Heroin and Grief

Grief is a natural response to loss. It can be felt in many ways. Grief’s impact can be emotional, social, spiritual, physical and financial. It is as individual as the person you loved and lost. Grieving while living away from family and friends can be especially difficult. This is a place where you can share your thoughts, and get ideas on how to cope. It is here for you to get support and validation.

Heroin and Grief

Postby dscowan » Fri Mar 06, 2015 10:55 am

This post was written by Stephmcilvaine and posted in her behalf.
The number of deaths per year due to drug overdose outnumbers the traffic deaths in the United States. Why then, do we still feel stigmatized when discussing our loss?

Often the loneliness one feels after a death due to an overdose begins when someone you love is abusing drugs. Many people begin isolating themselves from others because of the stigma associated with drug abuse. They don’t want to let people in on the secret that their son, spouse, mother is addicted to drugs. If that someone goes into rehab or jail, there may be additional amount of loneliness, isolation and or shame. And, most importantly-fear. Fear of the death that may eventually take the life of his/her loved one. People often tell me they worry every day that they will receive a call that their loved one has died due to a drug over dose. They live with dread. If that call does come, it still feels unexpected and horrific. There are multiple questions. The “why” is never answered.

I encourage you to be an ambassador in grief. Help others understand they are not supposed to understand. I often tell people to say, “ I know you don’t know what to say. I don’t want you to say anything.” Or “I’m ok to talk about this today if you want to.” Lead people. We often become angry because friends don’t call. Call them. Tell them this is hard but you need an ear or a shoulder. As this epidemic continues, we all will have been touched by this tragedy one way or another and will need to know how to navigate through this pain. We need to normalize the grief due to a drug overdose and not further disenfranchise it. Every fourteen minutes someone dies from a drug overdose.

Where are the grieving people hiding for all of those people? Let them know there is no need to hide. Please share your story.
dscowan
 
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Re: Heroin and Grief

Postby stephmcilvaine » Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:03 pm

One piece of this sorrow is feeling as if the death was avoidable and the guilt that may go along with this. But, we know we cannot “fix” someone or force someone to stop using. However, during grief, we beat ourselves up with “what ifs”, I “should have.” Sometimes people are relieved they no longer live in fear of waiting for a dreaded phone call that their loved one is using drugs again. However, they then feel guilt for feeling this way. Acknowledging all of these feelings and thoughts helps to bring balance to our lives. We cannot not reconcile our mind and our hearts to understand how this could happen. Therefore, our minds and hearts bring up conflicting feelings and thoughts.
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Re: Heroin and Grief

Postby dscowan » Tue Mar 17, 2015 12:13 pm

This is such an important topic with so many substance abuse deaths.

http://www.WhatsYourGrief.com suggests the following to help manage grief after a substance abuse death:

1. Accept the role substances played in the death.
2. Find a way to work through and express emotions. This could be through talking, writing, making art or music, hiking, etc. Do whatever works for you.
3. Educate yourself and understand addiction. Understanding addiction can help put to rest feelings of guilt and blame. One thing to learn is that we are powerless and we don’t have control over someone else’s addiction.
4. Surround yourself with the right support system. Avoid those who disenfranchise your grief. You might find comfort with a counselor or a support group with others who are also experiencing grief of an overdose death.

If you have found other coping strategies, please share.
dscowan
 
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Re: Heroin and Grief

Postby stephmcilvaine » Mon May 04, 2015 10:38 am

How can we help? What do we do? The most important thing we can do is talk about what has happened. One father made the news when he wrote an honest obituary. Our society is one that continues to hide from difficulties in life, but that does nothing to help us cope and help others. Let's begin a dialogue...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morn ... -obituary/
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Re: Heroin and Grief

Postby stephmcilvaine » Thu Aug 13, 2015 1:06 pm

August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day. This day began to remember people that have died due to an overdose and to help remove the stigma associated with an overdose. The theme of 2015 is: Rethink and Remember.
Visit www.overdoseday.com to post a remembrance of your loved one and to find local events near you. On this day, wear silver to show your support of those grieving a loss due an overdose and to also remember those we have lost.

Please share how you have managed the stigma you may have felt. We, as a community, need to find ways to share our experiences and help one another.
We are not alone in this and should not feel as if we are.
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Re: Heroin and Grief

Postby withoutu93 » Wed Sep 23, 2015 12:16 pm

I lost my son in July of this year to a heroin overdose. My husband came home from work and found him dead in his bed. My heart is broken in so many peices I have no idea how or if I will ever recover from this.
My son was a happy athletic child with tons of friends and just as many interests. His smile would light up the room and he always had concern for others before himself. When he was a teen he was diagnosed with cancer....I thought that was the worst thing that could ever happen! He underwent treatment for 3 years and went into a successful remission. While he was undergoing treatment he had several conditions (related to chemo and radiation) that caused a significant amount of pain. His doctor put him on narcotic pain medication at various times throughout treatment. I never realized how this one single act would devastate our lives forever.
I got a call at work on the day he died from my husband. He was crying so hard I couldn't understand him. He finally yelled out that our son was dead and to come home! I'm pretty sure I was in shock at that moment because all I could do is scream! When I got home the police and the coroner were waiting and had questions. First they asked me if I thought my son would kill himself. Kill himself???? What???? No!!!! Do you think my son killed himself??? The were asking routine questions. Then they asked me if my son took drugs. Drugs??? Of course not!!! He is a cancer survivor! He would never take drugs! And after what seemed like hours they took my sons dead body to coroners office and left me there unable to comprehend what had just happened to my world!!
It took 22 days to get the autopsy and toxicology results back....my son...my handsome, smart, loving, giving child had indeed died of an accidental heroin overdose! I couldnt believe what I was hearing!! How could I not have known that my baby was in trouble?? The coroner told me that my son had been through so much in his young life and he was probably looking for some relief from all of his physical and emotional pain--and having been introduced to opiods at such a young age probably gave him a clear understanding of how these drugs would make him feel and help him escape his reality.
So here I am. A mother without my child. I cry all day....almost everyday because I miss him so much! I cry for the child I lost and I cry for the man he was to become. It is the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. I'm at a loss and I am lost without him......Every minute of every day.
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Re: Heroin and Grief

Postby stephmcilvaine » Wed Sep 23, 2015 2:47 pm

Substance Abuse: The Biggest Epidemic You Don't Know Enough About is a four-part series this fall hosted by Case Western Reserve University's Siegal Lifelong Learning Program. The program is free and open to the public but advance registration is suggested.

Follow the link to register:
http://case.edu/lifelonglearning/events ... ugh-about/

Sessions will be held on Thursdays from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. beginning September 24 through October 15, 2015.
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Re: Heroin and Grief

Postby dscowan » Fri Sep 25, 2015 7:16 am

Dear withoutu93;
Thank you for sharing your story. Please know that you are not alone in your grief. Hopefully others will use this space to share their stories as well.
Take good care,
Diane
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Re: Heroin and Grief

Postby stephmcilvaine » Mon Sep 28, 2015 1:08 pm

Dear Withoutu93,

Thank you for sharing the details of your story. This is unimaginable to have a child suffer from cancer and then suffer from a heroin overdose. I can hear the pain and tears in ever line that you wrote. By giving your pain a voice, you are helping others so that they will not feel alone. Unfortunately, there are many people experiencing death due to a drug overdose.
I encourage you to speak with someone that can help you maneuver through this time. You should not have to go through this alone. There are many support groups available for parents and grieving persons in the community and additional options for one on one counseling.
The Bereavement Center can assist you with these needs at 216-298-0405.

"Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope." Elizabeth Gilbert
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