by Robbie Graham. Robbie’s stepson Drey died by suicide in 2012
I am a stepdad to Drey who took his life on August 8, 2012 – that date will never lose its significance. He was – is – my wife’s only child. He was loved, taken care of, even spoiled (in some respects). Externally, he had everything to live for.
My first priority was my wife
Denise was Mom. This was her boy. She had carried him inside of her and given birth to him. She loved him more than anything or anyone else on this planet. My focus was entirely on her for the first nine months. Besides, I was just a stepdad.
It was only after those nine months when I saw that Denise was able to better function independently, that I felt that I could now grieve. This was made more difficult because now she and I were in different places. Where she was beginning to come out of the shock and numbness, I was now falling apart. Adding to this was the complication that I was stepdad.
I wasn’t a great dad and by extension, I wasn’t a great stepdad. My faults are too numerous to list here. I say that not as a slam on myself, but because I believe that many of you reading this can relate. Needless to say, Drey’s death brought those failures to the forefront.
What was I to do with those feelings now? Any hope of making up for those missteps was gone. I now had to live with the final state of our relationship. I had to live with the tension that I perceived in our relationship. Our relationship was always complicated because his dad was still very involved in his life. It wasn’t like he needed me to fill some void. There was also the feeling that I had to “do right by him” for the sake of his Mom. At the same time, I wrestled with feeling second place in regards to her love for him (sometimes third place when I consider the dogs). To say that I felt jealousy at times would be accurate.
My faith was my anchor
And now, how could I reconcile these feelings? Thankfully, my faith was my anchor. It was also the first thing that I had to come to grips with. Everything that I believed went out the window and I had to start from scratch. While I have more to say about this, it is outside the scope of this blog. Suffice it to say, I am now surer of what I believe than I have ever been in my life. My faith provided me with the resources to reconcile my feelings while grieving the loss of my stepson.
My wife and I also found the writings of Dr. Alan Wolfelt. A highly respected counselor who has written extensively on the subject of grief and mourning. His “companioning” model of counseling went hand-in-hand with our biblical beliefs and gave us the tools to not only walk on our journey but to help others as they begin their journeys.
If you haven’t done so already, please check out our various support offerings at www.losscs.org. There you will find resources, groups, and events designed to help you in your journey of grief.