How many ways to say ‘dead?’

“Hard to comprehend in the human mind
Impossible to envision leaving yourself behind.”
–Charles Aubrey Rogers

kick the bucket

Nobody wants to actually say the word dead.

We say “passed on,” “passed away,” “kicked the bucket,” “passed,” “gone to heaven,” “deceased,” “expired,” “gone,” “departed, “fell asleep in ...  read more

Heart damage— #griefheart number 205


My heart has suffered permanent damage since the death of my son by suicide. That does not mean I cannot ever find joy. It doesn’t mean I can’t ever have fun. It just means I need to adjust to having a heart that will hurt.

I met with a new friend today. And she reminded me that if ...  read more

Love you this much – #griefheart number 165

Love you this much
Love you this much

This incredible work of art is by me, a non-illustrator.  If I could have stretched the arms to the edges of the universe, I would have. This is how much I still love my child. Until he died by suicide, I had no idea how much you could love someone that was no longer alive.

But that’s what ...  read more

Infinity heart – #griefheart number 161

Infinity heart
Infinity heart

An infinity heart is an “I love you forever heart.” I love Charles forever and ever even though he’s not here any longer.

This is actually a tattoo on the arm of my friend Beka Lombardo who suffers from bipolar disorder. Part of her recovery is giving back and being outspoken on the subject. This is what she has to say about her new arm artwork.

“The idea behind this tattoo is that if I ever got to where I felt like I wanted to cut or have suicidal ideations, I just look down and see Joe’s name and I know that I have something very important to live for. I’m sorry if my scars make you uncomfortable, but this is real life my friends.”

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.

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Did Charles show warning signs for teen suicide?

 

Love an addict – #griefheart number 159

love-an-addict

Many of us love or have loved an addict. Their disease is not who they are and I want you to know that even when they are actively using, their real selves are alive and suffering. I can see from Charles’ rap lyrics before his suicide that he felt deeply when he was using. That he hated himself, felt guilty, ashamed, depressed and ostracized. But I love him and hated the disease.

quote-left My actions were ugly , teenage druggie, looking for anything to numb me, pathetic, scummy.
But you still love me. I would cry when I wanna die and you would hug me. (Charles Rogers–Forgive me Momma)

After Charles’ suicide, I reached to a friend of his knowing he was actively using. I wanted him to know that he was loved, that I cared and was rooting for him.  The quote below is from this 20 year old.

quote-left It’s just the depression part that always brings me back. It’s like my only motivation to live is just so I can use again which is the most hopeless, horrible feeling. I felt like Charles and I were in the same situation but he acted on it before I did and I wish it had been the other way around. I would take his place if I could…..The mental health system really needs reform. I will keep in touch thanks for talking.

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.

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Young people, you are not alone. Here’s what you have been sending me

Neon flashing heart – #griefheart number 156

Neon flashing heart
Passionate heart

After 6 years of mental health advocacy, speaking out, being on TV and radio interviews, doing presentations, videos, writing articles, starting this blog, risking rejection by speaking out and all but throwing myself in the middle of the street with a neon flashing sign, we are seeing change. I am referring to understanding that mental health and addiction are illnesses. It’s the collective effort and sharing of millions who are tired of the stigma surrounding substance abuse disorder and mental illness.

Not that we are done. But more people are speaking out and things are starting to take shape. My greatest regret is that none of this happened before my son’s suicide June 5, 2015. My neon flashing sign is making suicide a household word. Because doing so is a positive move that will ultimately save others from being in the club I’m in now.

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.

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Crazy radical mobile phone rant

 

Puzzled heart – #griefheart number 154

Puzzled heart
Puzzled heart

My heart is often puzzled. Why did this happen? Why didn’t I know? Why wouldn’t he admit to suffering from depression?

I can only speculate and his lyrics have helped me figure it out as much as I will ever know. It’s just really hard to put the pieces of your life back together again. To figure out your direction and purpose. To be able to pull yourself up from the depths of despair and live again.

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.

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Heroin writes me a letter back

Logan’s heart – #griefheart number 153

logan-neale

This heart is in special remembrance of Logan Neale, a 19-year-old from Midlothian, Virginia who died in a truck crash. Logan was an avid runner who discovered that athletics could help him cope with his anxiety and depression. Logan also struggled with an eating disorder and suicidal ideation.

Like many with depression, Logan was empathetic about others suffering from mental illness and he believed in breaking the stigma that kept people from seeking the care and support they needed.  Like Charles, Logan attended Wasatch Academy in Utah. His mother retrieved this heart from the tree where he died.

The 2016 Bill Carfrey Woodlake Turkey Trot 5k will be in Logan’s honor with proceeds from the event to go to Beacon Tree Foundation, advocates for youth mental health founded in Midlothian.

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.

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Don’t talk me out of my tears

 

Oyster heart – #griefheart number 152

Oyster heart
Oyster heart

This oyster heart reminds me of all the family beach trips we took over the years at the Outer Banks. The last trip we took, Charles was suffering a depressive episode and it was hard to get him out of the basement room. He always denied suffering from depression which makes you truly feel helpless and even question if it’s your imagination. I would gently nudge him about coming outside and he’d come out and skim board for a bit and then go back in the basement.

When we went shell hunting, Charles would pick up any shell. He wasn’t picky about it like I was as a child.  We always had a bunch of oyster shells since that’s what you find in North Carolina.

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

7 reasons I think we are seeing more teen depression

 

Overdose Awareness Day heart – #griefheart number 133

Overdose awareness day heart
Overdose awareness day heart

From top right and around: Chaney Corley, died by suicide from overdose; Joshua Hasnas, overdose (possible suicide), Billy Derr, overdose; John Henry Watkins, overdose; Marshall Colglazier, overdose; Dawson Pettit, overdose; Josh Kaski, overdose. Center: My first cousin’s second born, Reece Haigh, overdose.

This is what drug overdose looks like. And it’s often not what people expect. Drug addiction cuts across all racial lines and socioeconomic groups as does mental illness. I know all these parents. There are countless others I don’t know but my heart goes out to all of you.

Today’s #griefheart is in memory and in honor of the young men and women who have struggled from mental illness or addiction and died from drug overdose.  No stigma or passing judgement allowed here. Keep talking about drug addiction!

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

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