I’ll Never Be the Same and That is Okay by Dawn Wilcox

posted in: Uncategorized | 15

I’m not a writer by any means. I don’t even keep a journal. In recent weeks though, I’ve found myself writing lengthy posts, texts, and emails about my experience. Experience. It makes it sound so normal and, in a way, it is. I experienced the death of someone close to me. In that, I’m not alone, I know that. People die every day, it’s a natural thing. None of us were meant to be here forever. The difference between me and a lot of other people is that I lost my child. My only child. I know I’m not the first, or last, mother to experience this. What most people don’t know, and what I’ve been scared to admit for years, is that a part of me has known this day was coming. I knew I would live to see my child die. I did everything I could think of to keep this from happening, yet it still did.

You see, my son was quite sick. Not the kind of sick you can always see, or recognize.  My son suffered from mental illness. Even at this point in time, it’s still very difficult to talk about with people who haven’t experienced it first hand.  He was one of the most generous, caring, thoughtful, kind, and truly genuine people I’ve ever known. If you were lucky,  you knew that part of him.  He was also manipulative and cruel. That wasn’t really him, that was his illness. He was extremely intelligent and had a unique way of looking at almost everything. Sometimes it was difficult having a conversation with him because you’d feel so lost.  Where did he come up with some of these ideas? He was also in constant pain. He was struggling every day, just to get through to the next. I always hoped he’d get the help I thought he needed. Help I hoped was out there. We had many, many conversations about what I thought would help, and he’d argue that it wouldn’t. His moods were on a cycle. Every few months his mood would get extremely dark. We’d talk about how hopeless he felt, and the fact that he didn’t want to do ‘this’ anymore. By ‘this’, he meant ‘live’. It broke my heart every time I heard that from him. Several weeks before his death, we were having one of these conversations, and I said something I’d never said to him before. I told him, while I can’t help him die, and I don’t want him too, more than anything else, I don’t want him to suffer anymore. I told him that if he’s only here because I want him to be, that’s selfish on my part.  ‘I don’t want you to stay here just because of me’ I said, as tears ran down my face.  It was the hardest thing I ever did……or so I thought at the time.

Two weeks later I waited outside his friend’s house while paramedics were working on him.  They tried to bring him back for about an hour. When I saw the paramedic come out of the house I knew what he was going to tell me. “I’m very sorry, we did everything we could, he’s dead.” Dead. I was going to call him tomorrow, I’d been giving him some space.  

I have questions, but the answers won’t change anything. I have thoughts of things I could’ve done differently, but that won’t change anything either. I’m trying to focus mainly on the things that he told me over and over again through the years. ‘I don’t want to hurt you’, ‘I don’t want to die alone’, ‘I don’t want it to hurt’.  I hurt, but it’s ok, it’s because I loved you more than anyone. You weren’t alone, you were surrounded by friends.  I hope and pray that you didn’t feel anything or were even aware of what was happening. I know you’re at peace now. The struggles, the pain, the torment, they’re gone for you, and for that I’m grateful. That helps me get through each day. I also know you’re with me, I can feel you in little things I see or do.  Last night was the first time since you died that you appeared in a dream. It was your beautiful smiling face, just a flash of it, in the middle of a dream. Thank you for stopping by to say hello. I love you around the world a million times, turkey noodle.


I’ll never be the same and that’s okay was originally written for Trying to Find a New Normal. Check out more writings from Dawn there!

15 Responses

  1. Dianna
    | Reply

    Dawn, you are a brave woman. I hope and pray that every parent that needs to read this, actually stops by this site and does so. The picture of you with your sons speaks 1000 words of love. Many blessings to you.

  2. Denise Varga
    | Reply

    Your feelings are heard in this writing. Your love and compassion for your son expressed throughout. Praying for peace in your life, knowing that you did all that you could possibly do for your son. Your love shined through. Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

  3. John Filiczkowski
    | Reply

    Life is a struggle whether we are whole, or sick, however the special moments we can have at anytime without planning are what makes it all worthwhile. Remembering them can make us whole again. Listening to your words lets me know we are not alone in that struggle.

  4. Brittany
    | Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this is a powerful writing I admire the strength you have.

  5. Julie
    | Reply

    Wow this is so well written and the choice of words are so very true. It was not a child for me, but my father. The words still are exactly what touched my heart. Thank you and sorry for your loss also.
    Julie Beaver

  6. Jamie TravisvLeib
    | Reply

    OMG! I feel like I read our story. Our son, Connor, he too suffered from a mental illness and an addiction to marijuana mixed with tobacco. He was like your son. I feel the same way. He died 13 months ago by suicide. He was 24. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Lynne
    | Reply

    Beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing. Your story will help others.

  8. Yolanda DUGAN
    | Reply

    Your story really touched me. I could barely read through my tears. I felt your pain with each and every word you wrote. I could not have expressed it this way but you have. It is what I have experienced since the death of my Daughter and it grieves me every time I read of another child lost forever. My thoughts and prayers.

  9. Kelly Alexa
    | Reply

    This was so beautiful Dawn. I love how you honored his pain and who he truly was and knowing which part was the illness. I just lost my dad this way and I was going to visit him the next day.. so the part about giving him space is very relatable. I believe my dad was giving me space too.. thinking about how he no longer is suffering or is tormented helps a tiny bit. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Joann
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    Thank you for your story, it really hit home. My only child, a daughter died be suicide too. We had let her move back home for financial reasons with her 2 month old baby daughter. I, too, was trying to give her some space, however one week after she moved back home she committed suicide leaving us with her daughter to raise. Her father is now raising her, and doing a wonderful job. My daughter has taken a piece of my heart with her, and like all of us in this club, will never be the same person I was. I miss her every day and want her back, but I know that is not possible. She is now at peace, I am learning a new way of life.

  11. Gail
    | Reply


    For, my deepest condolences. Your son sounds like he was an amazing person.

    You’ve put down the words that I’ve wanted to say… but couldn’t say for a long time. This is so poignantly written. It brought tears to my eyes. Everything you talked about with your son, the long discussions that only you and him could “get.” Oh my g-d, this was my life with my daughter. She was also brilliant and insightful like your beloved son. You wrote exactly what was running through my mind – after all the hundreds of conversations I had with my angel Lisa (27). She transitioned last February, 2016. You said “I don’t want you to stay here because of me.” You said this thinking of him, NOT you. That’s very very stoic of you. As hard as that must have been, I understand why you said it. I never “said it” but I it was implied. It used to hurt to think I would even think that but it comes from a place of love. We don’t want our babies to suffer. Plain and simple. I used to say to my daughter that I wish I could have her pain. But really, that’s not an answer. There is no answer.

    What you said really resonated with me. I mean really resonated. Lisa suffered with both depression and anxiety as well as a physical health condition called Bladder Pain Syndrome. The latter causes millions around the world to think like this, especially after dismissive doctors don’t give you much hope — when there is hope..

    Many people spend a lot of time grappling over all the “whys,” “should haves,” and “could haves” I saw no point. I know why – what had more of an impact in her mind, the depression or the physical pain…it’s really all the same – pain is pain. There’s no need to examine it over and over and drive myself crazy. Instead, what I did was…I embraced her goodness, purity and genuine love. That is what it is – love. We never lose that connection – never. Your dream revealed your son with his wonderful smile. That’s true love. I know he’s still with you.

    Dawn, you took the words right out of my head…we’d talked about this as two mature adults so many times. Of course, in the end, nothing ever prepared you for losing your son so soon. Nothing prepared me for losing a my daughter. We may have seen it coming but then again we didn’t. I guess that’s our defence mechanism kicking in. See what we want to see.

    As mothers we don’t want our children to suffer. I could not bear to see my daughter put on smile while inside she was in such pain. She put up a fight for me…for her sister and her dad. In so many words, yes, I gave her permission, like you have your son permission to take the pain and torment away. It was not their true wish to leave this world. It’s not. But when the pain is so unbearable, it’s often out of everyone’s control.

    I still have “mini episodes” of thinking ‘I could have stopped this…how could I let her go?’ We always had an unspoken kind of communication…a kind of knowing. We had a deep connection with one another…so similar to what you and your son had. In the end, I grew to respect her decision. Her notes made everything crystal clear. Her legacy, was for us to keep on living, loving and doing good in the world. This is what I’m doing. I’m turning her pain, which has become our pain into something – helping others who are suffering. .Like you, I was never much of a”writer” but quickly started writing about her condition and advocating for those who don’t have the strength to speak up.

    Thank you so much for writing this very touching piece in memory of your son. It is absolutely beautiful in so many ways. I think your son was blessed to have you as his mom. I think you have one fine son…I say have because he’s always going to be a part of your life.

    If you ever want to reach me, please. I’m always here to be a support…..for anything.

    Hugs to you. Love the photo! 🙂


  12. Julie Harris
    | Reply

    I was so touched by your story. What you wrote about is exactly how I feel with my son, except my story is still being written. I live with the fear of never knowing when it might happen but that it very well may happen. I understand so much of what you wrote. I only wish I didn’t. Thank you for sharing. You are an incredible mother.

  13. Julie Davis
    | Reply

    Dawn, I too felt like you were writing my story. My brother was so much like your son . My brother Bruce died 5 years ago. He also shared his burden with me , was in physical pain and so depressed. I tried to help him as much as I could, but felt like I didn’t do enough and blamed myself intensely for a very ling time. I have finally let some of that go. It took a lot of hard work. Thank you for your inspiration and words of hope. You are a beautiful writer. God bless you.

  14. Wendy Jo McCroskey
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story. I did not know my son was troubled, depressed or in pain until after the fact. Your story reveals a critical fact for all of us: their death was not about us. It was about them and the overwhelming they were in. They did not see suicide as a choice but as the single door available to relieve that pain.
    And I have seen my son since his death. His message: ‘I’m okay, Mom.’ Spiritually comforting but no balm for a recently broken heart. But if the price of his peace is my pain – will cover that cost. I’m his mom and I would do ANYTHING to help my child. Even if it is to live in this mortal world without him – carrying around this forever sadness of missing my boy.
    Thank you, again, for reminding that he has peace now.

  15. Judy
    | Reply

    So brave to tell your story, shows how compassionate you are and in how difficult it is in trying to help your child heal … my daughter just died, she had terrible substance abuse and mental health challenges … As with your son, I really hope and pray my daughter is at peace and in a much better place …. but it hurts so damn much
    thanks for sharing

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