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5 things to help you find hope after tragedy

How do you get the worst news of your life and move forward? How do you weather a tragedy that alters your life so much you can’t see how you can survive? How do you find the strength to enjoy life after that? Will you ever laugh again?

At first, you are in shock, moving through a fog. It’s hard to put anything in order and you feel lost and in disbelief. But once you come out of the fog, you need to find your way and you have to fight for it. Because we only have one life and I want you to make it worth living.

I’ve listed just a few of the ways I’ve used to help me forge this path for myself after my son’s suicide.  Adapt these to your tragedy to help yourself.

1. Have faith you will find a way

You can get through this. Really. No matter how bad it is. Battles leave scars. And that’s OK because that’s how we grow. The truth your life will be different and it’s changed forever.

You have to decide that you are going to get through it and just know you will. The ‘how’ part comes later. I just want you to know you can. It’s sort of a “fake it till you make it strategy” and your attitude has everything to do with it. Bitterness is no way to go through life.

2. Find a support system

You cannot weather a crisis without a support system.

Some tragedies send friends running from you instead of to you. And sometimes family turns against you. Whatever your circumstances, find support somewhere. A group, a psychologist, a church, a meetup in your city. Make the effort to find what that is.

3. Appreciate your new wisdom

With every tragedy, you are privileged to have a new kind of wisdom that comes with having been through hell and back.

You see things entirely differently and sometimes it will surprise you that others can’t see what you see now. This is your gift for having weathered the most devastating event of your life. It may not be what you asked for or your preference but it’s what you have now and it’s very special. Use it to make the world a better place.

4. Plan things

Make plans to do things. Whether that’s a trip to Italy or a hike on a new trail in the woods. I make sure my calendar is not completely empty but I try not to make it so crazy busy I don’t have time to write or grieve. I want that time. But I don’t want that time day after day after day. I want distractions some days, to connect with other human beings. Don’t sit around and wait for someone to ask you. Be proactive.

5. Don’t let it defeat you

There are times you feel you can’t even get out of bed or have no reason to. But you do anyway. The key is not to let it defeat you. After a bad day, come back stronger and fight the urge to give up.

There are times you’ll feel defeated and just tell yourself you are not going to let it. Look for your purpose and be patient. Trust that it will come to you. Remember you have that wisdom to see solutions that others cannot see because of what you’ve been through. That is very valuable and you can be that change agent. When you are ready.

There will be days of despair. And there will be days you feel like you can do anything and nothing can stop you. You’ll find passion you never knew you had. Capitalize on that passion. Weather the hard days. But never, ever let it defeat you. Let it be a catalyst for a new purpose.

Published by

AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

12 thoughts on “5 things to help you find hope after tragedy”

  1. Again, you have hit the nail squarely on the head. Even though our world is shattered upon hearing the news (or the day when I found my partner dead by suicide), if we are fortunate enough, we find the right supports that guide us through this unsought for and most horrendous and frightening experience

    I have just completed facilitating my first 12 Session Suicide Loss Support Group (we follow a program that my co-facilitator and myself designed) and I know that is it supporting others to move forward in their lives, if only a little at a time. Sadly, though, there is a perception that we should be strong and rely on family and friends, doctors and therapists – And so we should but I feel we need another avenue of support and one that allows for a deeper connection to the emotional, mental and spiritual turmoil that most of us now feel.

    A support group adds that extra dynamic of being in a room with others who are grieving the same loss as our own and that is what creates this Community of Survivors to Suicide Loss that gives us a sense of belonging with real people who have experienced a life changing event as we have. I know that I spent some 8 months isolated in my grief, feeling that no one around me really got my pain (though I know they tried). But then I just happened to stumble on a support group and that first night, fronting up and feeling sick in my stomach, fearful of what I might hear, head spinning as a migraine was coming on, trying to be stoic and not allow any tears to flow, trying to be careful of my language, uncomfortable as a gay man who only lost his partner (not a wife) – these all dissipated on that first night and I have made friends with real, honest people. If one of us breaks down, then we just sit in silence and allow each other to feel the pain that they invariably must so as to heal. We do not try to fix or offer a tissue – We just sit in silence and allow the person to grieve.

    I like the suggestions that AnneMoss has put forward especially suggestions Nos. 1 and 3. As time has moved forward, I have begun to realize that I have gained a wisdom about Grief and Loss that I didn’t really have before though I thought that I did. And I do think that as we look back, and the tears well up in our eyes, that we do realize that there is something akin to faith (deep down in ourselves) that has helped us in moving forward.

    Thanks kindly AnneMoss, as too all the people above whose stories touch me as I read each one of them.

    1. I co-facilitate a suicide loss support group. There is an 8-week closed group program here, too. I appreciate your wisdom and I know your members appreciate your group.

      It is so important to be a group that is accepting of the LGBTQ community, accepting of the traditions of other cultures, religions and ethnic communities. The attendee needs to feel acceptance and love. Not rejection.

      In our first workshop on grief in 2019, a young lady attended and her partner to whom she was to marry, killed herself a week before the wedding. Fortunately the group embraced and welcomed her. I know Karla and I do but I can’t say I know who else in the room does. And it was the first time it even occurred to me that that was possibility. We now have language to be thoughtful and accepting (that’s not all of it of cours) but I can tell you I held my breath for a moment because rejection at such a vulnerable moment could have been awful and potentially disastrous.

      Thank you for your comments Heath. Lack of acceptance by others does make the LGBTQ population more vulnerable. (NOT a weakness of character)

  2. Thank you Anne for continuing to push forward this URGENT message. As a mother that is grieving the loss of my first born son to suicide -it really upsets me that even the recovery experts are not discussing this. My son committed to recovery over and over and NOT ONE ever SHARED WITH ME addiction increases chances in suicide-but the experts took my money-donations, and still ask for donations.. I was focused on my sons recovery, suicide was NEVER on my radar. -WHY are we not discussing this, The message HAS TO BE SHARED! Thank you for your boldness and determination! From one mother to another. Hugs

    1. Yes it does. It made me so angry that no one was linking addiction and suicide and the fact that our children were SIX times more likely to die by suicide because of the dual diagnosis. I never had one therapist or psychiatrist even mention suicide. Thank you for commenting, Tracie.

      1. I am afraid for my son who is an addict and feeling hopeless. Recovery is short lived, time and time again. If there is wisdom for him or me -please share it with me.
        Terrified Mom

        1. Carla- I remember feeling that terrified. I folded up like a taco in my room thinking the walls were going to close in on me. It is the ultimate of suffering to watch our child in such a self destructive mode.

          Although my son died by suicide as a result of depression and addiction, the majority of my support group’s kids are in long-term recovery now. And I have learned so much since then. If there was one thing I would say it’s I wish I had said, “As much as I want you to get well, I love you even if you don’t.”

          Some thoughts for you.
          Look into the CRAFT model. Here is a blog post with some books and other links. https://annemoss.com/2022/07/20/how-do-i-help-my-loved-one-to-stop-drinking-or-doing-drugs/ That post has a pdf of resources, books, a great podcast and more. You can’t change what your loved one is doing but you can change how you react to it which can improve chances he will go into recovery.

          If you have not already, find a group. I joined families anonymous. There are also SMART recovery groups. Find others going through this. Because should you need rehab or other resources, they’ll know where the best ones are in your area.

          My ove to you, Carla. This is HARD. Recovery is not only possible, it’s probable. There is always hope!

  3. Hi
    I have been given annemoss site by a dear friend of my sons. I just lost my first born son to a heroin/ fentanyl laced injection. He has fought this his entire life but really had for 3 years been doing great. He slipped at work and broke his arm. He weakened and called for relief not knowing what he had been given. He died within 60 seconds. We have never left his side. Why now after all these years. I am so devastated and I do not know how to survive this.

    1. Oh Tonya I am so sorry. Those early grief days were so so hard. At first please just tell yourself you can make it through the next hour. Then tell yourself as bad as it is right now it will never be as bad as hearing the news. I just kept telling myself I would survive.

      The MOST important thing is for you to tell yourself those things and finally to find support. There are many good groups in Richmond. Do you live here? If so you can find thise groups here. That’s where you connect with others enduring this nightmare. Here is the link. Please reply. https://annemoss.com/resources-2/grief/

  4. Today the readings touched my heart.
    I have not lost a child physically but I feel I have lost one to drugs.
    When I read your post about all the things you remember when Charles was a child growing up I went through the whole thing in my head and imagining and remembering my daughter.
    Who is a heroin addict.
    I am no stranger to loss of life. I have lost many loved ones but never a child.
    Just reading what you write really touches my heart and also how you’re helping all of the other mothers of lost a child to suicide.
    My brother lost his daughter suicide and now he raises her two kids she struggled for so many years I could never get the help she needed.
    You just give me hope all of you that are posting are giving me hope.

  5. Excellent ideas. I am at almost 10 months & by practicing these things you have mentioned, I am finally finding some peace & beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.💜

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