How a conversation on death change your life

My bon voyage file

I didn’t talk about death a whole lot before Charles died. He did, though. And I wish I had asked why since obsession on the subject is an indication that someone struggles with thoughts of suicide.

We live in a death-averse, death-phobic culture. We can’t even say the word death, substituting instead, phrases like “passed away” or “kick the bucket” to sugarcoat life’s ending.

So how do you want your end celebrated? Where do you want to be buried? How will it be paid for? Do you want your organs donated (the closest thing we … Read more...

My pain is worse than yours

After I lost Charles to suicide, someone I knew called a few months later and shared the sad news she’d just lost her Dad. He had died at 94. Later when I met with her, she told me she hurt just as much as I did and that our situations were exactly the same. I said nothing. I knew she was close to her dad and was really hurting.

I cannot say and never will say that I hurt more than her. There’s no way to compare grief or pain. I just wish she had known that.

Sometimes we want … Read more...

Don’t use the words ‘at least’ to a friend who’s lost someone

“At least she isn’t suffering.”

“At least you have other children.”

“At least you will no longer worry.”

“At least he is in heaven now.”

“At least he didn’t suffer.”

If you are thinking of starting any sentence with “at least” to a friend who has suffered a loss, you are essentially trying to polish grief with a coat of positive. In other words, you are invalidating someone’s feelings.

When I suffered a loss, I didn’t want anyone pointing out the good part of losing a child. There was nothing positive about Charles’ suicide. I was at the lowest point … Read more...

Your son Charles has been found dead this morning

It ended so fast. Yet it took so long to raise him. In one swift kick, my son ceased to exist on earth and my purpose as a parent was yanked from under my feet.

I couldn’t help but reflect on all those nights we stayed up with Charles when he couldn’t sleep, the plays I went to, the costumes I sewed, the carpools full of boys I toted to baseball practice, the noses I wiped, the fevers I treated.

I endured fart jokes, loud gaming sleepovers, and copious amounts of Axe body spray in middle school.

I invested everything … Read more...

Back from self-care vacay

New Year’s Eve in Vienna at a Christmas Market drinking Gluwein

This year we left the country the day after Christmas and took the fam on a river cruise; my mother, Richard (my son), Randy and myself. And these are some of the people we met and had fun with on our adventure. This one in Vienna.

It is the people and experiences that make my vacation. It’s not stuff. It’s not hotel rooms. And that’s what we got. Many on this cruise had lost someone and wanted to be with others over the holidays. I met women who had … Read more...

New Years makes me feel like I am leaving him behind

Every year since Charles died, I feel guilty for celebrating a new year and ache that I’m leaving my child behind. As the fireworks explode I have my foot on an imaginary gas pedal as if I could stop the new year from happening.

I have always loved change and moving forward but am ambivalent about that now.

Will the memories I have be forgotten? Will he be forgotten? Will his picture look dated? Will I remember his scent? Will the feel of his hugs fade? Would he resent that I was leaving him stuck in 2015?

Happy New Year … Read more...

Happy holidays to your family

Richard made the ornament on the left. Charles the one on the right.

Those macaroni trees and homemade wreaths, glitter reindeer that have long lost their sparkle, styrofoam snowmen held together by toothpicks are all my favorite ornaments now. The ones with Charles’ picture make me smile and ache at the same time. We had no idea back then what was to come. Life was so normal.

Spending the day with my family and extended family on Christmas. And I’m fortunate to have that. But I’ll always mourn the one who isn’t here. I’m sure those of you who’ve lost … Read more...

Happy momma

Look what the plane brought from Los Angeles to Richmond. This is my oldest son, Richard. You are free to say how handsome he is. So this momma is happy. We might see some of him. He’ll want to see all his friends but on Christmas, we’ll hold him hostage.

He’s our only child now. And I know there are some of you here who’ve lost your only child or even both. I’m thinking of you and holding space in my heart for you.

Read more...

Mushy and hallmarky

This is a mushy time of year.

For those of us who’ve lost someone before their time–a sibling, child, parent, spouse–tears hover closer to the surface. So we give back more to balance the pain and ease that persistent ache. It’s how many of us manage the pain of that loss that is sharper during the holidays.

We are less likely to get caught up in shopping frenzies or black Fridays, focusing more on our loved ones, friends and neighbors. Life is not about stuff but more about connecting, remembering, finding hope and joy, grieving and managing hurt so it … Read more...

Zero Hour Radio show with Dave, Ginger and Anne Moss

Anne Moss Rogers, Ginger Germani, Dave Matthews and our WRIR Zero Hour host, Tim Bowring

58 minutes

Posted on SoundCloud (Charles’ account, actually). I suppose I should get my own account.

On a segment of WRIR Zero Hour, three parents who’ve lost a child to suicide talk about their grief after that event, what they want all of you to know, and how they’ve managed to move forward and process this loss years after the fact. The segment is about an hour. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10-34-year-olds in the United States.

Dave Matthews and … Read more...