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Editor: Sonya Marvel
Contributors: All Members of My Mom Is A Survivor

Sometimes feelings of numbness, shock and denial go on longer than the first few weeks. Although it is common to experience some of these earlier symptoms for time to time, it is not good to have these symptoms constantly. Be sure to have at least one person that you can discuss your feelings with, a family member or friend, a support or bereavement group. Talk to your doctor about how you feel, and perhaps seek a counselor for further treatment. Call a crisis hotline if you ever feel that you may consider suicide.

Depression is a constant in your life for at least a year. In my case, I was so depressed for 2 years that I considered suicide after the first year. I just did not want to live my life the way I had been without my only child. I planned it carefully. I was consumed with the idea of dying just as my son did, so I would know how he felt when he died. I had a very good counselor who knew my symptoms and came to my rescue. Immediately I was put on antidepressants for a long time. About two years after John died, I woke up one morning and was just lying in bed thinking and looking at the ceiling. I was crying again at the thoughts of going through yet another day without having my child in my life. Depression is very miserable. It caused me to be miserable and I am sure everyone around me felt miserable. This is something I feel I have no control over. I believe because of my depression is what made my friends turn away from me. They did not understand that this was a normal part of grieving.

With the Grace of God, my thoughts immediately turned to survival. I was tired of being depressed. I was tired of crying and putting on an act that I was okay. John would not want me to be this unhappy. I vowed from that day forward that I would think only positive thoughts and if I thought a negative thought, I would turn it around to something positive. I just had to make it. I no longer wanted to kill myself. However, I am not afraid to die, because I know that I will see John on that day. I still have my days of depression. I merely go with it and get it out of my system, and pray that the next day will be a better day.

Mom to John
9/8/69 - 1/20/89

You are not alone and I want you to know that there are a lot of us. I did not know what was happening to me and I just kept getting lower and lower until I just could not handle anymore. I had losses, physically, mentally and financially - but I had always handled them before. I use to be a very happy person and had a whole lot of friends. I use to enjoy life and seemed to be happy all the time. Then things started getting to me. It felt like every time something came up, it started feeling like someone was just adding a little more weight to the load I was carrying around on my shoulders. I did not think anything could get any worse but it did. There was a death in my life that hit me like a ton of bricks and it was just too much weight to carry. The shoulders I thought could carry any amount of problems, gave out on me. There was nothing, as far as I was concerned, that could be done to put my life back on track and what was worse is I did not care. I did not eat, did not sleep, talk to anyone or see any of my friends. I did not want to fight anymore, I did not want to hurt anymore, there was no one whom I could trust anymore and no one I wanted to be around. My feelings froze and I was like a block of ice on the inside. I did not feel!!! My children, my grandchildren and the rest of my family, I knew I loved them but I did not feel love. I did not feel happy, sad, nothing! I did not want to exist in this world at all anymore. I wanted to die. I tried to die at my own hand but I was stopped and for the last year and a half, I have been under medical and physiological care. I still do not care if I were to die. I still have suicidal thoughts but with them comes some understanding and most of all I think of how I felt with my loss and I would not put my loved ones through that kind of pain or the kind of feelings that I have been going through, I love them to very much. I am getting help and I am feeling better every day. I am on medication, which seems to help, I have the support of my family and friends which I could not do without. Strength is a good thing to have but when it keeps you from getting help when you need it, it is not called strength anymore, it is not good anymore. Please, when you seem to be at the end of your rope and you think there is no way out, get some help. See your medical doctor, call a crisis program or talk to your religious leader. It is a more common problem than you may think. Believe me when I tell you that you are not alone in the battle against depression. It is easier to win than your may believe. Please check out my Links page for some links that may be able to help.

Diane Porter - Mom To Steve Otero Martinez
1/30/66 - 1/30/66

Sadness, numbness, sobbing, drawing inward, even wanting to die. These are all feelings of Depression. Depression has affected me most of my life. As a younger woman, I suffered many times of depression. Depression, I guess you could say has been a genetic part of the women and a few men in my family. I suffered a nervous breakdown at the age of forty-four (1993). I had a lot going on in my life and was under great stress in my job. I thought I had known the worse of depression having spent many days in bed, not able to function in daily life. I seemed to be getting a little better and then the clouds fell from heaven.

Todd was murdered in 1996.  I at first wanted to die to be with him, but that was only a normal reaction, according to the professionals. To lose your child is hard for the so-called normal parent, but for one with so many emotional problems, you would expect a total collapse. In the first days, depression seemed to keep me in a daze. Then the feelings of denial, guilt and questions of why and who would or could have done this, made my anxiety and panic of previous years seem trivial.

My pastor preached a sermon one Sunday about depression. He had experienced it first hand.  He called his experience, "The Old Black Dog of Depression"! I knew exactly what he meant, all too well!

I spend many days online just doing nothing.  I have days I can get dressed then days, maybe more than healthy of not dressing or even talking to anyone except my good and understanding spouse. Days I eat too much or days I do not eat at all.

But all the while I am in control until the flash of panic or anxiety hits...then depression creeps back.. like an old friend visiting me again. Since Todd's death learned to enjoy and do like being alone. As the days and even the years have gone by, there has been no arrest in my son's murder.  Sometimes I wonder If and When, will I be able to go on? I have since Todd's death, been through many sessions of therapy and dozens of medications for depression, anxiety and panic attacks. The strength God has given me has taken me farther I believe than any medication ever will. But still in my life and I believe always will be is That "Old Black Dog Depression"!

Please keep us in your prayers.

Norma Jean
Mom to Todd
5/25/64 - 10/13/96

Depression is a sneaky thing. During the grieving process all the feelings you experience are considered "normal". Some say this has gone on too long and your grief becomes referred to as "depression".

Excuse her, they say "she's just depressed." One of my more seasoned responses is, "Of course I'm depressed, what did you expect? Great joy and happiness? My child is dead. He is gone. I will never see him again. Would you think I was less depressed if I threw a party? Went out dancing? Then I start to think that I've just proven how "down" I've become.

Depression is a word that is tossed around too easily and the term itself is.....upsetting. When describing depression, it can fit just about every emotion the grieving parent feels. The only difference is the length of time involved. Who among us feels it is right to impose a time limit on how we feel about losing our child?

Any parent who has lost a child and hears the words, "You've been like this for_____ (days, weeks, months, years). Isn't it time you got over it? Get on with your life!" knows how the urge to wring the speaker's insensitive, unsympathetic, near-sighted neck can almost be uncontrollable.

I am a "professional" but not a doctor. I do not have the credentials to speak as an authority, but I have had plenty of professional experience with depressed people. I divide them into two categories:

    1.  Clinical depression-a medical condition
        linked to chemical/hormonal imbalance
        or brain dysfunction. 
    2.  Situational depression-all the symptoms of
        clinical depression but the cause is external.

The majority of parents who have lost a child are in the second category. Their best source of alleviating their symptoms is working them out in groups, therapy, writing or the passage of time.

The others, who fall in the clinical category, don't have much control over what's happening to them and medication or therapeutic intervention is the best help. You can't talk them into feeling better.

Four months before my son died, he was hospitalized for one of his severe asthma attacks.  This was a critical turning point. This time he had to be intubated. The process involved giving paralyzing, coma inducing drugs, inserting a tube into his lungs and letting a machine breathe for him until he could do it on his own again.

I remember how panicked and helpless I felt seeing him this way.  I told the nurse, "boy, when he wakes up this time he is really going to be mad at me!!!!"

When the respirator was removed and he woke up, he just sat there and looked at us. It wasn't the glowering anger I had expected, but something else. It was a sadness, it was a stillness it wasn't like him at all. His doctor saw this as "depression." We were referred to see a psychologist who specialized in treating children with chronic illness and the emotional impact it has on their lives.

This doctor saw my son immediately. He was very concerned and had us coming back several times a week. In mid-August, prophetic maybe, because my son really liked this man, Jason said, "Mom, you go see the doctor without me, you're gonna need him more than me." It was the very next day that we went to the Emergency Room. Jason was in such distress he was again intubated, only this time he went into cardiac arrest. He was revived, but lapsed into a coma and died 11 days later. The first person I called was this doctor.  He was with me in the horrible days that followed. He even went to the funeral home to help me make the arrangements.  He was there for the memorial service.

Several weeks later, I called him and asked him to see me about grief issues. That was almost 4 years ago and I see him every week like some people go to church...religiously. He says I don't have a "diagnosis." He also sees my son's surviving siblings for family sessions.  We work on the feelings we have as we live our lives without Jason.

One day, when I was particularly low....he asked me if I felt like killing myself......I said I wished I was the one who was dead, but I can't kill myself.  Why not????? Because of how I think. Inside I truly believe Jason is somewhere (I don't know if that place has a name) and I believe I will be with him again for all time. I also believe that if I do something "on purpose" I will be denied entry to the place where he is, it has to be when my time comes or I'll never see him again. That thought for me, is the most powerful deterrent to suicide in my mind.

Every day I struggle to just get on with my life. Some days are better than others. On real bad days, I found the words to the "Serenity Prayer" are the most comforting to me:

God grant me the
serenity to accept the
things I cannot
change, courage to
change things I can,
and the wisdom to know
the difference.

Sue Overton
Mom to Jason
6/17/85 - 8/28/95

Recommended Reading


Loss: Sadness and Depression
Attachment and Loss

By John Bowlby

No Review Available


The Antidepressant Survival Program:
How to Beat the Side Effects and Enhance the Benefits of Your Medication

By Robert J. Hedaya

Book Description
You or someone you love may be one of an estimated 25 million Americans currently taking antidepressants for a wide range of psychiatric and physical disorders. But there is a dark side to these "wonder drugs" --- punishing side effects such as weight gain, lethargy, and sexual dysfunction that afflict up to 80 percent of the people who take them. Until now, side effect sufferers have had nowhere to turn for help.


This has been written by the members of My Parents Are Survivirs to help us to get through the worst time of our lives. Every word of this information and feelings is copy written by the writer. That means that you can NOT use this material in any way, shape or form. Please do not ask, because permission will NOT be given. This has been written from our hearts and will not be duplicated.

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Changes last made on: Wed Jul 08, 2009