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Figuring out who you are after a loved one dies

bouncing back
Bouncing back

When Charles first died by suicide, I didn’t know who I was anymore.

I was the mom that had bonfires and countless spend-the-nights and pizza parties. I was the “youtube” house. I was the mom of the funniest most popular kid in school. I was mom of an up-and-coming rap artist. I was the mom who kept condoms available in the boys’ bathroom for anyone in the neighborhood that wanted them–no questions asked. I was the mom of that zany, fun kid Charles.

I was also the mom who tried for years to speak up for her child, get him the help he needed and usher him into adulthood with the tools necessary to make a life for himself.

The fairy tale never came true.

The nightmare did.

Charles was part of me. Part of my soul. He was my affectionate child.

When he died by suicide I was completely lost. Completely blindsided. Devastated and thrown into a desert with no food, water or compass. Digging out of that was heart wrenching.

I still struggle with the reality of having failed at what was most important to me.

Reinventing yourself after a tragedy is no easy task. For the first time in my life I was not exactly sure where I’ll land or what my life will look like going forward. It was one of my biggest struggles. And I still don’t have it all worked out but I have a direction.

I am no longer Charles’ mom. I mean I am but it’s obviously not the same when your child is no longer alive. People have no idea how the hurt drags you down even a year and a half later.

I am thankful I have made some decisions and they feel right. I am thankful I’m now able to move forward. I feel less in limbo, less indecisive but by no means am I feeling as sure footed as I would like. I still have unanswered questions such as how I’m going to make money at this–at least enough to cover some expenses. However, I don’t regret my decision to do this full time one bit.

I have to feel satisfied with the progress I have made.

I know if you are struggling, you will find your way. Do not make comparisons about how long it takes you compared to someone else. This is your journey and it cannot be rushed.

I just want you to know if you are grieving the loss of a loved one, you will find your way, you will figure out who you are again. It’s not the way you wanted to build resilience. But let’s face it, after you’ve been through this, you feel like you can survive anything.

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.

8 thoughts on “Figuring out who you are after a loved one dies”

  1. This is the hardest pain that I have ever suffered. You are absolutely right Ann, if we can survive this heart, gut wrenching pain, we can survive anything. When I feel like just throwing in the towel, I say to myself and it seems to help, “stay grounded Debbie, you got this” or if I’m really having a bad day, I pretend I’m sitting on the beach in Hawaii, listening to the waves and feeling the warm ocean breeze. If that doesn’t work, I go listen to music. I work out every day to get my endorphins out. I just keep moving. Love, light, peace and hope to all of us in this grieve journey.
    Debbie wilkinson💙🙏🦋

  2. I sit here reading this blog and all your previous ones connected here with tears streaming. Sunday will be my son’s 4th birthday in heaven period he would be 26. I feel I am coming unglued, more lost on this journey and who I am and what I should be doing. Depression, coupled with grief, can make doing a struggle and impossible at times. Thank you, Anne Moss, your powerful words and attitude ring true. I “just” need to grab the ring and hold on again. <3 <3 <3 <3

  3. The hurt drags you down even 4 1/2 years later. I get up in the morning and wonder why to do anything. I no longer have any children, a business, basically any purpose….it’s been Groundhog’s Day for years now….

    1. I know Gray. You do have a direction. Your comments and shares here are read and shared. You have been instrumental in sharing the message of this site. You have no idea how many you are reaching and consoling. You have no idea how many you have saved simply by being a voice here and being emotionally naked yourself. Thank you for that.

  4. I remember right after Mom died looking out of the hospital window and being stunned that the world was still going on. You’re an inspiration and powerful voice in such a needed area. The ripples are spreading​. Thank you.

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