Twenty-three years

To commemorate the twenty-third anniversary of my son Paul’s suicide death, I’d like to tell you a bit about the memoir I wrote in his memory. It took eighteen years to write it and get it published, but it was all worth it. When it first came out, I thought if it helps just one person it will have been worth it. And from the comments and reviews the book has received it has helped way more people than that. The death of a child is the hardest thing a parent can ever go through, so knowing there are others out there with the same experience is a big help.

Also I just heard from my publisher, Dream of Things, that in the last two years, my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide, has sold more than seventy-one hundred copies. So it is still applicable and worth reading even after all this time.

A few of its early accolades:

“A moving read of tragedy, trying to prevent it, and coping with life after.” – Midwest Book Review

“Moving, intimate and very inspiring.” – Mark Shelmerdine, CEO, Jeffers Press

“Poetically visceral, emotionally honest. I will be a better, more empathic psychiatrist, and a better person and friend after reading this extraordinary memoir.” – Irvin D. Godofsky, M.D.

Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide charts the near-destruction of one middle-class family whose son committed suicide after a seven-year struggle with bipolar disorder. Madeline Sharples, author, poet and web journalist, goes deep into her own well of grief to describe her anger, frustration and guilt. She describes many attempts — some successful, some not — to have her son committed to hospital and to keep him on his medication. The book also charts her and her family’s redemption, how she considered suicide herself, and ultimately, her decision to live and take care of herself as a woman, wife, mother and writer.A note from the author: I encourage you to read my book if you have been touched by bipolar disorder or suicide. And even if you have not, my book will inspire you to survive your own tragedies. As author Jessica Bell says: Leaving the Hall Light On is “a remarkable book and it SHOULD be read.”

A few more comments:

“A heart-breaking story told with straightforward grace and resilience, Madeline Tasky Sharples’ Leaving the Hall Light On will educate you, and leave you with lots to consider. But the memoir isn’t just about her son’s death. It’s about how she survived–without becoming an alcoholic, or a drug addict. Without destroying her marriage. She finds a way. It’s not easy, and Sharples definitely doesn’t live in denial. She writes her truth with straight-shooting accountability, showing her struggles and her small triumphs. She neither suppresses her memory of her son, nor does she wallow in her grief. She is an example for us all.” Laura Dennis, author of Adopted Reality, A Memoir.

“No one wants to go through challenges or difficulties. We don’t welcome them, but I was able to see through this book how they help us sometimes become the person we were meant to be–if only we allow them to be true teachable moments. We can grieve, we can hurt, but we have to push forward towards the healing. If we can do that then we can become a source of strength and inspiration for others. Delivered with passion and fueled by love, Leaving the Hall Light On speaks to what it means to live when living isn’t always easy.” Cyrus Webb, “Conversations Book Club.”

“What most struck me about this memoir was how it stands as testament to a mother’s undying love for her son… At times it is almost impossible to keep turning the pages, so deep is her grief, so all-encompassing. Yet she holds us through her own honesty, her look into every aspect of her son’s life both through poetry and narrative… As a memoir writer myself, I found Leaving the Hall Light On stands as a true example of the healing power of writing our most compelling life story.” Susan G. Weidener.

“I would recommend this book to suicide survivors, and I also invite mental health professionals to read it. I would be willing to bet that Madeline Sharples is much more honest about what it is like to survive suicide than most patients and clients allow themselves to be.” – Fran Edstrom, the American Association of Suicidology.


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