September 04, 2018

Kim Manlove - Surviving the Worst Loss




Grief is an individual experience. When the Kim Manloves' son David died from a drug-related event, Kim's feelings of guilt and shame overwhelmed him  -- but it did not divide him from his wife and together they have found acceptance.     



You know, we first discovered that he had a problem in late 2000.  He was 16 at the time. 

It started with marijuana and then eventually alcohol.  There were some pills.  We didn’t know what they were -- pharmaceuticals of some sort. 

We got our son into treatment, and while he was getting help, we were getting some education about the disease of addiction, that it was chronic, that there was also could be a genetic component. And that it could be deadly. 

But we of course didn’t think anything about that. We just concentrated on supporting our son in every way that we could.

We began 2001 with a lot of hope. About five months into treatment, he had been doing well and we had been pleased with his progress, and so he came to us on one day and asked if he could go swimming at a friend’s house. We knew the kids he was going to be swimming with, and he’d been doing well, so we decided to kind of lessen the reins a little bit, and said sure.

They swam for a while, and then the girls decided to go in and have lunch.  David then and his friend went to a nearby drug store, bought a can of computer duster.  David had learned somehow that he could inhale the propellant, which would give him a very brief high, anywhere from 10 to 15 seconds, and it wouldn’t show up on the drug screens.  I don’t think he knew is that in some cases computer duster can cause something called Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome, a disruption of the electrical activity of the heart, and can also bring on a heart attack.

They were passing the can back and forth, taking turns, going underneath the water.  And then at one point, David didn’t come back up.  He’d gone into Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome while he was underneath the water.  His body’s first reaction, naturally, was to try and take a breath.  He opened his mouth and took in all water. 

The main cause of death was drowning.  The secondary cause of death was Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. 

While the EMTs were there, the parents had called my wife.  So Marissa drove to the hospital, and by that time, he was already gone. 

I was actually a couple of thousand miles away in Phoenix, Arizona.  I got the call from her saying that he was – had died.  I rushed to the airport.  This is before 9/11.  I basically told the ticket counter what had happened.  And they -- they were great.   They didn’t ask for any documen-tation or anything.  I mean they could tell that I was distressed, and immediately put me on the first plane directly back to Indianapolis.  And so ---  but that, that was  -- that flight was the worst.  Just so much going on in my head. 

The addiction gene ran on my side of the family.   I had two uncles who had -- were alcoholic on my father’s side, and I was someone who overindulged on a regular basis.  I had already pledged to my wife that I would know how to help him and get through this, and I failed at that.  Between the grief and the guilt, you know, I began to spiral down myself, drinking more alcohol and then I began also abusing the anti-depressants that I was being prescribed for the grief and the guilt and the depression.  To the point where I began shopping doctors for the medications.  I had a tragic story.  It was pretty easy for me to go to another physician and share the same story and immediately get a script for Xanax. 

One day, my wife and my son, my other son, my older son, came home and found me in a blackout.  And I can still remember coming out of that blackout seeing, you know, my wife screaming at me and saying, “What the hell is wrong with you?” 

I said, “I’m in trouble. I’ve been abusing alcohol and drugs, and I think I need to get help.”

My situation was so serious that I ended up having to come in-patient at that point in time. 

Part of the recovery regimen, too, was going to 90 meetings in 90 days, and I ended up doing 180 meetings in 180 days.  And I’ve been in recovery now for 15 years and I still do 5 or 6 meetings a week.  That’s the medicine that I continue to take for my disease of addiction.   And the dollar that I put in the basket at each of those meetings is a lot cheaper than the prescription drugs I take.

I’m an academic by training.  Spent 28 years as an administrator and dean at the largest university here in Indianapolis.  But a couple of years after I got into recovery, I started kind of a new chapter. I went to the CEO of the treatment center and told her that I’d be interested in getting some profession experience in this field of addiction treatment and recovery. 

And so we started a parent support group.  There’s no question that the death of a child is the worst loss.  What we found was, you know, we didn’t have to do counseling in that group.  The counseling took place just by people sharing where they were, what they were struggling with, and then hearing others sharing exactly the same things in a same way, and found comfort there for the first time. 

After David died, friends, family, and even people that we hadn’t been acquainted with, came to us and often started off by saying, “Well, what went wrong?” you know.  And sometimes it would be a little more pointed, you know:  “Were there some things that you didn’t do?” 

Our children aren’t supposed to die before us.  It’s like a violation of some sort of rule.  What went wrong?  What could we have done differently?  All that kind of mental machination is part of what led to my serious depression, and frankly, trying to find relief from the shame, and the guilt – probably more the guilt.  Again, because the addiction gene ran on my side of the family.  He caught this from me. 

We learn in recovery that acceptance is the release of all hope for a better past.  That’s become our mantra.  And that then has freed us up emotionally and psychologically, and brought us to the point where we can help others, at least try, to work down that path.

I describe our mutual recoveries as kind of what a strand of DNA looks like.  DNA has two trunks.  I’m one of the trunks and she’s the other trunk.  They’re separate and distinct but there are branches periodically that connect those two trunks.  And that’s what recovery has done for us.  It’s connected us in some marvelous ways.

But at the same time, if you look under a microscope, DNA kind of spirals around.  That’s what life continues to do to us is that it continues to spiral us around.  And we continue to have challenges and things happen to us.  But there is still that tightness and structure of us together. 

The most important thing recovery has done for the two of us is that it has allowed us to -- to move on from the worst loss and celebrate our son’s life in a beautiful way.

My name is Kim Manlove and this is my story. 

September 4, 2018 at 10:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 30, 2014

Drug addiction is disease, not moral failing

I applaud columnist Bob Kravitz for his March 17 column in the Indianapolis Star entitled, “Jim Irsay is fighting for his life, he needs help.” It is one of the few pieces I have seen in the blizzard of articles and media reports that contain any thing approaching compassion and concern for Jim.


Despite the fact that the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a “chronic, relapsing brain disease,” the public and popular media still represent addiction as a moral failing. Addicts and alcoholics often continue to be regarded with disapproval or disdain, and celebrities like Irsay who have addiction issues are exploited and hounded. These attitudes are vestiges of the “War on Drugs” era, which indelibly etched into the public mind that most drug and alcohol abusers were exhibiting criminal behavior.

Recovery from addiction is a reality for millions of Americans who, like me, struggled for many years with substance abuse and are taking the first step — deciding to get help. Some of us get that help from our friends and families while others get the “nudge from the judge.” But, regardless, recovery from addiction means embracing a new perspective. When we are early in recovery many of us struggle with the fear that recovery isn’t for us. Many are not initially willing to give up old behaviors and rationalize that things weren’t that bad. It takes many in early recovery a long time to see that the perspective we were choosing wasn’t one of hope. But once we can gain that new perspective we begin to realize that embracing hope in recovery can come from not only taking things one day at a time, but surrounding ourselves with a recovery support system of family and friends.

Organizations like the Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition can provide much-needed support to those early in recovery through education, advocacy and service.

Recovery is our hope and wish for Irsay as well as the promise we will always be there to embrace him and others who reach out for help.

 Kim Manlove Director, Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition

April 30, 2014 at 01:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 29, 2014

A Chat About Marijuana,The Power of Addiction and Loss

Spotlight Indy 2 4-20

Kim Manlove with Glee Renick-May

Host of WIBC's Spotlight Indianapolis 93.1FM in Indianapolis

Publisher/CEO at Northwest Indiana Business Quarterly


April 29, 2014 at 08:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 03, 2014

Loss - A New Perspective


Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines LOSS as the:

     1.     Failure to keep or to continue to have something

     2.   The experience of having something taken from you or destroyed

     3.   The act of losing possession

Almost from the beginning I have struggled with the notion of loss. 

When my son David died of addiction at the age of 16 I desperately wanted to cling to every aspect of his being.  I was so blinded by my grief that I was incapable of being able to see beyond the sudden and seemingly irrevocable absence of his physical presence.  The touch of his hand, his breath on my cheek, the sounds of his voice and that impish smile of his that never failed to melt my heart…and bend me to his will, all were my constant companions.  And yet it seemed that he was gone in the blur of an instant, irretrievable, and beyond the scope of this mortal existence.  And so in the first couple of years after his death I railed against the powers that be for “taking him away” from me until I was overcome with my own addiction and forced to admit that I was not only powerless over drugs and alcohol but over life and death as well.

I sought treatment at the same place David did, found recovery and in doing so slowly began to reconstruct the meaning of not only my view of life but also of loss and death. I didn’t realize it at first but I had embarked upon an odyssey of living not only a new life free of drugs and alcohol, but one of emotional and psychological spirituality that knows no bounds.  A spirituality not unlike the universe of the “Big Bang Theory” where my recovery life continues to expand exponentially at the speed of light bringing me to new understandings with the passing whisper of its wisdom.

An integral part of that new wisdom is that I now know that I never “lost” my Dave; he hasn’t been “taken from me”.  In fact he is part of me more than ever today on a plane of existence I was incapable of feeling, seeing or understanding before.  He is part of not only my spirituality but also my higher power and as such I seek his companionship, wisdom and intercession on a daily and sometimes moment to moment basis. 

Today I hear his voice in the struggles of a young man early in his journey of recovery and feel his strength in a sponsee taking a 6 month token.  I see his smile in the face of a young woman who has just realized she is not alone and the hope of two parents who have lived in fear for far too long because of their son or daughter’s addiction.  

Finally today I have hope, joy and gratitude for the “continued presence” of my son who has and is showing me not only the path for recovery from my own addiction but to new understandings and appreciation of life, with the on-going whispers of his wisdom.

February 3, 2014 at 04:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 26, 2013

Soar With Recovery!!!!!!!

When we are finally ready to embrace recovery...
and begin to tear down the walls that have confined us...
Or the cages that have imprisoned us....
Then...and only we discover what our wings are truly for...
The heights to which we can soar....
That were only mere fantasies before


August 26, 2013 at 04:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 24, 2013

Breaking The Chains

In recovering from addiction I discovered that the pain I felt in the beginning was really the breaking of the chains that had imprisoned my understanding.

Come to the edge, my higher power said.
I said, I am afraid.
Come to the edge, my higher power said.
I did. She pushed me.

.....and I flew!!!!

Hawk Soaring

July 24, 2013 at 08:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 12, 2013

The Insanity of Addiction


The insanity of addiction is that when you're an addict you can go without feeling anything except drunk or stoned or hungry. And when you compare that to the other feelings of sadness, angry, fear, worry, despair and depression suddenly addiction no longer looks so bad and actually seems like a very viable option!!!!

June 12, 2013 at 04:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 31, 2013

Hope after loss

Dad and son

In those early months and for the first couple of years after the loss of a child the oft used word Hope seemed to feel like such a violation of the loss and somehow a betryal of love.  

And yet in the fullness of time, and with the help of recovery, we learn that without Hope we could not survive, heal and thrive. 



May 31, 2013 at 01:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 29, 2013

I think I'll dance!!!!!

On this Memorial Day I have learned that many of us will lose someone we think we can never live without, our hearts are badly broken, and the bad news is that we never completely get over the loss of our loved one. 

But this is also the good news. Because over time we learn that they live forever in our hearts that never seems to completely heal back up. 

And yet we come through in spite of it all and also learn that in some ways living without that loved one is like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—a leg that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.

Thanks Dave....I think I'll dance!


May 29, 2013 at 07:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 17, 2013

Acceptance and Loss

The death of a former sponsee and friend this last week from the disease of addiction has challenged me to look more closely at just how well I have learned to have acceptance in MY recovery from addiction.

It seems almost too simple to be true, but true acceptance -- accepting things exactly as they are -- can be the key that unlocks the door to happiness.  And my understand comes from Page 449 (first 3 editions, pg. 417 in the 4th edition) of Alcoholics Anonymous or The Big Book as it is widely reads:

"And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation -- some fact of my life -- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes." 

For me, serenity began when I learned to distinguish between those things that I could change and those I could not. When I admitted that there were people, places, things, and situations over which I was totally powerless, those things began to lose their power over me. I learned that everyone has the right to make their own mistakes, and learn from them, without my interference, judgement, or assistance!

The key to my serenity is acceptance. But "acceptance" does not mean that I have to like it, condone it, or even ignore it. What it does mean is I am powerless to do anything about it... and I have to accept that fact.

Nor does it mean that I have to accept "unacceptable behavoir." Today I have choices. I no longer have to accept abuse in any form. I can choose to walk away, even if it means stepping out into the unknown. I no longer have to fear "change" or the unknown. I can merely accept it as part of the journey.

I spent years trying to change things in my life over which I was powerless, but did not know it. I threatened, scolded, manipulated, coerced, pleaded, begged, pouted, bribed and generally tried everything I could to make the situation better -- only watch as things always got progressively worse.

I spent so much time trying to change the things I could not change, it never once occurred to me to simply accept them as they were.

Now when things in my life are not going the way I planned them, or downright bad things happen, I can remind myself that whatever is going on is not happening by accident. There's a reason for it and it is not always meant for me to know what that reason is.

That change in attitude has been the key to happiness for me.

And I know all too well I am not the only person in long term recovery from addiction that has found that serenity.

May 17, 2013 at 02:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)