Child Loss by Addiction

We talk about a lot of things as if they didn’t reflect a real person and a real life.  

Addiction is one of them.  And let me just tell you, every single number is a life and behind every single life is a family.  

Statistics are easy to toss around until one of those numbers represents YOUR child.

My son was killed in a single-vehicle motorcycle accident.  One of the 76 individuals who died on a motorcycle in Alabama in 2014.  If you look it up, you’ll find tables printed with clean edges and comparative data one year to the next.

But if you look at me-and hold up a photo from BEFORE-you’ll see grief etched into a mama’s face that can’t be measured, sifted or weighed.  

My son was not an addict.  He was a health nut.  But he liked his motorcycle and never saw the contradiction between spending hours at the gym then putting that beautiful body on a fast moving, unprotected engine-on-wheels.  A helmet was not enough to protect him that night.  

Addicts don’t start out wanting the life so many of them end up living.  They take a puff or a pill or a drink and think it’s all in fun.  They have no way to know that the one moment of weakness or even purposeful exploration may result in a lifetime of struggle.

Once caught in the cycle of craving and crawling out and caving again they may or may not eventually find the light.  They may or may not become sober for the rest of their days.  They may or may not have the inner strength, the outside support, the medical intervention and inpatient treatment they need to conquer this demon.

And it is a demon.  

Addiction is never a choice even when the first indulgence into drugs or alcohol is.  

no idea of the battle addiction quote

Parents living with addicted children do everything they can to guide them to help.  They try tough love, abundant grace, boundaries, threats and rewards.  Some even move their families to try to escape habitual influences on their child-hoping against hope that a new place and new friends will create a safe space where addiction can’t flourish.

It rarely works.  In the end, addiction takes too many of our children.  Addiction kills.

And the wreckage left the other side of those deaths is enormous.  It’s messy and ugly and hard to sort through.  

The one thing NO parent of an addicted child needs is someone else’s misguided advice on how they could have “saved” his or her child.  They don’t need quips about “seeing it coming”.  They don’t need anyone to heap shame on them because of the choices their child made and the disease that robbed them of choice in the end.

So when we talk about addiction and numbers and treatment and responsibility and especially death, we need to remember that every single statistic is a person. 

Every single person has a family.

And that family is devastated.  

Speak gently.  Extend grace.  Offer love.  

They already know shame.  

shame for being human

Repost: Nagging Guilt in Child Loss

I should have known.  I should have been there.  I should have called, texted, spoken one more warning or given one more hug.

Should.  Should?  Should!

wistful woman looking out wet window

I have yet to speak to a bereaved parent who does not harbor guilt of some kind over the death of his or her child.

Not one.

Read the rest here:  Nagging Guilt in Child Loss

United By Tears

I think broken hearts have a unique gift to offer the Body of Christ.  

When we choose to be open about our wounds, our tears, our fears and our struggles we invite others to do the same.  

Working through them together we are ALL stronger and better able to face the next battle.

Paul often wrote in his letters about  a particular hardship he faced or was facing. He shared so others could see not only that he struggled, but that the Lord stood with him and would do the same for them if they held on.

How encouraging for hurting hearts to know that they are not alone!  

Our tears unite us. They make us safe. They allow us to whisper, “The Lord helped me survive and He’ll help you too. I’ll hold your hand while you find your way to Him.” And when we make one other human simply see they aren’t alone, we make the world a better place.  ~Lysa Terkeurst (twitter)

 

heaven knows we need never be ashamed of tears

 

Bereaved Parents Month Post: There Is NO Shame In Getting Help

Shame is a shackle as sure as any chains forged from iron.  

And it often finds its home in the hearts of those who bury a child.

Bereaved parents may feel shame for lots of reasons…Shake Off the Shame

 

Repost: Help! I Need Somebody!

So, almost twenty years on a farm and I can NOT back a trailer.  Nope.  Can’t do it.

One day I spent hours trying to teach myself how to do it.  Never was able to do anything other than manage to jackknife the trailer, go unhook it and start over.

So when I go somewhere with a trailer I do one of two things:  (1) I find a space where I can drive in and be able to just make a loop or (2) I find the nearest person who CAN back a trailer, hand them my keys and ask them to do it.

I feel NO shame.

But that’s not the case with other things I can’t do.

Read the rest here:  Help! I Need Somebody!

Bereaved Parents Month Post: Shake Off the Shame

Shame is a shackle as sure as any chains forged from iron.  

And it often finds its home in the hearts of those who bury a child.

Bereaved parents may feel shame for lots of reasons:

Read the rest here:  Shake Off the Shame

Refuse Shame

I remember the night of Dominic’s visitation-a few of us, including our pastor were there early and prayed together for strength and for God’s Presence.

In that circle of loving friends and family I was overcome with the need to kneel. My body had to acknowledge the fact that my heart was humbled as it never had been before.  I was in the dust and ashes were my food.  

What could be worse?

But in the days and weeks and months that followed, as the fog of disbelief lifted and the reality of pain, sorrow and missing became undeniable, it did get worse. Part of the “worse” was a sense of shame.

A sense that I should have been able to protect my son, keep him safe, make sure he lived-but I couldn’t.

The pain of child loss is often accompanied by shame:

Shame that I couldn’t save my child.  Shame of suicide, addiction, being in the wrong place, with the wrong people at the wrong time.  Texting while driving. Not wearing a seat belt. The shame of missing something. The shame of waiting to intervene.  The shame of pushing too hard.

The shame of just not being there when it happened.

The list is endless…

Often that shame keeps bereaved parents from reaching out, imprisons them in their own minds and sometimes in their own homes.

owning-our-story-and-loving-ourselves-through-the-process

But it shouldn’t be that way.

Child loss is a tragedy, not punishment.

It highlights the fact that I am not in control-and neither are you.  It happens even when a parent or a child does “everything right”.  And some kids survive to old age even when they have done “everything wrong”.  

Shame tells me that I am unworthy of love and unworthy of belonging.

And that is a lie.

It “erodes our courage and fuels disengagement” (Brene Brown) If I allow shame to overwhelm my heart it drives me away from the very help I need to make it through this awful Valley.

I have to shake it off.

I have to refuse it’s cold creep into my soul, toss it out and bar the door so that it can’t come back inside.   I will name it and drag it from hiding for others to see.  

It cannot survive the light of day.  

shame-cannot-survive-being-spoken

There is NO shame in burying a child.