At first, this was my internal visceral response to people who acted as if my grief was an inconvenience to them–an ugly interruption in their beautiful, perfect life.
To be clear, I don’t resent anyone for having living children or a successful life. I do resent how my child was treated by those who were supposed to help him, leaving us broken at times.
Because of our tragedy, I do invade people’s space with my story. Over and over and over again. Even unsuspecting people, minding their own business.
I brazenly push the topic out there and I know it makes people uncomfortable. Hell, it makes me uncomfortable sometimes. Even my marketing presentations are littered with examples of suicide, addiction and mental illness.
Some are just not expecting that assault in a business environment. However, I have found even these audiences surprisingly compassionate and receptive after they recover from their initial shock.
I hear from other parents about how they want to talk about their loved who died by suicide or overdose but relatives cut them off and refuse to have a conversation about it. Part of why I do what I do is to give these family members a voice and permission to talk about the one they lost without shame.
I don’t want my child forgotten and dismissed because of how he died.
I don’t want to be dismissed as a human being and a mother because Charles didn’t become the thriving adult we hoped he would.
I want to see change. That means getting people comfortable with the topics of mental illness, addiction and suicide by talking. And sometimes leaking into and invading people’s space.
I would never have chosen this path. It happened and I can’t undo it.
But when tragedy interrupted my life, something beautiful did happen.
I found my voice. I found purpose and people I would not have otherwise gotten to know. And despite moments of utter devastation, grief and despair, I have found hope and healing in your stories and friendship.
Interruption inspires change. And I won’t apologize for that.