Tanya Cook, CAI
Grieving The Death Of My Son
Updated: Apr 6, 2019
This post is going to start out rather sad and harsh, but stick with me and hopefully I can offer some light and hope to someone out there struggling with a loved one with Substance Use Disorder (SUD).
My journey began in 2006. This was the year that I had to face the fact that my #BeautifulBoy had a real problem with substance abuse. However, little did I know at that time, this was only the tip of the iceberg and things would get much worse.
It was August 14, 2006, and I was on my way home from work. I will forever remember this date, as it was my mother's birthday. It is the phone call that no parent ever wants to receive..."Mom, I'm in jail!"
My son, who had graduated high school just two months prior, was in jail? How could this be happening? This doesn't happen in good families like ours. My world came crashing down!
I won't go into all the details explaining how his good buddy sold him out that day by convincing him to take ALL the blame. The fact is, my clean-cut, 18 year old son, dressed in his preppy Abercrombie clothes had been arrested for possession of a controlled substance.
By the Grace of God, this would be his only arrest (a misdemeanor) which is a sheer miracle considering this was just the beginning of what would be a twelve year long stint of progressive substance abuse disorder.
My life became a living hell! And somewhere in between that awful August day, failed probation, court ordered drug rehab, repeated relapses, countless voluntary inpatient and outpatient rehabs, sober home living, numerous near death experiences, rolled vehicles, wrecked motorcycles, lost jobs, pawning everything of value, and crisis after crisis...I began to lose my mind and I was convinced my son was going to die.
I found myself drifting off in my thoughts. Thinking, "this situation is never going to end", and "I am going to have to bury my son." At first, it was a debilitating thought, and I began to experience severe anxiety. And then, without even realizing it, I began to detach from my Beautiful Boy. At times, I felt relief at the thought of his death, because that meant there would be an end to this pain (not true at all!)
I became numb towards him, and instinctively began to go into self-preservation mode. After all, I had three other sons, a husband, my mother, and a demanding job. I had to figure out how I was going to cope and survive what seemed at the time to be the inevitable.
It was at this time that I sought out a therapist who told me, "you are grieving the death of a son that is still alive!" According to Kristi Hugstad, Grief Recovery Specialist and Contributor of Huffpost, it's called "grieving the living". Kristi states that grieving the living "comes with visions of caskets, funeral homes, and sympathy cards." My thoughts were all those things, and even more! I had pictures planned for a slideshow, ideas for the eulogy, and even songs picked out that would best honor the life of my son.
"You are grieving the death of a son that is still alive!"
Where was my faith? And why in the world would I be planning a funeral in my mind instead of seizing every moment to love my son and make memories with him? Loving him is not enabling him. Spending time with him is not condoning his substance abuse. He was sick. Very, very sick. I mean, I didn't stop loving my father when he became terminally ill with cancer. In fact, I took every opportunity to spend as much time with him as possible. And although my father's prognosis was not good, I never stopped praying for a miracle, and I never lost my faith.
At this point I knew that I had to turn to my faith. I had to stay in prayer and believe that God had plans for my son, and those plans were good! There really is no other explanation as to why and how my son had not died already. God had a hedge of protection surrounding him!
Turning to my faith gave me a peace that I had not experience in many years. I no longer feared my son's death. I began to take my son on trips. Sometimes he was high, other times he was not. Nevertheless, precious memories were made.
Today, my son is in recovery! ALL the Glory and Praise to God!
You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you. ~ Isaiah 26:3
If you have lost your hope for a loved one struggling with SUD, dig DEEP to find your faith. And know that with God...You're Gonna Be Okay!
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