First Moments with my Dead Son

In my battle with daily grief, I share my first moments with my dead son.

The Time to Let it Go

Walking by the stares that tried not to look, they kept looking…
but I was certain not to lift my eyes.
One step in front of the other,
I followed until the curtain was parted
and I stepped into the space that became enclosed as the curtain was let go.
A soft sway of the fabric gently moved, until the stillness was bigger.

Machines stood around me,
Entangled wires left to hang.
No beeps or whirrs or steady drones to hear.
Just silence echoed, bouncing in the space like a torpedo bomb looking for its target.
My sons body lay there, his long legs and muscled shoulders filled the table and stretched the sheet right up to his chin.

Was this really him?
I stared at his sleeping body as I had done so many times before, through all the years of nurture and care…
What do I do
but put my hand on his chest – no rise, no fall – and I feel the stillness and the silence as it stopped right here.

A tear trickles down my cheek, then another, and another,
and my voice, like a misty vapor, can only say:
God, have mercy on my son’s soul.
For the very last time I kiss his forehead and catch the scent of my son’s body
to savor as a memory forever…
The time to let it go,
Will be
when I meet him again
on the other side.

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This memory is ingrained in my mind and will never leave; the images, the smells, and the visceral pain rushes like raging waters breaking the dam, at any unexpected moment, without warning.

I cannot erase it.

I cannot ignore it.

It doesn’t go away.

I have been writing about the ongoing battles that my son, who died of an overdose, dealt with; I have shared some of the battles & victories that other friends in Recovery face; but today I share a little of the battle I face every single day, in grief.

It is common practice to encourage people to talk about their trauma’s in order to process and work through them. Experiencing the unexpected death of a child is a gigantic trauma; the battle with daily grief is real and not easily understood by onlookers and supporters, even though some try so hard.

How can you help?

Here are 5 ways:

  • Listen; we need to talk about the raw, unedited stuff sometimes
  • Be still with us and maybe hug us; we are lonely in the crowded rooms, and in pain.
  • Do not try to reason our suffering away with staid, trite phrases; we don’t want to hear it, and even if we did, our minds are so overwhelmed we don’t hear what you are saying anyway; I love you, is more than sufficient.
  • Be patient with us; it is scary to re-involve ourselves with life and activities that once were routine for us.
  • Pray for us; grief is a process and it weighs us down, sometimes just getting out of bed is the biggest accomplishment for the day; we need God’s healing.

 

Please share with those who may need to hear my story of grief, to know they are not alone,  or share with someone who can hear and then learn how they might help someone else in similar grief as me.

 

 

Trust God, Clean House, Help Others

My friend, Croix, got his One Year Coin and I was there to witness it!

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This young man was my son’s roommate at the local sober house, Honest Beginnings, and the one my son wept fearful tears with just days before my son overdosed and died.

Proud.

Yes, I was so proud of him as he beamed at the podium. We have emotionally adopted Croix and think of him as a son, as we do others we have met while we were on the difficult journey of trying to help our own addicted son in Recovery.

At the podium, my freind clearly declared and shared his testimony as to how he accomplished this milestone:

“Trust God, Clean House, Help Others” is what he said.

Basically, that was his whole speech..

This plan is so simple; it is profoundly awesome!

Trust God: At some point in our lives, we must admit that there is One over us, One we must submit to and trust with our lives.

  • For me, that is Jesus; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Clean House: No Windex necessary! It’s not that kind of cleaning. This is cleaning out the messes in life that we have created – making amends with people we have offended and hurt – seeking forgiveness and making things right with them.

  • As a Christian, I align this with the concept of repentance, making all things right in relationship to God, first, then with others; “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)

Help Others: This is the profoundly awesome part because it is the key that keeps him continuing on the path of Recovery.  Croix said, when he stops helping others, that’s when he sees himself begin to slip in thought/mind and heart and that’s a dangerous thing… a very dangerous thing.

Helping others is the way to stay focused — talk the talk, and walk the talk alongside!

  • Coincidentally, this is the way to follow Jesus as well, He said: be fishers of mendo as I did love your neighbor. Jesus sought out the broken and made them whole by seeking, serving, and loving. This is key to the mission, no wonder it is so effective in Recovery for one to help the other; it’s essential to passing on the wholeness & healing.

So, in case you are wondering…

or know someone else who needs to know what a good battle plan is…. this is it!

BATTLE PLAN IN RECOVERY:   TRUST GOD,  CLEAN HOUSE,  HELP OTHERS!

BUT DO NOTE:

It’s not a one time declaration, it’s a day by day, moment by moment work.

It’s doable.

Recovery is attainable.

 

PS. This is a good battle plan for every life in fact.

Trust God, Clean House, Help Others: Repeat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Addiction Sin?

This was the one question asked of me while I spoke to the high school students at the Granville Village School; my topic: Addiction Juxtaposed with a Christian World View.

Is addiction sin?

I believe the short answer to that is, “NO.” Addiction, in and of itself, is not sin because addiction is a chronic illness.

The longer answer involves a bad choice tried and then repeated, that can be triggered by emotional states & mental illness, which messes with natural dopamine levels, and can be exacerbated by genetic predisposition… all leading to chemical and /or emotional dependency. That’s my take on it all.

The truth is, we all make bad choices from time to time and they usually follow a similar pattern of pre-meditation.

I am young and I stayed up too late, I am wicked tired, and I have an early class…so I decide to start drinking coffee like my dad…or a Monster energy drink like my older sister.  This week it is one caffeinated drink, next week it is three, and now I  need one everyday to function. This is an addiction to caffeine. Lack of self-control, to get the sleep that is needed, is the sin.

I am overweight and I need to stick to my diet, but I had a really stressful day…so I reach for the bucket of ice cream and I eat the whole container. Today it is ice cream, tomorrow it is second helpings, and next week it will be a bag of chips. This is an addiction to foods as a comforter. Lack of self control, leading to moments of gluttony, is the sin.

I am super anxious and I need to calm down so I can focus…so I decide to drink a couple of beers and try smoking a joint that my friend offers me. Tonight that worked well, so I try it again the next night, and the next night, and most every night; in fact, I think chillin’ like this is the way to go for a good night sleep! This is an addiction to substances.  Lack of trust in God*, to absorb the anxiety, is the sin.

Caffeine, sugar, alcohol … or whatever the substance used (especially those that fuel the current drug epidemic), once we take part and repeat the partaking, our brains are  altered chemically and/or emotionally, and we set ourselves up for potential addiction.  When people attempt to abstain consistently from these addictive substances – headaches pound and cravings of a beastly size will come at the minimum.

This is why America runs on Dunkin’ and people cannot stick to the number one New Year resolution… so, you can imagine how much harder it is to abstain, for the one who is addicted to stronger substances that skyrocket dopamine levels and cripple the body’s own production of it’s natural dopamine?

Most choices that feed our fleshly desires, rather than the Spirit desires, are sinful acts.

Everyone falls short. We all make bad choices sometimes.  Temptations ensnare us like a trap that bites the rabbits leg.

One piece of advice from God: “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,” Ephesians 5:18.  This warning against drunkenness implies abstaining from anything that will impair your physical being to cause you to act in ways that would harm your body, or cause more behavior that is displeasing to God.  Surrender your life to Christ, die to self, and you will be enabled with the power of the Holy Spirit to resist temptations and live a fully free life.

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Short answer take-away:

No, I do not believe Addiction is a sin.

Addiction is a chronic illness and people who suffer from addiction need loving care and help.  The sin is the piggy-toe dipping, leading to a big step walking, in the ways that satisfy the flesh-desires we have instead of trusting that our God can take care of our every need.

 

*(My one disclaimer is that I believe that there are some levels of anxiety and depression, and other mental struggles, that do need medical & psychological intervention alongside a relationship with God, in order for there to be full healing).

 

 

 

How Can I Thank God When my Son is Dead?

How can I thank God when my son is dead? 

That thought alone sets off an explosion in my head!

It  Can’t be done!” Reason explains.

He is Dead. You are dead. The world is dead. There is no point.

Give up while the choice is still yours!

Can I say it any bigger, any bolder?

Just dead.

Dead.

Dead.

Why am I even going on?

The fact is true as the sky is blue. My son is gone; There can be no thanks in that!

And yet …

Before my son died,

I lingered in bed when the sun kissed my cheek through the window.

My mouth watered in anticipation of a warm chocolate chip cookie.

My heart delighted in silly bantering with my husband  – who is right and who is wrong?

I looked forward to meals alongside my kids,

and their kids,

and their dog-kids.

I loved the sound of rain, especially when I was falling asleep.

Then… I thanked God for every enjoyable blessing.

Of course,

… then, it made sense.

And yet …

After my son died,

I still linger, anticipate, delight, banter, look forward to things, and love.

I am not dead. The world is not dead.

I am alive and creation still thrives with sun and rain and kids, and their kids, and their dog-kids.

And so, even if it makes no sense, I can thank God, even … now.

The choice is definitely mine.

So I choose.

And…

Before my son died,

I loved my son with a deep, sacrificial love – the kind that warmed, and hurt, and forgave, and forgave, and forgave.

After my son died:

I still love my son with a deep and sacrificial love – only now it aches to hug, and hug, and hug. So I do. I hug, and hug, and hug others who need those hugs like my son needed them.

There is a point. A particular point.

I remember how he reveled over  a good barbeque,

a big jump in the pool,

a chill time at the bonfire,

and especially a spirited wrestle with his brother.

His smirky-grin dances in my memory and stitches a stitch in my broken heart.

Stitch by stitch. Stitch by stitch.

All this, a very profitable, particular point; Healing one stitch at a time.

The sun rises, the sun sets.

There is rhyme and there is reason.

“It Can be done!” I say.

There is no if, and, or but.

Joy reaches it’s potential when Sorrow is known in the gut, way down deep…. you can’t appreciate the good without knowing fully, the bad.

This is why I go on.

God is still God, and merciful, and compassionate, and powerful, and the same as He has always been.

God allowed for His own Son to die,

so that mine might live...

not just in my memory, or in my heart, but in heaven eternally.

Yes,

so I thank God for that! 

How can I thank God when my son is dead?

This is how.

Love.

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May you, dear reader, find Joy in abundance this Thanksgiving!

This is as big and as bold as it gets.