Page 25 - 2016 Spring-Summer Issue
P. 25

Dear Dr. Gloria,

Last night I went to my first Compassionate Friends meeting. During the sharing
session I told the group that I was having trouble facing my son’s mental illness and
his death. For several years I have worked with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental
Illness) where I learned about coping with our son’s schizophrenia. I thought I had
it under control. Then the call came. It was a policeman telling me Ricky was dead.
He was speeding over 100 miles per hour, lost control of the car and hit a tree. It has
been three months and I seem to have lost all of my coping skills. I cry often, drink
too much, and obsess over what more I could have done to save our son. While Ricky
was alive I worked tirelessly to help him and others cope with their mental illness and
I felt we were making progress. Now as I look at his death I wonder if this was suicide
by car, a last desperate effort to escape his pain. Can you help?

Dear Ron,
I am very sorry to hear about Ricky’s death, but I am glad you found The Compassionate Friends and I hope you will continue
to attend meetings and visit their Internet Chat Rooms. NAMI is a wonderful organization and it sounds like you found that
making sense of any loss is made easier by giving service. Three months is very early and I suggest that the service you need
to give at this time is to yourself. The first year following the death is the most difficult as you have to go through the first of
everything without him. Be patient with yourself. Crying is part of the process; I often hear men say that they wish they could
cry more. Obsessive thoughts of how you could have made a difference are natural. Journaling, sharing feelings and getting light
exercise are good ways to calm these thoughts and settle your mind. You should avoid drinking excessively and self-medicating
as they dampen emotions making it difficult to face the reality of your loss. As time passes the questions of how and why he
died will take on less importance, as in the end it is not how Ricky died, but how he lived and the memories of him that make
you smile and rekindle your love.
Also, please visit us at www.opentohope.

God Bless,
Dr. Gloria

Dr. Gloria Horsley, MFC, CNS, PhD, is the founder and president of the Open to Hope Foundation an internationally known grief expert, a
psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. Gloria cohosts the Internet radio show Open to Hope, at, and has authored a number of
books and articles. She will be answering your questions related to loss, grief, and recovery for the bereaved parent/grandparent.
Please send your questions to: Dr. Gloria Horsley, c/o The Compassionate Friends, PO Box 3696, Oak Brook, IL 60522-3696

        One of my favorite poems by Emily Dickinson begins: “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” In
        the early years of my grief after my daughter Coty died, it was hard to imagine I would ever feel that flutter of hope
        again. Through The Compassionate Friends, I found others who had not only survived, but had built a new life in
        honor of their loved ones. I felt the rustling of those little feathers and knew that hope would live again in my soul.

                                                                                                               Kathleen Willoughby, Coty’s mom
                                                                                                                      Loss to Homicide moderator

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