Pain Turns To Purpose: A Suicide, A Mother’s Grief & A Second Act

Link to the podcast website, links to other podcast platforms, and show notes.

Second Act Stories is a podcast that shares the stories of people who have made major career changes to pursue more rewarding lives in a second act. Each episode examines the “before” and “after” phases of a life/career change and offers lessons learned.

Read more...

The story of Charles’s little toddler cast

I’m thinking about having a memory quilt made which required a visit to the box of my son’s last belongings. Two boxes actually. It’s still hard to believe a whole 20-year life is reduced to two boxes.

My plan is to look through all the clothing to determine which shirts and pants might make good quilt pieces. I smother my face in his little blankie, his scent long gone but the softness of him still wrapped in its essence.

Visits to the boxes can be like knives to the heart, or it can feel like a link to my youngest … Read more...

Grief: What to do when someone says you need to ‘move forward’

light a candle for my child

Well-meaning and sometimes insensitive people often want you to stop talking about the death of your child, sibling, spouse. Usually, because it makes them uncomfortable.

Maybe your brother is tired of you talking about your child who died ten years after the death? He feels it’s time for you to move forward and leave all that grief stuff behind you.

A cousin might suggest that you’ve gone to your support group or grief therapist after a spouse’s suicide for too long and isn’t that stalling your sprint back to “normal”? Your sister might even be annoyed that visit your child’s … Read more...

How do you get through the day?

This was a question from one of my talks at a high school from a student. So I thought I would answer it here. The young lady meant that after losing my son to suicide, how did I go on?

At first, it was so brutal I couldn’t fathom living through the pain. I would curl up in the bottom of the shower crying and banging on the walls. But I told myself that as bad as it was right then, it would never be as bad as getting the news of my son’s suicide. That part was over and … Read more...

How long should I grieve?

What’s normal? Is it a prescribed amount for loss of a child the same as the amount of time you’d need for the loss of a spouse? Is it lame to grieve an ex-spouse or a boyfriend to which you had not known long?

If you didn’t grieve as a teen when your sibling died and two years later in college you find yourself drowning in that pain of loss, does it mean you are weak? Are you awful if you don’t shed a waterfall of tears over the loss of your 90-year-old dad who had Alzheimer’s? Are you a … Read more...

Help your grieving teenager

Adults don’t know how to grieve, you can bet teens don’t either. Most are completely baffled what it’s all about. And most think “being strong” means denying or pushing away one’s feelings.

The Dougy Center, a foundation for grieving children, has many resources for youth of all ages including teenagers.

Here are links to resources on that website and this one:

Grief Resources for 12-18 year olds (Dougy.org)

Your friend is grieving. How to support them (Dougy.org)

Tips for grieving teens (Dougy.org)

One really good exercise is to write a Gratitude Letter. Here is an example of one I wrote Read more...

From quicksand to leaping a tall building in a single bound

There is no doubt that losing a child to suicide left me feeling stuck in a slower-moving dimension. As the world moved forward, I watched it whiz by as I helplessly sat on the sidelines with no motivation to keep up. Nothing mattered and everything was eclipsed by my loss which weighed heavy on my heart, my chest, my lungs, my limbs. At first, it possessed me, took me hostage and I fought hard to have some control over my emotions which were so raw and exposed.

Conversely, there were days when I would crave the need to lavish love … Read more...

Why I Wrote About Losing My Son

by Janice Hoffman

Brian with his sister Jenny in 2000 (photo by Zalewa Photography)

In 2011, my husband and I lost our thirty-five-year-old son Brian to suicide. People have asked me why I wrote my chapbook of poetry, Azaleas in October, about this loss. That’s a very easy question to answer: I wrote because I had to. Anyone who has lost a child understands all too well the devastation that consumes a parent afterwards. It’s so important to talk to others about that type of loss, but I simply couldn’t do it in those early days. I was too … Read more...

Over a million and a blog birthday

I hadn’t checked in a while. But this blog has reached over one million people since February 1, 2016. And I missed its birthday, too. It was 2016 during a run that I thought of the name Emotionally Naked, ran home, and started this blog.

I needed to write to manage the pain of my grief. I needed to talk and learn more about depression, addiction and suicide. What I found was hope and healing. Thanks to you all for that.

Read more...

The evolution of my heart

#griefheart heavy heart
Heavy Heart

When I first heard the news of my son’s suicide, the weight of it lay heavy on my chest, pressed me to the floor, and pinned me to my despair. As I moved through this journey called grief, I had days where it opened so wide with love and appreciation, I thought it might explode.

#griefheart
Heart full of love

There were many times was a kite on a tight string in a high wind flapping furiously in circles–ready to snap any moment. Darkness would move in and rob my motivation, take my energy and render me catatonic.

Many … Read more...