The first couple of years after my beautiful boy David died from addiction at the age of 16 I approached the holiday season with a debilitating mix of grief and fear. The grief I expected because the loss of a child is considered, with good reason, the worst loss. At times it was overwhelming...at others incapacitating...often it came unexpectedly but in the end I could always count on it being relentless.
The fear however I did not expect and for a while it puzzled me until I realized one day that the things I feared the most were my own memories. Memories of what had been and what I had lost and would not have again. Memories that once had been good seem to torture me the most while the bad memories simply filled me with hatred. And then there were of course the magical thinking memories that perhaps if I had done this or that I could have somehow prevented David's death or at least been there for him or my wife or my other son in a way that would ameliorate their suffering.
But I was most afraid of what those memories would do to me, the dark places they might take me and from whence I may not return. A veritable dungeon of memories whose bars were self-pity and denial made stronger by the alcohol and prescription drugs I self medicated with in a vain attempt to escape their clutches.
But today, and for some years now, the holiday season no longer fills me with sadness and dread. I experience the joy and hope that the season was always meant to convey in large measure as a result of my recovery from my own disease of addiction. A recovery anchored firmly in 12 step meetings and the fellowship that surround them. I have learned from a wonderful sponsor, my friends in the rooms and most of all a beautiful and incredibly supportive wife (who works her own recovery program) that there is no escape from grief and fear...that it must be faced, recognized, understood and eventually embraced. And by doing so acceptance and forgiveness can reign again where once there was only desolation. After all true acceptance is the release of all hope for a better past.
I have also learned that by embracing my fear and grief it has become a part of my soul where hope and joy also reside. In my recovery today I know what I lost and the price I paid for it...but today I will not let it take a piece of my soul from me the way it did in the beginning. Today it is a part of me and I am a stronger, kinder and more loving person because of it...now and forever....one day at a time.
thank you my beautiful boy David....I love you so.... Dad
Thank you for your sharing the story of your hope and bravery. I am sorry for, and understand, your loss. I thank you for that glimmer of hope on the horizon; I had already began dreading this new year's holidays.
I don't view this as a path or journey anymore but rather and odyssey that goes on and on. The fact that I have some distance from Dave's death has afforded me the faith that time has helped me progress in my grief. I have learned that grief from the loss of a child is not something that must be endured but rather it must be lived. And that I have the choice to live it badly, or live it well. And today I choose to live my loss well. But there are things I have to do...actions I have to take, some times daily even 10 years later, to continue my odyssey in this manner.
If you are willing to share about your loss I'd be happy to share some of the things I have experienced down the road from where you are now....and if this forum is too public you can write me direct at email@example.com.
He was murdered. Beat to death in the apartment of a so-called friend. I don't know the details. The DA is proceeding with charges and they are closely guarding the case.
I didn't even know he had a problem with drugs until 8 months before he died. I put the tough love into action, which is the only thing I knew to do -- he repeatedly refused rehab. Now it seems I spent the last year of his life subjecting him to misery, hunger, homelessness for no reason at all.