Julia Bowen is Andrew’s mom. This picture is the last picture that she and Andrew took together in October 2017. Julia’s Mom had just passed away and Andrew was her rock during that time as he had always been. She did not know as they were swinging in the park that day that Andrew would die by suicide the following January at the forever age of 28. January 27, 2018…. The day that changed her world forever.
Andrew was a sweet, kind, compassionate young man and he was my only child, so missed by many and remembered for his generous heart, his deep spirituality and his great sense of humor. Andrew experienced several chronic health conditions and a devastating trauma at an early age, causing him unrelenting anxiety. As he grew up, he loved animals, cars, nature and was always devoted to family and friends. In June 2008, his physical health began to decline rapidly. Through the years, he self-medicated his extreme pain and anxiety with prescription medications and alcohol. He began to express that he felt like he was on the outside looking into his own life and that he felt like a burden to those who loved him. On January 27, 2018, Andrew died by suicide in the home that we shared.
I began painting rocks soon after Andrew passed as a distraction from my new reality and unrelenting pain. I painted rocks for each Holiday and Birthday that passed. I collected rocks and started a memorial rock garden for Andrew. I painted rocks and asked friends and family to paint them and place them in his memory all over the Country and the World.
I want Andrew’s life and legacy to reflect his qualities in life. I believe there are many ways we can help to remove the stigma of suicide. Talk openly without shame or self-consciousness about your own experience. If someone around you is struggling, have the courage to ask them how they’re doing. If you are struggling, reach out, confide your struggle and know that you can rediscover hope no matter how dark life may feel.
Please join me in painting rocks in Andrew’s memory and in memory of all those who have died by suicide. Place the rocks in a special place, take a picture and send the picture to me, letting me know where the picture was taken and who you are remembering. In spreading words of hope and healing, we can stop the stigma of suicide and save lives.
Julia M. Bowen firstname.lastname@example.org
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