How could I resent your child’s cancer fundraiser?

Part of my grief process is to let go of such insane resentments and just do something about it instead.

It sounds crazy. It sounds inhuman. But there were times when I felt jealous that others got such overwhelming financial and even emotional support in their struggles to get medical help for a child who was ill. My resentment was never directed at a specific family. It was resentment that society could turn their backs on mental health while embracing physical health so passionately.

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Send a card, reach out, listen w/o judgement

The outpouring of support when your child has a physical ailment is so amazing.

I never got that.

And at times I was bitter over it. I craved that kind of support–wanted it more than anything in the world. Sometimes I was so desperate for it, I would tell some stranger with a sympathetic ear.

There were times I tried to talk to someone that I had known for a long time, only to get cut off mid sentence. People that heard rumors stopped inviting us to their parties. Admittedly we stopped having a lot of social events since our house was in such turmoil and money was so tight.

We struggled financially trying to get mental health help for my son after exhausting all local resources. When our money did run out and we tapped into retirement, the IRS came down hard on us and threw another big debt in our faces. So many times, someone offers you a lifeline for your child only it comes at an exorbitant price tag. Weighing the options is so hard to do in a live-or-die crisis.

Many times we were faced with having to get hold of $10,000 or $20,000 in 24 hours. But what parent wouldn’t do everything they could to save their child?

Not only did so few want to hear about mental health and drug abuse struggles, there were and are no financial options, loans and certainly no fundraisers. I always said, no bake sales or casseroles when your child goes to rehab or a psych hospital. Yet the agony is certainly equal to that of parents who have a child with a physical ailment. And certainly the cost is overwhelming.

I did reach out to a handful of friends that listened and I joined a support group, Families Anonymous— the best thing I ever did. They were like family. They understood the struggle of the drug abuse and the helplessness that went with it.

A friend did offer at one point to start a “fund me” but I ended up saying no because when I presented that option to friends, no one endorsed it. I don’t think anyone really realized how dire our circumstances had become. I was embarrassed about that, too. I had sold as much as I could sell and we had the house on the market. Sadly, the suicide happened before we had access to more funding.

So next time you hear that a family is struggling due to a mental health or addiction crisis, consider taking a meal, taking someone out for a meal, sending a card or ask them if they support your having a fundraiser. I know it’s a bold move. At the very least, offer emotional support without judgment.

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Anne Moss Rogers

I am the mother of two boys and the owner of emotionally naked, a site that reached a quarter million people in its first 18 months. I am a writer and professional public speaker on the topics of suicide, addiction, mental illness, and grief and my book, Diary of a Broken Mind, will be published in the fall. I lost my youngest son, Charles, 20, to suicide June 5, 2015. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website

10 thoughts on “How could I resent your child’s cancer fundraiser?”

  1. Oh Anne your post really struck a nerve with me. My Dad suffered with severe OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). I can’t tell you how many times my mother would say “I wish he had cancer instead”. She grew up in an age when mental illness of any kind was looked at as being weak and she was never really able to share what went on with my Dad with anyone else until my sister and I were grown. I was married with kids before I even knew what my father suffered with had a name. There was shame, embarrassment and hiding from the outside world. It was a very lonely place at times. It held my sister and I hostage for most of our lives. Nobody really understood. I’m so sorry you had to suffer in silence for so long. Hard enough watching Charles slip away from you but adding financial burdens on top of it is just awful. Thanks always for sharing every part of your story. And for reminding us to reach out to those that we may even just have a slight inkling that something is wrong.

    1. Thank you so very much for sharing that story. It’s so important and readers read the comments as often as the posts. You bring up such an important point. I’m sorry you had to live in a household where there was so much shame. But you put it so eloquently.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this! No parent of a sick child is questioned or blamed for causing the disease! That is not the case with a child who had mental health issues and/or addiction issues. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people make comments like “His/her parents are divorced” or “his/her parents didn’t take them to church” –these types of judgements make a parent feel more isolated and alone. Thank you for providing a safe place for people to get support and understanding!!

  3. Amen Anne Moss and Martha! Thank goodness there does seem to be some movement in the right direction thanks to people like you.

  4. “It was resentment that society could turn their backs on mental health while embracing physical health so passionately.”

    SO, so true. Anyone one who has experienced depression or mental illness, or been close to someone who has, feels that craving for support. The frustration is crushing, resulting in silent screams and shower cries. Mention it to someone, like a relative that has no clue, or that stranger that seems to have replaced ‘friends’ that have long disappeared, or (yikes) a therapist, and you could get a sympathetic or indignant look, or worse…a shame-filled remark. Something like “you don’t have it so bad” or “at least you’re not fighting for your life.”
    If they only knew.
    Resentment is one of those emotions it’s hard to get a grip on. It can sneak up, and when it does it’s like piling worse feelings upon bad ones. Only way out is through.
    Your post is a potent reminder that we really don’t know what people around us are going through, and that kindness to others is never, ever wasted.
    Thank you for sharing your journey, Anne Moss.

  5. I love and admire you so much, Anne Moss. What you are doing for awareness during the midst of your own grief is amazing, and in my opinion, the best way possible to honor the life of your incredible son.

    As you know, I have experience with both cancer (my own) and bipolar/depression (our daughter’s and mine.) Neither is a picnic. And while it is true that the support is definitely better with a physical illness, I have been shocked and deeply saddened to find how many people judge those with physical illnesses they can’t always see or understand – or those caring for the ill. This only increases if the disease is chronic, with no specific prognosis. Calls, cards and visits decrease, disparaging remarks increase, relationships change and sometimes end. It can be devastating. Still, when mental illness and/or addiction are the primary diagnoses, it can be far worse. In fact, it can be a living hell. It’s bad enough to face all of the stresses when you have a community of support. But to feel alone in the madness can feel crushing at times…

  6. AnneMoss, your posts are really wonderful. Your honesty in talking about things may be a true help to someone else who, God forbid, finds themselves in a parallel situation. I wonder whether you have thought about collecting these into a book.
    Also, my heart feels for you every day, even after the immediacy ends, I know that your heart will hold its scars. Mine will be sending hopes for healing.

    1. Thank you Laura. That Cary neighborhood of friends was so supportive of each other and I remember how comforting that was. Someone wrote me recently that they wrote a book and how tough it was with the topic. Publishers are not into this topic for some reason. But I have noticed that Charles’ work in particular is saying something to the young people. This blog will help me tease out where to go with things. I will always have scars and life is about accepting those scars and being proud of them. Thank you so much for commenting.

      1. I support your position on this blog 💯%! I have felt similar things with my son’s PTSD after being shot in Afghanistan! Amazing. The conversation goes something like this, “How is your son? Is he healing from his injury?”. My response – “Yes, his physical wound has healed with some significant hearing loss, but he suffers from PTSD and it’s really hard to treat and it is very scary.”
        Response – Crickets, then they CHANGE the SUBJECT and leave me standing there like I over shared when asked a direct question! It’s not cool, it makes my insecurities of being able to manage alone EVEN greater! I almost would have preferred that they didn’t ask at all.

        So, with that said I have become better at reading people and real friendships versus superficial relationships. Resentment isn’t in my vocabulary, so obviously I forgive.

        ***The healing lesson. By the time you reach a certain age you value your time. Those that aren’t really interested or feel too uncomfortable to talk about my PURPLE HEART recipient are less included in my life.

        I forgive, but after too many of those encounters by the same people, ultimately they become less important to me. Especially since most have come to me to support this charity or that charity about ONLY medical, physical disease, that I have supported but are incapable of understanding a mental disorder. Sorry, at this age I get to pick my close friends/even family members who I spend time with, and who I will rally for. Those folks will not receive my support.

        Sorry, and it’s not a grudge. I have simply made a smart choice in who gets my time and my extra cash. Accountability applies to everyone.

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