to take his beautiful face, voice, warmth, and brilliance away from me I didn’t stop loving him. Gifts loved ones give us do not disappear in death, they remain inside of us forever, and ever… as is true when someone we meet on our journey inspires us to love, that love remains as well; forever and ever. Jealousy, insecurity, fear, and anger does not apply here. Love is all there is, if it is love at all.

To all those who have loved me and to all those I have loved and continue to love, I say.. Ti Voglio Bene
Sempre.

Thank you Danny, for teaching me this.

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Tonight

Because I love music I’ve been listening to Christmas songs as I usually do when I’m feeling deeply about something. One particular song called, Halleluiah written by Cohen filled me up to such a degree I listened to it many times today, by different artists. One particular artist, KD Lang, sang it so wonderfully I began to search for other pieces she made famous, including, Constant craving.

As Danny was on my mind Danny, who loved seagulls, and they have appeared in my life in the most unusual places after he died. Sometimes even in the city, too far from the ocean to be possible… while I felt the passion in her voice, I came across the ever famous song called, You’ll Never Walk alone. As the video played, I saw seagulls in flight and I knew Danny was speaking to me…

I didn’t cry. I smiled. I know I am never alone. Ever! Thank you Danny.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGXHyp08mcE&index=6&list=RD7oZN2eTgvVs

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Christmas Season

What I want for Christmas cannot be seen with my eyes, only felt with my heart. What I see with my eyes I already have… They are the loves of my life.

I am satisfied with my life and my loves, and I am grateful. What I love is clearly visible, it’s true, but my life is not contaminated by the death of a son. If it were, then I would not be alive to allow all the love that surrounds me, and has always surrounded me, into my soul.

Perhaps there are moments when I bring forward memories of Christmas’s past when I wept for loss and feel quite shamed by things I’ve done. I am sorry if my actions hurt others, but it’s time to let go of the past; to be who I am today and forgive myself. Mostly to be grateful that I lived out the Karma I brought upon myself. There are always blessings in the pain… not always my own.

There are moments also, when I am sure my life was written. And, I am sure I wrote it. So, I say now that I am whole, and I am free, and I am finally home where children laugh, and lovers love, and I am perfectly content with my life.

Past loves never die, they live instead inside of the chronicles of my existence here on this earth and no one can forbid me to feel them when I want to. They belong to me. I own them. I thank them all. They are all a part of who I am and who I have become. I turned them into art. I will always love them.

On this Christmas season rides the melodies of Halleluiah, Silent Night, and bright sparks of harmony in my soul, I say, Merry Christmas to all of my loves, here and on the other side where unconditional love waits for us all.

Thank you God. Merry Christmas Danny Boy.

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New Beginnings

My life is a composition of endings and beginnings. The loves I’ve embraced don’t much include houses, cars, stuff in general. Though I have been blessed with a husband who has spared nothing to give me beautiful things.

When I think of the wonderful homes I’ve lived in, I see only the feelings that surrounded my family in each one. Happy times, some tears, new born babies with their coy smiles, and thousands of hours playing with children follow me whereever I go. Nap rooms in every house, filled with cribs and musical toys. Teaching little peeps to play my piano, and so much food to enjoy. Blessed, is an understatement.

We live now live in a historic home of 12 rooms full of items from the past generations and a kitchen I dreamed of. My perch by the window lets in the light, sunrises and sunsets. But it is time to say goodbye to this magnificent place and settle in another home. This one is for another family that I pray enjoys it here as much as I have.

My new home is smaller, and just as beautiful. Easier to maintain, and in no time it will be filled with members of my family on holidays and summer days and any days. My precious weebles will help me make a garden that stuns the sun. I am looking forward to the changes and will not regret leaving this big old grand lady, but rather I will bow to her, for keeping us all warm and show my gratitude for the privilege of living here.

I have had everything and I have had nothing, but inside of my heart I ask only for love. I have that, and for this reason I can live anywhere. Goodbye pretty old house. Hello little cottage in the city where I was born. I’m coming home. The coffee is almost ready!

http://seetheproperty.com/presentation_v2/presentation.php?order_id=153243&mode=branded&ws=1&r=t

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Nobody Dies

He speaks beyond the division between earth, and the other side.

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Thanksgiving


As it is Post Thanksgiving Day I am looking at that Thanksgiving in 2001 a few weeks after life ended for my son Danny, and changed for my family. From my vantage point here and now, I am able to accept his decisions despite the pain we all felt. His journey was not mine.

I believe we’re are all born with a blueprint, and each is unique in all the world. What we want, and what actually comes to us is our own.

If love would talk from its own mouth it would say, “Live Harmlessly” I have learned not to perceive harm. What ever is in our baggage is not personally designed to hurt anyone. The decisions of those we love are strictly their own. Once I let go of Danny’s decision to die, I found an opening to a light so bright it exposed love in its truest form.

As he promised, he made lights flicker and sometimes go out completely at times when we gather as a family. (Or when I feel sad for missing him)

This Thanksgiving as we sat around my table chatting away and enjoying dinner, the chandelier above my dining room table began to flicker so brightly, I’m sure those lights couldn’t possible have the wattage needed to brighten the room so magnificently. But there it was, proof again that nobody dies.

Then he did it again a few minutes later. Then he did it again, in case one of us didn’t notice. I didn’t get goose bumps this time. I felt complete peace.

Some might wonder why I keep talking about my son here. FYI, I will never stop talking about my beautiful Danny until the day I die. He was here, he mattered, and he will never be gone. So many years after he left us, I know he never did. His death doesn’t define me as a mother, and I am able to live my life in joy for all those who remain with me on this earth.

Our Thanksgiving was beautiful. The love in this house was palpable and Danny showed up. Thank you God.

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A Very Special Birthday

There was a time in my life when I thought God had abandoned me. I thought he found my son dispensable and I was angry. I was more than devastated. I didn’t want that reality. Everything I ever worked for didn’t matter. My dreams exploded, my life was dark and I thought I’d never see happiness again.

One year later my youngest daughter gave us twins. When I saw them for the first time I felt God granted me mercy. They were teeny little premies, and when I held Caitlin in my arms I felt alive. She weighed less than 3 pounds. When I held Cassidy (the stronger of the two) in my arms I looked into her eyes and I saw hope.

I walked outside RI Hospital and leaned against my car, looked up and it was snowing. I closed my eyes while the snow melted on my eyes into my tears. I stood there for a while and apologized to God, then I thanked him for sending me, not one, but two beautiful new souls to love.

Two years later, he sent me Jade, then Abby, then Melody, then Alec! He sent me SIX!!! They became my reason to live. I became Nawny. I became healed. I took care of them while their mothers worked, until they were old enough to go to school, and learned that it is not possible to be sad with bouncing babies on my lap. They taught me everything I need to know about love. It was these children who proved to me, we never lost Danny. He is working hard in heaven, and I thank him every day.

Our Twins will be 12 years old this week. We will celebrate them and thank them for coming to us at just the right time. It was a great brave leap for them, and a great gift to us. Thank you Cassidy and Caitlin! You are magnificent, beautiful, noisy as all get out, and Nawny adores you!
And your sister Abby too!

Oh by the way… thank you Joe and Mary.

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Thanksgiving

Now that summer is over and winter on it’s way, I look forward to Thanksgiving when we all gather around a table and give thanks for another year, when nothing we worried about ever happened.

Though I miss all of my weebles who spent fun summers at Nawny’s house, playing, swimming, telling stories, making art (Making my life, art!)
I am proud of all of them for doing well in school and enriching my life in other ways.

I thank God every day, not only on Thanksgiving, but that day is always special because like minds gather at my table and I just love that!

There are no empty chairs in my house. Our Danny is at God’s table and in our hearts. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

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November 9, 2001

Tomorrow is November 1st. November; The month Danny’s life ended and his transition began. He left us all with a note that said, I love you. Goodbye. My life turned into a shattered and deferred dream.

When I think of what it was like for us then, I shake my head in disbelief. I didn’t know who I was anymore and became a stranger to myself not knowing which way to turn, so I turned all ways. I ran, then pretended, then hid, then showed all of me, gave myself away to a stranger begging to feel something besides the pain, more pain, any kind of pain. Finally, I returned to the authentic darkness until I could understand. Darkness showed me more than light. And, every November replays those days when I was lost. Danny was never lost. He is home.

November places me on a cliff and I hold on with my finger tips for my family. I look around me and know that flowers die in November but they come back brighter and more colorful in spring time. To suffer what I cannot change is not unusual. To suffer for what I can change is choice. I choose to be grateful for the loves of my life. I am not lonely. I am not broken. I am one of millions who have had to live out grief. I am only changed, while Danny is in peace.

Behold, November!

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Danny my son…

You are my October song. I will speak of you till the day I die.
Love,
Mom

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October Threatens

Words cannot describe the haunting feeling October brings, but I’ll tell it to you plain… I do not like October.
I find myself in disrepair every year at this time, and I struggle. But, behold, October when it comes, remembering takes its toll on me. Knowing all that I know about life and death, October continues to pursue with no regard, as if a bad dream without consideration for my life that is filled with so much love, it is flagrant.

Today I drove my car in the rain, opened all of the windows, and let the chill of October fill me. I let the wind and rain soak my hair and blow it around my face. I wanted to experience the colors of the trees as they blew left and right, their leaves flying unintentionally through the air, without being intimidated by October wind. I weep, remembering Danny’s last days here and focus on my blessings. Though my life is rich with love and family doings, I felt as lonely as one would feel left to die on a lost island.

If Danny could come back for a while and sit with me, what would I say to him?

I would ask him what it is like on the other side. I would ask if dying is the same as being born. I would hold him in my arms and live in his laughter, his beautiful face, revel in the sound of his baritone voice, and I would say, thank you for teaching me that love is all there is, and once love enters my heart it can never go away… because love does not die.

That, I have learned … is complete absolution.

I must learn now to love October. It is a most beautiful time of year in New England.

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Grief Season

The shock one feels in the wake of a loved one’s suicide rumbles under the platform of your life resounding in smaller and smaller measures as years pass. I don’t fight it as I used to because that makes it worse. I just allow the sadness it’s time, and continue to appreciate the kiddies and Danny’s 3 cohorts. I smile most of the time. The anniversary of his death is November 9th and the entire fall season reminds me that he loved life.

I replay those last months and ask why… as mothers do, I look up and wonder, yet I know why. He came to teach me how to love better, and left when he needed to leave. I am changed, but he is still my son and I love him as I love all of my children. Not one of them is less beautiful, less respectful of me, or less passionate about life. I adore them all.

I know where Danny is. It is astoundingly beautiful there. He is happy and I smile when I think of him. But I always weep when November 9th approaches. With all that I know, yes, I still cry. I miss him so much. There are times when I still cannot believe he died.

The music of his soul didn’t die.

Godspeed my Dannyboy.

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…. What Grief Can Do

Looking back on my life and at the pond of agony after the death of my son, I began observing others in grief. Some grieve quietly, some at full volume. The piercing anguish of grief after the death of a loved child is obvious at first. Before too long grief takes on a life of its own, and the process begins.

Grief becomes like an entity that takes your heart and shreds it like a blender would if you put your heart in it. You are surprised that you remain alive, and pray that you will not be much longer, but you continue to wake up every day surprised that you did. That entity becomes a part of your life while you stop struggling with it, and allow it to take your life apart in ways you never dreamed possible. Days, weeks, months fall away from you and you don’t care. All you care about is gone, a family in tact. Even emptiness is gone, even love. You feel things alien to your heart before grief took over your life. Sometimes you feel dead but still breathing. A child you brought into this world has taken his life and yours.

I can see clearly what forms of escape some can take when I look into the lives of those who have experienced such a loss. Some begin to drink alcohol to numb the pain. Some turn to drugs. Some create campaigns and devote their lives to a mission that transfers their sorrow into a cause, as if to continue the life they miss so much. They do it for their dearly departed and that in a sense, they keep them alive.

Some take a lover. They would rather compromise their moral values than feel the pain of grief. The entity obliges them. In fact the entity encourages them. Passion replaces the hurting, though it is a trance like state. You feel mad, but you don’t care. Nothing good comes of it… and you don’t care. Pity the lover and the griever. Clemency is nowhere for either.

When the process decreases its power, life continues to perform and eventually you are no longer in the audience, you are a part of it. Days are filled with beauty and events that you must not miss. Babies are born. Holidays compel you to notice the perennial celebrations, and one day you know you are able to understand and accept… But more than this, you are able to pay respect to a life that shared itself with you, and reach a level of empathy for others you never felt before; therein is the gift. At that time, it is your obligation and duty to pass it forward. And the entity is disarmed.

Godspeed, Why whisper?

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September 2014 National Suicide Prevention Month

I learned this week that September is Suicide Prevention (Awareness) month. Despite the fact that the rate of suicide among all walks of life is higher than ever, it is still stuck in a stigma that prevents people from discussing it.
I have been writing for most of my life and published a few times in small magazines and news papers in New England; Nothing big.

My dream of becoming a published author came true, but it was not the book I wanted to write. The truth is, I was journaling because I couldn’t talk to anyone about the grief I felt after the suicide of my son.

Unprepared to share my grief while my sleepless nights filled with a pitiful mother’s self flagellations for many years filled hundred of pages. My husband read the journals and insisted they be published and insisted suicide survivors would find them helpful. I resisted for a long time. I didn’t want to expose the private lives of my family members.

Every day millions are left to suffer such loss. I have traveled that road and am here with my arms wide open to support those who grieve, and to remind those who believe that their lives are not valuable… that they are wrong.

Mostly it is important to remember, there is no shame and no blame in the wake of suicide. It is a (possible) terminal symptom of depression.

God Bless the tortured souls, and those who love them.

And I ask, Why whisper?

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MY BUCKET LIST

My life has been filled with experiences that many have never known. I have seen turquoise waters of Greece skim sparkling by a boat I was a guest on. Blue skies of Israel colored my eyes and majestic Pyramids graced me with their surreal, astounding celebrity rank. Italy bestowed her art and grace on me. Egyptian artifacts seemed to visit me rather than I visited them. Turkish people have laid their eyes on my American self, wearing my American attire, buying their Turkish efforts.
Yes I have seen those in other countries still able to use their natural creativity to survive, and I felt it, and I was happy for it. It occurred to me that being American robbed me of that particular survival method. Every soul I’ve ever seen in any other country but mine, made me grateful for the easy status of my life. And yet I felt indebted to them all for being alive in a way I have never been. Colors, art, song, joy, brilliant ideas, family values, and love seemed to permeate them. Diverse values separated them from me.

My home state of Rhode Island has given me hundreds of stunning looks. Summer mornings sound like a soft aromatic sigh in an arena of flowers, with an ocean backdrop. If colors could be heard, I would hear the color blue singing on the coast in a soft yet well-built tune, and that blue would appear vast. And if they could be felt, I would feel historic wood painted with whites and reds. And if my eyes could speak they would tell you about those old doors with glass doorknobs and iron boot cleaners melded into the granite steps of old houses. And, if my soul could see through walls, I’d tell you of the tears shed upon the old tables and beds inside of those homes, when sons, fathers, and husbands did not return from the wars.

If my life could be written I would write of feelings, not things, or places, and sky diving would not be on my bucket list.

My original bucket list has been completed but … not because anything I’ve done made me happy, not withstanding mothering my children. And not withstanding falling in love with a wonderful man who cherishes me so much.

In all I’ve seen and done, in all my travels, and in all of my privileged experiences, my true Bucket List would contain more feelings than wants. My approach to life has nothing to do with riding a strong, beautiful white horse on the shore of a immense ocean, or flying over the Grand Canyon, or meeting the president of the United States, or riding on a motorcycle in an Island resort, or finding a buried treasure, or … sky diving.

When I think of the happiest times of my life I think of a day I danced in a park with strangers while a bag pipe played, and I laughed while grief was biting my heals… I think of catching my first fish in the dark in a small lake with a friend who made me laugh while I was on the threshold of a divorce from a man I loved since I was 16 years old.

I think of the day I got caught in the rain and without an umbrella and ran blocks in London with a stranger who was kind enough to buy me my first Guinness and we both, soak and wet, laughed and laughed.

I think of the moment when in a new apartment with zero resources and no furniture, I sat on the floor with my (then) 3 young children and told them my ideas about how we would get a TV, a home, and other stories about believing in dreams, and we laughed. Yes, we pretended the paper plates were fine China, and we got that TV.

I think of that lonely day, newly divorced, hardly able to swallow, when a man I met only three times rang my doorbell and said, ” Cheer up! Stand up! Look up and, put on a pretty dress, we’re going for a mystery ride and I might even buy you lunch!” I said, “No, today is not a good day. I want to just stay home.” and he said, “Just do it!” I did. He showed me Fall River. He bought me lunch, and we laughed and laughed.

I think of the time I sat alone in my car watching the ocean in Narragansett on a freezing cold night worried that I wasn’t a good enough wife, daughter, or mother, and let my tears fall because they had to fall. I later drove home feeling lighter and less alone. The ocean always makes me feel better, especially at night. I think it’s where beautiful spirits hang around.

I think of the time I learned about Hazard Rock on the coast of a state I was born in and never knew it was there. A good friend showed me how dangerous it was, and I wasn’t afraid of it. It was late at night and water was violent and the energy of it explained how dominant oceans can be when they meet jagged rocks. I stepped lightly on the exposed rocks and wondered about those who were ready to go off those rocks, then he kissed me and I felt happy. What a kiss it was! After that he grabbed my hand and we ran and fell in the white sand and we laughed and laughed on that deserted beach.

I think of the time my best friend and I talked into a recorder and her extremely hilarious sense of humor made all my fears and sorrows disappear because she made me laugh. And I think of those long phone conversations when we were young mothers with no car, money and no entertainment. We talked about life, we collected and shared our theories and she managed to make them all funny. Together we figured out the mysteries of life, and we laughed and laughed because we knew we were full of baloney but it sounded so right at the time … I miss her. She shot herself a few years ago.

I think of the day I found myself on a boat for the first time. My friendly Hazard rock pal, bought me Clam Cakes and Chowder on the shore and showed me how to climb back on a boat after a short swim, and it wasn’t easy, but we laughed and laughed.

I think of those times when I smiled when I wanted to hide because I couldn’t find anything to laugh about. My heart went undercover when it should have been basking in the sunlight on a beautiful day. I felt homeless in my own home. Life had been done on me. My philosophies were falling apart. My dreams were lies, washed out like a meteorite flying across a dismal sky. I felt like I was drowning in 2 inches of water and couldn’t come up for air, though I knew I was already breathing.

One of my sons died. My mother and father died. My sister died. My best friend died. Relationships I invested so much of myself in, died. I was still drowning and still breathing. I couldn’t die because too many people loved me.

When eight grandchildren were born they became my reason for wanting to live. Each one of them got a crib in my house. I knew infants understood the feeling of being wanted. While their mothers and fathers worked, I kept them with me. I remembered how to sing old songs and their little cherubic smiles, made me smile. I felt joy, the kind you feel deep inside of your heart. I wasn’t running in the rain with a stranger, nor was I standing on raggedy rocks with a romantic friend who swept me off my feet. I wasn’t looking at pyramids and nope, I wasn’t sky diving. I was with new life, new souls, and my best teachers; children. Those children made me remember the child in me who never got what I was about to give them. They began to love that child like they love each other.
Surely I know they will grow up, and as I age decades ahead of them I will see their lives unfold and I will find their own bucket lists much more important than my own. Some will find consolation in art, and some will run in the rain with a stranger, and laugh and laugh. Some will sky dive. But more importantly, some will share their own gift of love and laughter with others; The greatest gift of all.

Rest in Peace Robin Williams. And, thank you for the times you made us laugh and laugh.

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Since Then… Since You Died…

In the 12 years since you died, I’ve moved twice. That beautiful home on the pond, that you loved so much was haunting me. Your voice, your smile, your hard work and your heartfelt actions that proved how much you loved us, radiated like streams of blades through my heart. I had to leave. We sold that house.

Was that you Danny? Did you want me out of there?

We bought a small ranch house and revamped it completely. I hated it there. I hated it everywhere. I missed you.

Since you died… I’ve seen 4 or 5 therapists and took pills to ease my pain. They didn’t work out too well. They made me suicidal, so I boarded that plane to England, thinking I could escape you. I invited a different kind of pain to myself to block out the pain of scattering your ashes in the Narragansett Pier. Imagine that? Visiting England almost killed Joe and me. I don’t understand why grief took me there, and yet I do. But we survived. It’s okay. It had to happen to show us how much we can love each other. Even Joe gave me a free ticket for that blooper. That action didn’t work because the pain of losing you Danny couldn’t be trumped. You are my first son, and life without you was so hard to bear. The shock of it lasted many years.

Since you died… I hiked the paths in New Hampshire, drank wine at cafe’s in Italy, Greece, Turkey, London and Egypt. I rode on ferry’s across the Pacific ocean and I Watched Joe go into a pyramid and ride a camel in the desert. I took a plane to New Mexico and left some of my tears there. I left them everywhere. Since you died I went to Switzerland and saw majestic mountain tops and bought Joe a Swiss watch. Then I moved again. We bought that Greek Revival on the corner of Ames and Fairview. It’s a beautiful house. You would have really liked it. It’s so interesting and has so much character and history. The landscapers are out there now cutting the grass.

Before I go I must tell you, Joe, Dad, Carolynn, Jeff, Mary, Joe, Richie, Kristen, Jade Melody, Cassidy, Caitlin, Abby, Alec, and Morgan celebrated lots of birthdays, holidays, vacations, parties and I felt you with us on the one hand, and felt the empty chair calling to me at the same time. I wish you were here to enjoy all that. You would have loved it Danny.

By the way thank you for sending those children to me after you died. They are delightful lights in my life. Seems like it took 8 children to fill the hole in my heart made by the death of one son. You!

Kayla can’t be with us, and I’m sure you know that. I feel bad about it but a part of me is glad. She comes with so much danger to the other kids. I know you know that, and it makes me a little angry. Her journey can’t include us. Her mother’s can’t either. She is a new soul, not to orientated to love and respect yet. I need time to process Kayla and why you chose that for us all, and see what the future brings. I have no power, but I love her. You know that too.

Since you died… I’m slowing down, and so is Joe. Wish you were here to help him. He is an earth angel for us, and loves you so much. He saved me, you know. If it is at all possible, can you watch his back for me. I don’t know what I would do if he joined you first.

Since you died… I don’t think I’ve told you how sorry I am that I didn’t understand what you were going through. I’ll say it now. I’m so sorry Danny.

And most important, thank you for saving Richie Paul. We all know you had a lot to do with that, and you know you had a lot to do with why it happened. I forgive you. I hope he does one day too. Thanks for the intervention anyway. Richie is just as much my heart and soul as Carolynn, Mary and you. I will never be ready for them to join you before me. Please keep them safe here till I do.

I know you like your book, Why Whisper? I hope I represented you properly. Your message is intense, and people are finding hope in that book and they sure do like you a lot. It’s not selling well right now, but I expect it will one day. So many are committing suicide. Your book could make them change their minds about leaving earth that way. Send some healing light to all the mothers and fathers who are grieving that horrible kind of grief that suicide leaves us with. I know it’s necessary, but it hurts too much sometimes. Please help if you can.

Since you died… my healing is continuous, and though I miss you and love you, I’ll be okay. Your sisters and brother need me to mind the children. I’m okay. I really am because I know where you are, and I know you feel peace all over you.

Nice chatting with you Daniel. Say hi to Auntie Lucy, Grandma, Tom, Uncle Ralph, Grandpa Nash and Bucki, and Auntie Rosanne, Chris, Joe D, and keep them smiling as only you can.
I love you so much.
Mom

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A Book … A love story

I began to write to myself after Danny died. I did that because I had to leave my tears somewhere. Those tears are on every page. If not, they would still be in me. They would drown me and take what he left of me away from my family. My life would be hollow, if at all.

My son’s death didn’t take what I needed, rather it gave me what I needed to understand life, to understand our journey here. It abolished the fallacy that we are able to tell any soul how to proceed with its journey on this earth. We cannot. We can love each other. We can help each other. We can learn from each other, but we cannot control anyone’s journey but our own.

Because grief slows down our lessons, it took me a few years to understand that my son has not died. He has gone back to a place we all started from. It is a beautiful place where no pain enters a heart, and no dread is felt. That place is not available to those who have not yet finished their journey here.

He was kind of tired. He longed for complete bliss. . . He has that now, and I must finish what I came here to do before I see him again. My son did what he came here to do, and I was blessed to enjoy his beautiful spirit and learn what love truly is.

When I say the words, “I love you” to any of my children, the impact makes life glow like it never did before my son Danny died.

Godspeed my son. I love you. I published your book for you and your message will teach love to those who don’t understand, as I didn’t.
Thank you. Good job.
WHY WHISPER? is a book that holds me in the arms of life no matter how much I struggled against it. I pray others find their way for reading it. Some already have. You’re work is not finished here.

xo

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Five Star Review for WHY WHISPER?

What more can I say…By Rebecca Stroud “author” (Florida) – (REAL NAME)
This review is from: Why Whisper?: A Memoir.

This book can be summed up in one word: Profound. It is a heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching, mind-wrenching account of how alcohol/drug addiction can literally tear an entire family apart, seam by seam. “Why Whisper?” should be required reading for all who have a loved one flailing and floundering through this abysmal sea…if I could give this in-depth, well-written work 100 stars, believe me, I would.

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About The Book

http://joannemazzottablog.authorsxpress.com/about-the-book/

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Thank you

To all my friends and familly, thank you for the love, the courage and the hope. After writing for years on a subject too painful to talk about, I talked to a keyboard and hid my words away in a file. Now and then I took it out of that file and added rememberances and lathered pages and pages with love, some shock, some self effacing sentences of a sad mother’s flaggulations. Then I hid it away in the file, and in my heart. With some nudging from a very special few, I gave Danny’s story to the world in the hope that it will help save one bird from falling.

Thanks for all your support.
I love you all.

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Judy Collins and Suicide

Listen to this woman decide to live. God Bless her always.

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Merry Christmas My Son..

Danny, I miss your face, your voice and your arms around me. I believe you will have Christmas in heaven this year, and because I believe you are there, I have a feeling you are free to laugh, make others laugh, and embrace that home we all will go to someday. I don’t know if there will be the 7 fishes on Christmas Eve, meatballs, lasagna, prime rib and trimmings.. or if there is a Christmas tree with pretty lights and a real angel up top. I’ll venture to say there are those things because in this lifetime, those are the things you believed in and liked. We Italian’s were consistent, yes?

Enjoy grandma, grandpa, auntie Lucy, auntie Rosanne, Joe DeLuca, Lola, Johnny, Nanawn, Esther, Joe’s dad, Joe.. and all the angels whose names I don’t know. Thank you for being all around us and for the blinking lights my love. Merry Christmas Daniel Richard Bucki. I love you always and forever. I will see you again one day. You live in my heart. Ride the white horse my beautiful son.
Love,
Ma

Heaven

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Please God, Not my child

No one knows how long anyone will exist on this earthly plain. Some will live to an old age, and some will die before they ever get a chance to live. We look to God, to philosophers, to legend, praying hoping for the most profound gift; that a child of ours should outlive us.

We promise to protect them. Some need our protection longer than others, but once they can walk and talk, they can think and make decisions that will render them unsafe, and we are helpless, if not terrified that they will die. And, some do. And a part of us dies with them. That is when we are found in a place where we search for the reasons and the spaces in our own lives that will take us to hell and back. We are changed forever.

Last night I met face to face with the aftermath of another mother’s grief over her son’s death.

She is beautiful, young and still in shock.

“My son died 18 days ago,” she said. And she wept. Though tears she said, “I loved him. I know he was always a problem because he never listened when I tried to get him to behave. Since he was a little boy, he would not listen, not even when I gave him a time out. I remember holding his bedroom door closed with my hands and feet, and he continued to push back. I stopped yelling at him as he grew up, but I never stopped talking. He wanted to do the opposite of everything he was supposed to do, but I loved him, and I loved everything about him. He was beautiful and he’s my baby and he’s dead.

He didn’t wear his seatbelt, and he was crushed. He was dead on arrival, and he’s gone. And I just want him to come home.

“I went to Stop & Shop today and I couldn’t buy him Cocoa Puffs and 2% milk because he’s dead, he’s gone and I cried. He is only 20 years old and he’s gone and I want him to come home.”

“I know”

I listened to her grieve. I remembered when I was in her shoes and I wondered how she found the strength to leave her house. I wept with her, and I embraced her and said, “Talk about him” I could feel her pain as if it were my own. It was my own. And it is the pain of every mother and father who has had to endure the sorrow of a child no longer alive.

I wanted to help her. But I couldn’t tell her how long that stiletto of grief would smash her soul to pieces. “It hurts all over me.” she said.

“I know.”

She told me she had twins at home and they were a mess. “They are scared and hurting and I know I have to be there for them, but I wish I was numb. I’m not numb.” They will help her, this I know.

It has been my experience, since my son Danny died that the grief never leaves a mother. Why would it? I knew she wouldn’t understand that the grief will not destroy her, but it would blend into who she is and she will carry it along with her for the rest of her life. Eventually, the grief will be a part of who she is, like her hair, and her legs. It gets easier to carry until one day she will see his birthday on the calendar, and she will feel it like the first day, and she will weep to realize no matter how long her child has been gone, it is one long continuous day.

Some days she will find herself laughing, and even singing, while she carries her heavy cargo of sorrow. She may realize she has to make a choice to continue to live, or die with her son. How could I explain that to her? I couldn’t. She was too emotionally bloody. I held her in my arms and tried to take her pain, but it only merged with my own. I wanted to look strong, and show her I had made the decision to live, for my other children, for my grandbabies, for my husband. Not for myself. For myself, I would have wanted to go with my son because the pain of losing him was too much to bear. Until I pretended that I believed he was never lost, only I was lost… I was not really alive. Eventually, I came to believe that was true. Today, I know for a fact that it is true. But how could I tell her that? She can’t hear anything right now but his voice.

“He was a pain in the ass. But he was mine, and now he’s gone and … I just want him to come home.”

“I know.”

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My Road Through Grief

Would I be disingenuous to say, grief is about me? I must say it because I studied it until I found out why I felt such pain after my 32 year old son Danny, committed suicide. The pain of watching and trying to fix his life while he was addicted to drugs, suffering, lonely, lost and afraid, was not less terrifying than the grief we all felt after his death.

As the years without him pass, the sound of his voice, the smile that radiated through my heart, his beautiful eyes, and the warmth of his hugs… kept calling to me. I was misplaced. No more helping him, no more chasing him, no more fixing his wrongs, no more anger and forgiveness hanging on the same nail in my heart.. he was gone, and I wept. I also wept for the beautiful moments and for the satisfaction I felt as a mother, when he shined so bright. I am proud of him, then and now.

I wept because he was dead, and I wept because I couldn’t save him. I wept because I knew he was not going to change because drugs had him and he was no longer my son; not the son I raised and not the little boy who delighted anyone who met him. I wept too because I knew his life was too painful to go on before he died.

Danny is still my son. The only difference is, I can’t touch him, or see him, for that matter.

People ask me how I managed to survive his death. They wonder how I found peace, and how I am able to enjoy my family and my drama free life. I tell them.

After I reckoned with my own grief, and let it swallow me completely I realized that he is safe. I found the strength to know that the grief I felt is mine, not Danny’s. Finally, finally, finally, he is safe, and he cries no more. He isn’t in some dark place curled up in a fetal position desperate for a normal life, or sleeping on a beach in the chill of September. He isn’t in some room in a stranger’s house that he doesn’t remember meeting, or sleeping in a car. He isn’t calling me for help, rescue or money. He is not traveling to places I’ve never seen, lying to people about his life, and he isn’t looking for a way to substitute his sorrow with a drug, any drug. He isn’t steeped in alcohol bewildered and lost to himself, to us, to society.

No, Danny is home, and he is safe in God’s arms where no tears stain his beautiful face, and no humiliation is smothering his will to go on. He is going on, and I am too. But what he sees now, and what he feels is absolutely beautiful, and he is able to feel complete joy. Why would I grieve? But I did, and I fought like a prize fighter against the reality I could not look at.

Without Danny, my life is definitely missing the gifts God gave to him when he was here, and before drugs and alcohol took him away from us. Oh how I miss those gifts; his wit, his laughter, his extraordinary intelligence, and his beautiful heart that loved all of us so much. But I am thankful that he chose me for a mother. I am grateful for knowing him. I honor his life, and that is how I go on, how I survived and how I am able to smile.
…because my son is in peace.

Godspeed my beautiful son.

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After The Suicide of Someone We Love

Tomorrow evening I am giving a talk at URI addressing the things society doesn’t like to look at; addiction, suicide, grief and healing. It’s time to look at those things and help stop the plague that is killing too many people.

When I was preparing this talk I went through the themes, and realized how many people I have met and how many stories of grief I heard. We are all the same but we handle loss in different ways. Some of us can’t find any joy again while some of us embrace life again in a better way. I chose to embrace life, and made a choice to live better for my son and thank him for coming into my life, if only for a little while.

For a few years after his death the turmoil I felt inside seemed to be telling me I was not living a life worth living. There came a time when I knew I couldn’t die while I was alive, though I felt numb, dead and every day was a struggle.

I was trying to outwit grief, but it wasn’t working. Years passed. Life was going on without me it seemed. My inner struggle was not visible to others, but I thought they could see it, and I felt ugly, and guilty and didn’t believe I would ever be normal again. I began to force myself to feel good, to notice sunsets, and flowers and children. I was totally conscious of my behavior and feelings. I forgave my son for taking his life away from us. I forgave myself for not being able to save him.

I was less complacent about life, and stopped reacting to my own fears. My children began to follow my lead, and be thankful for every beautiful thing in our family, every beautiful person. They refused to argue, and judge others, or each other.

Suddenly I knew that I was okay, and that I really was living life better, for both of us, (we all were) and my heart came alive… and this is what happens when we let our love be there. We feel peace.

Let grief run its course it will liberate us to live, to play, to love, cook, to celebrate each other, to pass on knowledge, to really be alive. This is what happens when we let grief open our hearts GRIEF CAN ILLUMINATE YOUR LIFE. Be there, for the ones we’ve lost, who were never really lost at all. It is we who were lost.

Godspeed Danny

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I Know About The Tunnel

The time has come for me, where I stand before those new to grief, at wakes and funerals. I can see the portal to a tunnel they will enter when the crowd goes home. They don’t quite see it yet, but I see it. I know they will be scared in that tunnel. I know they will cry and I know they will not understand why someone they love so much committed suicide. Coupled with grief will be anger, terror, compassion and questions… so many.

Their heart will feel crushed by it all. Some will open a bottle of fix, hoping to dull the pain. Some will take a pill. But the tunnel will still consume them in the morning.

But I face them, and I hold them for a whole minute. And say one word, “Go” I pat them on their back a few times. I know they have to go… into the tunnel in order to exit through the other end, where their life waits. The tunnel is the only path back to life, and back to their loved one’s who wait there.

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5 Star Review

Tell the truth ma …”, June 3, 2013
By Deep Reader – Why Whisper?: A Memoir (Kindle Edition)

Danny is not dead! Joanne Mazzotta writes brilliantly about a mother who loses a son through suicide in her masterful work WHY WHISPER? Her literary voice rings with the divine truth that comes only from those who experience sorrow firsthand. From childhood narratives in and around Rhode Island to the alcohol addiction that became this young man’s nemesis, Mazzotta takes the reader along as she remembers an extraordinary life and those it touched.

Through these heartfelt pages strangers like me come to know and to like and admire Danny with his imperfections and his gifts. This story is balanced on all points and is ready to provide sanctuary from emotional storms for years to come. The treasure that lies within the pages of this book cannot be stolen or transported away for selfish purposes, but is spent by those who know grief firsthand.

It has been almost a year since I read this magnificent work. Some things are hard to say … why whisper? Memories haunt our souls and make some reviews hard to write. I lost a daughter Jennifer to suicide some years back, the stories are never the same but some parts are torn from the same dark pages. She left me my only grandson.

Danny is not dead. Sometimes I hear his voice in the willows outside my mountain home. “Tell the truth ma …” and I believe this author did.

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A Book about What We Fear Most

Why Whisper?

I am not a great philosopher. I am not a brilliant scholar. I blend in with society, hardly noticeable, and offer nothing special to the world at large.

Born the fifth child in a family of 7, ethnic background, Italian American and by age 26, the mother of 4 children. And that is all I cared to be defined by. They grew up with me in the Northeast part of the United states. Motherhood, to me, was all that mattered. I wanted someone to love me unconditionally and I made that my prime goal. I do not, and never will regret having children.

I adored them, learned with them, worked hard for them, played with them, and I found myself having to protect them in a not so friendly world that has a potential to take them, and give them back to me in pieces. We all broke when one fell apart. He found drugs and alcohol. It took him from us. His name is Danny.

Danny took his own life when he was 32 and all the love and heartfelt rescues did not save him.

In the wake of his death my true life lessons began. With no one to help me understand his death, I began to write to him, to grief, and to myself. 8 Years later my journals were published and I learn most of all, that I was not alone. There is where my healing began. Those who live in a society where “suicide” is not spoken to have contacted me and knew why I titled my book, Why Whisper? They thanked me.

Giving my hand and my heart to those who have lost loved ones by suicide became the way out of my pain. And Danny’s story became a way to keep him alive. But it is Danny we must thank for speaking to me beyond his grave and allowed me to give his message to the world to keep me busy while I miss him so much.

My husband and other 3 children have healed along with me and we all survived the unthinkable sorrow that no one in my world wanted to talk about. And yet, we stay in strength and see the gifts deeply embedded in our grief… We are not the same people we were before he died. We are stronger.

Love doesn’t die… Suicide doesn’t discriminate.

My book, Why Whisper? is about, our Veterans, Celebrities, Children, Hairdresser, Neighbor, Doctor, Lawyer, Elderly, Young, Old, Successful, Rich, Poor, and, it is about you.

Godspeed to those who are gone too soon and God Bless those who found a way out of their pain.

Joanne,
The mother of four
Three that walk
One who soars…

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Don’t Whisper About Suicide

Yesterday I was interviewed by California movie producer screen writer, author, Danek S Kaus. He has a podcast Blog site and found my story in RTIR which is a magazine filled with author’s works sent to Talk Radio Hosts all over the country. It went well and for the first time since I’ve been doing interviews, I wasn’t nervous. I just told it like it is, and perhaps his style of questioning was so relaxed, it relaxed me too.

Danek lost the love of his life by way of suicide, so he was right on my page. The most unsettling questions about suicide are those that rank high on the level of culpability we feel when someone we love dies that way. At this point in my life I have learned that we don’t control anyone’s death. The other question I find very difficult to answer is, “What are the signs?” Sometimes there are no signs, which leave us feeling tremendously powerless.

Of course there are some that need watching out for, like, teens, Vets, elderly, alcoholics, and often those who suffer from depression. But I would venture to say that a high percentage of those who commit suicide do not warn us. Those who do warn us, leave us in a strong sense of perplexity because we don’t want it to be true. My answer to that is always, Why Whisper?

If we treat suicide like a secret, so will the children, the celebrities, war veterans, depressed folks, and your hairdresser, plumber, car mechanic, local grocery cashier, your best friend, sister, brother, and you. Suicide does not discriminate.

I do hope the interview went well and that someone out there who thinks their life is not valuable will see that they are mistaken. My book WHY WHISPER? will show them what happens to a family when a loved one commits suicide. The torment becomes an entity that contaminates the normal five stages of grief. Suicide doesn’t take only one life. It takes some life from everyone around it. Suicide is not a courageous act. To go on living when you feel like dying, is a courageous act.

Life is like a river that changes by the minute, and the scenery changes with it. Godspeed to those who have gone home, and God Bless those who have made it out of the pain.

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A Mother’s Lesson

I don’t tell my story to horrify people, or to draw on their emotions …I tell it because I hope it gives others the courage to tell their stories. (Because your story will heal you) However, you have to tell it in an empowering way. You can’t be stuck in the prepositional phrases, and in the parenthesis of the horror you’ve experienced. You have to get in the story and look for the strength, the light and look for the lessons and the blessing. One might say, are you nuts, Joanne? What blessing can there be in the death of someone I adore? What lesson is there in the hell on earth we feel when someone is abusing us? Life happens every day. And it happens in a way that helps us grow ourselves up. Some of us want to stay little kids. Growing up means you have to be willing to upset people if it means you are to stand authentically. Don’t use grief to attack others. Don’t withhold your love. When you withhold your love you are denying that authenticity. You must tell the truth.

The story of my son’s death taught me so much.. I learned that I had to learn how to let go. You can’t hold on to someone after they have left their body, because it causes their spirit not to evolve, and it causes your heart to stay broken. It taught me about the beauty and the fragility of life. His passing taught me also, how to breakdown.

As a child, I was taught that I did not have the right or the privilege to hurt. But his death told me I could collapse, with no guilt, no shame and no explanation; what so ever. To collapse means to be quiet in your grief and your mourning. You have a right to heal. It does not offer the right to hurt others because you are hurting.

The answer to grief is in the grief.

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Dancing With Grief

Jim Oliver the producer of a web blog teleseminar site that holds many keys to the arena of grief and healing, has asked me to speak to the subject on his panel of experts. In my life I have never imagined that I would one day be qualified to do such a thing. http://www.dancingwithgrief.com/blog/

It has come to pass that my life held a non exclusive right to that key.
Godspeed my son and all the sons and daughters of mothers who need the key.

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If You Think You Can’t~and Think You Can,You Are Right

Behind us loomed the Coast Guard House, a majestic century-old granite building. Its stone lookout tower glistened in the frigid afternoon sun. Now home to a locally famous restaurant, the building had once aided ships at sea. My three remaining children, my husband, Danny’s father and my daughter’s husbands gathered by the sea Danny loved to bid him farewell.

Richie was holding the box close to his chest as he led us to the edge of the water as it danced erratically when it met the smooth brown sand, creating rolling salty white foam that unsuccessfully aimed its fizz at ragged rocks that were scattered there. Richie squatted at the edge of the water with his box. No one breathed as he opened it. No one planned on Richie carrying out this deed. No one prepared themselves, and no one cried. We stood numb to the elements as he took a handful of ashes from the box, submerged his fist in the frigid water, and released them into the iron-gray ocean. He did this carefully and tenderly. I was an honored witness to the courage Richie showed for us all. He was brave with love for his brother, and I was thankful knowing that I could not execute that task had it been assigned to me.
When a gust of wind blew some of Danny’s ashes into Richie’s face, he remained still for a moment as we all did. Then he looked at the ashes that remained on his coat and said, “Ah, thanks a lot, brosky-ro [his pet name for Danny].” He didn’t wipe the ashes off his face but continued with his purpose, staring ahead at the vast Atlantic Ocean, and each time he reached his hand into that little box, I saw a giant of a man, not a little boy or a thirty-year-old brother. But I was not capable of a point of view
beyond that second. Sensation became lost in me, while my great effort to appear sane was putting my silent refrain to task as I wrestled with the urge to set a cry free.

The saline ocean water slapped against the rocks, uniting with the wind in a misty spray. I will always remember the awareness I had as we stood in what seemed to be an alternate world. The woman I had been had evolved. What she was before went into the ocean with Danny and no longer existed.

When the box of ashes was empty, a beautiful white bird flew close to where Richie was standing. Its wings practically grazed his face as it flew off into the dark-blue sky. We looked at the bird, then at each other. We knew something had just taken place—something no mortal could understand. We drank a toast to Danny from small glasses I had filled with Romano Sambuca taken with me from home. As I embraced my children, I whispered, “Stay strong” to each of them. I was thankful for their collective show of courage.

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A Wish in a Bottle

If you had one wish and a promise that wish will come true, what would you wish for? I have no more wishes. All of them came true, but one. Not resigned to that fact, just at peace with it.

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I Love You! … Love never stops …

Danny's smile... made me smile...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehu3wy4WkHs

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On the Path of Love is the Only Place to Heal

My 32 year old son died. I guess you all know that. One year ago, after writing in a journal for 8 years, a book called, Why Whisper? became public. All that I felt, suffered, imagined and learned… became naked, including the ugly breakdown of my life. I cringed at the thought of people witnessing the hell I felt, the part of me that went crazy, and all of the pain I thought I deserved. The book contained personal information and raw feelings that I believed no one ever felt before me. I was wrong.
My story may be your story, and it is so much more than just a story; it is an opportunity for me to heal in public, and give other people permission to do the same.
Thank you for your stories that helped me to feel like a part of normal. Thank you all for the courage you dared to print, and the guts to take yourselves apart piece by piece in public. And thank you for helping me stop cringing. There is no shame in our authentic selves, and there should never be shame in grief. We are all so human.

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Someone Understands

Today I saw a review on Amazon for my Book, Why Whisper? I almost lost my breath just reading it. I didn’t believe I could ever publish it because it was not written for an audience. Joe convinced me, and it took him years to do it, that it would help others. Still, I felt it was too private, too personal. After it went public, I still felt uncomfortable until Joe said, It will keep Danny alive. It’s his message. That did it. I let it go. Today I see this 17th review on Amazon, and I know Joe is right.
________________________________________________________________

“—”A flame that burns and illuminates at the same time.”

“It took me a while to complete the reading of this book. It also took me a while to start it. This is not a “who done it” kind of story. One doesn’t rush to find out what happens. You know what happened in the beginning. A son commits suicide. A mother and a family are devastated. The subject is a painful one and as it touched personal aspects of my own life, I hesitated. Out of fear. Pain is not an attractive condition. Still, finally, as I knew I would, I started the journey and I am immeasurably glad that I did. I had to know. I had to know as best as a reader can, what happened in the aftermath. A suicide is a kind of bomb and after the explosion, there is a lot of smoke and debris. Choking smoke and the kind of debris that caused others to stumble. To fall. To be left trying to find their way again. Back to where they were before. But that is not possible and the author shows us that.

What I found within was an incredible journey. A journey of loss, love, horror, unrelenting anguish and the prolonged torture of a loving, caring, intelligent and fine human being and the family around her which she loved. That being is the mother and the author of “Why Whisper: A Memoir” – Joanne Mazzotta. Mazzotta has much to be proud of with this book. Not only is it finely crafted, intelligent writing, it is generously peppered with dashes of well chosen colors. Some warm, some dark, some vibrant and some verging on the kind of hues one might expect only during a nightmare. A nightmare and a monster that does not dissolve simply because you have awakened. We are lead thru this nightmare by the object of the monster’s most ferocious attacks, a mother. A mother, who has loved, nourished, consoled and in all ways `humanly’ possible, tried to help her troubled son. Only to have all her years of doing so savagely and monstrously brutalized by the suicide of her son, her baby, her “Danny”.

Yet, amazingly, out of this unrelenting sorrow, self-recrimination, loathing and hopelessness comes the gift of a light. At first just a glimmer. Then a twinkling. Then, as seen through the eyes and words of the author in this starkly honest account, a steady flame: A flame that burns and illuminates at the same time.

Joanne Mazzotta has provided an invaluable service to her readers. Those who have suffered a loss such as hers and those who have not. None of us knows what lies in wait just around the corner. Others are now dealing with the wreckage. In the end she understands that she has not “lost” anything. Nothing was `misplaced’ as if she needs only to look harder to find it. And she cannot go back to how things used to be. But Danny is still her son. Her baby. And everything in between. What she holds in her heart. It is herself and her family that have changed. That have grown. As if in a cauldron. They had too. No one wants to grow because of something like what happened to her and her family. The choice is a stark one. One can fall or one can rise. Rise again and greet the new day with joy and wonder and yet be forever changed.

As impossible as at times that might seem to be, Joanne Mazzotta, through her unrelenting honesty and forbearing, bravely holds a light to show us the way.”

Bob T.
Author of:
Everything Happened In Vietnam: The Year of the Rat – Kindle
Everything Happened In Vietnam: The Year Of The Rat – Print

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A Special Day

Today is November 9, that airless day that changes the gravity in the room. November 9th, the anniversary of the day he died, and I am tired of the buildup to this day every year. It is an accumulation of 364 days. Those other days that increase my saddened heart’s warnings, that it will come to haunt me once again.

There is no lost love for my son who died on November 9. I wrote a book about his death, my grief and our lives. I wrote it for those who felt the sting of loss, and for myself. Within that process, I learned that when a mother loses a child, loss is the wrong word. If we lose something, we search for it, find it and take it back home.

My son is not lost.

When I was convinced to publish the book I wrote, filled with inflamed cries of shame, blame, love, and hope, I believed that no more melancholy memories of November 9th’ could injure this tired mother. Every ounce of grief in its prism, and every angle of that spectrum of colors that paint a picture of love would no longer hurt my eyes, my heart, and my soul… no more! He is not lost. He is everywhere beyond me and within me. He is still my son, and I am still his mother. What he gave to me is not forgotten, what he did not take from me, is all that matters now. He did not take my strength. In fact, he helped me find it; for myself, for my other children and for those who need it.

I wanted to give my strength away, have it match up with some broken heart and heal it, as it healed mine. I wrote a 211-page letter, filled it with the searching of my soul, and I called it Why Whisper? I put it in a box, gift wrapped it and found the opening to put it into. When I arrived at the aperture, I hugged my letter to all the suffering people, kissed it, put it into the opening, and let it go.

If you find it in your hands, may it lead you to the path of strength, and peace within your swamp of guilt and shame where you land after someone you adore commits suicide…

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What do I Want?

I want to be sure I have earned the love and respect around me
Because
I want love and respect

I want to be worthy of all I have
Because
I want what I have

I want to give all that I can to others
Because
I want them to have it too

I want others to know that hate hurts most, the ones who hate
Because
I want them to stop hurting themselves

I want to be healthy
Because
I want my children to be peaceful

I want only good things to happen to my beloved children and their children
Because
I want no more pain

I want to stop hating November
Because
I want to accept that seasons understand death

I want learn to keep looking north
Because
I want Danny back

That’s what I want

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Radio Talk Show Interview for Danny’s message

A hard thing to do since Danny died is a talk radio interview. I’ve done about 20 of them and each time I do, my heart is somewhere between my throat and my eyes. It’s hard to breathe. But something compels me to push through it because I know there is someone or a lot of someones listening who want to die and I don’t want them to die. I want them to know they are loved and that their dying will make their loved ones wish they could die too.

When I listen to the recordings of radio talk show interviews I’ve done, I hear my heart racing. But my message is coming through and I am grateful for the strength to complete each sentence. I am also continuously hoping that my words will stop someone from believing their lives are worthless. They are worth more than all the salt in the sea. They are worth more than every million, billion, trillion, grains of sand on every shore. They are worth living out more joys than a million hearts can hold. They are worth life!
Love
Jo

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A Funeral Homily for Daniel

I know that as we gather here this morning, words are inadequate to temper our grief. Therefore, I shall try to make my words brief and address them to three groups of people.

The first words concern Danny; the second concern Danny’s friends, peers and the third concern all of us but especially Danny’s family.

As for Danny, I presume that no one here is unaware that he took his own life. I think we ought to say that out loud so that we can hear it publicly and not just whisper this open secret among ourselves, and so that we can try to deal with it. But I want to share with you that often this deed, in confused mind of a troubled person, is done out of love.

A misguided and wrong-headed love, but love nevertheless.

The thinking of a person who is deeply troubled frequently goes like this: I am a burden. I’m hurting people. I’m in the way. I’m making a mess of things. I’m unhappy and making others unhappy. I worry those nearest to me. It would be kinder for everyone if I took the burden off their shoulders, if I weren’t here, if I ceased to be.

That understandable but backwards logic often is at work in a person so troubled he or she doesn’t see or think clearly.

And that’s at least good to know. It’s at least good to know that, as painful as suicide is for us, at bottom there is the truth that it is often done out of love and concern for others. It’s not good thinking, but bad thinking that nevertheless has its roots in charity, not malice. And we ought to remember that about Daniel. His tender love, as he understood it, did him in.

As for Danny’s friends, (also Richard, Mary Lou, Carolynn) I believe that his death raises a question. It is this: What are you going to do about your brother’s death? It’s easy to cry in his memory. What are you going to do with your life in his memory when your tears have dried?

I want to share with you a story I heard from my grandfather, dead himself many years now and a great fan of opera. It might suggest an answer.

He told me the story of Puccini, the great Italian writer of such classic operas as Madame Butterfly and La Boheme. It seems when Puccini was fairly young he contracted cancer, and so he decided to spend his last days writing his final opera, Turandot, which is one of his most polished pieces. When his friends and disciples would say to him, “you are ailing, take it easy and rest,” he would always respond, “I’m going to do as much as I can on my great masterwork and it’s up to you, my friends, to finish it if I don’t.” Well, Puccini died before the opera was completed.

Now his friends had a choice. They could forever mourn their friend and return to life as usual – or they could build on his melody and complete what he started. They chose the latter. And so, in 1926, at the famous La Scala Opera House in Milan, Italy, Puccini’s opera was played for the first time, conducted by the famed conductor Arturo Toscanini. And when it came to the part in the opera where the master had stopped because he died, Toscanini stopped everything, turned around with eyes welling up with tears, and said to the large audience, “This is where the master ends.” And he wept. Then, after a few moments, he lifted his head, smiled broadly, and said, “And this is where his friends began.” And he finished the opera.

You see, the point—and the point of the question I asked you: What are you going to do about your brother’s death? What are you going to do about his unfinished masterpiece? Will it be, in a month or so, life as usual? Or can you build on his humor, his ability, his fun, and his unrealized dreams?

I would suggest that if there is any fitting response to the shock of your brother’s death it is life, your life, a life that’s lived better, a life lived more selflessly, a life that makes a difference, a life that is honest and decent, and a life that makes beautiful music for Danny and for the Lord. Across the chasm of death you can make Danny live. The music doesn’t have to stop! Your love for him does not have to end. It doesn’t have to leave with Danny, YOU HAVE A CHOICE!

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Questa Vita (What Life?)

A bank of questions has plagued my mind for as long as I can remember. Questions about life, and death and mostly, questions about love have changed along entries and exits at crossroads and networks of those crossroads along the way. Observations were my landmarks and from those were born more questions.

Today I struggle with the facts of death and immortality. A quote I found once comes to mind; “Tell me who loves you, and I’ll tell you who you are.”

Someone I have known most of my life died after a 2 year battle with cancer. His personality was gigantic and he was popular in his little social world where he spent his life being the alpha friend, teacher, father figure and helpmate to those who lived in the small community in a major city. I ask, “Is he now immortal?”

This brings me back to my questions about death. And the word “Was”
But I am alive! Without a doubt, I am alive, and in the circle of life, and I would be thoughtless if I believed I always will be.

So knowing I will and must leave behind those who love me when I die, it is my opportunity to make myself worthy of them. If indeed, I die before any of them. I am not complacent, you see, one of my children has already died. He is Danny. I introduce you to him because I wish you had experienced him when he was alive, knowing he is not immortal in your eyes.

What his death taught me was, immortality is distinguished by those whose lives we change. At best, immortality is a household word, nothing more nothing less, or perhaps it is a legacy which tells that nothing is impossible.

So why do we cry when someone dies if we believe that life doesn’t end? Our beloved dead people are not dead, so we cry for ourselves and we stop our lives for a while. Frankly, I don’t believe we believe that life doesn’t end. If we did, we would celebrate instead of cry. It’s about us, that horrible grief we feel and it always will be about us because we are alive.

But if it’s true, that we do not die than those who have crossed over can clearly feel our thoughts.. So, for the sake of argument, they are alive too and on a plane vibrating faster than our eyes can see, and to that I say; for what purpose?

Eternity doesn’t enthrall me. I’d rather consider the reason for seasons. Every spring here in New England brings growth, surreal beauty and newness. Flowers tease us with their fatal beauty and they color our world, touch something deep in us that only God’s art can. We all know those flowers will die because autumn tells us so repeatedly. Roses with their fragrant appeal and outrageous beauty visit and leave their gifts, and yet autumn takes them back to the ground from which they came. We do not grieve roses and they are not immortal because when they are blooming they are not thinking. The responses to the reason for thorns can certainly be understood. But, nature doesn’t think, it just is. I don’t argue with that fact.
Steve Jobs said, (And I paraphrase) the reason we must die is to make room for others. How dreadful an existence it would be if we all make a deal with the devil like Dorian Grey did? He lived too long and lost touch with the cycle of life. He was floundering in his uninterrupted youth and beauty like a frozen rose, while the world flowed into the big river of life itself. Everything changed but him. His accumulated wisdom had nothing to communicate with because every fraction of existence was in its own spring garden and every spring had its own distinctive display. Poor Dorian had sensory overload, if you’ll forgive the cliché.
So, today (and only today) I am satisfied to believe that we must die. But I firmly resolve to bear witness to the proof that love never does. That fact is my definition of immortality.

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Nobody Dies

Every day I think of Danny. I am no longer sad. He is here and he proves it often. I Imagine he is busy there, on the other side, but he is finding ways to tease and alert us all. As was below is also above. What a kind spirit, however active and adventurous! There is no misunderstanding where he is now and I venture he knew that would be. When we cry for missing him, he must be yelling, “HEY I’M NOT DEAD, I’M RIGHT HERE!”

He plays with lights. Sort of like a reverse electrician. He makes them go out, or flicker, just as he promised he would before he went home. And of course there is always irony. He loved electricity and was very good at connecting it to places where there was none before. I wonder often, how can he be so active, there, where he is? But I am not really surprised. Danny rarely stood still.

Danny’s childhood friend Kenny came to see us from Hawaii this weekend and I thought Danny might find a way to say hello. It didn’t surprise me when Kenny came downstairs in the morning and told me the light in the hall upstairs was flickering when he walked by. Hey! That light never flickers!! I just smiled, and wiped a tear away.

If I were a King I would be satisfied, as I am surrounded with love, children, many gifts, all that anyone could ask for, even though one of my sons has gone home too soon. But I am only a mother with a sorrow deeper than any other, and this sorrow is also a gift. It is there to remind me that life is a visit; a journey. On this particular journey there is love, pain, upset and answers to bring with us back home where we all began. As I know my name, I know there is nothing to fear because we are safe, we are always safe. There is no key to perfect lives, and no magic that will keep us alive forever. We all go home with more then we arrived here with.
“Death shall have no dominion”

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You and Grief

When someone you love dies by suicide, you feel pain all over your body mind and spirit. You ask why? You doubt God, if only briefly… The floorboard of your reality and belief system seems to have developed a fault line and you can’t skate away from it until you reckon with grief; this thing that serves your heart huge amounts of agony like an obnoxious waiter wearing a black tuxedo and a disgusting grin that seems to mock your innocence. Reckoning with this brand of grief is a sizable order. So you struggle with it instead. As if it is a contest to find out which of you will win and which of you deserves to win. You get tired and eventually decide to give in; surrender, believing you will die in the skirmish.
Because you have observed others who didn’t’ die but stopped living, saw faces marked with deep sadness and saw grievers carry it everywhere they go, you noticed they put no closure on the death they believed they could have stopped from happening, and you decide you do not want to live as if you have died. But your face is showing deeper lines each day. Your eyes are shallow and look colorless, so you stop seeing them in the mirror when you wash your face in the morning, if you bother to wash your face or look in a mirror. Your retrospective carries in it a price you believed was your debt to the life you hated since your loved one took his life. It’s as if you exist in a backdated time warp. You cannot un-ring the bell and nothing in your suffering can bring him back but the bell resounds in your mind endlessly.

Not tears or traces of guilt; not dying with him or feeling his pain can bring back a past so riddled with “what if’s” But still, grief punches your heart every minute of every day and you see no blessing in the sorrow. You find no church to bring your faith, a faith that died hard in the bed you cry in.

When you surrender to grief, you do not die. Instead you learn that grief was a necessary antagonist. From the moment you face it off, it becomes disarmed. You are alone now. You are free now. Go to the sea and look up. It is time to remember your loved one with gratitude, and thank that angel for coming into your life.

This is the blessing you could not see when you had grief by the scruff.

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Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.

Suicide happened in my family.

He is my son. He was 32 years old. His name is Danny.

My life turned a corner I had not anticipated… It was dark, unsympathetic, yet on fire and hostile. I explored this dark place without fear because I knew there was a benediction in there for me. Digging, scratching, thrusting, screaming, I knew if I didn’t find it, I would die with him. Looking where no one ever imagined; I bled cries from the agony inside of me. Lost often, while stumbling, falling, recovering, tripping repeatedly on my own culpability and horror… He’s dead, I whispered. My son is dead. He killed himself and everyone was whispering. Why is no one saying it? Why am I not speaking it? Where do I go from here? What will become of my family? What misery is this?

I saw the sign.

Unable to imagine leaving my other three children without a mother, I summoned every ounce of power in me and I pushed the walls of hell down and found the way out. The sign didn’t say EXIT. The sign said, GIVE.
For a few years I wasn’t sure what it was I was being asked to give. I felt hollow, the only thing serving me was grief, and grief is a thing that feeds your core and starves your soul. I refused to give up grief. Hating pity, I knew there was something more and I wanted to find it.
The shortest sentence ever written was, “Jesus Wept” I felt like I had entered his body on that fateful night of the execution. I wept.
Still, the sign flickered, GIVE. GIVE. GIVE.
To all of you out there who loved someone who took their own life, I give you “Why Whisper?” I give you my love. I give you my heart and I give you my hand to hold in your darkest place.

What is the working title of your book?

Why Whisper?

Where did the idea come from for the book?

My discovery that the impact of my son’s death was causing people to avoid me. His suicide was unspeakable but I had to speak, so I wrote about it late at night while my family slept. I had the idea that if I got it out of me, I might resolve it and someone would hear me, and some kind of cathartic healing would take place.

What genre does your book fall under?

Why Whisper? is a true story therefor it can only fit into the category of a Memoir.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Leonardo DiCaprio would play Danny.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Give your grief a voice and it will not defeat you.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My book is self-published and available on Amazon and Barns & Noble.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

During the course of several years, my book began as a journal with no audience intended. The process of turning it into a published book was painful as I wrote it while steeped in grief… My reluctance to let it go fused by the fact that it contained so much personal information about my son and me. The force of the truth is what made it a work of heart, and my fear diminished by my husband Joe who sponsored the publication of it, needed to immortalize a son he adored. Finally, he convinced me that Danny’s life mattered even after his death and his story will be his legacy left for those who believe their lives are not valuable. All life is valuable. He believes Danny can help others even if he could not help himself. He made me believe it too.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Because I couldn’t find a book that helped me, my book had to be published. The subject of suicide needs to stop being whispered about. If we treat it like a secret, those who are feeling that death is the only cure for their pain will treat it like a secret too, and that poses a serious threat to life. Today the rising rates of suicide are more than alarming. Children are committing suicide, along with veterans of war, elderly, successful men and women, rich, poor, addicts, and the children who are affected so terribly by bullies and even celebrities are in the news almost weekly who have taken their own lives. Right now it is the third leading cause of death among children ages, 6 to 15. That is why we need to talk about this.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My 32-year-old son who believed that his depression would keep him in a frozen frame of hell; so he killed it and died in the process.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Those readers who need to know they are not responsible for the death of someone they love. And those who need to believe they can find the path back to life. And those who need to see what the suicide of someone so loved, can do to a family when I invite them into mine and give them a honest look… Mostly those who need a hand to hold.

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Your Life is Valuable and Depression Knows It

How many times do we have to fall into a depression to learn that it is temporary? Look back on your life and notice the times you felt so dark inside that nothing seemed to matter. You missed sunrises so incredibly beautiful that no artist could paint them. No earthling artist, that is. Days when sounds of love fell on your deaf heart. You went into the box. The box is like a coffin but you were still breathing and were angry that you were. So alone even in a crowd. So sad. Your sadness had no label on it. No hook to hang it on. Feeling confused because you couldn’t “snap out of it” You tried but you just couldn’t. Remember that you came alive again with a hug from a friend or stranger. Remember that you got out of the box because someone needed your help. Love in any form got you out. Giving love is more beautiful in some ways than getting it. So when you are not getting it, give it. It’s magic.

But the black dog days returned once again… Now You are angry at the sun for shining. You are angry because those around you, friends, children, relatives were enjoying life you believed was not meant for you. Gradually shutting off a life you hated even though you have a healthy body … Never imagining why those who wanted to live, fighting for life in a diseased body and begging God to spare them, really wanted to live.
Doctors offered pills to cure your self loathing and they don’t work. You cry and you don’t know why, not really. You go numb.
When someone tells you how valuable your life is you feel worse. You tell them you are a loser. You can’t appreciate anything because your pretty face, your family, friends, new car, pretty house, great accomplishments make you feel guilty because they don’t help you feel better. You thought they would but they don’t.
Sad stories about the lives of others who have suffered and recovered their strength make you mad. “THIS IS MINE” you say. I am not someone else. I am ME and I am in pain!
When someone points out all the good you have done in the world you denounce your goodness and say, but I am a mess right now!! I can’t do any more. I want to stop breathing so this pain will go away! I hate my life!

But on the slow moving train through life, there is value. “Valuable to whom?” you ask.
It is valuable to those you have not met yet. It is valuable to babies not yet born. It is valuable to those who need your love when they are feeling like you feel right now, and it is valuable to me and I don’t even know you.

Stick around, because your life can change in one minute. I love you!

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Everyone Knows What Grief Is

A child will cry when a toy is broken or lost. Children lament when ice cream falls from the cone they were so enjoying or when the soft, furry, stuffed rabbit they loved with such passion cannot be found and cannot be replaced. Tears fall from their eyes, they are inconsolable, and they are broken hearted. The child grieves.

A 90 year old man grieves when he finds that those appointed to his care tells him he must leave his beloved home where he spent his life, raised his family, enjoyed his cherished wife who loved and respected him. This home where he witnessed festivities with his family that he so cherished is now gone. He is weeping. He is livid, he is wounded. He is grieving.

An old woman just learns that she is a widow. Her beloved husband of 50 years has passed away; died in a car accident. She is tidying up her day and getting her plans sorted. She was looking forward to and grateful for her life that day. Her shopping list was in order and her plan to surprise her husband with his favorite dinner was in motion. Her hair is grey but her smile is radiant. She planned to bake a cake for his 75th birthday. A very old bottle of wine would grace their table and long talks of their grand memories of a life well lived would be laced with appreciation for God’s gifts. In an instant, he is gone … and she grieves.

A child we raised, a father we loved, a mother we adored, a sister or brother we took for granted has just committed suicide. We are angry, shocked, lost in a arena of guilt, confused, and frightened. Mostly we are buried in silence with no comfort, no support. Unanswered questions are the plague of our days. There is no voice for suicide. It is murder in the 180th degree and we can’t sentence the murderer because he is dead. We grieve. We stop living in honor of the deceased. We lose our identity and become – the one whose son, daughter, brother, mother, father committed suicide. We grieve, like the child, like the old man and like the old woman. We grieve like the millions of people in the world today who are lost in the mire of sorrow. We are not alone, but we feel alone.

We are here to live… While in grief we are focusing on the pain, and do not see the wealth of beauty around us. We do not want comfort. We want our loved one and nothing else. Every emotion belongs to those who are gone. What is left is a shell of life with no energy inside. We think we are alone in a dark tunnel with no floor no top or bottom and no sides. We are sure of it.

While we cannot be prepared to grieve, and cannot learn how to expect it or treat it, we lose ourselves on a road never traveled. Not sure where it will lead, we cry and denounce the possibility that we will find a path back to life. We study grief, and argue with this entity that has become a member of our tour of a foreign place. We do not travel alone. We have grief by our side. We lose friends. Our life becomes devoted to the loss and the agony. We become selfish and we don’t care.

One day you feel the warm sun on your face. You lean your head back and senses tease your whole self like a little child crying, “I’m here!” That you can feel again by virtue of life itself, is a surprise. Gradually you notice things you forgot about; like the smell of rain, and like the taste of food. You hear a child laughing and you sit up straight and a smile sneaks upon your face. You see a sunset and wonder how many beautiful painted skies you missed while your eyes were filled with tears. Your loved ones come back to greet you and you feel their hugs. Your heart beats in rhythm with theirs and you realize love again. You take a deep breath and you find your reflection in their eyes. But you’re still afraid to put closure on grief; afraid that would cause your deceased loved one to disappear from your memories. You feel unfaithful to your loved one. Afraid you don’t deserve to be happy.

The sounds of life continue in spite of your self induced darkness. The sun continues to shine each day forcing you to notice the colors of the landscape around you. Quietly you begin to let go of the grief, not the loved one, and you find that person is not lost at all. It was you who was lost. Once grief is reckoned with, you are now free to pay respects to and give credence to a loved one so deserving of your kind regard. Free from Grief, you are able to live again, laugh again, dream again and enjoy the sounds of the children laughing. They sound like angel bells, don’t they?

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Why Whisper? A Book About Grief’s voice.

I’ll be doing my 9th interview about my book, “Why Whisper?” tomorrow at 6:30 PM. though the subject is daunting, the suicide rates in our country alone are rising every day and we need to talk about this, like it or not. It’s reality. Suicide does not discriminate. It takes the lives of rich, poor, celebrities, members of the military, college students, brilliant men and successful women, and even children who don’t know how to stop the pain, so they kill it. They believe that emotional pain is endless. It is not.
This subject is a hushed sorrow that leaves you in a dark corridor, alone, with no one to talk to. We believe there is something we could have done to stop a death. If there was something we could have done, we would have done it. SO that is NEVER true.
There are an estimated 6 million people who have suffered a sorrow so unspeakable, because someone they love took their own life. My book, Why Whisper?is a voice for those people and a path back to life. If we give grief a voice then we can pay respects to those who are gone too soon and remember them in love… If we don’t talk about it, we stay stuck in the dark corridor; alone.

Hosted by Wayne Kent, is heard each Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. (central standard time) on News/Talk 1340 WSOY in central Illinois. Direct Line is the #1 listened to show by adults 12 and above for its time slot in our community. The show is designed as a live call-in event where current events are discussed through a lens of spirituality. Direct Line immediately follows Sean Hannity

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God Is In The Tree.

God is in the tree…

I sit under a beautiful tree on this lovely Spring day. I look up and notice what nature has done with her muse… I think about God.

No I am not religious in the proper sense of the word. Religion: Catholic.
Raised and bred to praise the church and God in its infinite glory along with this son and the Holy Ghost. (Notice I capitalized those words, so I remain with deep respect.)
I am not a Sunday Catholic any longer.
However, for those who need a tangible effect, church is good. A place to worship for some is a decent thing. I acknowledge and do respect all people who find comfort there. .
When life was done on me, I began to wonder, ask questions and search for God.
Is God a he, a she, an it? What is God? I asked. In my search I decided to look for Him…. It…  She…

I got glimpses of God in a newborn baby’s eyes.
I noticed God in my paralyzed brother and in my family when they were happy.
One day I saw God in Michael Jackson’s song ,”We are the World” and in the tears we cried when that group of singers begged us to help starving children, and we did.
God was peeking at me that day I felt so depressed I wanted to hide but needed to go to the market and an elderly woman held the door open for me.
God came out of hiding after Katrina hit New Orleans and neighbors gathered in groups to assist each other.
Another day I saw God in the eyes of a homeless, destitute man while he sat on a door stoop hugging his dog.
And God pronounced himself the day I observed a young girl smiling while she sat strapped in a wheelchair after a drunk driver caused her brain damage.
God showed up at a meeting with my son who was in a hospital bed with a broken neck from a diving accident, while he was unable to move, a heavy crown screwed into his skull, and I made him laugh.
While watching a sunrise on the ocean, too beautiful to describe I noticed God.
Holding little babies in my arms looking at their eyelashes, I felt God.
When I play with my fine-looking healthy grandchildren whom I lovingly refer to as my weeble wobbles, I hear God and he makes us laugh and sing songs I thought I forgot. And when they show me their take on life in their stories about princesses and entertain me with their dances and poetry, God is there, in my kitchen.
While visiting a dying man who had a peaceful yet expressive sparkle in his eyes, and watched his loved ones care for him so patiently and lovingly, I saw God again.
When a child is weeping in emotional pain because someone destroyed his innocence, and just one person hugs him and sooths him, I see God.
When I am looking at a beautiful painting, or hear a beautiful song, I see God.
When my husband says, you deserve rest, there God is again!
When I read stories about brave people who have come forth and show us that it is possible to ice skate on one leg, I see God.
When I felt a great urge to give when I had no more to give, and when I am willing to forgive the unforgivable, I find God.
When in the city while in a ravished impoverished neighborhood, I saw a beautiful flower growing thru a crack in an asphalt sidewalk, God!
When most people see LOVE, something stunning or sad, the first word out of their mouths is, “GOD!”
I didn’t have to look too hard to find God. He was in the tree the whole time.

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Of Course I love You

When a mother has a troubled child, she will hear from all of the people who have opinions. If her child grows to be a kind soul, they will continue to remind her that her child was not always good. In some families, there is that one who gets the lights thrown on him and never lives down his mistakes, and this is the worst maternal injury to her life…I have no argument. I’m used to having a wound reopened repeatedly. I’ve come to expect it from certain people.

One of my children has been under those lights since he was 3 years old. He was different and responded to the beat of his own drummer. There is no past while humans are growing. Like flowers, it takes time to bloom and while they are growing they’re not always pretty.

That terrible assault that keeps repeating in the lives of distressed people by those who are deeply troubled themselves is unnerving. Digging up the past, reliving the hurtful emotions is a very nonproductive indoor sport. Sitting across from someone sharing a cup of good coffee or a fine meal should be spent talking about good things, sharing laughter, making plans to enjoy what is left of our lives.

When a mother has a troubled child, the sorrow and fear for her child is too painful to talk about, but she often processes the predicament out loud hoping someone might have the answers. The fear is too huge to delete, like you would delete a message online. There is no consolation from those who witness the troubles in her life. There is judgment … and there is gossip, but no understanding, compassion or support. So a mother takes her burden where no one can see it; to her room at night where she cries and prays. To her job to distract herself where she carries her broken heart and grateful that for 8 hours she had no time to think of her concerns about the future of her son or daughter. Sometimes she takes it to her “one” friend who makes her laugh and doesn’t judge. I have always wanted to be that friend. I have helped my friends cry and cried with them. Mostly I made them laugh and took their pain away for a short time. I love to do that.

Perhaps when one takes his own life she/he was more angry and judgmental about himself/herself than anyone could possibly be. They ended the pain that no one saw. They leave us with a legacy more profound than any other. Do not judge and gossip about anyone ever! Talking about a tortured soul, and making speeches about the wrong of it all, serves no purpose. Indeed, the only purpose is to make a comparison of some kind between yourself and the tortured soul. Why? Perhaps doing that raises your superficial sense of self importance. It makes your own tortured soul look better. But not really…not really. And I have compassion for you.

The mindless attacks on someone dead or alive does not serve the greater good, especially when that person they are attacking is dead by his own hand, and most especially when you are talking to his mother.
Please let my son rest in peace.

Of course I love you.

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Why Whisper? Review ~ Gary Eaton

While reading the available excerpts it felt as if i had entered into a sacred place where the utmost respect is a prerequisite for entry and temporary stay. With care and attention i made my way through your arrangment of powerfully placed words and sentences with attentive dilligence. Respect and appreciation grew as i progressed through paragraphs and pages till with awe and admiration i finished reading this brief heart rending account of loss and a mothers grief. Such power, strength and eloquent capture of scenes, extreme emotional experiences were captured with gracefull, raw honesty. Outstanding my friend absolutely Outstanding. Thank you.

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MAGDA M OLCHAWSKA

http://www.magdaolchawska.com/entry/308

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Why is Truth Stranger Than Fiction?

And so it is said, that truth indeed, is stranger than fiction. I recently learned the reason is, because “fiction has to make sense.” Publishers will not consider fiction if it makes no sense, and yet and yet, the truth so uncomfortable to the millions of readers out there is so interesting. Even when the truth is captivating; it is fodder for those who are reading it because it is a gage of our own lives. People want it. Why? You ask. Because it makes them feel sane.

Of course we know that life is a mixed bag of hell and heaven. The hell is the part where secrets are kept. Do you know anyone who doesn’t have secrets?

We see some people as perfect an often feel less than perfect when we are with them. We leave their company and wonder how they managed to live so well, how they seem so upright and clean. They have great careers, beautiful homes, their children are all well groomed and respectful, and they simply have neat functional lives. They’re absolutely perfect; we think.

One day we learn that one of them has a daughter in graduate school that has been cutting herself for years and another perfect family has a son who has a substance abuse problem, and another; their marriage is a loveless trap of hate and financial deficit. It couldn’t be worse than you imagine, but it is. Now you are angry because you felt like they were better than you for so long.

No one’s life is devoid of mistakes and heartaches. It would be naïve to believe such a thing. The dirty truth is, no one knows what a functional family is. No one has a life of perfect continuum of glory and excellence. No one has never lied and lived his life within the strongbox of complete protection from some kind of scandal whether it be publicized or not. No one has had the blessing of life without pain. No one has ever lived and died without exercising immorality at some time or other. No one has ever lived life without hurting another individual who did not deserve to be hurt. No one has ever implemented any of the five deadly sins in their lives and not pointed fingers…Thou doest protest… Only a few know that money does not protect us from suffering.

Life is a classroom and painful truth is a gentle passage toward intellectual evolution. But there is no such thing as a worthless life. That is one truth no one can deny.

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My Best Friend Rosanne

My beautiful friend. I know there is another level of existence that is vibrating too fast for us to see. I know you are there where the colors we have never seen from this vantage point in the ever enigmatic classroom we live in, are all around you. You are there because your life was yours to take from us. You are also here with us. I know it is true. I believe you are soothed of all pain, playing, singing, dancing and helping those to find the light. I just want to tell you that you were a good friend and sometimes my only friend. I love you for that and so much more.
Jo Jo

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What Grief is This?

Everyone in the world knows what grief is. People we love die suddenly in accidents, plane crashes, war. Children are murdered. Loving grandmothers and grandfathers succumb to age and leave us with memories. Our parents are supposed to die before us and we know this. Our precious babies that never got a chance to live are mourned after long struggles with cancer, and other hopeless conditions; some are born dead or die within days for reasons we cannot understand. We cry. We feel tremendous sorrow for our friends and we feel helpless. We know grief. We know it well.

Then, there is suicide. The lives of healthy, brilliant men and women who are tired of living because it hurts to live. The pain is so deep and so constant, they shoot it, throw it off a platform, out a window, hang it or simply put it to sleep so it will stop. Young people, old people, middle aged people, college students, humiliated teens, the poverty stricken, sons and daughters of the middle class, wealthy celebrities and millionaires take their own lives and leave millions in the perilous grief no one can talk about. Suicide does not discriminate. Reasons leave no reason. The continuum of grief seems to follow us for want of answers. But there is no answer.

What then are we to do with this brand of grief? Where do we put it, how can we understand why? (Why?, being the key question.) Can we put it in the arena of grief of any other kind? I say no. No, because we can’t give it to God’s will. It is man’s will, is it not? And yet, and yet, the end of any life speaks to kismet. At last we can find the promise that all life transforms, as all energy can never end.

We remain. We endure. We know grief.

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Why Whisper? A book about you. . .

When someone you love commits suicide you lose your identity. You have no name. You become the person whose son, daughter, mother, father, cousin, sister, etc, committed suicide.

Where do you go from there? You hide and pray you will find yourself again. You wonder why people don’t want to talk about suicide. You become someone else. Then you begin to lie. You lie about your deceased loved one, or you don’t answer at all when someone asks how your loved one died. You become one of those people who don’t want to talk about it. When I realized that fact, I began to tell the truth and here’s what happened.

The first time I told the truth about Danny’s death to a stranger, she told me her own son committed suicide. She was an older woman and looked pretty spent, as if life had been done on her in the worst way. She told me her story, then said, “I have never told anyone this and I don’t know why I just told you. I feel as if a ton of weight has been lifted from me.” She was no longer the woman whose son committed suicide. She found her voice and gave it to her grief. Her grief was bored and ran off to haunt the keepers of the secret.

There is no platform for the estimated 6 million suicide survivors in the United States who are struggling with a brand of grief that is unspeakable. But one honest answer at a time will release the burden and set in motion the want of courage for those who have a story to tell. The odd part of the quandary is, people don’t know how to comfort one who has had to bury a loved one who didn’t have to die. I say to them, give comfort the same way you would if their loved one died any other way. Simple.

Here’s the rub. When someone we love dies any other way, be it old age, cancer, accidents, or illness of any kind, no one asks, why? That question causes discomfort. My answer: He went home because he was done here, but not here. Then I point to my heart.

When we can release the grief, we can hold the reverence for our loved one and pay respects to his/her life. That is important because they lived and left us with the most valuable legacy. Love and respect for life. As long as we’re still here, we must feel that or we will die while we live.

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Don’t Give up

I want to tell those who are thinking of dying how loved you are. I want to tell you that life doesn’t stay frozen in pain. Some frames of our lives are teaching tools and if we give time some time, they thaw and we learn in retrospect why things happen. We can’t learn life while we are living it. We can only look back after we evolve a notch or two and get the answers we want.

Life is like a river moving continuously, changing constantly as water moves over rocks and plants nurturing nature, sometimes soothing and sometimes rapidly exploding, spraying, and networking out onto new ground causing discomfort in the land around it, but it never stays still, nor does life.

Before you pull that trigger, take those pills, drive that car off a bridge, hang that rope, wait a minute. Just wait. Think, and know that your life will change..if destroyed will destroy so many other lives of innocent people who will be sentenced to the horrors suicide grief brings. It will alter their consciousness and they will miss you so much until they die too. Some will hang on to pieces of what’s left of their hearts. Some will write books like I did, and some will start foundations to help others who have considered taking their own lives, and some will die with you. When it hurts to much to live for yourself, live for them. Just wait one minute. Please!

Life can change in 24 hours. Money doesn’t protect us from suffering. Relationships that end are supposed to end, and those meant to be with you will be with you. And the high some get from drugs doesn’t make the ride worth the fall.

Depression is treatable. Broken relationships are treatable, addiction is too, but suicide survival grief is not treatable. The brave wait it out and find a place to put it; be it in the transformation of its energy channeled toward the good of others in your name, or in the transformation of their own lives forming hope that no others will have to suffer the grief they have come to know.

In the big picture, we are fragile and life is a tenuous gift, but I have come to understand the reasons why death often looks like the only cure for the burning torture of lost love, lost control over addiction, lost hope. And, I cannot help but see that there are millions of terminally ill children and adults that would trade lives with those who are not physically terminal who are considering dying. And still I know, and have come to conclude that the death of anyone in any manner, is no one’s fault, not even the one who takes his life.

But for those who grieve I have this to say… Pay attention to the children who have not yet learned to grieve. They know something we have forgotten. Don’t give up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izJyz64Tvdc&amp%3Bfeature=share

Love,
Jo

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Nawny and Poppa

We are the fortunate grandparents of 8 beautiful children, I affectionately refer to as, my weebles. We are also proud of our family which is composed of some great people, and I am proud and pleased to have them speak for me in this family of respectful, brilliant, loving human beings. My love is as high as the sky and as wide as the world. It is true, we have suffered great sorrow for Danny who left this life. But Danny has never left us. We pay great homage to his life in everything we do. When we thought we lost him, we held on to each other and healing happened when we learned that love never dies.

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The Illustrious Joe Mazzotta . . .

The man who gave me hope no matter how hopeless I felt …

The Man Who Wanted Why Whisper to Be Seen

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A Part of You Dies

When someone you love commits suicide, part of you dies too. The book, “Why Whisper?” is a path back to life.

Raw
Vulnerable
Anyone can hurt you now
And they do

No one comes
No one wants to talk about it
You write
Your words desert you

You miss laughing
You miss you
Life
You get by
You always do

You believe you will be fine
Not that fine
But you survive
As if surviving is enough
It is not enough

They knew you before suicide
They knew your comical self
Your optimistic self
They came to you for comfort
But they don’t come now

You want to shut grief out
But the door won’t close
It’s revolving

You want someone to come and say
I understand
I validate your sorrow
Let’s pay respects to your beautiful love
Let’s take a walk by the ocean and send a note in a bottle
To your loved one

Let’s bring an apple pie to another one
One who needs comfort
Let’s send a balloon up to celebrate your loved one’s birthday
How about a hug?
Let’s talk about your love

No need to whisper about suicide
You won’t die if you talk about it
You might die if you don’t

When you love someone
You never day goodbye
You say, thank you for coming into my life
You say, You will always be with me
You say, forever
Sempre

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Love Never Dies

To be with the one you love who has crossed over to a place vibrating to fast to see with our earth eyes, we must make the passage through a brand of grief that is impossible to define.

To know love cannot die, is to come to life again when life seemed to ugly and too painful to live.

To know complete joy we must first come to know complete sorrow.

This is for our Danny and his beautiful Kayla who was strong enough to find us again. Danny is her daddy, and he is vibrating too fast for us to see with our earth eyes, but he is closer than our own breath.

Yes I love you, and You Must Love Me. . .

For those who believe we truly lose someone we love, please close your eyes and listen to this song.

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Here’s to All The Sad People. Can You Hear me?

When we learn that someone we love has left us, gone home, died, we weep, our bodies hurt, and sleep cannot find us. We become steeped in grief. Grief becomes an entity that fills the empty chair.

We need Grief. It has value and through the passage of it, that value abides. Sometimes we wrestle with the entity and always lose the battle, then we give Grief more of our life…

Our lives become dark shadows of memories and we live there for a while. We see nothing but pain while the entity slaughters our want of life itself. We are afraid that if we stop suffering our loved one on the other side will feel betrayed.

We’re angry that we are still stuck on this earthly plane and we contemplate joining our dead loves.

A pinhole of light shines like a needle in our eyes, hearts, minds, souls… Every day, it shines but we don’t know what it is. It is always there. We can’t discern where it is coming from. It’s not in the sky, or on the floor. It’s just there.

One day we face off the entity. We say, step outside you bastard. And the duel begins. You notice the pinhole of light is no longer a needle. It has grown wide as a nickle. As it shines on us, we tell Grief (the entity) to have at us. We fall. We’re so tired and lost.

Show me what you’ve got that is desperately trying to slaughter hope, love, life itself. Let me have it. I surrender!

Suddenly, Grief is disarmed.

You know then, you are the light.

Welcome Home

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I Saw Death Yesterday

Our good friend Lenny is dying. Joe and I went to see him.

He had a headache five years ago. Surgeons opened his head and took a tumor out. A few years later after multiple radiation and chemotherapy treatments, they opened his head and took more cancer out. Recently, they opened his head again, and put a shunt in to bring the fluids away from his brain and into his stomach, but didn’t promise him life, just temporary relief.

Lenny is dying.

We visited him at his home where his wife and son take care of him with total devotion and unbelievable strength… I brought lasagna, pizza and calzones. I wanted to bring him life, but I couldn’t.

When I saw him laying there so beautiful, betrayed by his own body, I saw the Lenny we know. He smiled at us.

I asked him what he was doing, he said, “I’m dying, it hurts and I’m tired.” I asked him why he let the doctors open up his head. He said, “There’s money in my head so they went in to get it.” He smiled again and so did we. Then he vomited into a plastic container as I held it near his face. Then we talked. He told me he didn’t want to do this anymore. And I knew that death was the only cure for his pain.

Too often the road to death is filled with thorns and yet, the courage it takes to travel onward is second to none. I was a witness to that yesterday, and it was a privilege to be there.

Godspeed Lenny. We Love You. Have fun on the other side! We will see you again.

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Openess on a Daunting Subject

Suicide is not a new concept. Before we came to be at this present stage of development, historically humans have used death as a cure and a solution…
Judas, a disciple of Christ was said in biblical times, to have committed suicide because he was about to be captured by the followers of Jesus for betrayal, or, because he felt guilty for betraying Jesus. That’s a toss-up because no one asked him why he really committed suicide.

In many fictional accounts, like Romeo and Juliet and other works of Shakespeare, suicide is embodied as a solution for broken hearts, guilt and madness.
Historically groups of people collectively committed suicide for reasons that held a strong hold on their desire to live.

All the inhabitants of Masada collectively committed suicide so the Roman Soldiers wouldn’t get them. It was an empty triumph when the Roman soldiers reached the encampment in the mountain; they found all the Israelites dead by their own hands.

Victor Frankl, a man who was a prisoner in A German concentration camp and the author of “Man’s Search for Meaning,” saw men will themselves to death in order to escape the pain and fear in which they were immersed. He knew they were refusing to be victims, using their minds as a tool to kill themselves before the Germans could. With this observation, he learned of the strength of the human mind and was able to employ his own will to do the very opposite: to survive. Frankl’s basic discovery in the midst of his grief and suffering was that life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones. And yet suicide rates have increased during the past five years and no one seems to want to talk about it.

Media is uncomfortable with the word Suicide, and western psychiatry is unable to bridge the gap between life and death in the hole between Inpatient care and outpatient care where good people die.

When my 32 year old son took his own life I found a corridor in grief that exposed the fact that we have to stop hiding the truth about suicide while my journey entries became a book called Why Whisper? The infinite puzzle, the myth and the hope came together and found a home in my ravished heart. The key to healing is awareness, and finding a cathartic outlet to channel it.

Give grief a voice. Give life a chance to find all the lost souls who need a hand to hold so they will feel less afraid. Their pain is not endless, life moves. It never stays still. Suicide though it appears to be the only solution to end pain for some, is permanent. Death offers what it promises. It is the slaughter of hope that is not permanent, however painful.

My dearest wish is to see western mental health experts stop medicating life.

Why Whisper? is about someone in your family, friends, hairdresser, distant cousins, employees, neighbors, college students, military members, elderly, children, bullying victims, brilliant young men and women, artists, celebrities, and to put it bluntly; it is about you.

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Within The Shadow of Grief, There is Love

Life

There is Love

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Josh Barber’s Song

Josh Barber took his own life before his frozen frame of heartbreak thawed. Because western psychiatry could not find its way to the source and used science to fix what science cannot fix, he left this world.

Too many times, those who are feeling empty and lost take their own lives. There is an enormous need for a change in Western Psychiatry. There is a gap between release from inpatient therapy and out patient care. That gap is a dangerous field and people die there with an appointment card in their pockets along with a prescription for antidepressant medications that promise to relieve emotional pain. That is the science that addresses the neurons in the brain, and western medicine will tell you your own God given brain chemicals will react positively to what man has developed. Chemicals will save the day? Or do they?

Josh was not physiologically flawed. The Western Medicine approach is flawed.

What is needed is empathetic therapy, compassionate therapy, relating therapy, cognitive therapy. If doctors would allow a depressed patient to give his pain a voice the patient might hear the hope in his own soul speaking, and lives would be saved.

The family of Josh Barber has arranged a foundation to raise money to bridge the gap between inpatient therapy for depression and outpatient therapy to stop those tortured souls from falling through the gap.

Josh’s life is now on a level where he is calling out to those in need. He is making changes with the love and help of his brave family. See his website at weallmoveon.org and join the fight for a much needed change in the treatment for depression. His way will work. We All move On is a song he wrote and it’s magical message was predestined.

It’s about you, and many people you know.

Godspeed Josh!

weallmoveon.org.

Look for his book this coming spring!

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Applying Science to Depression Doesn’t Work.

If you ask science to speak to depression, it will say, “There are over 40 million cells in our brain. They are affected directly or indirectly by serotonin, endorphins and dopamine. The imbalance of these, cause depression. (In theory, as science cannot prove it or measure levels of those opiates in our bodies.) So, they give us pills like, Effexor, Prozac, Lexapro, Lithium, Serzone, Wellbutrin, Celexa, and a long list of other chemicals that promise to transmit relief for the intense debilitating symptoms of the broad definition of Depression. You are sent home to ingest a cocktail of these antidepressants. You are sent to mind altering substances to get you out of the depression which is a symptom of a traumatic life experience. Hardly able to engage in cognitive therapy, you become a product of psychiatric practice. Something like a lab rat, but not quite.

Find the integrity in that. Find the hope.

Read Dr Breggin, the man who wants to unravel the psychiatric protocol, and help people heal and move on with their lives. Brilliant read. http://www.breggin.com/

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Gloria Vanderbilt’s Son’s Suicide

Anderson Cooper asked his mother the central question. How did you survive the suicide of your own son? This amazing woman begins her answer by saying, “You breathe in and you breathe out…” I agree.

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Danny Dancing

The Italian famous qua qua song and Danny joins the girls to play along. He did pretty well! I was trying to help him remember the steps and we all had fun that day.

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A Song for Danny * A Song for life

We miss you Danny. Thank you for sending 6 new souls to love. When children are near, there is no sorrow. Children do not carry sorrow. See the smiles they brought to my life after you went home. I think they are your angel friends. I love you my son.
Momma

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A Man Who Survived a Suicide Attempt Offers Hope

I love this man!

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Life Couldn’t Answer

Why couldn’t she save Danny? She mothered him the same way she mothered all of her children, but Danny was different. At a very young age, she knew that about him. He was bright, articulate, happy and grew into a person who drew people to him. His lust for life and his lack of fear were palpable. Joanne Mazzotta spent years trying to make him understand that it is dangerous living without tradition. She prayed that he would not draw the attention of the dangerous side of life, and that he wouldn’t be curious about it, but he was. She failed repeatedly to keep him safe from a world that couldn’t love him as she did.

Keeping journals about Danny was her way of giving grief a voice no one wanted to hear. Her love, and at times, her tears were between every line.

When Danny died it felt natural to journal her grief. It was cathartic. For eight years Mazzotta wrote until her journals became her passion in the wee hours of the morning when no one was awake. When her husband Joe found them he began to insist that she publish her story in hopes that it would help someone out there who was feeling alone in grief. Mazzotta protested because she didn’t want to give Danny up to the world; hold him up for critique. She was afraid he would be judged because he committed suicide.

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Street Stories Walt Buteau

New England News WPRI Channel 12 Street Stories came to my house today to interview me about the book, Why Whisper? Walt wanted to know why I wrote the book and what I wanted readers to get out of it.

I told him the truth. I didn’t write a book. I wrote to my grief; investigated it, researched it and asked it what it wanted of me. When I stopped struggling with it, I began to heal. My husband Joe insisted that my journals become a book to help others.

My book will validate their feelings, but mostly it will give them hope that the passage of grief will end, and life will come back, however changed. They will know life in a way they would have never conceived possible and they will see how beautiful it can be. They will love again, smile again, sing again and know, that no one really dies.

When we lose someone we love to death we never say goodbye.
We say, thank you for coming into my life
We say, you will always be with me
We say, Sempre (forever)

Joanne

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My Dearest Friend Rosanne

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The Wrong Words

Never tell a sad person not to cry
And never tell them why
Pain is a prelude to knowlege

Don’t tell them not to feel
Or beckon them to heal
Don’t give them sound advice
Just let them cry

Cry with them if you will
But don’t tell them to stop crying
When they’re tired of trying
To be loved.

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The Differences Between Us

Whispers in the pews on Sunday. Standing in line at the market waiting to be checked out, more whispers. At a social event, even more. A mother comes out of hiding after a long argument with her life. She reenters the world she used to know, but it is not the same because she isn’t the same. Her child committed suicide and no one wants to talk about it.

Hey, there’s that woman whose son committed suicide, shhh…
Don’t mention it
I know, I know.
Just pretend to talk about something else
I wonder why he did that
Dunno, probably dysfunctional family
Drugs?
Who knows? She’s sort of strange anyway
Her other kids are good, what happened to him?
Dunno, but there must be a reason he killed himself
Probably mother issues
Shush, she’s walking over here.

Oh Hello, love your bracelet!
Thanks did you have a good Christmas? We did.

Hell she’s so full of it. How can she have a good Christmas after her son committed suicide. She’s in denial.

Yeah well she probably lost her marbles after that. Meds too! Ya know?

Just don’t talk about it. I don’t want her to freak or anything.

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Life is a Wheel

Within the deepest grief there is a muse. This soft sad voice lends you its song that is looking for a sound to sooth the soul. Somewhere along the journey of grief there is art, soothing memories, and love. And there is God.

As the circle of sorrow closed, my life changed forever. Finding balance in my sorrow, I found a kind of strength that cannot be defined, and yet it is there holding my hand, telling me that life is still beautiful and telling me, “love is as perennial as the grass.”

I paint on rainy days on the top level in an alcove in my historic home, and lose myself in expression without effort and without pain. I am grateful to the muse. With oil paints and canvas I am able to forgive myself and everyone else for being human. I am able to leave sorrow alone. I am able to decide not to grieve while I float above the hurt, brush in hand, not wondering what result will appear when the painting is finished.

Godspeed my son. I love you.
Mom

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To The Best of My Knowledge

Aside

Why Whisper? did not start off as a book. I began to write late at night, about Danny. I spoke to him with my pen. For years, months, days, I missed him, I missed myself along with him. He was gone it seemed; my son, one of my four children was gone. I thought it couldn’t be true. He was with us for 32 years, and I couldn’t part with the thought that he was not gone at all. He was Danny! How could he be gone; just like that, with no warning? Why did Danny take his own life away from me? Why did the world hide it? When would people who have had to say goodbye too soon to a loved one who committed suicide, have to suffer alone? When I was pressured to share Danny’s life and death with the world, I gave his gift and I ask you to learn that you are not alone, and that love never dies.

I wrote to him about him, for him, and with him for 8 years. My late night writings are in his book, Why Whisper?

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Why Whisper About it?

New Harrowing and Heartbreaking Memoir Proves Love’s Enduring Power
Joanne Mazzotta bares her soul to readers as she overcomes pain, loss and grief.

“There’s no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were.” Echoing these words by the former president Dwight D. Eisenhower, author Joanne Mazzotta writes Why Whisper?, a mother’s gripping account of her journey alongside grief after her 32-year-old son Danny took his own life.

Why Whisper? faces the more arduous task of living with one’s self as suicide seizes more than one life, it takes some life from everyone around it. When her son took his own life, a portion of the author’s life also died with him. In this gripping account of one mother’s journey alongside grief, Mazzotta bares her soul and her skeletons to bring readers an honest and insightful look at addiction, loss, hope, suicide, and the enduring power of love. The author further explained:

“This experience showed me that there is a significant amount of suicide survivors in the world with a dire need for simple human-to-human compassion and understanding. I was not alone. But, during my own ordeal, I found no book, person, or god that could rescue me from the black hole of this unfamiliar territory. I felt alone. I began to journal my anguish as a way to survive my loss. This journal became more than a collection of chronicles about the lives of my family members. It became a clear reflection of the way love could deliver me from a kind of hell I had never imagined. I gave my grief a voice because its silence was trying to kill me.”

Why Whisper? has received a good number of positive reviews from readers who were lucky to read the book before it got published. Joanne Sinatra commented, “I didn’t know you that well when I read it on your website and I had to stop every so often and breathe. As I was reading it I was actually holding my breath or shallow breathing and that is how moving it was to read it. I can tell you I cried at times. If I had to use one word to describe it – it would be “raw”. It is painful and touching. It’s sad and also happy. It has made me appreciate my life all the more. It made me realize the mountains that I thought were in front of me, and that I climbed over, were mere hills compared to what others have endured.”

This poignantly well-crafted work of Mazzotta, Why Whisper? reminds readers that healing arrives in the most unlikely times, and love, as proverbial as it may sound, still conquers all.
.

Why Whisper?* by Joanne Mazzotta
A Memoir

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