I refuse to bury my son’s memory

There are days that I realize, I’m “that” mother–the one whose child killed himself. I can’t slip out of my skin and be somewhere else or someone else, I have to face this head on.

The truth is, while I can’t avoid it, others can.

It’s how others react that is often interesting and I’ve decided to be sort of an observer of human nature and not be offended. This “scientific” approach towards witnessing reactions to death has helped tremendously.

People ask, “How many children do you have?” to which I give my standard answer. “One of my children is living his dream as a filmmaker and the other died by suicide at 20, thus-and-such many months ago. He suffered from depression and addiction.” I am typically very gentle in order to brace the impact. Then I let someone know that it’s a natural question and I’m not offended.

Most of the time, people say, “Sorry for your loss” or give me a hug. Many times they’ll tell me their own story which I am honored to hear.

But then sometimes, I’ll get a non-reaction and someone just glazes right over that fact without any acknowledgment whatsoever. Like my telling them that I lost a child to suicide is TMI even if it’s a critical piece of what they asked me about.

I’m often just amazed at this. I don’t feel it’s because that person doesn’t care. It’s simply a product of the social norm of avoidance as it relates to death.

The truth is, I had to bury my son but I refuse to bury his memory. Other people’s discomfort with death is not my problem and reconstructing a story to spare them is not in my wheelhouse.

The good news is that most people have been very kind and thoughtful. I actually expected more of what I had been used to for so many years trying to get help for my son which was ignorance, rejection, and judgment which I learned to push through to advocate for my youngest son.

It was an adjustment to have emotional support where there had been very little and I still relapse into the mindset that no one gives a rat’s ass.

I’m adjusting, though. I am. And thanks for helping me out, for giving me more detail when I see you in person–even when I look like a deer caught in headlights. Thanks for allowing me to carry my son with me in some way and helping me cherish his memory.

Would I do it all over again?

Published by

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 currently working on getting a book published. 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.

13 thoughts on “I refuse to bury my son’s memory”

  1. I have the same thing happen all the time. I travel with Chip on business and am constantly meeting new dealers and wives. That is always the very first thing they ask me. Once, early on, we were at a large cocktail party and a wife asked and I answered and she started crying right there. Then I watched as the news made it’s way around to every wife. I couldn’t leave, as Chip was in charge of the party. I went to the bathroom a lot in those first few years.

    1. Gray – When someone asks me I have a standard line. I practiced it in my car over and over. My oldest son Richard lives in LA and pursuing his dream as a filmmaker. My youngest suffered from depression and addiction and died by suicide. I blurted it out the day after he died when someone asked me. And I never looked back. I had had enough silence. My husband is just now able to tell people Charles died.

      Sometimes certain aspects of this process takes people longer. For instance, most everyone I know has buried their child and gotten a headstone. I still have not done that. That’s where I am behind. So I can tell people effortlessly. But I still can’t decide where to bury my child.

      1. Anne Moss,
        We have not buried Daniel yet even though it has been 3 1/2 yrs. He is in a container in my room where I can talk to him. I just got the courage to buy cemetery plots a couple of months ago; 5 of them. He will rest between me and his grandpa. I’ll work on the headstone when I’m ready and then we will have a quiet ceremony. I want my other children, family and friends to have a place to go to remember him.

        I will send you our story when I write it. Right now for my husband & I, Daniel’s memory lives on as we serve in the city jail and in our community making relationships with the people that cross our path. The gift of presence is important when people are feeling alone and venerable.

        Thank you for your voice that shouts out for each of us. I know that it is making a difference.

        ~*teri

        1. I love how you are giving back and connecting with others in your son’s memory Teri. And thank you for making me feel better about not doing anything with the ashes or headstone. I have yet to get a container. I will.

  2. Thank you, it showed up on my fb newsfeed just when I needed it most, the change of seasons bring the memories, May was my son’s birth month, it’s almost 5 years that he’s gone..
    You have written was had been so heavy on my heart

  3. Anne Moss, I just wanted you to know that I read your posts everyday without fail. They always touch my heart and mean so much to me. Sometimes you seem to read my mind. I appreciate all you do for mental health & suicide awareness & education. Thanks.

  4. Anne, I applaud your patience and grace. Very grateful to have been brought here to your blog today. I have personal experience with what you’ve described here and your post has helped me greatly. Thank you. Your perspective and your wisdom have touched my heart today. Bless you, new friend. 💛

  5. Thank you again for a wonderful article. I often don’t know what to answer to this question, I get caught in confusion, and scare of the reaction to the fact. But your article really helped me with this dilemma. God bless you!

  6. I love your answer to “how many children do you have?” That is an answer which praises Richard, honors Charles and gives grace to the one asking. You are wise, Anne Moss…

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