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I’m not doing enough

Sometimes when I meet other moms or dads who’ve lost a child to suicide or drug-related death, they feel as if they are not doing enough for the cause.

Compared to me usually.

So there are some things I want to point out.

For one thing, we have enough to beat ourselves up about with a child’s death, I don’t think that you need to add ‘giving yourself a hard time that you are not doing enough’ to that mix. But in case you still feel that way, like somehow you don’t measure up to Jane Doe or John Doe, just realize that people work through grief in different ways.

It’s not a one size fits all journey.

I want to point out that I have been using all of you to work through my pain.  There were times I felt really guilty about it. But never guilty enough to stop. I also didn’t start off with some altruistic sense of where I was taking this site. I just hurt like hell and I started writing, sometimes twice a day at first.

I realized the “giving back” part a month or so into it and that, too, became part of my coping strategy. Giving back is how I heal emotionally. I need it and crave it and it’s the only way I can move forward. I’m also doing that very publicly which doesn’t mean others are not doing things. They are, they’re simply not advertising it.

I know people here who are going to jails , starting support groups, and others have decided to focus on something their child loved like helping at an animal shelter.

Still others have their own issues that need their attention: Other children, balancing a demanding job they need to keep, caring for a spouse, aging parent or disabled child. Those of you who suffer mental illness or are in recovery from substance use disorder have to focus on maintaining stability. That alone is a full time job.

After the death of a child,  it’s everything some parents can do to keep from killing themselves. One friend told me she struggled with her depression after her son’s suicide and told me she lived through those first years because she “felt obligated to live.” That took everything she had.

And about that public speaking.

Charles loved the stage and it loved him. So when I’m on stage I feel his presence. I give a lot of presentations because I am hooked to that feeling of being close to my deceased child. Before Charles died, I’d also been a public speaker for years. I just switched topics.

Never underestimate your comments and sharing.  That’s helped this site reach so many people and saved lives. I know how much your comments help because I see in the statistics how much time people spend reading them. And when I’ve needed a favor, you delivered with no strings attached.

Let’s face it, a lot of people would find what I do more emotionally draining than emotionally healing. How people deal with grief is different.

Some want to pray alone, meditate and look at pictures. Others want to talk about it and make videos. Some want a house full of people and still others want more privacy.

What it comes down to is that you need to do what works for you without comparing yourself with others or worry that you have been slower to heal. Because it takes as long as it takes.

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.

10 thoughts on “I’m not doing enough”

  1. I feel this way about giving back. It’s only been about 10 months since my son Frankie passed. Every day has periods of crying, anguish, a feeling of being wound tight, exhaustion, some happiness, accomplishment at work and many other emotions caused by the experiences of the day. With all this going on in me, I can’t expect to give back. Not yet. I will piggyback on events others organize. Maybe I’ll get a team together for some. I’ve read many of your articles. They really help and make me laugh. I look forward to them. Maybe someday I will go to a long term survivor conference. When I read about how your house had already sold when you lost your son forcing you to move I thought I’d never be able to do that. Now, however, I’m forced with the task of slowly passing on my son’s possessions. Maybe ripping the bandaid off fast was a good thing instead of this slow anguishing process. It’s just me to do it. There are memories attached to everything. Giving back can’t happen when there is all this to do along with a full time career, a parent in hospice, and just trying to cope with the fact that I will probably cry daily. So, thank you for writing this. Why do we beat ourselves up for not doing more? We shouldn’t. As they say, be your own best friend. What would you advise someone in our situation? Say it and then take our own advice. For me, it’s so the best for my patients every day at work. TRY to physically take care of myself. Do something I enjoy for me each day which usually involves being outside with my dogs and then a good book (also outside) and a refreshing drink (usually ginger ale with fresh fruit). That’s all I can do for now and given my demands, it’s enough. As I age and change over the upcoming years, life will continue to change for the better and again not so much. Someday, I will be able to pass on words of wisdom and then that will be enough. Love to you all.

    1. This is lovely. You are just able to survive right now. I felt that way at 10 months. I had this blog. And people to support. But everyday was hard. Up and down and back. I know you will be ok because you are trying. You are trying to figure out what’s right for you. Nothing feels comfortable or right because what’s happened leaves everything feeling unsettled. I am glad you are giving yourself some grace.

  2. Important post, many of us, I’m sure, need to hear and be reminded of on this never-ending grief Journey. 🙌

  3. This one hits home for me today as I struggle with the balance of knowing what I do helps me more than it probably helps others. Starting the GRAPLE resource has saved my life in more ways than I could’ve ever imagined. Connecting to people who grieve the same type of loss as me is invaluable. I now know that I’m not alone, and educating people on the disease model of addiction is necessary.

    Lately though, as I approach the 2nd anniversary of losing Taylor, my grief has become increasingly difficult and depression has deeply set in. I am feeling as if I’m not doing enough. There’s so much work still to be done…So many ideas that need to flourish into reality.

    I have learned to lean and seek help from others with comforting results. I am, however at times struggling with doing too much or putting myself under the microscope of needing to do more, which has added to the progression of depression.

    Today, because of self awareness, I am acknowledging that I can only do but so much… and that’s okay. I am doing the best I can to survive…even if that means I slept in and am still in my pajamas waiting for an opening at my therapist’s office.

    No matter what we do…or how we do it, we need to give ourselves a break and realize we’re doing the best we can.

    1. I just love this Tracy. Thank you for your vulnerability. That second year was HARD. Very hard. I broke out in hives repeatedly and I struggled.

      I had to learn to let it come to me. Which of the one million things I wanted to do. I put irons in the fire and in some cases I had to shut one of those tributaries down.

      I do know your group has helped others. I hear about it all the time.

  4. Wow, what timing. I put your tshirt on just now and thought to myself, “you’re doing ok – Whitten and Charles were very different…Whitten was extremely private and wouldn’t want you out there like Anne Moss…you’re doing fine”…
    I’m about as transparent as it gets, so I have to reign it in sometimes.
    For me, there’s a fine line.

  5. This is such an important post. You have gifts that are perfectly suited for this type of coping, this type of outreach. Most people don’t have those gifts — public speaking, writing, transparency (!!). Thank you for encouraging all of us to use our unique gifts in the way that’s right for us, and encouraging those who just need to hang on to life at this point to take time to do that as well. You’re such a blessing to your tribe, Anne Moss!

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