I can say I have healed emotionally.
I can’t say, “I’m over it.”
I have learned to walk beside grief and accept the journey however it presents itself, never having expectations of how it might be. So if I feel low, I sit with that emotion for a bit and then use a coping skill to jump-start myself out of that space. No pushing grief away or denying it. But then no wallowing either. My grief is my opportunity to connect with the memories of Charles.
At this point, it’s less about how he died but more about the fact he’s just no longer here in physical form. Now I speak on the grief from suicide loss but what I’m saying is that I no longer punish myself, hold myself hostage, or otherwise wallow in thoughts that I was a lousy parent. I just plain miss him.
It used to be I would really struggle for a month prior to the death anniversary. I do get more tired, a little more confused, and easily overwhelmed the two weeks prior, but otherwise, I’m doing OK. I have had moments of melancholy but the suffering is nothing like it once was. And that’s not because I’m stronger than anyone else. It’s because I’ve worked really hard to deny unhealthy coping strategies and embrace healthy ones. I’ve sought out support when I need it without shame, I’ve written thousands of pages on this blog, in books, on websites, and in newspapers, and given hundreds of speeches. I don’t apologize for my tears even if they appear uninvited when I’m on stage. That space, those tears, are for Charles.
All of this is in stark contrast to that first year, or the first three really, where I was just trying to survive and hanging on to any shred of hope and the edges of my sanity during birthdays and death anniversaries, holidays and mother’s day.
That which I thought was unsurvivable was, after all, survivable. My mantra in the raw years was, “I will survive. As much as it hurts right now, it will never hurt as much as getting the news. That part is over. And it will never hurt that much again.”
I have learned to focus on the 95% of parenting I did right and not dwell on the 5% that I did imperfectly because I am human. That means I will not ignore the beautiful life he had with us before it got dark and even the sparks of happiness tucked away in those chaotic last five years of his life.
The odd thing is that my relationship with my beloved dead continues to evolve. That doesn’t mean I “can’t let go.” It means I loved someone enough to keep their spirit alive and in my life in a healthy and productive way.
My love and my prayers could not rescue my child from addiction, depression, or suicide. Sometimes tragedy wins and we lose. Despite, that, I have not lost faith in love, or life, but I have learned not to expect either to prevent the worst.
As harsh as this journy has been and still is, there is beauty if you look for it. Charles once wrote, “Through all the terror, I can catch beauty in a glimpse of hope.“ That is a phrase I keep next to my heart.
Free eBook Coping Strategies for Grief & Loss
Short, easy-to-read strategies for managing the pain of grief by Anne Moss Rogers, Karla Helbert LPC, and contributing author Charlotte Moyler. Download Now.
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8 thoughts on “The death anniversary. Year 7 since Charles’s suicide”
After a very difficult few days and coming up on my dearest’s 7 month death anniversary I am in the trenches still and am guilty of wallowing. I thought I was doing “pretty well” comparatively to others in my shoes, but then I have days or weeks like the last and wham! it’s all fresh again. Your experience is encouraging, it gives me hope that I too will endure because on days and weeks like these, I wonder how.
I fall prey to all of the pitfall you speak of, knowing full well it’s irrational and unhelpful, but I still do. I ask for communication from and dreams of my beloved son, but when I receive them, I have trouble processing it and am thrown into the depths of grief for days sometimes. I realize I’m still in the trenches and this will ease in time. But most of all, it’s knowing you and reading posts like this one and meeting other strong mothers who are enduring the same tragedy that helps me to believe that I too will endure. Thank you Anne Moss ❤️🩹
Thank you for expressing that pain so eloquently. I know you will endure but the journey there is often slower and more painful than we’d like.
Anne Moss I love the strength, growth and vulnerability that you share on your posts. Your book , speaking engagements and advocacy mean so much to so many. I have shared so much of what you have written and done to so many people. It has been meaning to all. Sending love and hugs.
Thank you Mary Don. You have been supportive since the beginning of my grief journey. I appreciate that so much.
After just over six years since we lost our son, Sammy, your words describe much of where I am as well. Thank you for your openness and faithfulness to these communities of struggle and loss. Sometimes it’s hard to look down the road and see the years stretch on, but these connections and the support they give brings some hope.
You guys have meant so much to me and been part of my healing journey. Whenever I have thought about giving up, one of you reaches out and it reinforces my efforts. Thank you for that Donia.
Thank you for sharing. I recently lost my 19 year old son to a drug overdose. The comment you made about focusing on the 95% of parenting I did right hit home. My goal now is to share the story of Alex and hopefully help other parents not go through what we are going through. I don’t know what exactly that looks like, but I know I have to do something. Thank you again for sharing, it helps give me hope that this is indeed survivable.
Thank you so much for commenting here. Everyone is commenting on Facebook and it’s nice to have some here. And if you are ready or when you are ready you can tell your story here. I have a list of 7k and most of them have lost someone to a death of despair like SUD or suicide.