We are brought together by the unspeakable, forced into a group (www.HeroinMemorial.org) no one wants to join. Membership is permanent and there is no escape. Once you join this group, life as you know it stops. It will never be the same again. Your circumstances have changed and you must find a way to adjust. You were not prepared for this, you feel like you are on a raft in uncharted waters, lost, in the dark and all alone. How do you adjust to the unbearable emptiness , the anger, the fear? How are you supposed to live the rest of your life when a large part of you has died? How do you keep yourself from bursting into tears in the checkout line because of some trigger no one would understand? How do you stop looking to see if he is there waiting for you to get off work? How do you stop checking your phone for messages or texts? There are so many questions...and no answers. We are left to fend for ourselves, tending our wounds that no one sees.
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Losing a child to a drug overdose carries with it a special kind of pain. We continuously torture ourselves as we sift through each and every decision we have ever made as a parent. We carry the overwhelming guilt that we failed as a parent. We failed our child, and now our child is dead. And if that isn't enough, society tells us it is our child's fault for trying drugs in the first place. Our child could quit if they really wanted to stop using. Our child is labeled a junkie, a waste. No one witnessed the horrifying effects of detoxing. No one cleaned up the vomit and helplessly listened to the excruciating crying for relief, holding them as muscle spasms took control of their legs, believing heartfelt promises they would never do heroin again.
We go to counseling, we join support groups and we brave a fake smile when someone asks us how we are doing. Inside, we are grasping at any explanation of this travesty that we think will help us feel better. Why did my child die when there are such evil people in the world? Why was it my child that succumbed to his demons when others go on using for years and years? But deep down inside, we really don't care about the answers, we just want our child back. We would give everything we had including our lives just for five more minutes...
We are the parents of a child lost to heroin.
- Gretchen Miller-Addison, mother who lost her son Tyler, 21, on November 3rd, 2014 to heroin.
You can read his memorial tribute by clicking here.
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