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You can’t put lipstick on this horror show

I wish I could make it prettier. Make that last five years rosier and the horrific ending less sharp and jagged. I wish I could smooth out the roughness of the phrase, “he killed himself.”

I tell people as gently as possible but it doesn’t matter. It’s always sends a jolt of shock when I tell someone my son died by suicide. And I always feel the stabbing pain when I say it and feel their reaction.

I am sure that’s why some don’t want to say it. Avoid it actually.

I know there’d be a different visceral response to, “he died of cancer.” Maybe softer, like a vignette around a picture. It’s easier to understand death from cancer. More difficult to fathom a death by suicide.

Suicide is heavier with more baggage because it carries with it more complex emotions, with confusion leading the way. Others might struggle to relate. Or they relate way too easily.  Everyone has an opinion on it whether it’s an educated one or not. But stunned is often what I see on my end. At least at first.

If someone has suffered the loss of a family member by suicide, it’s always told to me in a whisper. It’s the cause of death that doesn’t get spoken out loud.

But I’m not going to sugar coat it or be ashamed. I’m not going to hide it because I know it needs to be a topic of discussion. And at least you heard it and thought about it so it might put it on your radar. Besides that, I refuse to bury my son’s memory. 

What kills me is that Charles and I were always so close yet I didn’t get him. Not really. Not like I thought. And I do now because of all the ink he bled in those rap diaries in which he wrote for many years.

I wish my beautiful boy had not met such an ugly ending. But I can’t repaint the picture or rewrite the ending. In my book, however, I do end it beautifully. Because Charles deserves that. And so do I.

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 “You can’t put lipstick on this horror show”

  1. Anne,
    The book is true, poignant, raw and powerful. We are complex beings and our grief journey is a testament to how deeply we can love and how deeply we can grieve. You show all of this in your memoir.

    Charles was a charismatic, beautiful and talented young man who struggled with depression and self numbing. He was multi dimensional and he shares his gifts and struggles through his songs.

    Your memoir is an important and critical story that has the power to impact so many and save lives and help others to gain a deeper understanding of mental health struggles and subsequent drug use.

    It was an honor to read an early draft and I can’t wait for you to get this out into the world.

    Blessings and love to you❤️

    1. I am so honored you took the time you did to read it, Susan. I can’t even begin to tell you what it means to me. And I’m saving this quote! Engraving it in stone as a matter of fact. A quote from my very first ever reader of this memoir.

      Your guidance of the publishing world and writing a book has been absolutely essential in this process and a light at the end of a dark tunnel.

  2. Bottom line is the story needs to be told. Let’s worry about someone else’s comfort zone later. Changing the story would have been ineffective to your mission and the HUGE amount of people you have helped by sharing it!

  3. Anne Moss I feel such healing and strength. I think this book and going through so much of Charles’ music and poems, while painful has also been cathartic. And I am so glad you have that. 💙

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