The final 48 hours

Charles, who suffered from anxiety and depression and ultimately addiction had been from detox to rehab to a sober house. After rehab he looked great. I call this “Saturday Charles.” He then went to the sober house but relapsed the next morning by walking downtown and buying heroin. We can only imagine he got money from his room on the way to the sober house. The policy at the sober house was that if you went to detox for three days, you could then come back. But once Charles checked in at detox, he saw a friend and left. For two weeks we didn’t know where he was. Communication was spotty during that time. 

This is one of the last photos of Charles before he died
This is one of the last photos of Charles before he died

It’s Thursday June 4th and I am at a board retreat. I feel awful all day. I try to get involved to keep my mind off Charles where he might be–or is he close to asking for help. Nobody here knows how tortured and isolated I feel.

What was that phone conversation yesterday about? Why can’t I figure it out? Should I leave and call him back? Is Randy right and he’s hitting rock bottom and we can go get him this weekend and take him back to detox? I want to believe that. But it doesn’t feel right. I’m uncomfortable even itchy. I leave after the retreat but early.

As I get in my car, I call Charles. It’s 4pm. No answer. This is not unusual. But this time, I feel like I want to throw up. I stare at the phone in shock. Something is not right and my mouth goes dry and I feel a sense of panic.

I try to calm myself. I have to go home and take the dog out. Randy is out of town and likely to be home late. I don’t know who to call or what to do. I feel very confused, lonely and very teary. And panicked. Something isn’t right.

I arrive home and I’m looking out the back door over the deck and I feel something move through my body and then I feel something tight on my shoulders particularly on the left side and I think, “Oh my God, Charles is here!” I turn around and see nothing. I feel scared. This is so strange.  No one is there except the dog who is freaking out.

I immediately search the house. I am sure he is here or was here but there is no sign of that. He has not been here after all. I feel freaked out. Like I’m losing it and I won’t be able to hold it together until Randy comes home.

Then all of a sudden my husband walks through the door earlier than expected and I feel momentary relief from this foreboding feeling.

We decide to go eat at Brio at StonyPoint. My stomach is doing flips. I don’t even know if I will be able to eat. I am worried. My mouth goes dry again and I feel that sense of rising panic.

We arrive at Brio and order our food. We talk about Charles and discuss the next move. We’re both very tense and then Randy gets a call on his cell phone.

All of a sudden real fear grips me and I hold my breath. I know this phone call is not good and as soon as he hangs up I know something is not right. Randy tells me that it’s the Richmond Police and they are at our house and want to talk to us.

Randy says he thinks Charles is in trouble again. I buy that for a second and feel relief. My mind starts to work. Why would Richmond Police come visit our home in Chesterfield if they arrested Charles? He’s 20 so they’d just throw him in jail and not call us. Randy says they are coming to meet us in the Brio parking lot.

I freeze and go completely cold and experience an overwhelming sense of dread and fear like I’ve never felt in my life.

I touch Randy’s elbow and I say, “You don’t think…” and he says, “I think so.” Randy then rejects that scenario. He talks out loud other scenarios it could be. But I already know. Randy leaves to go to the bathroom. He’s pacing when he comes back.

I am silent. I know they are coming to tell me my child is dead. I sit there in disbelief. The bar tender comes up and asks us if we want our food to go and I say yes. I pay. Randy gets the phone call they are there and he makes it out there so much faster than me. I am moving in slow motion.

I see the car from the side–one plain clothes officer in the car, the other standing by the back door. The one standing by the back door opens the door of unmarked police vehicle for me. I am shaking and I think I yell out, “You’ve come to tell me that my child is dead!” I don’t want to go over there.

But I cross the street and get in the car. The officer who opened the door for me doesn’t get in, leaving us with the one officer in the driver’s seat. My worst ever nightmare can’t have come true. It can’t! My first wail of agony escapes and I die inside.

I am shaking and my brain is begging for him to be in the hospital and not dead. Then I’m quiet but quaking and looking at this officer turned sideways. He starts talking and tells us that they found Charles in an apartment downtown–dead.

Nooooooooo! We both scream agonizing wails of agony. My whole world crashes around me and I feel like I’m having an out of body experience. This can’t be me sitting there hearing this. He talks to us some more and I can’t quite remember what it was or what order it was in. I am crumbling.

Then Randy asks, “How did he die?” I am prepared to hear, “overdose.” But then the policeman says, “He hung himself,” and Randy starts banging his fists on the glove compartment and I stare in shock sure I have not heard him correctly. I see my husband using his fists on his legs and the glove box. I just stare at my husband’s emotional explosion.

“What?” I can’t wedge that statement into my head. Did he say a hanging? Like a suicide? I feel this extra cruel twist of a knife in my heart that burns it hurts so bad. Physically.

Then I wail so loud I’m sure everyone in the area can hear me. Of course, I am not even thinking about that. I’m trying to pull it together to ask questions but my mouth is bone dry, everything hurts and my head is pounding. My brain can’t form the questions. We both scream and wail.

I want to escape this pain. Anything– but it’s everywhere, I can’t escape. It surrounds me and I go numb.

The officer in the vehicle is obviously trying to hold himself together. He’s gentle, empathetic and soft spoken. He tells us he has a 20 year old son, too and he can’t imagine hearing this news. He says that it’s an apartment where a lot of addicts come and go. He tells us that addiction is a horrible illness and he’s never seen an epidemic like this. He is so sorry to deliver such devastating news. And he hands us a card with his phone number.

At random I think about those curly locks. I’ll never see him again. Then I realize, it was him today at the house only it wasn’t the physical Charles I was used to. It was his spirit passing through me, hugging me, telling me goodbye, the dog running in circles confused and dazed.

We tell the officers we want to drive home. We have to convince them. We don’t want anyone with us right now, naked in our pain. I feel so raw. We pull it together long enough to make the 20 minute drive home. Longest. Drive. Ever. I’m whimpering but not wailing.

T-Shirts in honor of Charles Rogers
T-shirts to support the cause

I need to hold it together for my husband’s sake since he’s behind the wheel. What do we do? I don’t know what to do. I have a list. Really? I do. I remember the list–just a 1, 2, 3 that says what I should do if Charles dies.

When did I do this? February? I figured if I made this list to quiet that nagging premonition, it was like carrying an umbrella. If you have that umbrella, it won’t rain. But it did rain. He did die.

We come home and collapse on the floor. The dog panics. He knows we are in despair. I remember that last call from Charles just yesterday. He was calling for help and I missed it! I missed it! Damn it he was suicidal. I heard despair and I didn’t fathom suicide. It was never a scenario in my mind. It just wasn’t. Nobody ever talks about suicide! Never a mention.

This is truly the worst night of my life. My vision blurs and I feel like someone else is inhabiting my body because none of this seems real. I tell myself that as bad as this is, nothing will be worse than hearing the news. That part is over, right?

I ache. I am so thirsty.  Charles’ girlfriend calls me. I try to pull it together. I ask her to pull over and she screams, “tell me.” But she does pull over. Her wails and pain sear through me. I swear I feel her pain, too. I hear this poor girl blaming herself. I beg her to call her Dad and I lose it again. It can’t be real.

Then I think, “Who found him? When did they find him?” That last text that said, “I have to tell you something.” But he didn’t tell me anything. Why not? I remember I told him I loved him. Thank God. I did tell him that. I get the overwhelming feeling that my life will never be the same.

How will I ever live with this? I just will. I just will. I have to.

——-

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The day after

84 thoughts on “The final 48 hours”

    1. Amazing. I commented on your blog. I hope you find writing as healing as I do. You are certainly good at it. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your soul. I am going to guess that you are a young adult. Do remember that suicidal thoughts are the result of a brain disorder and not a weakness of character.

  1. My youngest son overdosed a month before turning 22. We spent a year in and out of hospitals with him trying to figure out his spells of severe stomach pain – only to figure out he was smoking so much pot – he was having almost toxic reactions to it. Got him off that and Ativan with him living at home for a month. He went back to college – started drinking instead. Called me on a Wed and said he wanted to move back home. I told him we could talk about it on the weekend. Richmond PD showed up at my office on Friday afternoon to tell me Joel was dead from an oxycodone overdose. Died in his sleep after getting high with his friend. When I read you wailed – I hear my wails echoing in my ears. Know that I feel your pain.

    1. Oh Julie. That visit from the police is so painful. I am so sorry. I feel your wails. I do. It is the worst worst illness ever!

  2. I didn’t know Charles. I came across it by being a fellow Cosby student who graduated in 2011 with Richard as part of the health sciences specialty center and have crossed paths with him and his friends. Your family has always had a big energy in the school while I was there. I guess I just wanted to say I empathize with your pain and very deeply admire your strength to share your story. My family has been touched heavily by mental illness and suicide, as well as addiction and it means so much to see someone raising awareness about something so important. Thank you, and bless you and your family.

  3. I’m so sorry for your loss. Your son was a handsome young man. I can imagine how you must miss him.
    My son is in recovery and has almost 6 months sober. For that I’m so very thankful. His drug of choice is whiskey. He talks about the heroin addicts he’s become friends with in rehab. Tells how very difficult it is for them to get and stay clean. It’s the devil. So sorry.

  4. Anne Moss, God gives all of us freedom of choice. It leads some to make war; it leads others into murder and crime. Others follow the path to addiction. It’s so hard to be a good parent and harder still to “parent ourselves”. God loves all of his/her children and is sure to suffer great joys and pain, as all parents do. Yet our freedom is never taken away, and the forgiveness is always there should we seek it.

    I’m so glad to see that you’re using your freedom of choice to aid others and save lives. It’s wonderful to see you bring all of your communication skills to the forefront on behalf of your family and all the others out there who feel desperation, loneliness, fear and guilt. We can’t live for or control those that we cherish. And, it’s heartbreaking at times.

    We can work a lifetime to be the best of parents and friends, yet bad things do happen every hour to very wonderful people. I “lost” a child last February. She’s alive but a person who steals, lies and hurts those around her.

    She has a personality disorder that’s inherited from a family member that I know only too well. Hard as it is, after robberies, theft, lies, etc. I’ve had to let my child go.

    It’s been hard not to be able to share what’s happened and not to have a formal way to grieve publicly. This is the first time that I’ve mentioned it to anyone past my closest sister.

    My sister has always been a rock to me and to her three children. A single mother without child support for most of her children’s lives she’s worked hard to be both parents. All three of children (now all adults) suffer from addiction issues and have been on heroin.

    They’d done terrible things to her while loving her, too.

    She hasn’t turned away from any of them and continues to show them love and support when they get clean. She’s also had to show them tough love. She’s a hardworking, and very successful professional, but they’ve driven her into bankruptcy; she’s lost her home and most of her goods, including beloved family items.

    They’ve been in and out of hospitals; rehabs centers; recovery programs; and job programs for over 15-years. Through it all, she’s been a strong, single mother. She’s never speaken badly of one of them.

    For the past couple of years, she had her own apartment and can’t live with them. Her oldest daughter, who’s no longer on heroin, has been dying for 15-years of rare cancer and a rare blood disease. My sister says, “I’ve seen a lot of ugly”.

    Who am I to breakdown over the “loss” of my daughter? Yes, I can cry and have bad moments but it isn’t anything as tough as the things that you, my sister and others in this “Club” have endured. My husband of 29-years divorced me, using lies and his money to break me. I remain unbroken.

    My parents both died suddenly and young. My dad at age 43 of a heart attack. My mom died on an operating table a few years later during what was to have been a fairly straightforward procedure to remove a benign tumor. I was an “orphan” at 28 though lucky enough to be the oldest of four children.

    Terrible losses make us stronger.

    I’ve also learned that there is such a thing as living forever. Charles, and the other lost souls, will live for eternity. They live within each of our hearts, minds and souls – daily. This is my eternity. I will never forget nor stop loving a one of them. They do live. They live in me.

    Love to you always Anne Moss. The world is a better, and a safer place, because of the good work that you’ve been doing on behalf of cancer survivors; and now drug addicts and those suffering from the loss of loved ones to early deaths from addictions and suicide. May you stay strong and feel the love that does grow and surround you.

    XXOO, Diane

    PS. I’d love to share a prayer that I try to say every day. It’s a reminder to me of why I’m here and the kinds of the choices that I’m free to make each and every day.

    Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

    Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
    Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    Where there is injury, pardon;
    Where there is doubt, faith;
    Where there is despair, hope;
    Where there is darkness, light;
    And where there is sadness, joy;

    Oh Divine Master,
    Grant that I may not so much seek
    To be consoled as to console;
    To be understood, as to understand;
    To be loved, as to love;
    For it is in giving that we receive,
    It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
    And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
    Amen.

    1. Thank you Diane. For sharing your stories, offering your prayers and your compassion. For an art director, you are a kick @$$ writer. You are just flat out talented.

  5. Anne Moss,
    Thank you for sharing your pain so that others will understand that they are not alone. I was a 911 Dispatcher for over 35 years. I am also a recovering addict /alcoholic. I went to rehab twice. After the second time through, I returned to work, but found it could no longer bear hearing the cries of the relative, parent, friend of the addict found cold, stiff, with a needle in their arm. It was truly horrifying to me, and I spent many sleepless nights, and still do, rehearing those cries of agony. It tore my heart up, and I left my chosen profession. I suffered bouts of unimaginable depression and actually was hospitalized twice for suicidal thoughts and ideations. I could never return to a job I worked towards since I was 13 years old (I am now approaching 60). Your courage to tell your story is great. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you again for sharing.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. That’s why I wrote. So you will tell me your stories. So we know we are not alone

  6. Anne,

    I am so so sorry for your loss. I reach out to you as a 21 year old recovering opiate addict. I struggled through six of my teenage years. I have fortunately gotten back on the path of least resistance, but I hope by writing this you will gain some insight.

    I grew up surrounded by family members that stuffled from mental illness and addiction. It in itself is seemingly just another family member. As a recovering addict, and in my perspective, it is one of the most disappointing and selfish things we take part in. Regardless of our actions we feel so much guilt and remorse, yet somehow we manage to repeat those actions willingly. It takes a toll on our mental stability and sanity. It unfortunately comes to a point that we are so sick that death js, unfortunately, the easiest way out and way to forgive ourselves. It is the figurative thought in which we can finally be clean and release ourselves, and our loved ones, from the pain of our addiction. I contemplated overdose so many times I can’t even begin to keep count. But my thoughts an actions were so skewed. My mind never cleared the addict fog until at least a year clean, and it took me two years to finally get clean and stay clean.

    So with this being said, hold on to the real man you know he was. Hold on to the happy memories and proud moments. He was still that person inside and out, but unfortunately, it was shadowed by such a horrible disease. He is still your son and your biggest joy. I’m sure he was merely hoping this choice would give you a sense of peace and would save you the disappointment; his death was his way of waving the flag for all the pain and mistakes. I am sure he loved you and your husband dearly. I am even more sure he is in a much better place than we are now, smiling and finally at peace with himself and the struggles he endured. Hold,on tight to his peace and love, and please don’t hold yourself responsible. The disease of addiction is much more powerful than any word of affirmation or any phone call. And with that, I am truly sorry. I don’t know you or your family, but I will keep yall in my prayers. Your family’s story, his story, will speak mountains to many. Even if it is just one person and family, that is most inspiring. More importanly, this is for you, for your healing. Stay strong and keep your head up. He is still with you in spirit and in your heart.

    1. Thank you. So well said. I have learned much more about addiction in the last year, and from having spent 4 years at FA and going to NA groups that are open. It helps to hear the struggle and the shame that goes with this evil illness. Thank you for reaching out. I do know he loved us. Your post does put things in perspective. I am so glad you are sober.I have seen how hard it is. But not having had substance abuse disorder myself, I can’t really appreciate how difficult it is to find sobriety and stay there. It’s always so nice to hear from young people.

  7. Anne Moss, thank you for sharing your pain. Some don’t want to hear, but it’s too important not to know. Secrets hurt. Letting them out is freeing and healing. I just want to hug your neck and tell you everything is going to be okay. And Beverly, I want to tell her too. And the others who shared their heart-wrenching stories.
    I watched one of Charles’s videos on YouTube tonight, the one where he was telling God how angry he was at Him. That was good! God can handle it and it’s okay. Jesus, more than anyone, knows our pain. He understands, because He suffered for the sins of the entire world – past, present and future! And He tells us, the weary, to come to Him with our heavy burdens and He will give us rest. Oh, how I pray that you will rest in Christ Jesus.
    Thank you for what you are doing to tear down walls that separate. You are a beautiful person. Your work is making a difference.💗

  8. As I sit here and read your story I am forced to tear the band aid off of my own. Depression and addiction have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Growing up in a single parent home as an only child I was forced to deal with these issues from an early age as my mom suffered with depression and alcohol addiction issues. Watching from the sidelines had more of an affect on me than I care to admit to. Somehow the depression has trickeled down to me as an adult and now my children. Your words have forced me to deal with the reality at hand that suicide and depression are real and are an illness and not a crutch as I have always tried to make myself believe. I have always thought I was alone and ashamed to seek help as it would make me less of a woman. I don’t want to have to ever write my truths as you have about my own child and this is a wake up call for me. Its time to face the music and to deal with reality before it’s too late. Because of you and your story I am ready to take the next step of fixing whatever is broken and the cycle in our lives and finally be able to exhale. You and your son are my inspiration and I thank you for your raw emotion and honesty. I pray you and your family find comfort in this difficult time of knowing that you are making a difference whether it be great or small.

    1. Thank you for saying that. I am glad you are going to take steps. That’s the purpose. It gives me purpose

  9. Anne,

    I read this with tears in my eyes and goosebumps all over my body, and a knot so deep in my stomach I’m not sure when it will unravel. My heart breaks for you, and for my parents, whom I am so grateful for and love so very much. I have struggled with pretty severe anxiety and depression for about 10 years on and off. Some years are better than others. I also struggled with addiction to opiates, both pills and heroin. One thing that I love about you is that you understand and don’t judge. So many people just don’t understand we didn’t want to use. Maybe at a point in the beginning we enjoyed it, or it helped, but we never wanted to be those people. I put my parents through hell for years. I am now 30 years oldand 5 years sober, thanks to my parents for stepping in and forcing my hand, even though I was 25 and they could’ve left it up to me. They didn’t and I hated them so much at the time, and now my love and gratitude for what they did is beyond what I can explain in words. They saved my life, but I was one of the lucky ones. I’ve lost friends and family to both drugs and suicide and sometimes I feel guilt, but mostly gratitude that it wasn’t me. There are still bad days. I am now pregnant with a baby boy, due in August and I can’t imagine how my parents were so brave through all of this. I’m praying for you and thanking God for the stength that my parents gave me and I will hug them extra hard because I now better understand what they went through. Thank you so much for sharing your story.
    Kait

        1. Shelley. I am so sorry. You know I am. You know I know how you feel. Flat some days. Depressed others. And some days pretty darn good.

  10. Anne – Thank you for sharing your heartbreaking story and I hope by sharing it helps the healing process for you. I couldn’t imagine losing a child like this, however, I have thought about it. Our son who is 25, is in his 4th rehab recovering from several addicitions and mental health issues. He has been suicidal and attempted before. This time we are so grateful that he is being treated for both and hoping this will be the time he will continue on a recovery path. Please keep sharing and educating folks. We need to talk about this to help stop this epidemic. Praying for you and your family.
    Blessings,
    Hunter

  11. This was so eloquent. I feel your pain. I cried from 2 lines in. My son is also a heroin addict. He also has anxiety and depression. Wonder which came first? I pray for him every day. He is in prison right now, released soon. My husband and I are paying for a few months in a sober house. I fear the call everyday. So afraid, and so sure, it will come. I lost my mother to suicide when I was a teen. I am the one who found her. It will never leave me. I pray for your continued strength. Losing a mother is very hard; but I think losing a child is an unimaginable horror

  12. This is as closely described to my story as I’ve every read. 10 years this October, my Danny 19 years young. 😭

    1. I am so sorry Alice. I know you carry him in your heart every day. And always will. Please talk. Please talk. Our society’s silence is doing no favors. Please share when you feel it’s appropriate.

  13. Thank you for sharing. My daughter over-dosed Christmas morning 2013 and I am forever changed. You are both brave and inspiring!

  14. Anne, I read your posts with equal measures of overwhelming empathy and complete awe. I applaud your bravery, honesty and vulnerability. My son and I talked about Charles last night after reading your story and he remembers him for always being “so funny”; by sharing your story you are keeping his memory alive. Your pain is palpable yet your advocacy is so appreciated.

  15. I am truly sorry for your loss. My son has been an addict for at least 5 yrs on and off. He was clean 21/2 yrs but came home and relapsed . We’ve had him in many treatment centers. He is now in treatment but will be home on Friday. I am scared because about 3 weeks ago he od’d and my husband found him. He said he was taking a shower before he left for treatment that night. He was in the bathroom way to long my husband kicked the door in and found my beautiful boy on the bathroom floor naked, white eyes in the back of his head. Oh god !! I am losing it right now sorry. My husband picked him up dragged him back and forth screaming in his ear Don’t leave me Don’t leave me!!!! He finally came out of it didn’t remember anything. My husband can’t get it out of his head. And today I break down! I hate this drug !!! He will be on the vivitrol shot before he leaves treatment but still scary he is going to be a Daddy in September. I pray for each and everyone one of us and our beautiful loved ones…

    1. Oh my gosh. I know someone that had such an event. Your husband probably suffers from PTSD as a result. Thank you for sharing and shedding light on this subject

  16. Thank you for sharing your raw emotions. I sit here with tears streaming down my face. I too, have a child with an addiction to heroin, though today was a good day and I am so grateful to God for those moments, I try to take each day, each moment, and hold it close to my heart. I know that my child has a journey and I do too. I will hold you in my prayers tonight because I have felt all those fears as they rise and fall. I too have clinged to the hope that it will never be me, but I want you to know that I will pray that you can find the peace you need to continue to live, really live… for Charles. Continue to tell your story because we are all fighting this war. Awareness saves lives. Thanks for having the courage to tell your story.

  17. Anne Moss,

    We met a week after you had Charles taken away for help. A friendship immediately blossomed in commerce, friendship and in pain.

    Your post was so heartbreaking and eloquently written. So real. You might find this shocking but the part of the post I relate most to is the part on your deck when you have let the dog out – you feel something cross you and the dog starts going wild. That is something I can really relate with. Only you know why!

    As for the rest of the story it is the MOST painful story I have ever heard. Maybe because it comes from one of my closest friends, maybe because I can relate, Maybe because I am a Mother Like you that loves her children deeply like you do, however; I think the reason why it touches my soul is because of your efforts to educate others, make time for friends in need, and work tirelessly to make sure not another child is taken by this aweful disease, your ability to fight and preserve while going through such despair is nothing short of inspiring, but I also feel it keeps you going. Your fight, your mission is what keeps you going and what educates others. I believe it saves lives. For the one life you couldn’t save. You know that, right? The Monster had the bait, and at that time, you weren’t trained to know what you were dealing with. Now you are.

    Continue to educate, continue to break the stigma and tell your story, do it for you and do it for Charles. My hand joins yours and I am with you every step of the way.

    I love you,
    Your friend,
    Stephanie

    1. I know you are. And you always listened without judgment. I could not have made it through all that without you.

  18. A-M, from the moment I met you I knew you were a rare jewel, so funny, so bawdy(!), so caring. You have found yourself the leader of a club no one wants to be in, and yet there you are, standing defiantly and head up, face forward, in the bow of a ship navigating hellishly scary and dangerous waters. You are still first are a friend who is so funny, so bawdy and so, so very caring. And you are a warrior. What you do–every day–is help patients with addiction and their families. What you do–every day–is provide a voice to those left behind after suicide. What you do–EVERY DAY–is making a difference, to all of us and many you will never know. I love you, A-M. I’m so damned thankful for you.

  19. You are so extremely brave. Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. I knew Charles, he always made me laugh every time our paths had crossed. I’ll never forget his ability to sound like anyone I could name. So hilarious. I think about him often. He touched many people’s lives with his strong desire to make anyone smile. I miss him. You keep him alive even when you share your pain. I know he feels the love he has. Keep staying strong.

  20. Anne, your courage in sharing your family’s tragedy will help bring awareness to this battle against addiction and removal of the stigma attached to those facing a struggle with mental illness. We need to help the public see that these are our sons,our daughters, our neighbors, and not just names. Thank you, Anne

  21. Anne Moss,
    I am always so moved by your words, they settle in the bottom of my gut, where much of my most difficult and personal feelings linger. Often times I don’t process them immediately. They wallow there as I keep coming back to them. Every part of your grief journey helps me unimaginable ways. You choose hope for my son, you share loving advise and guidance, you lend an ear, you offer support and your encouragement often times it is more than I get from some of my closest friends. Often times they just don’t have the words, the experience , the heartbreak. You are utterly amazing, an important person as any in my life. You leave me with those gut feelings, something you share in your writings or something your share with me in our messages. They continue to give me hope. Several weeks ago, on a particularly hard day for my son, you said something that has stayed with me, a forever gut feeling, you told me not to have survivor’s guilt, that you want my son to succeed. I felt how much you cared about his struggles with his mental health , to rise above the low , to find peace and hope and the will to live another day. You truly want that for D and sll the kids duffering.And I felt how much you meant it. Despite all of what you have gone through and continue to go through, you are steadfast in your support, your true concern for others, including my family is just the ultimate definition of special,amazing and true goodness. You represent everything that’s wonderful in the face of tragedy. Charles is my hero, he made the ultimate sacrafice, as did you. If that day in January had ended differently for my son, I don’t know if I could muster up an ounce of the gut feelings that you give to me and others. Thank you for continuing to be that person for me and so many others.Some day I aspire to be able to help just one person as you have helped me. I hope and pray that Charles’ Champions is a Meetup that continues for many years and thrives beyond belief, not just because there is a need for it, but because Charles deserves to be continually honored and remembered . That is the legacy he is do deserving of!
    XOXO

    1. That note you shared. Someday I hope we can share it. It said so much, didn’t it? The handwritten one. So special. I have thought about that sweet note so many times. I can’t tell you how much your words mean to me and your support. Do know that I get as much out of it as you do. I admire your courage in starting that group. That took guts.

  22. Hi Mrs. Rogers,
    I don’t know you. I didn’t know your son, and to be quite honest I’ve written and deleted this message a million times before, but I just needed to let you know you’re reaching an audience larger than you think.
    When I was fifteen I was diagnosed with anorexia, depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. I tried killing myself at just sixteen. I didn’t put my parents, family, or friends into much thought other than “at least they won’t worry where I am”..I survived. Sometimes I feel guilty for my survival, but most of the time grateful.
    I guess I’m writing this to just let you know how much Charles and yours stories touch me without even having real connection with you guys. My heart goes out to you. Thank you for being so strong and for sharing these to the public. You’re helping more than you know.

    1. You are the reason I am living. To support those of you living with illnesses so hard to manage in the face of a society so judgmental about them. Thank you so much for writing. NEVER feel uncomfortable writing or commenting here. That’s why it’s called Emotionally Naked. I didn’t know I was reaching people your age until I noticed a lot of college ip addresses in my statistics. (I can’t tell who anyone is, of course. it just says William & Mary, James Madison, University of California) You are managing so much. DO NOT feel guilty for surviving. I am glad you survived.

  23. I am in tears. My beautiful son,Beau, died 11 years ago in August of an overdose. I found him,in the yard across the street, very early ,trying to make it home. I tried cpr,but he had been gone for hours. The day before,we had taken him to a rehab in Nashville. They gave his bed away to an ’emergency ‘ case. We were told to bring him back in 3 days. He lay his head in my lap and cried on the way home.He was finally ready,and the turned him away.
    I forgot to take back the cash I had given him for his stay in rehab. His friends say he bought Xanax sometime that night. They were drinking beer and playing poker. He started feeling sick,and started for home. No one say him pass out in the front yard.No one saw him choking on his own vomit.
    I was hysterical. Camera crews show up,I am on the local news for all the town to see my pain. It was considered a suspicious death,so there is crime scene tape up for days.
    My beautiful boy,with the red curls,my first born was gone at 20 years old.
    Thank you so much for sharing about your beautiful boy. I’ve never written about this before,and because of you, I was finally able to.
    We go on, don’t we? Because we have to.

    1. I will always feel it was my fault, for not taking his money before he left.
      Please forgive the grammar, I am crying so hard,I can barely see the keys to type.

      1. My husband brought Charles by the house on the way to the sober house despite my saying it was not a good idea. He had money stashed in his room. And that’s how he got his last hit that got him sent back to detox before he walked out. If not that day, it would have been another. At least I got to see my son one last time all cleaned up, sober and happy. But he tortured himself for a long time.

      2. It’s not your fault. Please stop blaming yourself. He would have found a way to get drugs even without your money. You’ll never start healing if you don’t stop blaming yourself. I hope you find some peace in this life, Beverly!

        1. I know. I no longer think it’s my fault. But that day I did. It’s been 11 months now. Seems like a month ago sometimes.

    2. Oh Beverly. He was turned away. That is so utterly heartbreaking. People have no idea how badly they want to get away from heroin. They think, “They just need to stop.” It’s not that easy. I didn’t know that either since the heroin addiction was so new. We only knew for 6 weeks. I hardly had time to get thoroughly educated. Charles was turned away from the psych hospital because he was a heroin addict. This has to change. It just has to. Thank you for posting. So much. We WILL change this.

        1. That was my feeling too. We are a club, not one that anyone would pick, but one because it is what it is. And, we need to stick together and we need to fight this awful disease so no more of our babies will be turned away, shunned or stigmatized.

          1. By sharing big and commenting you are raising awareness. Thank you for that. Because it will take all is us in the club, our friend as and our families to inspire change

    3. Thank you for sharing, Beverly. My son is 22 and an addict. I can only imagine the torture you went thru when you lost your son.

  24. I’m so so sorry you have been through this. You are so brave and caring to let others know. I pray for you every time I read one of your posts or see one of your hearts. You, and Charles, are making a difference in hearts and minds and in the world. Blessings…..

  25. I sit here reading this sobbing. There can be nothing more horrendous. Anne Moss—you are making a huge difference. Take some comfort in that. Since you’ve been sharing your story, I have become so aware of this horrible epidemic. You are saving lives—in honor of your sweet boy Charles. You move me.
    Love, Nan Flood

  26. So very brave of you to share this with us, Anne Moss. I can not imagine the pain of loosing a child to suicide. Please keep talking and continue to stay strong.

  27. My heart aches for you while reading this. An absolute nightmare. I still marvel at your strength and sense of purpose. The work you are doing is making a difference in shining a light on addiction, depression and mental illness. Such a tribute to Charles life.

  28. Thank you for sharing something so personal and heartbreaking. I read everything you write so I can better understand mental illness and addiction, understand what loved ones go through, and because I care about you, your family, and all those that loved Charles. Thinking about you always! ♡

  29. I am so deeply sorry. Your description of that last hug leaves me no doubt it was meant as comfort for you in such an awful, painful time. Your bravery in sharing this will save lives. I read each of your posts and you have opened my eyes to the realization this can and does happen to any of us. Thank you for sharing this with us. love, Leigh

  30. It’s been 2 years now, last Saturday. 2 years without him. And, we do live with it, because, like you said, we have to.

    Daniel had been out of jail for 21 days before he overdosed. I have an excel sheet with everything that I know that he did during those 21 days. His where abouts, his Facebook posts. I collected everything I could find and put it all in a One Note notebook. Pictures he drew, songs he wrote, his poems, my Carepages from the years we were hoping, my yearly list (2005-2014) of what happened and when. And, a Facebook page that I post to when I’m feeling sad or lonely. Grief is very lonely. It sounds a bit morbid, but I don’t want to forget. Now, that’s my only fear – that I’ll forget him.

    Thank you Ann for being so raw. It is somehow comforting knowing others our there have experienced this pain and survived. It makes us want to fight all the harder so no one else has to go through it.

    1. Thank you Teri for sharing. I need to make a timeline as well. For my own peace of mind. I have pieced together that last week and still getting the blanks filled in.

    2. Teri, you will never,never, ever forget him. I have lost my parents, and my husband and not a day goes by that I don’t think about all of them. Of course all those loves are different . We still grieve, we still mourn. But just know you will NEVER forget.

  31. Thank you for sharing this most private, painful, devastating experience. As so often with your beautiful writing I sit reading this in tears. Your powerful words make an epidemic that has felt “over there” a part of my life and give me an awareness I would not have had otherwise. Stay the course, AM. You are making a difference.

    1. I cannot figure out sometimes why I share the things that I think people really don’t want to hear. I think the point is, we do survive and have to find a reason to live and move forward in a different way than before. Thanks for your continued support.

      1. Thank you for sharing Anne this is the most heart breaking post I have ever read.
        I am going to share it any maybe it will wake up one parent. Maybe it will save one kid. My heart bleeds for you and your family. You will never forget but I hope
        You find some peace and happiness.

      2. I think that it is that people need to hear it. Maybe be startled into action or the realization that they know someone who may need help. It may give them the strength to do something they were not previously able to do. And I think people need to also hear that there is life after the happening, after the taking of life and that there is a way to go on. You are proof of that.

      3. Thank you for sharing something so private, so painful. I will hold you and my family in my thoughts and prayers. Big hugs.

      4. I remember those “wails” those screams, losing it….. i lived it too.
        I am so sorry for your loss.
        Yes we survive, what choice do we have

      5. Your story is painful. I feel your pain. My father visited us for my son’s 4th birthday. 4 days later he shot himself. When folks asked me if he was ill, I said yes. Then the prying began as to what happened. I said that he stuck a gun in his mouth and blew his head off. My husband said I needed to soften the blow. I disagreed. I agree with you. Tell your story. Tell it as you feel it should be told.
        As a pharmacist, he honored his profession and didn’t use drugs. He was depressed to a state that he felt death by suicide was the only way out. It has been 7 years. It still hurts. There are days I do not think of him and I no longer feel guilty about that. A year later, my college roommate and friend of 25 years chose to end her life. I hadn’t finished mourning my father and it happened. Death by suicide can hit any age, economic status, race, religion, gender.
        I was now a solid member of an unspoken fraternity of which I did not want to be.
        I have become outspoken regarding mental illness and suicide/prevention. For you to write this article took courage. You are to be commended. With that, I hope you know that your story WILL help someone. Also know, you are NEVER alone.
        Keep on keepin’ on… each day is a new one. It is ok that you will smile again.

      6. Oh Anne,
        My heart is breaking with you. Thank you for sharing such personal, intimate thoughts with us.
        5 years ago we lost my stepson to suicide by hanging, and just like you, we thought the news was an overdose. It was the saddest thing I’ve ever witnessed, my husband’s pain and loss.
        You are brave and fearless to share as you have. God bless you.

        1. Leisha – I am so sorry we are both in this club. If only people realized in this epidemic the suicides

      7. Wow! I hardly have words;(
        You expressed your pain so in depth. I felt it. I related so much because it’s how I felt when I got the call my Son, my Marine, landed on an IED. I remember being outside and cars were driving by and how the world was still spinning but I was at a stand still. My Son is alive and missing limbs, that comes with its own grief, daily for him and for me. But, he’s climbed El Capitan:) he’s my super hero. May God be with you everyday as you learn to live ❤️❤️❤️

        1. It is a different kind of grief. But it is grief because it’s a loss. And it takes picking yourself up and figuring out how to move forward. We moms just can’t fix everything. So happy for your son. I really am

      8. What a heartbreaking thing to happen. I’m so very sorry for your loss. This is my biggest fear, I mean the overdose part. I cried reading this bc I’ve felt this way before. I have never had any words for it though. My son is off drugs right now, but you never really know when it might happen again. I live in the fear of this though I know I can’t live this way forever…again, I am so sorry…

      9. This is a story to be heard. Word needs to spread. Losing a child is something no one can bear the thought of. Thank you for sharing. I will certainly share this with a group of women I hold close to my heart.

        1. Thank you so much Kathy. I can write all I want but without supporters like you carrying the message, it would rot sitting here. Thank you for being one of the champions of change.

      10. Hi my name is John and i have almost 9 months sober off of heroin. This really resonated with me. I know the feelings your son dealt with. I am so sorry you had to go through this and for what you are still going through. You just helped shed light on the struggle my own family faced when i was using. And i am sure they still struggle with it now. Everyday we hear of people with decent ammounts of time going out to use one more.

        That one is never enough. And if we are lucky enough to survive it, we face the soul crushing depression and feelings of active addiction (or early sobriety) that leads to what happened to your beautiful son. I need to read stuff like this to be reminded of the consequences of using. I need to know the impact my actions will have on my loved oneyours
        Thank you for writing this and sharing a piece of yourself. I will keep you and yours in my prayers.

        <3 john from boston

        1. Thank you for that. So glad you’ve been able to pull away from that demon know as heroin. I wrote a hate letter to heroin a few posts back. Felt good to blame something! Join the subscribe to the blog list if you would. I am building s team of champions of change. It’s the sharing that this group does that reaches others and sheds light and inspires change. And we are going to do it. Yes we are. http://annemoss.us13.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=d6ef917b017a234df28c83a54&id=54a06797ae

    2. I am so sorry, so sorry for your huge loss. We lost our son to an overdose 2 years ago. The pain is immeasurable. Mental health issues and addiction are closely related, and of course you know this. My heart and mind are with you. Thank you for your courage. Contact me anytime: mcbainmiller@ shaw.ca.

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