Let people know it’s OK to talk about your deceased child

What do I say when someone asks, “Do you have children?”

I say, “My oldest is in LA living his dream as a filmmaker. My youngest died by suicide three years ago. He suffered from depression and addiction.”

Bring it up first. That gives others permission to talk about it. Because I talk about Charles often and openly, people aren’t afraid of the subject. So don’t let your fear of their reaction keep you from talking.

If you avoid talking about him for fear of being judged or not wanting to be a Debbie Downer (or David Downer) for mentioning a child that died, then you are not honoring your own history with your loved one. That child did not vanish from your family history. Alive or dead, that child was and still is part of your heart and your life. That will never change and you should not have to apologize for talking about your child.

Sure, there are some who might criticize behind your back. Do you really give a rat’s ass about that now? And shame on them if they do.

Ask a friend to communicate to others that you want to talk about your child. They are dying to know what to do, to know what you want. A couple from my support group, called a friend and told her to let everyone know they wanted visitors, they did want to talk about their daughter and wanted  others to do the same. They made one request. That no one ask about how their daughter killed herself. So everyone knew the boundaries and had directions which put people at more at ease.

People hate to feel helpless. So realize your friends think they have to say that special phrase or do some special thing to “fix” how you feel. They think they are not qualified to give you what you need. Like you need some special magic fairy dust or the perfect quote. And yeah, some magic fairy dust would be great if it existed.

Know that people will say the wrong thing sometimes. Let it go because they don’t mean to. Just be glad they made the effort to say anything. Did you know before this happened what phrases were appropriate and which ones were not?

There is no fixing this and you have to let friends know their presence and friendship is what you need. You should be with other people and you need to talk. It’s isolating enough without feeling ostracized because things are so different for you now. Your child deserves to be remembered and that happens with conversation.

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.

11 thoughts on “Let people know it’s OK to talk about your deceased child”

  1. Someday I will find a way to make a difference in a way that will be to honor my son’s memory. In the mean time, I talk about him & that he WAS here & that his life mattered, ALL lives matter!!! Eric’s mom

  2. From one bereaved parent to another, THANK YOU. Today marks two years since our beautiful Britny passed and I cannot express how important it is to hear her name and know she has not left the minds and hearts of all the people she impacted in her 19 years.
    Thank you for sharing your story, letting others in and staying strong on this journey no one should ever navigate.
    Peace and love to you, Charles and your family.

    1. Thank you Jack for commenting. And do share the post. It gives others in this journey permission to talk about our child which we so desperately want to do. Feel free to tell us more about your Daughter Britny if you would like.

  3. I feel I am honoring the memory of the one who died. Most of the time I see a smile and the person’s face lights up. I know I have brought a measure of happiness in asking about or remembering the person who died.
    Anne Moss, I know that your Charles loved snow because I asked.

    1. You are awesome. Can we clone you? He did love snow. Wanted to find the biggest hill and stay there all day. It was one of those times people would come outside and stay outside all day and that’s what Charles loved.

  4. I think as time goes on there is a fear that your child has been forgotten. That would be like the death all over again. Keep speaking for so many who haven’t yet found their voice Anne Moss. 💙

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