In 2016, my oldest child Christopher died from an overdose of heroin. He had battled mental health issues and substance use disorder for over 10 years. During most of his battle, our family was in constant chaos. Battling an addiction becomes the focus of the entire family, whether the addict is cooperative or not, living in the home or not. Throughout the time of my son’s active addiction, the majority of my focus as a mother was on him, his illness, his traumas and it’s residual effect on the rest of our family became secondary. In 2014, I realized that I could not save him, but that my other children needed more of my time and energy then I had been able to give while focused on Christopher’s illness. I had to instill some boundaries with my now 22 year old and provide some safe space for my younger children. At the time, I thought this was the hardest thing in life, but I knew that I had to direct my energy to where it could do the most good.
Then in 2015 my son found sobriety and started the process of recovery with the help of Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT). The healing that he was able to find for himself was amazing. After so many years of living in active addiction, he was able to find peace within himself and give love to himself for the first time as an adult. He worked so very hard on his recovery and when he was ready, he turned that healing love to us and worked even harder to rebuild the bonds of family with me, his siblings and all of the family who thought we had lost him to addiction. From May 2015 to October 2016 was the most peaceful and joyful times of our lives. We believed we had beat the devil and we were fully enjoying that victory.
Unfortunately, our victory was short-lived as my son relapsed on October 15, 2016 and suffered a fatal overdose. Our family was devastated and no tragedy in life compares to the loss of a child, the loss of a big brother, the unexpected, out of order death of someone you love and fought for and believed you had won the right for them to continue to love and live and thrive happily in this life. To say we were devastated is truly a disservice to the emotions that myself, and my family, had to work through. There were so many dark days following Christopher’s death. My marriage struggled, my psyche weakened, my health – both mental and physical –deteriorated. I went through the motions of life, and tried really, really hard to find meaning and purpose, but I failed in healing myself, and if I wasn’t healing, how could I help my children?
For two years after my son’s death, I became active in raising awareness about SUDs and overdose fatalities. I reached out to other parents who had lost children and became active in peer-to-peer support group for bereaved parents. I found sibling support and therapy for my children, and did the work to heal. However, it wasn’t until I started a structured yoga practice (exactly 2 years after my son’s death), that I actually felt healing taken place inside of me. I now am able to think of my son’s life and who he was as a person and who he is to me now, with gratitude and not focus on his death. The peace I am finding in my grief is something that I could not have without my yoga practice. I know this and I feel very humbled by it. I want to grow that feeling and I also want to be able to help other grievers (particularly parents) find this level of faith in the eternity of life and connection with our loved ones.
When I received an email about yoga teacher certification from my yoga studio a light bulb went off, but I knew that I couldn’t afford it. They included a link to this site for people with a financial need. So here I am, honestly sharing my story and humbly hoping that others will help me to continue to heal and to grow in my yoga practice so that I can continue to help others.
Thank you for your consideration.
A hand written thank you card and I will work 1:1 with another grieving parent to help them find their path to healing (whether through yoga, music, activism, volunteer work, etc) in your name and honor.
A hand written thank you card.
A hand written thank you card, I will work 1:1 with another grieving parent to help them find their path to healing (whether through yoga, music, activism, volunteer work, etc) in your name and honor and a surprise memento/item from my yoga training center.
A hand written thank you card, I will work 1:1 with another grieving parent to help them find their path to healing (whether through yoga, music, activism, volunteer work, etc) in your name and honor, a surprise memento/item from my yoga training center and a handmade candle from a local small business.
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