Saturday, April 22, 2017

In Memory of My Angel, Jamison Mackenzie Bell

I don't know how to start this post. It's been almost 7 months since I've even written anything, but now I feel like I need to speak up about a tragedy I never thought I would have to endure.

Almost 7 months ago, on September 28, 2016, my life came to a screeching halt. My middle son, Jamison Mackenzie Bell, took his own life. He was just 25 years old. He apparently had had mental health issues for quite a long time, but he was very good at masking his true feelings and emotions.

In January 2016, he traveled to Virginia to help build a monastery. By the middle of February, he called me and asked me to come pick him up. We made arrangements for the next day, but the next morning I received a call from a safety officer telling me they had my son at the hospital. Apparently, he walked up to a police officer and asked for a ride home to Indiana. I guess he hadn't been eating but had been drinking lots of coffee and seemed to be in a manic state. Daniel and I rushed 10 hours in the snow to Virginia. We were only able to visit him an hour a day, so we spent 23 hours wasting time in a hotel until we could go. 

The hospital in Virginia was wonderful! It was obvious they cared about my son and actually worked so hard to help him get better. He was there 10 days but he wanted to come home desperately. The hospital wasn't completely comfortable letting him leave, but we made arrangements in Indiana and assumed they would have the quality of care we received in Virginia. Nothing could be further from the truth. In Indiana, they have some places you can go for a few hours a day for group counseling. They do have some inpatient facilities however, you have to have a plan on how you are going to harm yourself or someone else in order to be admitted. Consequently, Jamison didn't have a plan at that time, so there was no place for him. 

The psychiatrist he had was shocked by the amount of information sent from the Virginia Hospital. He said that most times 10 days would be on about 10 pieces of paper. Jamison had about 100 pages in his report and it was very thorough. We then asked for genetic testing to make sure Jamison was on the drug that was best for his genetic make up. This doctor refused and said that the one he was on was a good one and it should work. (Should being the operative word.)

The medicine did control manic episodes, but Jamison's depression was unbearable. We finally convinced this doctor to give him something for the depression. Well, of course, we didn't know what the best medicine for Jamison was, so he decided to just take a stab in the dark. He started taking this new drug and was gone a few weeks later. 

I'm not blaming the medicine necessarily, but I am irritated that doctors and insurance companies and lawmakers don't see the value in something as simple as a cheek swab to determine the best medicine for a person based on their genetic make up. It seems like it would save insurance companies a ton of money in the long run. Plus, maybe I would be sitting here laughing with my wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, generous, sweet, and loving son instead. 
If you or someone you know has issues with mental illness, NAMI is a good place to get more information.

So now, I have a 'new normal' in my life. So, just what is Normal after your child dies? 

Normal is having tears waiting behind every smile when you realize someone important is missing from all the important holidays and events in your family's life. 

Normal is feeling like you can't sit another minute without getting up and screaming, because you just don't like to sit through anything anymore. 

Normal is not sleeping very well because a thousand 'what ifs' & 'why didn't I's' go through your head constantly. 

Normal is reliving the event continuously through your eyes and mind, holding your head to make it go away. 

Normal is staring at every boy who looks like he is Jamison's age and then thinking of the age he would be now. Then wondering why should I even imagine it because it will never happen. 

Normal is every happy event in your life always being backed up with sadness lurking close behind, because of the hole in your heart. 

Normal is telling the story of your child's death as if it were an everyday, commonplace activity, and then seeing the horror in someone's eyes at how awful it sounds. And yet realizing it has become a part of your "normal." 

Normal is each year coming up with the difficult task of how to honor your childs's memory and their birthdays and survive these days. And trying to find the balloon or flag that fit's the occasion. Happy Birthday? Not really. 

Normal is my heart warming and yet sinking at the sight of something special Jamison loved. Thinking how he would love it, but how he is not here to enjoy it. 

Normal is having some people afraid to mention my son, Jamison. Normal is making sure that others remember him. 

Normal is when the funeral is over and everyone else goes on with their lives, but we continue to grieve our loss forever. 

Normal is weeks, months, and years after the initial shock, the grieving gets worse, not better. 

Normal is not listening to people compare anything in their life to this loss, unless they too have lost a child. Nothing compares. NOTHING. Even if your child is in the remotest part of the earth away from you - it doesn't compare. Losing a parent is horrible, but having to bury your own child is unnatural. 

Normal is taking pills, and trying not to cry all day, because you know your mental health depends on it. 

Normal is realizing you do cry everyday. 

Normal is being impatient with everything and everyone but someone stricken with grief over the loss of their child. 

Normal is not listening to people say things like "G-d may have done this because…" 
I know Jamison is in Heaven, but hearing people trying to think up excuses as to why a fantastic young man was taken from this earth is not appreciated and makes absolutely no sense to this grieving mother. 

Normal is being too tired to care if you paid the bills, cleaned the house, did the laundry or if there is any food. 

Normal is wondering whether you are going to say you have three children or two because you will never see this person again and it is not worth explaining that Jamison is dead. Yet, when you say you have two children to avoid that problem, you feel horrible as if you have betrayed the dead child. 

Normal is asking G-d why he took your child's life instead of yours and asking if there even is a G-d. 

Normal is knowing you will never get over this loss, not in a day nor a million years. 

Normal is having therapists agree with you that you will never "really" get over the pain and that there is nothing they can do to help you because they know only bringing back your child back from the dead could possibly make it "better." 

Normal is learning to lie to everyone you meet and telling them you are fine. You lie because it makes others uncomfortable if you cry. You've learned  it's easier to lie to them then to tell them the truth that you still feel empty and it's probably never going to get any better -- ever. 

And last of all... Normal is hiding all the things that have become "normal" for you to feel, so that everyone around you will think that you are "normal."

I am trying to take care of myself and I am seeing a therapist, drawing as a sort of meditation, and writing in a journal. My journal is mostly made up of letters to Jamison. I tell him what happened during the day or what's going on with the family. I even tell him about the little signs that remind me of him.

 I feel him around me all the time and I am so thankful for the the dreams and signs and I am constantly looking out for them. People might think I'm a little silly because I always seem to be talking to birds. But that's OK, people can think what they want, it makes me feel better.

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 
1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.


  1. I am so sorry. As a mother, I can only imagine your loss and heartache.

  2. There are no words as you so perfectly stated, but there are prayers for comfort and healing. You and your entire family will be in mine. Keep talking to the birds!!

    1. Thank you . . . and I'm still talking to the birds.

  3. Dear Hilary,
    I know the pain you are experiencing. My sister, took her life 12 years ago. She was only 20. We were best friends. I appreciate you sharing your story. If you ever want to talk to me, or my mom, who is in the same position you are, we are both more than willing to connect with you. For the past 12 years, I have been raising money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. They do community walks, campus walks, and overnight walks. I have done several of the overnight walks, and this year I am participating in the local walk.
    I hope to connect with you.

  4. I just want you to know how sorry I am for the loss of your son.

  5. My heart goes out to you and your family. Thanks for all that you are doing for families and people who are suffering from depression. I have suffered from it my whole life and you are right. To protect the ones that we love, we do a good job of masking it.

    1. Thank you. I can't even imagine how hard it was for Jamison. Thank you for your kindness.

  6. I am so so sorry for this awful loss in your life. I work in Behavioral Health and I think about the heartbreak and struggle families face all the time. Yours is the worst outcome. I wish nobody had to endure your pain. Your post is touching and warm. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for your kind comments. It is a terrible heartbreak and I wish no one ever had to deal with such a tragedy. Thanks again for your kindness.

  7. Oh, Hilary, I am so so so very sorry. As a suicide attempt survivor, I am here to tell you that there is nothing you could of done. The mental health issues were in control when he made this decision and carried through with it. I am praying for you starting now, and if ever you need an ear, I'm willing!! Big hugs!!

    1. Thank you Christi. I'm so sorry you've had to deal with anything relating to suicide. The guilt that goes along with suicide can be unbearable at times. I'm getting better, but it still pops up. Thanks so much for your sweet comments and prayers. I really appreciate your kindness.

  8. The above comment was written by me, not sure why it showed up as unknown!

  9. So sorry for your loss! I know nothing I say will make it "better". Please know prayers are sent for you and I'm sure your sharing resources and information has helped more people than you'll ever know. Blessings to you and your family!

  10. شركة امست للتنظيف افضل شركة لتنظيف المنازل والشقق والفللوالبيوت والمجالس والكنب والمفروشات والخزانات بالقطيف والمنطقة الشرقية لديها عمالة مدربة وخصومات هائلة طما توفر خدمات مكافحة الحشرات ورش المبيدات بالقطيف باسعار رخيصة ومناسبة وخصومات هائلة

    شركة امست للتنظيف
    امست للنظافة القطيف
    شركة امست لمكافحة الحشرات
    شركة امست لرش المبيدات


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