Parent Sharing

      Below are the thoughts, feelings, and memories I shared as a parent at the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 OOTD Opening Ceremony

Participating in this Out of the Darkness, Walkout for Life is something I have wanted to do for two years. I am the mother of 4 incredible people, Mary, Christina, Rachael and Isaac Powell. I was asked to share some of my thoughts and experiences as a parent. Suicide is not easy to talk about. It is uncomfortable. The word feels almost taboo at times because of the reaction I get when I say that is how my son died. I understand though, because no one wants it to touch them, or others do not have any idea what to say in response.

Simple things for a season, like the question of, “how many children do you have?” ~ was hard for me to answer because I thought I would have to explain what my son had chosen to do. That was a personal struggle that I had to get past. The truth is I am proud of and love all my children, with all my heart. I always will.

Today we were given beads to represent the one we are remembering and honoring. I am wearing blue ones that represent a child. My son Isaac was 17, a senior in high school, a bold and friendly, young man who was applying to colleges when another set of challenges came forth. He chose a permanent solution to a temporary situation and on February 6, 2007, committed suicide with an AK47.

When I got the call, I felt like part of me was ripped away. NO, NO… He was not supposed to die before me! I was looking forward to watching Isaac grow to be the man he was meant to be! Isaac had so much personality, a passionate heart and he truly cared for people; he was a protector. Isaac was also proud, very independent, and wanted to handle things on his own.

I do not know how it is for other people but for almost a year I had a hard time saying suicide. I could only say Isaac transformed… it hurt too much. I have not been angry at Isaac. It is too sad, this tragic loss of life. I have however been angry at myself and at circumstances. My heart was broken that in his inner turmoil lost hope for himself or his future, when he gave so much to others. Anger is a natural part of the grief process… with suicide there are so many unknowns; So many Whys…

From what I have read and I believe; my son and your loved one were not trying to hurt us. They had no concept of how much pain they would cause. Isaac thought he was doing what was best. People often think they are doing us a favor but what they needed, wanted was to end their own pain. The word needs to be spread out to communities, and across the country: people do care, people will listen, there is hope, there is help, and that we are not alone. We can get through this life; live, not just survive, and have victories.

After Isaac’s passing, I could hardly sleep, the heartache was so deep.
It’s been almost 4 years since Isaac left his earthly home that February day… I remember that night, it snowed and I walked out in it and fell to my knees. I could not believe it. Each member of my family dealt in a different way with their grief. As a mother, I wanted to comfort so much but I could not erase the pain for my daughters, my family or his friends. Their grieving experience was a walk they each had to go through. That is when I first searched out AFSP ~ to try to understand the feelings and thoughts we were having as survivors.

We will carry the loss of Isaac here, with us, for the rest of our lives. There are still days washed with tears, the sorrow that has softened but stays true because for us with him, there are no tomorrows only pictures of yesterday.


My friends and family have been a blessing on the challenging road. Hopefully others will come to know that it is not a bad thing when I/we talk about Isaac. We need to and it helps to share good memories, about the one we loved and lost, just as one remembers anyone else who has gone before us.


I have found it so true, Grief comes in waves. In the beginning the tempest is a storm that seems like it will never end and you will not survive but somehow you do. Losing a child, anyone you love to suicide is not something you get over. There are no sweet goodbyes. There is no justice to be had or answers to take away the pain. Only hopefully with time, an acceptance, forgiveness, and a measure of healing that allows you to learn to live in a new now. Be present in the moment because it is good to live, okay to laugh, to love, and move forward. I am learning to acknowledge my feelings and to make moments to celebrate life. I believe Isaac would want me to. A goal is to learn from mistakes, to let go of the bad and hold onto the good.

Pressures today are so great. It is important get to the truth and set healthy boundaries. Count our blessings first instead of just all of our challenges. It is sad to be at a place where you do not know how to receive or let someone be there for you. It is actually a really good experience for both giver and receiver, to let someone be there for you.

Often, I see and hear people say that they are ‘handling it on their own’… not letting anyone know what was really going on inside, hiding so much hurt that they are either crushed or consumed. Haunted by the deception of false expectations, of who they think they should be, what others expect of them or they perceive is expected. Putting up the walls to try not to be hurt or let the hurt show.

Labels come to mind, ones that are put on us by others and those we tend to put on ourselves. I read somewhere: “a boat is not moved by the wake it leaves in the water’ that struck me. A boat moves by the engine or the wind in its sails. That is our heart. If we could not be stuck looking back or too far into the future; could we let go of a lot of anger and fear in our lives today?

I do not say that Isaac was taken from me. Instead, I believe God saw him at that moment ~ in his pain, in a body that could not be mended and took his hand. God is always near.

I have never tried, nor will I, but at one time I felt hopeless to the point I could finally relate to what Isaac may have felt ~ thinking that it would be best for everyone because I hurt so badly. I did not feel my own worth. I only felt had let down so many I loved. Then I really thought of my family; I would never want to hurt them. I would like to encourage you. Sometimes I have had to just get through the night because I believe that God’s mercies are new every morning. I have experienced some wonderful joys and moments since that time that I would have missed and I would not trade them for anything. I have a purpose and you do too! You will find it, even if you are not sure what it is now.

Anniversaries and holidays can be difficult. That is an understatement, especially in the beginning isn’t it?

This year, on Sept. 5th, Isaac's 21st birthday, we jumped from a perfectly good plane. I used to say, ‘I will never do that!” I get the willies up high on a sky scraper, so me, sky dive?? You are kidding right? My daughter Rachael planned the skydiving adventure and invited me. I had been struggling with things, been sick the week before but said I would come to witness it and would film my girls jump. However, I woke up that morning and thought, “I only live once, my girls are doing it, I am too!” so I went for it. Instead of thinking of every reason why I couldn't; I just decided, I did not want to miss the moment! What is something you would not like to miss? Something you have not done yet but want, or need to do?

The sky dive was tandem
, (not solo) and incredibly awesome. It took my breath away, it was so beautiful that awesome does not describe it…and I was NOT afraid! The sky was so clear, we were almost 3 miles up and you could see for 100’s of miles.

That is kind of what faith is like to me...
Taking a leap, reaching out, trusting someone has your back, and that you will make it to your destination and enjoy the ride. By removing yourself in a way, from the “bad, in your face stuff” and stepping back, taking someone's hand and looking up and out, you get a different perspective. What you can do, Possibilities. It does not mean all the tough stuff disappears but it does help how you respond and think about yourself. (And yes, I would do it again ; )

It is hard for some people to talk to others about how they feel, share their fears and heartaches, anger because they do not want to be thought of as crazy, or stupid, or weak... If we could help people know that as mortal humans it is ok to have feelings! It is what we do with them, is what is important! Learn to recognize them for what they are; get to the root of what really is. What am I feeling? Why am I feeling this way? What is causing it? Then could we choose how we respond differently and find freedom here. If we could start at homes and in schools with kids, be available to the veterans, and help them learn good coping skills and ways of expressing themselves well, would that not be great for all of us?

Depression can cloud the truth
. Shame and fear of rejection stop many from speaking out. That is what AFSP, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is about, and what this walk is for. To take away the shame, change misconceived notions, judgments stemming from lack of knowledge, abolishing the sense of isolation. There has been social stigma for people who are struggling with depression, or tried to commit suicide, and in some places even to the survivors who lost someone.

Thanks to AFSP and volunteers who organize walks like this we have been given a place to come together ~ We have a voice, we can listen to one another, give respect to each other, and we can help bring attention to our world about how serious the epidemic of suicide is. It is the 2nd leading cause of death of college students ~ 1 n 3 already have a plan. The 3rd leading cause of death in 15-24 years old, and in the ages 7-14 it is the 6th leading cause! 838 residents of VA alone took their life in 2008.

All of us have great value
. People want to know acceptance for whom they are, be shown unconditional love, and respect. We all need encouragement, recognition, hope... and to feel connected.

Resources are available to help those who are dealing with depression and thinking suicide is or may be the way out. AFSP also provides support to the Suicide Survivor, as well as to friends and loved ones who are concerned about those who have lost someone to suicide. The resources I found helped me very much and led me to others groups.

Please explore and use the resources of AFSP. Support this organization made up of primarily volunteers, many who are professionals. It is on the forefront of suicide prevention. What I also call it life preservation. Happiness doesn’t have to be distant goal; it can be part of our life journey.




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