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April 28, 2009

The Lonely Path of Loss

We first spoke out publically two and a half years after our son David's death from addiction.  Publically was an understatement.  The event was the kick off to Inhalant and Poison Awareness Week sponsored by the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC) and held at the National Press Club in Washington DC.  We did not know it at the time but on the dais that day with us were all the major national players in the field of substance abuse prevention from the White House Drug Czar to the top researcher in the field of addiction as well as media outlets from all over the US and the world.  Harvey Weiss, the head of NIPC had recruited us two months earlier after an article appears about our story in a local news paper.   After the Press Conference was over and the reporters and correspondants had finished their interviews with us Harvey took us out to dinner that evening to thank us for our participation that day. As the evening wore down Harvey ended our time together with this prediction.  " I can't thank you enough for what you did today but I want you to know I don't expect you two will be around very long", he said " I have been doing this for a long time now and in my experience few parents who have lost a child stay involved for more than a couple of years," 

Five years later his words from that night still haunt me.  Today were are more committed to sharing David's story and carrying the message of our recovery from his loss than ever...yet I understand why he made that prediction.  Over the years we have met and have become acquainted with many who are on this same journey.  Loss of a child for any reason is tragic but when the cause is substance abuse or addiction the stigma and shame our society still directs toward parents is often too much for them to endure for long.  Divorce is more common than not, parents who become advocates are more likely to be the Mom with only the occasional Dad.  Many do become active in movements or start foundations of their own but Harvey was right...the majority eventually fall by the wayside.  For many telling their story over and over becomes too painful, other carry deep seated resentment toward people, places or things that they feel failed them and their child, some never are able to shed their guilt that hangs heavy on their hearts...and others just get tired of railing against the cunning and baffling foe that is addiction.

In our 12 step programs of recovery we learn that too much analysis leads to paralysis so I will simply close this entry with my deep feeling of gratitude for all who trudge this lonely path with us...and say that no matter how long you stay I thank you for your willingness to bare your grief and loss to the world.  For in doing so you have given strength and hope to those who unfortunately join our ranks everyday.

April 28, 2009 at 09:55 PM in The Odyssey | Permalink


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I lost my dad five years ago to alcohol and pill addiction. After a lifetime of alcohol abuse, and only aftyer my mom finalyl moved out of the house, he finally checked himself into rehab on his birthday, which was a Saturday. He checked himself out on a Sunday. My mom found his body on Wednesday. I was out of the country when he died and am just now starting to really feel it and be able to start dealing with it, and it is very painful. there is anger and guilt and blame and other people's judgement on a wonderful and tortured man. I keep thinking I should have done something, but of course I tried, and my mom tried, our whole lives. We tried everything- threats, hugs, love, talks, fights, until he acted drunk even when he wasn't and got lost in places he knew well and couldn't sit up straight and was still drinking "to maintain". It was torture for all three of us but now he's gone and It's just torture for two of us. I've never really talked or written about this but I am searching for people who understand...

Posted by: Melissa | Aug 10, 2009 5:44:29 PM

I would like to receive more information on your 12 Step program.
I have recently become involved in starting a group called 3Moms here in the Glendale area also with Partnership for a Drug Free Arizona.
We lost our son Killian age 19 in 2007 to Zanax and Alcohol.
I am joining three other Moms in speaking at the Middle and High Schools about our kids and substance abuse. Yes, it is hard to repeat the story of our loss and the stigma, but we are committed to this being part of their legacy.
Walking with you,

Posted by: Jane Duffey | Jun 23, 2009 7:46:16 PM

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