Notes of love — #griefheart number 193

My friend Laurie saw this and well, it was a notebook with hearts. I’m a writer. So it’s perfect. For all my posts from the heart. Maybe this means I will find Charles’ other notebooks.

What is the #griefheart project?

I explain my #griefheart project here.

See all #griefhearts so far on pinterest or on this blog by#griefheart category.

Get updates to this project by subscribing

Suicide screening at a pediatric practice is a first


Carrying him in my heart

I find myself adopting traits that Charles had.

Ones I did not possess before his death, I now have. Like they were somehow passed on to me.

I am able to spot a fake a mile away. I can tell, like he could, when someone is suffering inside even if they are smiling on the outside. I can see something written on social media that everyone else takes one way and know immediately that person is either in trouble and needs help or just needs someone to reach out.

Like my son that died by suicide, I’ve always been passionate … Read more...

How sweet is art heart — #griefheart number 192

When I started this project, I wanted more people to memorialize their loved ones that died by suicide. I don’t get as many of those as I would have thought. But I got this today.

From Maryse at Full Circle Grief Center where they run support groups, one of them for suicide loss survivors. “Inspired by you, we laid painted CDs on which group members sketched a symbol or words to remember their loved one and then formed into the shape of heart.”

I thought this was so sweet and I was so touched. This group meant a lot to … Read more...

Can’t be tamed

My entire life, I have been told, “I love your passion but you need to tame it!” Like the two were separable. That sentence itself is a paradox.  As if the fact that I am bold and think differently is a ugly speck on an otherwise decent personality.

I’ve been made to feel guilty about my forthright personality, encouraged to tame it to be more ladylike and more “in line” with tradition. If only I wasn’t so ambitious, so driven, daring, bold, willing to step outside my comfort zone, and so unwilling to follow traditions I find ludicrous.

If I …

#noeagleleftbehind — #griefheart number 191

This is in honor of the teens at Godwin High School and Leigh Dunavant, the Principal and Facilitator of the group #noeagleleftbehind, who have embraced conversation about mental illness and suicide prevention. They are a group dedicated to creating events, activities and programs at the school long term for this cause.

I loved that they were innovative in their thinking and open with their conversation. Tosha and I were invited as part of Beacon Tree Foundation, where I am currently President, to tell my story of Charles’ life and suicide and introduce the social media program I developed in Charles’ … Read more...

Hopes and Dreams

movie-theater-charlesOn June 5, 2015, my son died by suicide. With him, all the hopes and dreams I had of who he would become evaporated in an instant.

Your kids are your life. And when one of them is taken away, part of your life goes with him. Part of my soul died that day and my grief journey meant finding new hopes and dreams, all while mourning the loss of the ones that would never come true.

Charles had “it.” He wanted to be famous. Wanted his music to be famous. And he had all the ingredients although I don’t … Read more...

The day I went public

newspaperMany of you know me as someone that went public after my son’s suicide. It was actually prior to that in 2014. 

I know why most of us don’t speak our child’s mental illness because our kids, teens especially, want their struggles kept private. We also worried they’ll get labeled and mistreated as a result. Which is a valid concern. 

In 2014, I had had enough silence.

I can’t remember the circumstances, but I was asked to write an article for Richmond Times Dispatch about our family’s struggle with our child’s mental illness. I said yes. I can’t say I Read more...

Recovery heart – #griefheart number 190

A neighbor donated their car to Sherry, who has been in recovery for a year. When she sent me the picture, I saw that she was wearing a heart on her shirt.

It made me think about my own recovery from the loss of my son–how hard it’s been, how I have started to heal emotionally.

What is the #griefheart project?

I explain my #griefheart project here.

See all #griefhearts so far on pinterest or on this blog by#griefheart category.

Get updates to this project by subscribing

Would you ask someone with a heart condition to




When Charles first started abusing drugs, we didn’t talk about it. My frustration and fear and fear were the dominant emotions.

Was it drugs or was it mental illness? We did find out eventually that it was mental illness first and the initial drug use was a result of his wanting to feel better, or more normal. Getting to the root of the problem was an enormously difficult process.

I did talk to people I trusted.

I didn’t talk about it to everyone, though. And one time I talked to the wrong person and it somehow wound its way back … Read more...

Why aren’t we screening for suicide?


Many parents who lose a child by suicide have no idea their child has had thoughts of killing themselves.

Even more parents, 90% of them, are unaware their teen has attempted suicide*, according to Lisa M. Horowitz, PhD, MPH, a clinical psychologist from the National Institute of Mental Health with whom I spoke with recently.

That was true in our case.

Charles apparently did have a previous attempt and while in Wilderness, he was on suicide watch according to his music lyrics about Cal Riley, a young man that died by suicide 2 years before Charles.

“I hate myself.