post traumatic growth

From suicide loss survivor to post traumatic thriver

They call it post-traumatic growth. I say that with a cringe. Because I didn’t accept this descriptor without denying it and pushing it away because I worried it sounded braggy.

Over the last two years, many have pointed out that I was more than a survivor at this point in my journey.

Post-traumatic growth (PTG) is a theory that explains transformation following trauma

This theory, developed in the mid-1990s by psychologists Richard Tedeschi, PhD, and Lawrence Calhoun, PhD, posits that people who endure psychological struggle following adversity can often see positive growth afterward.

This evolution from survivor to thriver does not mean I have forgotten my son who died by suicide. It does not mean I no longer suffer. There are still moments, periods, and days when I cry, and miss my boy so much it aches.

But I have also found joy again, too. And I never thought I would.

There has been a lot of hard work involved to find that joy. There are nearly 2,000 blog posts on this site and 600 published book pages which have been part of my healing journey. The experience for me has been a new appreciation for life, a fresh sense of personal strength, adjusting expectations of life, and a new focus on helping others.

I’ve learned to live with the loss but more importantly, learned from my mistakes, recognized I had far more successes, and forgiven myself for something over which I had little to no control. I have learned to widen my lens and focus on the loving home in which my child lived.

Somehow I figured out a way to turn the tragedy that happened into a purpose because that’s what I needed to find emotional healing.

While it’s rare, I have been accused of exploiting my story for financial gain. It’s called making a living and what I do for free is still a lot more than people in other industries give away. I have to laugh at the one message I got about signing books and raking in cash because I can tell you that the way to riches is rarely through book writing unless you are Stephen King.

What I’ve learned over the years has come from dogged determination, a lot of financial and time investment as well as an emotional cost. All that education, learning, and investing is worth something and I am not ashamed of that. As a mental health speaker, I have examined the issue from multiple viewpoints and broken down the learning into practical solutions and stories from which others can benefit.

What I learned is that this post-traumatic growth journey began before my son’s death

Here’s what I wrote in my first book, Diary of a Broken Mind.

“In the last five years [before my son’s death], our lives had been punctuated by exclamation points of events that served as battering rams on my mental wellness, leaving me wrung out, hollow, and always on the edge of humiliation and guilt. When would I tip over the edge, throw up my hands, give up, and leave for a cave in Peru where my feelings could no longer be dragged over a bed of broken glass?”

“With each calamity, the initial feeling of shock was always the same but with each experience, recovery happened more quickly. Embracing humility and building resilience weren’t my goals but these character traits were the result. I learned to pick myself up from the mud, wash off the humiliation, apply a bandage to the hurt, and move forward.”

Anne Moss Rogers, from the book, Diary of a Broken Mind

The evolution of my grief journey has been slow and gradual

Eventually, it became intentional. I’ve added to my toolbox of coping skills and become more open to new adventures and stepping outside my comfort zone. At the same time, I’ve started to recognize my limitations as well, setting boundaries so there’s time for self-care because this is emotionally-demanding work. I also come to understand that joy, like any emotion, is fleeting and to grab it and hold it and enjoy it while I can.

Bitterness? That got nixed a long time ago. I had those moments, too but they didn’t enrich my life.

My journey has had lots of dents and detours and there are likely to be more. What I appreciate is having so many of you on the ride since I couldn’t have arrived at this point without your loyal support. From me to you, a big hug.

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.

6 thoughts on “From suicide loss survivor to post traumatic thriver”

  1. This is a very difficult time for me right now to with everything going on in the world some days I just lock myself inside my home in my room. I try to pray hard because thier are days I want to cut myself self mutilate and even commit suicide but as long as I know god would not want me to do that so I resist the suicidal thoughts. Some days they are strong though and I worry if I am not careful I could act on them eventually but I use self control and prayer then they go away.

    1. Sam- Are you willing to go out? Connection does help those thoughts subside although at first it feels overwhelming. I’m so sorry you are feeling this way. It sounds like you feel very isolated.

  2. Anne Moss, I can identify with the in’s and out’s of your journey, both before and after Charles’s death by suicide, Adam’s Story is more than our loss and being a suicide survivor family, its finding a meaning and purpose in remaining or surviving, while keeping our lives focused on all the other loved one’s and their future’s. Case in point, all the letters, cards, emails, phone calls, and yes one on one with individuals and families who have gain an ounce of wisdom from our journey and the need to reach out with unconditional love and support, much the same way you have. Yes there is a light at the end of the tunnel of trauma and brokenness, please keep on keeping on, our heart-felt appreciation for your in’s and out’s, for they are a part of Adam’s Story and Adam’s Family commitment to continue to reach out to our perspective communities in any way we can. We all remain here in this present time, under these present circumstances for a specific reason. “Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep, and you weep alone” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    1. You are also a thriver, Andy. And like me, giving back and helping others heal has helped you heal. Not that the wound will ever be gone but we have found purpose in order to move forward weaving our son’s stories into the tapestry of our lives.

  3. Dear Anne, when I hear people say things like making financial over someone’s loss it really makes me mad. How can one person judge another on their pain? Monetary gains, I am sure you would trade ever cent to never have to know the pain. Things like this are why I am losing faith in humanity. Lord only knows how you have struggled and overcome pains most people are lucky enough to never have to experience. Always remember that negative people always complain louder than people who are pleased or content.

    1. Thank you Justin. I didn’t know I needed to hear that until I read your comment. When I say it’s rare, it really is. For a long time, it just felt that way and it took some time for me to process that all of that along with a lot of other difficult feelings. When someone says it, I understand it’s a hurting person that is trying to make me hurt. And it slides off me like teflon now. So you are right. They are simply not content.

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