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10 new traits I’ve adopted since my son’s suicide

There is nothing like the suicide of your child to inspire you to look at life differently than before. Life is now defined by “before Charles died” and “after Charles died.” Recently I’ve noticed myself adopting new behaviors. Below are the ones that stand out.

life after suicide

1. I tell my friends I love them

And I tell kids that were friends of Charles’ that I love them. I’ve always said this to my husband, family and children but expressing that to my friends is new. I want them to know.

2. I reach out to others more

It’s like I’ve become psychic. Exposing myself to other’s pain actually ends up making me feel better. It allows me to move past that to laughter. That saying “life is short” simply plays over and over in my mind and I don’t want to miss anything during my stay. This “reaching out” also includes communicating more to friends. I got so wrapped up in the turmoil of Charles’ illnesses, I had little time to connect with friends and family. There simply wasn’t the time given how much time it takes to connect all the dots in the mental health world and with the legal issues these kids get embroiled in.

3. I listen more

People need to talk. I want to hear the stories. I read every comment here and on any article I write because I want to know your stories so that I don’t feel so alone. There were times I felt so isolated and I hate that others feel that way.

4. Share my pain

I had written some about what we were going through but it was minimal. I couldn’t say but so much because it would effect my son. But since Charles’ suicide, I’ve truly become emotionally naked. No need to hold back. And I don’t. It has been painful, joyful, revealing and yet very liberating. I sometimes feel guilty sharing so much because I feel like I’m dragging others along with me. But I figure that it’s easy enough to hop off that train if you so desire.

5. Share other’s moments of joy

A couple of weekends ago, I saw a little boy working side by side with his dad in the yard. This kid is 3 and he already has this amazing work ethic. For two weeks he has worked tirelessly with his dad all day outside in the yard on weekends doing the driveway, picking up sticks–you name it.  One Saturday, I saw them doing mulch. I stopped and did a quick video to share on the neighborhood Facebook page. A year ago I would have smiled but not taken the time to go film it and introduce myself. I wanted to savor it. And I did.

6. I pace myself

I can’t handle as much as I used to right now. I now know what is too much and what is not enough and try to keep that balance but also take time for myself because I need it. I try hard not to crowd my schedule so much I’m rushed because I move at the speed of slug. I just can’t seem to move faster so I have to accept that I am just going to be slower.

7. I ask for help

If someone offers, I take them up on it. If I am having a bad day, which is frequent, I call or text a friend or a suicide loss support group member. Back when I was struggling with a mentally ill and drug abusing teen, I relied on a support group and a handful of friends. To be honest few offered because if your child is struggling with mental health challenges, people are uncomfortable due to the stigma. But now, I pour it all out and share with the world. I think we learn more from each other by sharing our pain and our joys. Just my take. And I appreciate the support I have gotten because it helps.

8. I cry a lot

This comes with the grief territory. Perhaps what’s new is that I am OK with others seeing my tears. I’m not embarrassed by them. I’ve suffered a horrible tragedy. Crying is letting it out. And sometimes the flood comes at an inopportune time although that happens less frequently. I do wail alone. That I share only with me. Not that grief is all about crying. I thought it was. It’s just one small sliver of a very complex journey of love and loss.

9. I say ‘no’

I just can’t do everything. I want to. But I cannot. And sometimes that means saying no.

10. I talk about suicide

Freely, openly and without guilt. I think it needs to be discussed. We are so afraid of the topic of mental health and suicide, we bury our heads in the sand. This has only made things worse. It’s time we tried things another way and that’s to talk about it.

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. 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. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

13 thoughts on “10 new traits I’ve adopted since my son’s suicide”

  1. Again, thank you. To be honest, my son is not doing well and recently I needed to be brave, and I was not. I feel a crescendo building, and in moments, I feel strong, and then I am paralyzed by fear. I know the places which take our insurance. I know the drill. I am going to keep reading your posts so I will be brave as this swell grows higher and builds and builds. I know you know what I mean. It has been building and I am scared. Since my son was away from home for 20 months in the past, I feel badly for him if he needs to go away again. This empathy is so deep and it is not helping him. This is the first time I have talked about this most recent spiral. Thank you for reminding me to reach out—this paralysis is so unhelpful and unhealthy. You are so brave and your honesty and rawness is so appreciated. You are making such a difference. 💕💕

    1. Thinking of you and your struggle. I know you know I’ve been there. Please try Families Anonymous if you have not already. Otherwise you will feel like you are imploding inside. Love you. Keep commenting. I’m listening and so are others.

  2. Anne, Again I read what you write and your feelings come through so sharply for me. I’ve said before, and I’ll say again a million +1 times, that you are making a huge difference in the world of “us.” I can’t express how much comfort I get from knowing my thoughts and feelings are not abnormal. And this has helped me reach out to others. You have given me the strength, courage and determination to do what ever I need to do to make the mental health system and people in general understand and provide the resources we so desperately need. I am sick, sad, mad and frustrated and my voice is getting louder as I continue to help my son navigate the system and society. I am afraid for him, for all of us. Charles is leading the way through you. I have no words….please know WE are here for you just like you have been here for us. God help us all. <3

  3. Thank you Ann Moss for sharing this.
    When Robert was doing drugs and going thru his mental issues people did not want to ask or even talk about it . Family included if they did say anything it was how wrong we were with everything we did. Somehow with your words you have made me feel better 3 years later.

    Thank you

  4. I often wonder why it takes a tragedy such as suicide(in particular) for us to wake up and live. And then, so many forget. I know you will not forget to live. And I know that you will not forget to keep talking. I also know you will never forget, and never let anyone that you know forget. Keep talking!!!!!!! I realize that your goal is not to be famous, but believe me, you are impacting so many, and your words (and those of Charles) are spreading like wildfire! Inspiring, uplifting, hopeful, encouraging, reality checking words!!!! I’ll probably need your autograph before you go out on tour! Every school aged child should hear your words. And every parent should wake up! One more thing on your agenda (even if you move slowly)…..you’re going to need a manager!

    1. Thank you Shawn for your support. I think the famous thing is a bit of a stretch but if I can reach just a small corner of my world…..

  5. I agree so wholeheartedly with your sentiments because I’m experiencing the same things. The first anniversary of suicide deaths of our respective sons will be in June, so, even though we are an hour and a half from one another, if you’re feeling as though you just need to be with someone who’s in the same boat at nearly the same time, I’ll be there for you and visa versa, if you’re interested. CynthiaHash.com MitchellHashFoundation.com

  6. My dear Anne Moss- I read all that you write, and your words touch me on such a profoundly deep level. You are willing to express the pain of your loss like no other I’ve ever witnessed. I have a grown son whom I love more than life itself , so I know I would suffer as you do if I lost him. You are helping others , and I believe , healing yourself . I think of you all the time and pray for you to come to a place of peace with your loss –

  7. A-M, you are, quite literally, changing the world. You have given voice to parents and other family members who have had the burden of keeping two “lives” going, one public and one private. You have, through his words, helped Charles to accomplish something in death he couldn’t in life–show the raw truth, the good, the bad and the ugly-of life with mental illness. My heart aches that you, Randy, Richard and the whole family that you have had to endure horror of losing him and the void Charles’ death has left. But I just want you to know that you are saving lives, families, relationships through your willingness to share. I am so damn proud of you, and I love you, my friend.

    1. I so appreciate your encouragement. You were the first one I ever knew that embraced community service and causes. I am honored you are proud of me, Liz. You have accomplished so much and not once have you let your disability get in the way. I know you have had times where you were down about the RA and you’ve fought hard to get the accolades you’ve gotten.

      And losing Charles. Well you know. You were there in the neighborhood when he was born. That was one tough pregnancy. I was depressed throughout the pregnancy and it just went away once he was out. So odd. I have such fond memories of our babysitting co-op.

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