Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Tag: grieving mother becomes addiction advocate

Keeping Us Alive By Telling Your Story

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Matt,  Today a news crew is interviewing me about your addiction.   I am sharing our story about how horribly you were treated during your struggle.  I want the world to know that you did not have to die from this very treatable disease.  That had society and the insurance industry felt the need to save you, you would be alive today.   But society sees addiction as a dirty disease and feel that those who suffer from it aren’t worth saving.

I have a different opinion.  You were worth saving.  Your life had meaning and value.  I remember you before the addiction took control of your brain.  Your giving heart.  Your beautiful soul.  The problem with society is that people are blinded by the disease.  They refuse to see beyond behaviors that are part of the damaged brain.  I wonder how many parents would punish their child after a diagnosis of any other disease. Would they disown the child sneaking the candy bar because he doesn’t understand the harm of eating it after becoming a diabetic?  Why does society feel its acceptable to label addicts as not worth saving?  How can strangers be so harsh in their judgement of people they know nothing about?

After living the nightmare of your addiction I chose to fight back against a society who has no clue.  To honor your life that was cut short because of stigma.  I tell your story to whoever will listen.  I fight to save other mothers from my grief.  I fight to save other mother’s children from your fate.  I speak out about how you were treated and how society thinks addiction is a dirty disease and those who suffer from it are disposable people.

There is a world wide misconception that addiction is a self inflicted disease.  I guess it’s easier to form an opinion when you disregard the facts.  The brutal reality is that addiction is a man made disease.  Created by overprescribing physicians.  Many who received kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies for prescribing opioids for every ache and pain.  You followed doctors orders.  You trusted the pill pushers hiding behind their white coats.  You became a victim of an industry that cares more about profit than it does for quality of human life.

I guess its easier for people to point fingers and whisper behind our backs passing judgement about a disease they know very little about.  I guess perceptions and pre-conceived notions are more acceptable when you haven’t lived the disease or witnessed the struggle.

I’ve learned that pre-conceived notions fuel the stigma and contribute to the bias against this most powerful, deadly disease.

I pray that telling your story will begin to break down the walls and change the hearts and minds of those who believe that people like you are disposable.  That your life didn’t matter.  That the disease of addiction wiped away your worth and made your death acceptable to society.  I pray that seeing your smiling face and my grieving one will start the crack that begins to unravel misconceptions regarding those who suffer from the disease of addiction.  Telling our story keeps you alive.   Telling your story keeps me alive.

Anger Transforms Into Advocacy

 

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Matt,  there are days when all I can do is sit and think about your addiction.   Days I devour every article I can find trying to understand what went so horribly wrong.  I disassemble your entire journey in my mind trying to find that missing piece.   The piece that somehow got overlooked during your struggle with addiction.   Since your death, I find myself immersed in your world.   I feel like a detective always searching for answers to questions that dance through my brain.   Educating myself like I’m about to take the exam of a lifetime and if I fail I will disappear.   Trying to understand the power of cravings and how your prescribed pills changed the chemistry of your brain.   Changing you into someone I only recognized from the outside.  Your looks didn’t change.   You were still handsome with those eyes that melted my heart.  Your changes were  in the depths of your soul.

I remember calling your addiction our dirty little secret.   I wanted to keep it safe and sound protecting both of us from the ugliness and stigma that surrounded your misunderstood disease.   I remember those brief periods of time when we were given a glimpse of normal.   Those too short periods when treatment brought you back from the abyss that had become your life.   I think back on the struggle to find that perfect place.  The one that would keep you safe and provide me with a much needed brake from the endless worry that danced through my mind.  Watching your struggle taught me that helping an addict is like matching fingerprints.   You must continue until that perfect match is found.

We were never able to continue.   Never able to find your perfect match.   Too many roadblocks set you up for failure.   People were trusted and money was wasted.   I’ve heard addiction referred to as chasing the scream.   My version was chasing the dream.   The dream that we would bust through the roadblocks and you would be a survivor.   The dream that life would return to normal and your addiction would ride off into the sunset.

That dream now lay shattered at my feet.   I am the lone survivor of your addiction.   I wanted to deal with my grief and let your addiction become a part of my past.   I wanted to disappear and lick my wounds.   Guarding my heart like a mama bear.   No more pain for me.  I wanted quiet times and precious memories to fill my broken heart.   I thought I could bury the pain with you and move on.   What I never understood before your death slapped me in the face and shook me to my core was that once you have witnessed the struggle and have lost your child to this mistreated disease it becomes a part of who you are.   The pain and loss course through your being.   Once you live the stigma and witness the hate, addiction becomes inescapable.   I was not the addict, but I’ve learned how society hates those who suffer.   I’ve learned that stigma lives long after the addict dies.

I never planned on becoming an advocate.   I craved some type of normal.   For seven years my life was a rollercoaster ride.   During that time all I wanted was to get off and find stable ground.   Now, that ride has ended and it’s the only place I crave to be.  I have nothing from the only world I knew.   No Matt, no career, just endless time to think about what should have been.

I’ll never forget the day my life found a new path.   I read an article about a first responder.   This man felt using Narcan was a waste of time.   He felt addicts should just die.   I remember my body starting to shake.  My heart beating like a war drum.   Anger burning in the depths of my soul.   You were one of those people he wanted dead!   I was out of control.   He never knew you.   He had no idea that you were the victim of a pill mill practice.   That by following doctors orders you became addicted.   He had no clue how hard you fought for your life.   Yet, here he was someone in uniform wanting those suffering from addiction to just die.

With shaking hands I called his Fire Chief and then the Mayor of his town.  I felt a calmness envelope me like you were there wrapping your soul around mine.   A sense of peace that I hadn’t felt in such a long time.   Your spirit was with me on that cold winter day.   You guided my words and calmed my heart.   I told our story.    A beautiful man and his grieving mother.    The battle for treatment.   The struggle for compassion.   I felt that by sharing the reality of your struggle I could open the eyes of people who have no clue.   By sharing the grief of loving then losing you, I could strike back at the stigma that continued to fuel the hate toward your misunderstood disease.   My call was met with compassion and concern.   A man who understood your mothers grief.   The firefighter was relieved of his duties.   A victory for all those impacted by addiction.

On that bitter winter day an ember caught fire.    My soul experienced a rebirth.   A new passion burning for truth and justice.   Staring into the star filled sky, I could see your smiling face.  Your beautiful eyes.  The whisper of the icy wind saying your name.   Matt,  as long as I live you live.   Forever connected by the bond that even death can not break.   Forever in my heart…….Your grieving mom has put on a new hat..

 

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