Saturday, 27 September 2014

Voices of grieving mothers

I belong to several family support groups online. Occasionally, while visiting these groups, I read posts that are very powerful and that I think would be helpful for others to read. Today, I am sharing with permission posts from two moms who have lost their sons to addiction. They have what none of us want – perspective on life with a child struggling with addiction, after their death. What they have to say is so important and heartfelt.

Thiis first post is from a mother who was leaving one of the support groups. She explains why.

Hi, I have to leave this group. It’s too much for me right now. I am so sorry. I know it’s your safe place to vent but the posts hurt me more than they help me. It is not judgement, I have been in your shoes and I remember the hurt, and the anger and all those things that seemed so important.

But my son lost his fight to addiction and in one single moment for me it all changed. You see I would give my life to say my son was anywhere, in prison, in detox, in treatment, on the streets or passed out in his room. I would give every last possession I have if his stealing it would mean he was still here. I would give anything to hear his voice or see his smile for one more second - drunk, high or sober. I would give anything to worry, to pace the floors, to wonder where he was, who he was with and if he was using. I would do anything.

I wish I listened more and dictated less, especially when he talked about suicide. I wish that we had celebrated his life while he was here instead of after he was gone. That we had celebrated who he was underneath the drugs and alcohol instead of just condemning the choices his disease made.

And so, because I know your struggle and how important a safe place for you to vent is and because my heart cannot take being here anymore, it is with love and gratitude that I must say thank you but good bye. I wish you all the best and you will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Below, another mother writes about why it is important to always show love to your child who is struggling with addiction:

"I was asked to write my own post on this topic and so I will. It's something that is dear to my heart because of what I am currently living through.

My son Matthew struggled with addiction for over 11 years. It was a roller coaster ride as I'm sure everyone can understand and relate to. In many ways, I was lucky because, though we had many difficult times, Matt and I remained fairly close. He never stole from me, though he did take advantage and manipulate me. He loved his family.

I won't take you through the whole story, you all know it, you all live it every day. The important part is this. In Matt's final couple of years I received a lot of pressure to "let him go", "cut off communication", etc. etc. This was something I was just not capable of. I had long since stopped giving him money. But I was the wrong person to tell not to feed her child or let him come over and shower. We kept up our relationship. He had burned his bridges with so many people, lost friends etc. But he knew I loved him. He called one night tearful, "Mom I feel like you're my best friend". Can your heart break and sing at the same time? He knew I was going to tell him the truth. He knew what I thought of some of his behavior but he also knew there was no way I would let his behavior keep me from loving him.

As you may have figured out by now Matthew died on 5/19/13 of an overdose of fentanyl and alcohol. He was in a sober living house (so much for that). Two weeks before he died I had made a whole bunch of food and brought it out to the house, lasagne, a roasted chicken, potatoes, gravy and peas from the garden. Homemade salsa and chips, muffins etc. I can still see the huge grin on his face and feel his hug when he saw all that food. Two weeks to the day later, he called in the evening. Nothing important, he sounded good. We chatted briefly, laughed and then I told him, 'love you' and he replied, 'love you too'. Five or six hours later he was gone.

My point is don't take for granted that you have more time to make things right. Make it right now if it's at all possible. Even if they are not speaking to you, text them and tell them you love them. Offer to meet them and buy them lunch. Make them a sandwich. Show them how glad you are they were born.

I'm not judging what anyone else does. We all do the best we can and make our decisions based on what is best for ourselves and our families. I'm just asking, pleading with you, don't put love off. Don't put it on the back burner thinking you have time to make things right, you may not have time after all. And even if they don't respond, you will know you tried. God bless all of the beautiful mothers on this site. Love and hugs to everyone. MaryBeth Murtha"

God bless all of the mothers who are grieving the permanent loss of a child, and those who are grieving the loss of a child who is still alive but no longer the person they once knew. Please always remember that where there is life there is hope.  Continue to show love and never, ever give up!


Saturday, 13 September 2014

Staying Close

When we found out that our son had developed an addiction, which was something he could die from, we were scared to death. We didn’t want to lose him. Not now, not ever. We had to do something and fast.

With solid determination and a whole lot of fear, we tried everything we could to help our son. The demon called addiction had a strong hold on him, but we would see glimpses of our “old” son from time to time. He was still in there. Trapped. These glimpses were God’s reminders of why we were fighting so hard.

We always had the hope that we would reach our son. We just had to figure out what would work. When one thing failed, we tried something new. This continued with crisis after crisis.

Our “can do” attitude would take a major hit when we found out that our son’s addiction had escalated to the worst level possible. We were crushed. That was the day that I lost all hope.

Over the next few weeks, I was so devastated and exhausted that it took every bit of energy I had to get out of bed in the morning to go to work.

I could hardly force myself to smile anymore. I didn’t have the energy to pretend that life was good. I felt like my son was going to die and I couldn’t stop it from happening. There wasn’t anything good about that.  

I began to have pains in my chest. I went to the emergency room where I was hooked up to the EKG machine to see if I was having a problem with my heart. The machine doesn’t diagnose broken hearts so I was sent home with a warning to see my doctor because I had really high blood pressure.

I met with my doctor where I learned that the pains in my chest were caused by anxiety. I was also experiencing a bout of depression.

I knew I had to do something. I couldn’t go on like that. I was no good to anyone if I died from stress or couldn’t get out of bed. I had to find a way to live with the fact that my son might die and I was powerless over it.  As a mother who spent a lifetime loving and protecting her children, that was really hard to accept.

Through support groups and other ways of helping myself, I eventually came to realize that my happiness depends on me, not on someone else. My son was doing what people who are sick with addiction do. It was up to me to find peace in my life again, even in the chaos of his addiction. With a lot of work, I did it. But, it didn’t happen overnight, it happened over time.

We had to let go of some things, but we never let go of our son. He needed us to be his beacon of light in the dark world of addiction. We prayed that our love and warmth would be enough to keep his hope alive when things got really bad. We kept him close while letting go of the things that were unhealthy for us.  These included:

Enabling. We figured out the difference between helping and enabling.

Trying to control someone else. We learned the hard way that we can only control ourselves.

Worry. No amount of worrying ever changed the outcome anyway. It only made me sick. It had to go.

Our son’s problems. They were his issues to deal with not ours. He had to experience the natural consequences of his actions in order to find motivation to seek help.

Thinking too far ahead. I was bad for this. I began living one day at a time. I stopped planning my son’s funeral in my head. Every day he was alive was a good day.

Anger and resentment. We let these things go very early on when we learned that addiction is an illness. Our son was sick, not bad. We knew not to take things personally. He was not trying to hurt us.

Making decisions on the spot.  When our son asked for something, we took at least thirty minutes to ourselves to talk about it. We made better decisions because we weren’t pressured into them.

Caring what other people think. Our son was sick. It wasn’t our fault that other people didn’t understand his illness. We didn’t understand it either until he got sick and we learned about it. We couldn’t allow other people’s lack of knowledge to have any power over us.

These are just some of the things that we let go of in our lives. As a result, our family got healthy again. Eventually, our son did, too. Today, he is eleven months in recovery and in college where he is doing very well. There is always hope. Please don't ever give up.

We live one day at a time. Today is a very good day!

Written by: Rose Barbour

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Friends of the Heart

Friends of the Heart

By: Rose Barbour

Millions of tears shed
Her heart is broken in two
She’s feeling all alone
Wondering what to do.

The pain is so great
She can hardly breathe
This can’t be her life
She just wants to scream.

With hardly any energy left
And hope all but gone
She finds a group of mothers
And a place where she belongs.

She reads what they post
And cries some more tears
These people understand
She’s so glad to be here.

Knowing she is not alone
She starts to feel brave
She tells her story about addiction
And the child she’s trying to save.

As tears fall down her cheeks
She sees words on the screen
Loving support from strangers
People she’s never seen.

With each passing day
She can feel her heart mend
As she gets the help she needs
From these strangers, now friends.

She is grateful for these women
Who so generously give
Thanks to their love
She’s found her will to live.

Some of them are in her town
Others are miles apart
The location doesn’t matter
They are friends of the heart.

Monday, 1 September 2014

A PEI Welcome for Chris Cull

On Tuesday, September 2nd we are holding a Meet and Greet for Chris Cull at the Reach Centre in Stratford.  Chris is a young man in recovery from addiction who biked across Canada this summer to raise awareness about the prescription drug problem in our country. It is our turn to welcome him to our beautiful province. I hope that you will join us!

Many Islanders have been impacted by addiction in one way or another. The people who struggle are our family, friends, neighbours, co-workers and so on. Let’s show our support and appreciation to Chris for his tremendous efforts in raising awareness and trying to make a difference.

His promotional video:  

Below is a little bit of information about Chris from his INSPIRE website: 

My name is Chris; I’m 29 years old from a small town called Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada.

I want to share my experience with addiction in hopes that it will assist those who may be at the point I was, and their loved ones.

About 6 months ago, I came up with an idea to help addicts and their families.

I will be riding a bike 7,500 km from the Pacific to the Atlantic Coast, filming a documentary and internet reality show about prescription drug abuse and how it has affected Canada. I want to show people that not only is the grass greener on the other side, but you can still live your dreams as you watch me live mine. Just remember, if you or your loved one is suffering through addiction, your life is not over. Just because mistakes were made, it doesn’t define you or them as a person.

Never Give Up! Never Quit!

As it happened in my experience, once the individual’s head is clear, they will value your loyalty.

If you would like to come out and meet Chris, please RSVP to Rose at with the number of people who will be joining you.

You can also RSVP on our Facebook event page:

Light refreshments will be served so your RSVP is appreciated to help us plan for an adequate amount of food.

Thank you and hope to see you Tuesday evening at 5:30!

Location: Reach Centre, 223 Mason Road, Stratford, PE
Date: Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
Time: 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm