That One Dream by Brandy Lidbeck

posted in: Uncategorized | 30

My mom died by suicide 26 years ago and in those 26 years, I have had exactly one dream in which she appeared. One dream. That’s it. I hear people, all the time, mentioning the dreams their loved ones have been in and how comforted they were after seeing them. That has not been my experience.

The one dream I did have in which my mom appeared was anything but comforting. If our dreams are comprised of the thoughts and feelings our brains and hearts are wrestling with, my dream speaks volumes. The dream occurred about two years after she passed. In the dream, I saw my mom and we stood about ten feet away from each other. I told her we had all just purchased Christmas gifts for her even though she was no longer alive. I think, in my dream, I was seeking her approval or love. I was just seeking something. Anything. Her response? “Oh, that was so kind of Randy (our neighbor) to buy me a gift.” That was it. She didn’t care I bought her gifts. She didn’t care I was standing right in front of her. She didn’t care she had put me through the most traumatic life experience when I found her lifeless body. She didn’t care about any of that. She didn’t care about me. She just thought it was nice our neighbor had purchased her a gift.

In my heart of hearts, that is exactly what I felt when she took her life. Worthless. No value. I didn’t matter. She didn’t care about me, her ten-year-old daughter. And here I was, in my dream, having that very same powerful and overwhelming feeling. I rarely remember any details of any dream and yet, I can remember all the specifics of that dream that took place about 24 years ago. I remember it because it was a bit traumatic. I remember it because it felt like truth. I remember it so well because my heart was already telling me that same message. She didn’t care.

If I think about the suicide today, perhaps she did care. Perhaps she cared more than her actions displayed. Maybe she cared so much and felt that leaving permanently was actually better for us all. Who knows? Not me. Only her. What I do know is it doesn’t matter. If she cared or if she didn’t, the results are still the same. Was she selfish or was she selfless? Again, it doesn’t matter. She is gone and we are still here. 26 years later. We are still here.

Here is what I know. I graduated 8th grade, and then high school, college, and grad school. I traveled the world, got married, had kids, and wrote a book. All without my mom. She missed all of that. Every single moment. Early on, I missed her presence for every event but as the years passed, I haven’t always thought of her because she has been gone far longer than I ever knew her. I was barely ten when she died and I am now approaching 40. Most of my life has been without her. Mostly, I miss the idea of having a mom, not necessarily her, because I truly don’t remember much about her.

At the end of the day, her suicide planted an incredibly painful belief into my mind and heart. “I don’t matter.” If I am honest, that belief is still present all these years later. Sometimes it is a faint whisper and other times it seems to be the lens through which I see life. My dream all those years ago knew my internal battle with worth and value and clearly displayed it for me. The truth though is this: her suicide says more about her and her own struggles than it says about me or my lack of value. Some days I know and accept this with every ounce of my being. Other days. though, I struggle to not give into that old familiar lie that I do not matter. On those days, I have to choose to believe that I matter despite my mom’s actions. Her actions do not define me. They never did. They never will.

If I ever have another dream with my mom, I hope I can introduce her to my husband and kids. I could tell her that I am doing just fine. In the dream, maybe she would be proud of me. Maybe she wouldn’t. Either way, it doesn’t matter. I am proud of myself.

30 Responses

  1. Pam Gasaway
    | Reply

    This us beautiful and so true. You do matter!!!
    I also lost loved ones to suicide and everyday wonder why…..
    It hurts!
    Like you some days I can accept and others well I can drive myself crazy with it.
    Thank You Brandy.

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Thank you, Pam. Suicide is such a unique grief!

  2. Sabina
    | Reply

    Dear Brandy, thank you for your write-up and so sorry for what you’ve felt for a LONG 26 years. You have made a good life for yourself and that is important because it appears, as much as that dream is so vivid, you have managed not to let it define you and whom you have become. I recently lost my daughter and bear the same feelings of abandonment. The best advice that keeps me going is that our loved ones who have committed suicide did it to stop their pain and not to hurt us. I don’t know what you write about but You are an inspiration who is able to spread the good that experiencing suicide at a young age should not define the rest of one’s life. Thank you.

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Hi Sabina,
      Thank you. I am so sorry to hear you recently lost your daughter. I am so sorry. So devastating. 🙁

      My book is for those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Here is a quick video preview of the book if you’re interested. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8EaqnYt8pY

  3. Gayla
    | Reply

    Thanks for sharing this, Brandy. I’m grateful for you and your life!

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Thanks, Gayla! As I have mentioned before, you were such an integral part of my healing process. Thank YOU!

  4. Jan Bassier
    | Reply

    Oh, Brandy ~ thank you for this glimpse into your own life. Thank you for being so vulnerable. My heart aches for the ten year old girl who found her mother – the horror of that is overwhelming. I can understand why you feel that you do not matter. My heart aches too for the almost 40 year old who still struggles. (Our oldest child turns 40 in 3 weeks.) BUT – I am also grateful that you are still here, that you have touched so many lives by your book and your writing – that you reach out to others who have lost and who struggle with that loss. I am grateful that you have persevered to this very day, and hope that you will continue to do that. You have so much to offer, maybe not BECAUSE of your mother’s death or that she chose suicide, but in spite of it. It has shaped your life in such a way that you are able to speak truth about suicide and its effects – you have reached out and you help so many by your vulnerability. Thank you for sharing. Continue to be proud of yourself. If I were your mom, I would be proud of you.

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Jan, that was incredibly kind of you to say. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  5. Lon Russell
    | Reply

    My experience was the opposite. My wife came to me in a dream. I will not describe the detail now but that dream happened three hours before my therapist appointment. I asked my therapist about dreams. She and my wife are Iranian. My therapist told me that in Iranian culture it is believed that dreams are a way of the recently deceased to talk to their loved ones. She then described her own experience in her family. I was shocked. I have gone to four different support groups asking the same question. No one has had that experience. But, on three different occasion I have mentioned this to Iranian companions and they have stated they had the same experience as myself. My wife explained to me in that dream why she took her life. I seem to be in constant search for people in similar circumstances because I want to believe what she told me in that dream. For the past 14 months I have been in search of that validation. As I write these words, I think I found it.

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Lon, thank you for sharing that. I am so glad you have experienced a dream that has been powerful and healing for you!

  6. Lynne
    | Reply

    I lost my mother when I was about your age now, almost 20 years ago. The horrific dream I had with her in it, maybe a year or two after her death, still haunts me. My dream is related to all the guilt I felt and still sometimes feel for being a defiant child, teen, and young adult. I don’t know why I had so much anger towards my mother growing up, but I did. I wish I could take it all back. She left me a note on her last day here and thanked me for being a good daughter. Oh how I still wish I’d been better. I now try to live my life being kind, loving, and giving to everyone. The anger I once held towards my mother, probably the world, is gone. I’m so thankful for that.

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Lynne, I am sorry that you have lost your mom as well. I am glad the anger has subsided. Our lives and mindset sure change when they are dramatically impacted forever.

  7. John Filiczkowski
    | Reply

    I hope your Mother sees you are a shiny example.

  8. Lynne
    | Reply

    WOW! This is so true. Although I did not lose a mother to suicide, I did lose my daughter to suicide. Two days before her 21st birthday on 1/28/10. We adopted her when she was just 5 mos old but her doing what she did made me feel that somehow we were not ‘good enough’ parents to her. Somehow I must have failed her as a mother. I am still trying to come to grips with that. Some days I know it is not true. I did the best I could with what I knew. I could just never fill the void she felt not having her biological family. Thank you for your words.

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Lynne,
      Suicide has a sneaky way of making the survivors feel less than and not enough. I am sorry for your loss.

  9. Annie
    | Reply

    This is beautiful, friend. Thank you for sharing. You matter!

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Thanks, Annie! I appreciate you so much!

  10. Robin Lee
    | Reply

    You matter to me.

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Thanks, Robin! 🙂 I will sit on Jen’s porch with you anytime!

  11. Ruth T Roth
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing this. I had only one dream with my son in it. He found me and we hugged and it felt wonderful. We had a very loving relationship and I miss him fiercely. I wish he came to me in dreams, but there was only that one time.
    I’m sorry that your dream was so difficult for you. This type of death is so cruel to those left behind. It isn’t fair at all, but as we know intellectually, they probably were not thinking of us, but rather a relief of their intense pain. And, if they were thinking of us, it was that we would be free of the burden of dealing with them. But, that’s the intellectual understanding. Emotionally, we hurt and will continue to hurt. It helps to hear others’ thoughts. Your book was very meaningful to me. Thank you for trusting us all with your vulnerability.

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Thank you, Ruth, for your kind words. I am so glad the book had an impact on you. That is very kind of you to say. Yes, intellectually, we can probably understand it. Emotionally and internally, though, that can be a beast!

  12. Joann
    | Reply

    I am sorry for you loss so long ago. I do hope she can see you know for the person you have grown up to be. You have reasons to be a very proud woman, believe that. When people take their own life, they are not thinking about who or what they are leaving behind, all they want is to get rid of that pain they are in. My daughter took her own life at 34 and left a baby behind, my granddaughter. I cry because she will really never know what a special mom she had. She is being raised by her Dad who does a great job with her. I wish peace for you, and may your mom look down at you and smile. Hugs

  13. Julie Harris
    | Reply

    Brandy, have you ever thought that maybe you were the reason that kept her here for ten precious years? However, in the end NO ONE or nothing could keep her here because she could see or feel nothing except darkness and all consuming pain. As survivors of suicide, we will always go back to the question of “why wasn’t I enough?” but in reality, NO ONE, NONE OF US, NOTHING was enough. So, we have to hold on to what we have, hold on to those we love and hold on to the lives we’re rebuilding and hope that the question of why becomes less and less as time goes by.
    You are an amazing woman and have helped so many. Thank you for sharing in so many ways.

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Julie-Hmmmm, that’s an interesting question to ponder.

      We’ll obviously never know what was going on in our loved one’s minds. Was it impulsive? contemplated for 10 years? Three weeks? That minute? Who knows? But those are the questions that even if we had the answers to would change nothing.

      Thanks for your kind words, Julie!

  14. Kelley
    | Reply

    This month will be one year since I lost my sister to suicide. Once or twice my sister was weaved into a dream of mine but only for a moment or two. In one dream, I realized she was “there” and hurriedly said, “can we just spend more time together?” (we had been texting all week, to church together the day before and on the phone for 3 hours the night before). I had no idea I would wake the next morning to her death. Another dream I said “did you know you killed yourself?”. Not the dreams I wanted, nor answers. I used to tie meaning in dreams and signs. But these dream moments felt more like I was trying to tell my sister something instead of the other way around. I’m somewhat amazed I had these pieces of dreams since sleeping/waking continue to be difficult.

    Can’t express enough how helpful this site is, the content, the responses. Thank you.

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Kelley, losing your sister must have been so incredibly devastating. I am so sorry. One year is also so so recent. 🙁 I, unfortunately, believe the 2nd year was harder, as more people kind of disappear and never mention them any longer. I pray your experience is the opposite!

      I am glad this site has been helpful to you. If you would ever like to write for it, let me know. Everyone’s story helps someone! Thanks.

  15. Alexa
    | Reply

    This was the encouragement I needed today. It’s only been just over 6 months since I lost my husband of 24 years to suicide. I wish I dreamed more, because, justblike you said, I fight guilt and feelings of inadequacy. I’m beginning to understand my dreams aren’t where I can combat those negative feelings. I watched the video on your book, and now I need to get it. So much of what you said spoke my thoughts. Thank you for sharing this.

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Alexa, I am so sorry to hear about your husband. 6 months ago is still so recent. If you ever get a chance to read the book, let me know your thoughts, especially as it relates to the feelings of inadequacy and guilt as you mentioned.

  16. Angela Tolich
    | Reply

    Thank you Brandy for sharing. Maybe if you think about your mom and pray before Sleep maybe she will come again and it will be a better dream
    ? I lost my daughter 2 years ago at 14. She got depressed so quickly and did not reach out so finding her has devestated me. I have had many dreams some are beautiful some have been haunting. I do believe some she has visited me the ones that wake me screaming her name. Then some I feel are my unconscious mind working out the trauma loss and pain. My daughter was my soul mate the love if my life. I am not working with young adults with mental health problems and feel blessed to help and spread Kindness and love. I feel my daughter with me every day and know she close. I know her Suicide was very Impulsive and wondered who she would be today if she could of shared and got help not letting her fear and depression guide her. Lots of love to you I read all of your posts and thank you for every single one.

  17. Suzanne Vallez
    | Reply

    My son hung himself three ears ago. He was gay, bi polar, diabetic and severely depressed. It was a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Get therapy and a support group. The main gift my son gave me was ten months sobriety from 35 years of alcoholism. His poor body ravaged. He comes to me many times and deeply apologies for my broken 💓 and tells me to move on in his honor. I will NEVER be the same again and he is only a thought away. I choose to remember him in a happy state when he won the baby contest, employee of the year, etc. He’s my guardian angel watching over me right now. My beloved Jamesey RIP. Love never dies. It is eternal. . .

Leave a Reply