Guest Author Madeline Sharples

I have my mug of coffee in hand, please help yourself to one, as we visit with an old friend of CMah Reads.  Today’s guest visited back in 2011, so when she contacted me, asking if she could come back and visit, I put the coffee on!!  I ask, if you could help me give a warm welcome back to Madeline Sharples!!


Madeline Sharples studied journalism in high school and college and wrote for the high school newspaper, but only started to fulfill her dream to work as a creative writer and journalist late in life. Her memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide, was released in a hardback edition in 2011 and has just been released in paperback and eBook editions by Dream of Things. It tells the steps she took in living with the loss of her oldest son, first and foremost that she chose to live and take care of herself as a woman, wife, mother, and writer. She hopes that her story will inspire others to find ways to survive their own tragic experiences.

She also co-authored Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994), co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1 and 2, and wrote the poems for two photography books, The Emerging Goddess and Intimacy (Paul Blieden, photographer). Her poems have also appeared online and in print magazines.

Madeline’s articles appear regularly in the Naturally Savvy, PsychAlive, Aging Bodies, and Open to Hope. She also posts at her blogs, Choices and at Red Room and is currently writing a novel.  Madeline’s mission since the death of her son is to raise awareness, educate, and erase the stigma of mental illness and suicide in hopes of saving lives.

Madeline and her husband of forty plus years live in Manhattan Beach, California, a small beach community south of Los Angeles. Her younger son Ben lives in Santa Monica, California with his wife Marissa.
You can connect with Madeline at her blog, Facebook and Twitter.


My Recipe for Survival

When my older son Paul took his life in our home – ending his seven year struggle with bipolar disorder, my first thoughts were: I cannot go on. I want to get into the same bathtub where he died and put myself out of my pain and misery. At first I didn’t know how I could continue to live without him.

Instead of getting into that bathtub, I chose to live and take care of myself as a woman, wife, mother, writer. Here’s how I did it.

I Wrote. Even before Paul died, I started writing about him and his bipolar disorder. Journaling got out the frustrations of dealing with his episodes, hospitalizations, and erratic behavior. After he died I continued journaling. I also took classes through UCLA Extension’s writing program, a private writing instructor in Los Angeles, and at workshops at my healing place, Esalen in Big Sur, California. It was there that poems started flowing from my pen.

 I Worked. At the time Paul died, I was working at home writing grant proposals. I soon realized that I needed to find a job outside, and luckily I got rehired into the company I had retired from a few years earlier. My job as a proposal manager was challenging, meaningful, and very stressful. Having to meet stringent deadlines kept my mind on the job rather than on my feelings. The work and the socialization at work helped get me through the first few years after Paul died.

I Sought Out Diversions. And through all these years I’ve learned to fill up my time with diversions. I read. I watch movies. My husband and I go to the theater and opera. We travel. And I pamper myself – working out at the gym, taking long walks on the beach near our home, eating healthy, and caring for my hair and nails. It feels good, helps me look good, and boosts my mood. Taking care of myself and staying healthy have become tantamount to my survival.

I chose to stay alive because I know what suicide does to a family. I couldn’t put my loving and caring husband and surviving son Ben through that kind of pain again. Besides I wanted to experience life’s next adventures. As bad as it was after Paul died, and as much as I continue to miss him, I still had things to do with my life.

Also, with such a tragedy came some unexpected gifts. Paul’s death has made me a stronger person, physically and emotionally. I have reinvented myself into a poet and creative writer. My husband and I have a stronger marriage because we gave each other the space to grieve in our own way, and I have a terrific bond with Ben and his new wife. Yes, I’m proud to say I’m a new mother-in-law. And, I’ve embarked on a new mission in life – to erase the stigma of mental illness and prevent suicide, in hopes of saving lives through my writing and volunteer work.

Staying alive has also helped me keep my son Paul’s memory alive.


Leaving the Hall Light On is about living after loss: first and foremost how author Madeline Sharples chose to live and go on with life and take care of herself as a woman, wife, mother, writer. It is about the steps Sharples took in living with the loss of her son, including making use of diversions to help ease her grief and the milestones she met toward living a full life without him. She says, “to let ourselves grieve is to feel the depth of our love. For those whose children have died, that may take the rest of our lives, but we will discover the gifts of our loss in the process.”
Read my review here.



I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me,
in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.

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