Marie Osmond has experienced one of the worst things that can ever happen to a parent: the death of a child. And now that she’s nearing the tenth anniversary of her son’s suicide, she’s opened up about the devastating event. Yes, the beloved star spoke to CBS This Morning – and the heartbreaking confession that she made may well leave you in shock.
As most fans will no doubt know, Marie is a member of the famous Osmond clan – which also includes brothers Donny, Jimmy and Alan. But the star had seven children herself, too, two of which are her biological offspring. Michael, on the other hand, was one of her adopted kids, and sadly, he suffered terribly with his mental health. In fact, before taking his own life, the 18-year-old left a note citing his “torment” as the reason why.
Tragically, Michael had reportedly also battled drug addiction for much of his life. In fact, he started taking them, according to his mother, before he even entered his teens. But at the time of his death, the young man seemed to have been starting a new chapter. Yes, he was out of rehab and had recently enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in L.A.
Then, the unthinkable news of Michael’s suicide broke in 2010, and Marie released a statement. And while it was short, it made clear how shattered she was. The entertainer said, “My family and I are devastated and in deep shock by the tragic loss of our dear Michael and ask that everyone respect our privacy during this difficult time.”
Of course, other famous faces responded to the terrible news, too. Marie’s friend and Dancing with the Stars partner, Jonathan Roberts, spoke to People following the suicide. And touchingly, he said, “We’d stop our lessons so she could call [Michael]. She would always make time for her kids. She is such a good mother.” Plus, he added, “Marie knew Michael was troubled, but I don’t think she ever thought he would take his life.”
Meanwhile, another family friend, Mary Hart of Entertainment Tonight, shared her thoughts to CBS in March, 2010. She said, “You can bet [Marie] has loving arms around her. The Osmonds are a very close-knit family, and, in times of loss or tragedy, they support each other and really band together as a family – and in love.”
As for Marie herself, it unsurprisingly took her longer to speak publicly about what had happened. For in November 2010 she sat down for an interview with Oprah Winfrey, and it was heartrending. In fact, the day her son died, she said, “I really believed that something was wrong.” And when she received a phone call, her worst fears were confirmed. But there was more.
Yes, Marie talked about how much she loved her son and what a good kid he had been. But about her grief she said, “Some things are so in stone, and other things are like a wave that comes in and out of your life. I’ve been through some tough things in my life, Oprah. This is probably the hardest thing.” And it turns out, the press had not helped the situation.
Unfortunately, the media had speculated at the time that Michael had killed himself because he was gay. But Marie quickly quashed that rumor. “He wanted to be married and have a family and travel all over the world,” she said. “And it wouldn’t matter if he was. I have a daughter who is gay, and it was my daughter who was offended by the implication that all gay people commit suicide.”
Although Michael had mental health problems, Marie said, “He was not a depressed kid…on the outside.” Plus, she maintained that there were no illegal substances involved in his death, either. She explained, “My son was clean when he jumped. There were no drugs in his system, but I believe the ramifications were there.”
Now the country singer herself had battled depression, and knew what it was like. What’s more, not long before Michael took his own life, he told Marie he had no friends. “When I heard him say to me, ‘I have no friends,’ it brought me back when I went through depression,” she told Oprah. “If I went through that whole experience just to understand my son, that was worth it to me.”
Heartbreakingly, Marie revealed that Michael had tried to kill himself once before, too. Yes, it happened while she was performing on Dancing With the Stars. “During that time, I was going through a very public divorce. Going through a custody battle. My dad died, and my son went into rehab,” she told Oprah.
And it was while going through rehab that Michael tried to take his own life. In the aftermath of that, he promised his mother he would never do it again. “And I believed him,” Marie told Oprah. Furthermore, she tried not to think about what might have happened if things had turned out differently. “I think if you live in ‘what ifs,’ you stop living,” she said.
But the entertainer regretted that she hadn’t picked up the phone the last time Michael had called her. That’s right, she had been performing at the Flamingo Las Vegas with her brother at the time. Afterwards she tried to call him back, but he didn’t pick up. Prior to that, she had told him she would see him Monday. “But depression doesn’t wait till Monday,” Marie told Oprah.
At the end of the Oprah interview, Marie performed an opera song in memory of Michael. Taking to the stage, she said, “I know I’ll see him again because of what I believe.” But it was difficult for her. And she started to cry and had to stop for a moment. Touchingly, the audience applauded her strength when she began again.
In the aftermath of Michael’s devastating death, Marie kept herself busy by writing a memoir: The Key is Love. And while the book was partially a tribute to her own mother, Olive, and the relationship that she shared with her, it also went into some detail about how she had dealt with losing her son.
Yes, Marie revealed a saddening coincidence in the 2013 book. She said, “About six months before Michael died, during a ‘Meet ‘n Greet’ after my Vegas show, a woman gave me a hug and said, ‘Oh, Marie. You’ve been through depression, divorce, kids in rehab… What haven’t you been through?’ I answered, ‘I haven’t lost a child. That would be the worst thing.’”
And the grieving mother went on from there, “On February 26, 2010 the ‘worst thing’ happened. My sweet son left me, his family, and friends by jumping from the balcony of his eighth floor college apartment in Los Angeles. Even as I write this I want to cry out, ‘Please, don’t let this be true.’” What’s more, the star shared some touching thoughts about what her son had been like, too.
Yes, Marie painted a moving picture of her beloved son. She wrote, “It was impossible for anyone in the family to stay upset or angry if he was around. He would come up with hysterical voices and characters. Even as a very little boy, Mike would notice and reach out to those who were marginalized because they were different.”
Plus, following the release of the book, Marie spoke to Fox 411. And when the interviewer asked if she thought that she would ever get over her son’s death, her response was truly touching. Marie answered, “Never, never, never… Your life changes from that day forward; your life never gets better.” On that note, she had some words of advice for parents or others concerned about loved ones.
Yes, Marie went on to explain, “There is not closure, and how can there be in a case like that when you can’t ask why? I feel like the message of the book is not to block your intuition. Never be too busy to listen to your instinctive feelings when something feels wrong. You need to get there.”
What’s more, Marie said that afterwards she had to show the rest of her children “the way to keep living.” She explained, “They were all saying, ‘I can’t go to school.’ I said, ‘No we choose life. Mike would have wanted that.’ It was so hard for me to get back on the stage two weeks after he died but I had to show my children that I chose to live.”
And Marie continued to FOX 411, “It was very hard and we talk about it, that’s the other thing. I know there are other families that won’t talk about it. Just as much as I lost a son, my children lost a brother and they still need to process it. My daughter got married Christmas Day and she said, ‘My brother should have been here.’ There will always be that loss.” In keeping with that open dialogue, Marie had no issue sharing her pain with others.
Yes, as the years went by, Marie continued to keep Michael’s memory alive in the public sphere. For example, in June 2019 she wrote a post on her Instagram answering a fan’s question. “Someone recently asked me why after all the years of country, pop and Broadway success I chose to sing Opera? Well, it is because my son Michael loved it,” she said.
As she went on to further explain, “Michael’s passing left a hole in my heart that will never be filled until I see him again. When I sing his favorite genre and more specifically the song ‘Pie Jesu,’ I can feel his presence and that brings me such joy! I went to his grave Friday when I arrived in Utah and I told him that the Saturday’s Symphonic show was for him.”
Now 2019 was a big year for Marie, as she became a host on CBS chat show The Talk. And the day before she debuted on its tenth season, she stopped by CBS Sunday Morning for a brief discussion. Naturally, Michael’s sad death was mentioned, as we’ll soon find out.
For correspondent Lee Cowan asked the entertainer, “What was it that got you through that whole ordeal? Or maybe you’re not through it?” Well, Marie answered, “You know, I don’t think you’re ever through it. I think God gives you respites, and then all of a sudden it will hit you like the day it did. The ripple effect is so huge, what you leave behind.” After this, a revelation was set to follow the next day.
Indeed, the following day on The Talk, Marie elaborated more – and shared something shocking she’d faced after Michael’s passing. When her co-hosts Carrie Ann Inaba, Eve, Sharon Osbourne and Sheryl Underwood began talking about online shaming, Marie cut in with, “I’ve been shamed before.” And more was to come.
Heartlessly, the shaming had happened right after Michael’s death. “You know, if you take the topic of shame, you can say what you want about me, but when they start attacking your children or your family or those type of things, I think this world is in to too much of this shaming thing,” Marie said. And she wasn’t finished there.
As it turned out, people had apparently slated Marie because she had gone back to work the week after Michael’s funeral. “And the people were so cruel, because of me choosing to show my children they had to keep living,” Marie said. “It hurt my children more than anything that they would go through that.”
Of course, we all process grief in different ways. In 2017 for example, the HuffPost posted an article called “Returning To Work While Grieving: 5 Helpful Suggestions.” “Your natural inclination may be to shut down and do nothing, but being productive can be a substantial springboard for healing,” read the article.
Now generally, there are five stages of grief. In fact, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced the concept in 1969. And based on what she observed, she concluded that people usually went through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. But as we’ll find out, the way of experiencing those phases wasn’t exactly straight forward.
Yes, because firstly, Kübler-Ross didn’t believe those “rules” applied to everyone. Secondly, some people will naturally experience those things in different order. And – as those who shamed Marie didn’t understand – we can experience those five emotions in different ways. Furthermore, Kübler-Ross herself had a strong message for those trying to over-simplify the grieving process.
Indeed, for in the last book Kübler-Ross published before she died, she explained her own thoughts on the five stages concept. “They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages,” she wrote. “They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.”
As if being shamed for the way she grieved wasn’t bad enough, Marie shared she had also experienced homophobia shaming. Now this happened when she attended her daughter Jessica’s wedding to another woman. And the entertainer had posted pictures online of herself, her daughter and her new daughter-in-law. Surely, most would want to congratulate the happy couple?
But it appeared not. As the famous singer went on to explain, “Another thing recently is my daughter is gay, and I went to her wedding. She just got married. And people were shaming me because of supporting my daughter. And, you know, the thing is, is that you should never shame anyone… and I think especially for loving your child. Never you should shame someone.”
Luckily, there was an outpouring of support for Marie after she spoke on The Talk. For example, one person wrote on Twitter, “What an awful way to treat another person who is suffering. She’s a performer but first, she’s human and no different than anyone else who suffers through the tragedies of life. God bless her.” What’s more, it appeared the entertainer had also been considering others outside her family by returning to work so soon.
For another supporter pointed out on Twitter, “I remember [at the] time of the passing of her son Marie had to return to the Vegas show because otherwise the dancers and crew would not get paid. Those that shamed her (including a bitter loudmouthed celebrity) are not fans! So glad she supported her daughter privately/publicly.”
Touchingly, the new TV host’s motive for speaking out on The Talk was to show others that they weren’t alone. She told CBS This Morning on September 16, “I don’t believe in airing dirty laundry; I don’t think that’s necessary. But if you can do something that can help somebody else or, you know, help them get through something, maybe it’s that sisterhood thing.”
What’s more, Marie has continued to bring up her loss while co-hosting The Talk. During another September episode she talked with Sharon Osbourne about parenting, and said, “I feel like I failed as a mother, like with my son who passed away and had depression. I didn’t see that.” But with that was an acceptance that parents can only do their best. “I believe we just [sometimes] miss things,” she added.