My Gutsy Story contest – redux

I take it all back. So many people came through for me and voted that I have no complaints at all. Please forgive my last rant. As of today with just over two days to go I am leading by fifty-one votes. Though I don't want to rest on my laurels, and I know how easy it is to surge ahead like I did with your support, I'm feeling very good about my chances now. I'd also like to share My Gutsy Story here. I hope piece about what I did to survive my son's death will help others going through their own tragedies. Some of the material here is also in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. Sonia Marsh - Founder of The Gutsy Story contest My Gutsy Story When my older son Paul died by suicide in 1999 after a seven-year battle with bipolar disorder, I knew I had to find ways to keep myself busy and productive or else I would wallow away in my grief. At the time of his death I was writing grant proposals for a homeless shelter, but I found too many reminders working from my home … [Read more...]

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Learning to compartmentalize

Someone on Twitter recently asked me what the hardest thing I had to do while writing my memoir. And I responded – keeping the tears from smearing the words on the page. Then, I had to concentrate on the writing and now on the marketing, leaving any emotions I have about Paul’s death outside the scope of my work. So, I have become a master of compartmentalization. Now besides being a mother whose son died by suicide, I’m a survivor. I’m a strong woman. I’m an advocate for erasing the stigma of mental illness, of putting a face on suicide, of telling my story so others can know it’s possible to heal after the death of a child. Next Tuesday I have another radio interview where I’ll be asked to discuss Paul’s and my story – how can I get through that on the radio? The other parts of the interview won’t be as hard. But going through what we went through especially during his years with bipolar disorder will be gut wrenching. I hope I won't fall apart. And next Saturday I’ll be rea … [Read more...]

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Finding healing support and hugs on Facebook

The ocean's mellowing effect I recently joined a couple of groups on Facebook. One is called Grieving Mothers (there is a Grieving Fathers as well, started by the spouse of the woman who started the mother’s group), and Loss of an Adult or Young Adult Child. After joining both groups, my first question was: where were these groups when I needed them in September 1999? People post on them all day and night to share a story about their child who died, tell about the terrible time they are having just doing their daily lives, and ask questions – about how others are coping or what medications help them or how do they keep the memory of their children alive. They console each other, they give hugs (((((hugs)))), or they just rant. They also use the word angel for their lost child and call a new child conceived after the death of a child, a rainbow baby (the rainbow after the storm concept). I love that term and I only wish I had been young enough to have one after Paul died. Of co … [Read more...]

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Don’t go there. You don’t need to imagine it.

When people want to know the details about my son's death, I try to avoid specifics; not to protect myself, I already know all the gory details. No, I want to protect the asker, especially if he or she has children. I want to protect imaginations from going to a place where they have no reason or need to be. People can’t help asking these questions. They feel their interest is comforting to me, but I find it more of a burden. The tables get turned, and I feel the need to comfort them. It’s happened over and over. When they say they just can’t imagine losing a child, let alone losing one the way I lost mine, I say, “Don’t go there. You don’t need to imagine it.” I love Anne Lamott's books. And she's a great public speaker as well. That's why I decided to use a quote from her book, Operating Instructions (Anchor Books, 1995), to start off my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On http://www.LuckyPress.com/madelinesharples.html. The death of a child is a parent's worst nightmare, and she put … [Read more...]

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Using exercise to heal

I've worked out almost all of my life. After my son Paul died I became almost obsessive about. It just seemed to help me get through the pain. Here's another poem that will appear in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On http://www.LuckyPress.com/madelinesharples.html. It was one of the first I wrote in Jack Grapes method writing class.   Making It Hard The bright room is almost full. All four walls of mirrors reflect women and men in baggy shorts and sleek black tights. The music is so loud the woman in front of me stuffs earplugs in her ears. Lisa G says, “work from the core; your workout relates to your real life.” I want to get on with it. I don’t come here at 6 a.m. to listen to a lecture. The neon sign on the wall says “sweat,” and that’s what I want to do. The woman behind me complains. I don’t know her name, but here she is every week always in the same spot, always complaining, always in black. Black tights, black sports bra, black thong leo … [Read more...]

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Next steps to book launch

I've finished my final review of my book's design and galleys and sent off my notes to my Lucky Press publisher. Next steps are sending out review copies, getting back comments and hopefully some good blurbs for the back of the dust jacket, and then the book's Mother's Day release. Right after that I have my first scheduled book signing - May 12 at our local Manhattan Beach bookstore, Pages. I'll be sending out invites to that soon. http://www.LuckyPress.com/madelinesharples.html So, in the meantime I'll post a few of the poems that are interspersed throughout. Here's "Leaving the Hall Light On," originally published by The Muddy River Poetry Review under the title, "What Is Loss?" Leaving the Hall Light On I lose my keys or sunglasses and find them in my hand all along. I lose my little boy in the department store and he pops out squealing with laughter from under the clothes display, I lose important papers and find them in the stack of other papers on my desk. I … [Read more...]

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Thoughts about Tucson

I’ve been so down lately. Yesterday it was so bad I actually succumbed to sleeping half the afternoon away. And that is not like me, at least not lately. Perhaps it was because my ankle was hurting such that I could barely walk up and down the stairs – imagine me side-stepping my way up and down? And I’m the one who never ever complains about aches and pains. Well this morning the ankle is better. I forced it to be better by working it out at the gym. I think the vibrating power plate helped. But my mood isn’t better. And when I looked at the lead photo in today’s LA Times I realized why. It’s that tragic shooting in Tucson last Saturday. Today was the first funeral for the victims – the young girl, nine-year old Christina Green. It breaks my heart. I cry when I think about her and how much her family is grieving. I know what it is like to grieve for a dead child, so I am grieving with them. I cry with them. Every time I think of her death, I start crying. I’m also grieving … [Read more...]

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