Heart of a blue bird—#griefheart number 284

I got this card from a dear neighbor, Roxann, on Charles’ birthday week. We used to live across the street from her family and watched her kids grow up before they moved away around middle school. They were the best neighbors. She and her husband have two lovely daughters.

So in the card, Roxann ...  read more

One reason to live

by Tamara Rollinson

tamara rollison
Tamara Rollinson

I remember when the Netflix series came out, “13 reasons Why.” I didn’t get past the preview, thinking I had enough real-life tragedy and wasn’t interested in immersing myself in such a sad story, regardless of the overarching messages it may have had.

I know death

I know what it is like to find the father of my child – my husband of years ago – dead from an overdose. Suicide was cause of death.


I know what it is like to whisper in my teenage son’s ear as he lies in ICU bleeding to death from a car crash with no hope of survival, “It’s ok to join your Dad in Heaven.”

I know what it is like to make life and death decisions for loved ones, like telling doctors to stop the life support for my sister after she was fatally injured in a house fire.

I know what it is like to kiss my mother goodbye as her heartbeat fades away after a bout of pneumonia took her away in a weekend.

I saw my father take his last breath. I was with my two aunts in their dying hours. I spoke at the Celebration of Life of a lovely girl who lost her battle with leukemia at age 13. This sweet soul was my step niece. And there are others.

These are my dead people whom I love and miss and would give anything in the world to bring them back.

I wake up in middle of the night thinking my dead people are alive. Everything is normal again. But when I come to, the heavy sadness and loss take over.

While I know death better than most people my age, I am not ready to go there. And if anyone would feel more at home on the other side, it would be me.

But I am alive

I am walking and breathing and thinking. I can manage to drag one foot in front of the other, and sometimes I can catch my breath, relax and think. I have learned to be thankful for each living day that I am healthy, even with deep, searing emotional grief-pain of horrific loss that is impossible to endure at times.

I literally started to run and strengthen my body so I could mentally cope with the grief-pain after losing my only son more than a year ago. Absolutely nothing can compare to the death of your child and I mean NOTHING. I figured out I had to run WITH the grief-pain instead of away from it.

The grief-pain catches up and demands to be noticed. And that’s ok. The grief-pain is the love I have for my son and deceased family.

Pain is part of life. A big part. God did not promise us a comfy life with no problems. Yet, we, particularly Americans, yearn for this Facebook picture view of selfie smiles, good food, witty quotes, grand accomplishments and lovely vacations.

And we may binge on Netflix shows like “13 reasons Why.”

Here is my one reason to live: I am not finished!

Life is worth living and I have many more years to go no matter how hard and unbearable it can be at times. The pain lets up and from the depths of suffering, I can turn the sadness into something good and positive, like writing this piece for Emotionally Naked.

If you are at your wits end and are reading this – just know, you are not alone. No matter how bad things get, the horrible feelings pass and you can breath again. Hang on! Life is worth living. Of all people, I should know.

Love and peace,
Logan’s mom.

Tamara writes about her son Logan on “In Logan’s Shoes.”


Evil E.D. held my son hostage

Goodbye normal life

by Christine Dudek

I wish I had the words to describe the deadness that occupies the places in me where other things once lived – -things like humor.

It seems like I have a sense of humor at times but everything is shallow. The depth that I used to experience and feel is gone. Pain is what I feel deeper and more often than any other feeling. I feel that even more than I feel love.

I swear sometimes the miss, and the sorrow, and the regret are so deep that my bones ache.

Bone sad.

I hate being still more than anything because then my mind just wanders to the hurt and so flying for hours in a plane is exhausting. The sadness is consuming when I can’t pace or fidget or move shoes. (I am in the shoe business.)

I don’t know what else to do with the blinding pain and so I guess I’ll just keep writing to spill it all out of me.

Here’s what the thoughts sounded like today during the excruciating stillness of tiny airplane seat. I woke up today and so I guess I’m still here. It’s been almost 7 months since my son’s suicide and I still can’t decide if the agony of waking is worse than trying to get sleep. I am never rested.

There is a split second – just a fraction of a moment in time – when my eyes first open that I am unaware of my own lack of normalcy. I know that normalcy is overrated and, it might even be boring, but I long for it with the knowledge that it will never be me. I am not normal. I am alive and my son is dead.

This is an unnatural order of things so severe that normalcy is an impossibility.

So I wake up, after tiny increments of restless sleep, and in that fraction of a second before my senses can wrap themselves around a day, I am unaware of my own unnatural existence. Then the wave crashes and I feel the weight of Tyler’s suicide.

Grief is not linear and there is no final destination. It’s like traveling over tough terrain in unfamiliar territories without a GPS. And I have a terrible sense of direction. So mostly I’m just lost.


In memory of Tyler James Dudek who died by suicide

Typical hurt day

grieving tree
The grieving tree

Wrung out, cried out and feeling the dull ache of ‘miss you Charles.’

Not wanting to get out of bed. But I do.

Not wanting to run. But I do.

Nothing I can grab onto. Sinking.

I want to fix this. But I can’t.

Trying to get out of my own head. But stuck.

Trying to get things done. So unproductive.

Trying to feel normal. Impossible.

Thinking of ways to jumpstart myself. No energy.

Try to straighten my bent posture. I need a crowbar.

Talking to the air. It doesn’t talk back.

Begging for a sign. I get nothing.

Feeling that ugly, naked, empty grief.

No sugar coating it. Hiding it. Or stuffing it.

Riding it out.

Tomorrow is another day. It will be brighter.

Support group? You bet.



What do you say to parents who’ve just lost a child?

We don’t heal by holding grief in

You don’t “get over” the loss of a child, or any other un-timely loss. You simply get used to living with grief by incorporating it into your life.

Grief can’t be denied or buried, stuffed or ignored. You can’t refuse to acknowledge it. It can’t be put on hold.

Booze and drugs won’t fix it.

The only way I know how to deal with it is to let it happen. Dive right in. What other choice do we have?

Time doesn’t heal grief

Time helps.

It’s the act of seeking and getting help, taking care of yourself, giving back and allowing yourself to grieve that helps you heal.

You will always have an empty seat at the table and a place in your heart that hurts. Over time the pain becomes less acute. Your tears and your grief represent the love you have for the one you lost.

Grief is your connection to the person you lost. That despair you feel is a building block to emotional healing.

Your life is changed forever, but that doesn’t mean it’s done, or over.

Because you are still here.

And your loved one’s legacy or struggles will be lost in anonymity if you are not there to tell the story.

You should tell your story.

You should say their name. Because you did not erase your loved one from your family tree. Or your life.


I refuse to bury my son’s memory

Into the light heart— #griefheart number 233

Into the light heart

Two teens at the beach. Two teens touched by the story of Charles. Two teens on spring break send me this heart. How sweet is that?

Thank you Sam and Alex. Thank you for taking mental illness and suicide prevention out of the shadows and into the light.

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.


The grieving runner

Life cut short heart— #griefheart number 215

Charles’ life was sadly cut short, but love remains. And it always will. Just because I lost my child to suicide, doesn’t mean I stopped loving him.

My childhood friend and schoolmate, Leigh, saw this in Dupont Forest a few weeks ago and sent it. Pretty incredible find.

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.

Be part of the village. Subscribe to this blog

10 things I learned from Charles


Colorful heart – #griefheart number 178

Colorful heart
Colorful heart

Charles always had a lively and colorful personality. He could make anyone laugh. I think that’s why so many couldn’t believe he suffered from depression. He didn’t get the chance to understand that it could be treated or that the world was not a better place without him in it.

This one from Margaret via Beka. Thank you!

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

9 Things I no longer tolerate since my son’s suicide


Cute as a button heart – #griefheart number 162

Cute as a button heart
Cute as a button heart

charles-richardCharles was so cute. Everyone thinks that about their child. Charles is on the right. Charming, effervescent and full of bubble and fun. We never went anywhere his life that the whole room did not react to him like moths to a flame.

He had “it” and now he’s gone, a tragic suicide as the result of depression and addiction. And you know the worst part? He was ashamed of his illnesses. I think part of that is why he killed himself. It’s time we stop shaming people. Who’s in?

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 blog subscribing

My suicide prevention program for middle and high school students


This is what I live for. It doesn’t get better than this

It’s letters like these that make my life worth living since Charles’ suicide. Warning. It will make you cry. A good cry. It is so thoughtful and well written. If the author is out there, thank you. This truly defines my purpose. I have removed identifying information to protect the sender’s identity. 

Mrs. Rogers,

I have tried writing to you many times, but have felt like it may be inappropriate for me to reach out to you because I had so little interaction with Charles, but I’ve been keeping up with your blog and after reading about how Charles was always willing to reach out, it reminded me of the very first time that I actually met him, and I wanted to share that story with you.

Charles was one of those people with whom I had many mutual friends, but I never really had the chance to hang out with him, and I think that was in part because he and my younger sister were in the same grade,
 ...  read more