Lost My Sweet Boy (22) to Drug OD...Feelings of Guilt

by Jules
(Southern Indiana)

I lost my 22yr old son to a heroin overdose on Sept. 26, 2012...He was an experienced drug user and we don't know if he got some bad gear, underestimated his dosage, or what...I suppose it doesn't really matter at this point.

We had been battling this with him for almost 8yrs,( although we believe he'd only started injecting perhaps 5yrs ago...He'd had at least 5, maybe 6 ( we lost count), OD's before this one with 1 being especially bad, in that they'd "lost" him, but did get him back...I thought that would be his "bottom", but it wasn't...I think he thought he was like a cat with 9 lives...We'd also been practicing a "semi" form of tough love with him for the past 18 months...He'd stolen from us time and again and there was always one problem leading to another...We didn't feel he was trying to help himself,so we put him out of the house, but at the same time made sure he had food and a place to sleep.

The night he died I didn't even know he was in his old bedroom, ( his dad had slipped him in the night before because he said had no place to stay)...So for me the initial shock of finding him dead in his old room while I'd walked past the closed door all day/evening never suspecting, was a shock...Our best guess is that he'd been gone 3-4hrs before we found him...But, while I say finding him was a shock, the situation itself really wasn't...We knew how he was living and we'd talked about the possibility of losing him this way several times over the years...(What I can say now though is that even if you've thought you've half-prepared yourself for something like this the reality is much different)...All the "bad" times start to recede to the background and you find yourself mourning the child you use to have.

I'm sad all the time...Sad for the fact we failed to find a way to help him...Sad for the future that could have been...Sad for the little boy I lost...Sad for the young man, who when he was straight, was wonderful...Sad for my "coolness" towards him the few months prior to his death, etc...But, I don't have that overwhelming grief that I read other parents writing about...I know I loved my child as much as any other mother could, but I almost feel as though I began grieving his loss well before he died...I felt we'd begun to lose him several years back and over this past summer had felt he was slipping even more...There was a moment, before his body had even been removed from the house, where I actually thought FINALLY, he's at peace...And after the initial shock of finding him, that was almost my next thought...That finally this sweet sweet boy who just couldn't seem to find himself a way out of the dark place he was in, was in a much better place...That he was now truly at peace.

I read about "anger" being part of the grieving process, but I haven't been angry at all...My anger at him and the situation came months/years back before he died...Don't get me wrong, I've had lots of emotions in this past month and I miss him everyday...( We've already had one family event since his death and it certainly wasn't the same)...But, part of me thinks that God knew he was weary, that we were weary, and said it's time...And who am I to question that??

If someone would say to me you can have him back, but your lives ( and his) will be exactly what they have been for the past 5yrs, BUT at the end of those 5yrs, ( 10yrs, 15yrs., whatever), you're going to have your son back, healthy, happy, productive, etc., I'd gladly do it again...But, to say we could have him back the way he was and we would continue to watch him in this downward spiral, I can't say that I would want that...And that thought makes me feel very guilty sometimes...What kind of mother wouldn't want her dead child back regardless??...I just don't know.

I realize losing a child under the circumstances that I did is different than losing a child to an accident, homicide, illness, etc...My son had a hand in his own death...But, have any of you who have lost a child under similar circumstances had similar thoughts and feelings??

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Dec 28, 2012
Thank's to Everyone for Your Comments
by: Jules

I want to thank everyone for the heartfelt comments since I put this post up...They've all been so appreciated and all rang so true.

To DW I've been thinking of what I wanted to say to you since I first read your post a couple of hours ago and even as a mother who just experienced the same, I'm still at a loss...Just know how very very sorry I am that you have to join this club and especially at this time of year...I know you're in a fog right now, ( I can barely remember those days leading up to the funeral and the funeral)...Over the past 3 months I've been told and read that "time heals"...I'm not sure I buy the whole healing idea, but what I can tell you is that I am getting through each day...I've started to laugh again...I made it through the holidays...In some ways I think the holidays helped me, because I have other kids who I didn't want to disappoint...There were moments of course when I would be overcome with sadness, especially leading up to Christmas...But, they came and went, ( sometimes several times a day)...I suppose what I want to convey to you is that given time you will begin to function and feel more "normal" again...At least part of the time...For now hold on to your memories and let your friends and family carry you for awhile...That will help immensely...And listen to Doreen...She offers up some very WISE advise and comments...Her words have helped me immensely.

Dec 28, 2012
Did I write this by DW
by: Doreen U.K,

DW You say this story is identical to yours. I am sorry for your loss of your son. You say your grief and tears are fresh. Your son is now laid to rest and your days ahead are going to be the WORST EVER. We give birth to our children and hope they will be happy in life. Sadly Children grow into Adults with difficulties Adult go through. They struggle like we the parents did. But somehow their struggles are greater. They are exposed to the drug culture. They want to relieve their pain and find out they are addicted to a lifestyle they find hard to break out of. They become TRAPPED. The CHOICES they made were not thought out. Not an informed Choice. Just a quick Choice where they would find INSTANT RELIEF from where they were at in life. Now you the parents have to pick up the pieces of a LOST LIFE. Whether overdose or Suicide. It is a Death that has ripped your world apart and left you slowly bleeding out with unbearable Pain you wonder how you will survive this GREAT LOSS from your LIFE. YOUR SON. The apple of your eye. Your treasured Adult Child. Gone. Left a Hole in your heart. You ask yourself the same question numerous parents have asked. "How do I get through this?" "How do I go on in life without my Child?" Your sorrow overflows till you can bear it no more. No one can imagine your pain of loss of a child unless they have experienced this. My sister lost her son to suicide 5 years ago. He threw himself in front of an express train. A very violent way to die. His depression WON. He couldn't hang on to life. In the same way you will feel you cannot hang onto this unbearable grief. Grief ASSAULTS our body and mind and leaves us feeling worn out. If you find yourself struggling, please go and see a grief counsellor for support. Most suicide cases, and loss of a Child need this support. My sister was MAD WITH GRIEF and had to have a counsellor come to her home to support her. She was so broken she could not function. 5 years on she is in a happier place but still has the scars for life. May God comfort you in your Grief and bring you Peace, comfort, and restore your life from sorrow.

Dec 27, 2012
Did I write this?
by: DW

Dear Jules

I read your post and it is my story, my hell, my overwhelming grief stricken experience. My heart breaks for you as it has for myself. My son will be laid to rest in three days from now, my darkest days are yet to come. He did not overdose, he suicided, we are waiting for the toxicology report to reveal what was in his system. I'm so sad for you and all just like us. I hate drugs of any kind (recreational not medicinal), to have robbed us this way. Your grief is mine also, I can't breath without it lingering inside of me. Thank you for sharing. I hope in time I will be strong enough to do the same, one week is still too soon. My tears are still fresh and my sadness and guilt feel so deeply lodged inside.....I'm struggling.

Dec 17, 2012
Me, too.
by: Anonymous

I'm so sorry for your loss. I lost my daughter to heroin on September 30, this year. We celebrated her 22nd birthday without her. I am struggling with guilt. How did we lose her? Wasn't my one job to see my children safely into adulthood? For about eight weeks before she died, she was working hard to stay off heroin (using Suboxone). We got in a fight one day and she went out and got high. I had lost sight of the battle that she was fighting. I wasn't thinking about how depressed she must be. We'd just grown weary of the lies and the anger and manipulation...everything. I want a do-over!
I know she was making bad choices. She didn't want to go to rehab. She had gone in the summer and left. She was back to being homeless and jobless. How did we come to this?
My early thoughts, too, were "Be at peace, little girl.Be at peace." While she was in a coma, I gave her permission to go. I should have begged her to stay. I should have given her more hope.
Like you, we had prepared for this possibility. Or at least we thought we had. Nothing prepares you to lose a child. There is no way a person can imagine this. I've lost a parent and a sibling. Nothing is like this.
I wish I had something to offer besides the fact that I'm walking a path similar to yours.

Nov 07, 2012
I know how you feel
by: Anonymous

I lost my 43 year old daughter on September 23 2012. I say I lost her then, but some part of me says I lost her the first time she picked up a needle. My daughter had no drugs in her system when she was brought to the hospital. The guy she lived with didn't want drugs in her system so when she had a stroke he wouldn't call anyone so she could get help. He waited until she had been unable to move for ten or more days. She was so covered in her own feces that it took them two hours to clean her before they could do anything for her. She lay in the hospital on a ventilator from the 18 to the 23 when the doctors told us she would have no quality of life due to the fact that she had vegetation growing on her heart and that MIRSA has infected her heart lungs and brain. We also did the tough love thing when we drove for five hours one way to take her to rehab and she never walked through the door. I called her on her birthday and she wanted me to come and get her but she was so messed up I said I couldn't. I feel so guilty. I might have been able to save her. Anyway I do understand and my heart goes out to you.

Oct 30, 2012
I can relate to you Jules
by: Anonymous

I almost could've written your post, my situation is so similar to yours. You're not alone in any of your thoughts and feelings.

I miss my boy too. So very much. But like you, I started grieving for him almost a year before he overdosed.

Addiction is a horrible disease. And heroin is an evil, destructive drug.

Oct 27, 2012
by: Jules

Doreen, thank-you so much for your comments...They really resonated with me and have made me feel better...They really have.

And please accept my sympathies on the loss of your Steve...As you said, and we both know, he's in a better place, but I'm sure you miss him deeply...Hold onto the good memories...And perhaps you'll reconcile with your son in the future..."Love" makes people do crazy things and perhaps there will come a time and he'll realize that...I'll keep you in my thoughts...Again, thank-you for your kind and comforting words.

And "Anonymous", I don't have to tell you that I know how you feel...And as you said we have so much help in preparing for their births, but nobody tells us how to prepare for their deaths. :( But, I guess because that's because it really isn't in the natural order of things and there are only a small percentage of us who ever have to face it.

Oct 26, 2012
Lost mhy sweet boy (22) to Drug OD.. Feelings of Guilt
by: Doreen U.K.

Jules I am sorry for your loss of your son and for the loss of relationship you didn't have because of your situation. You are a very remarkable woman/family to do what you have done for your son regardless. There is nothing wrong with employing TOUGH LOVE. It is just that LOVE with BOUNDARIES. Boundaries to protect YOU and YOUR SON.
You have nothing to feel guilty about whatsoever. You are to be commended for staying in the trenches and not coming out. DOES ANYONE have any idea what a stress and strain on a family doing what you had to do? Let no one JUDGE YOU!
You don't even need to ask the question. "What kind of mother would not want her son back regardless of what condition they were in. A VERY HUMAN MOTHER. You are a kind of SUPERWOMAN to put up with these difficult circumstances without ABANDONING your SON. You didn't ABANDON your son. You cared for him and YOU DID YOUR BEST. I nursed my husband for 3yrs.39days with an incurable, inoperable, aggressive cancer. My husband Steve was the lovliest man you could meet. Gentle and placid and loving. Steve's cancer changed him and he got angry with me often. I had to leave the room and cry and then go back and nurse him. BROKENHEARTED. I lost Steve 5 months ago. It was hard work. I felt like giving up often. BUT I COULDN'T. and I DIDN'T ABANDON HIM. Never Never. I told God "If you can't HEAL Steve then take him. I don't want him to live like this with all this suffering. God did take Steve. OH! I was angry with God and sometimes still am. Don't want to. But I am. I had this conversation with God. "If I could have Steve back Healthy and Whole I would accept this. But to have him back suffering and in pain. I wouldn't want him back like this.
There is nothing wrong with how you feel. Of course who would want the last 5 years of suffering back? Anyone in their right senses would do the same as you. Your son was suffering. YOU AND FAMILY were suffering. God knows how much testing and suffering we can take. God does teach us in our furnace of affliction. Rest in the fact that you did your best. Let's hope your guilt is only the normal type that comes with grief and that it will go. My suffering with my husband was the day he got the diagnosis. The whole journey. I hope that you are comforted and supported in your grief and sorrow.Please don't feel Guilty. You have no need to.

Oct 26, 2012
Lost our Son too
by: Doreen UK

Dear Anonymous I am sorry for your loss of your Son at 33yrs. You say that as mothers we are supposed to look after our children forever. That is what I thought and crossed the boundaries by being overprotective towards my son and I lost him. My son is 43yrs. We lost his Dad to cancer 5 months ago. My son met a girl on the internet and fell in love with her. She did not feel the same way as my son. this girl was immature at 37yrs of age. She had so many insecurities. One of them her house. My son eventually married her and they had a rocky first year. She threw my son out of HER HOUSE 5 times. The Reason was that my son did not want her to still have contact with her ex boyfriend. She also had a pre-nuptial that my son get none of her house even though husband and wife. As parents we advised our son to leave this girl since she did not think she wanted to be married. He said He loved her and she was all He wanted. During this relationship my son had 2 breakdowns and was on anti-depressants. Never had he been on any medication with any other girl. myself and my husband who was seriously ill with cancer drove 50miles to go get our son who tried to kill himself. and we looked after him. did everything for him.
My Husband died of his cancer 5 months ago and never resolved his anger our son's wife and so I would not her ride with us at the funeral and so my son avoided me, did not speak to me at all and then LEFT. HE Will not have anything to do with me. He only wants his Wife. My fault was rescuing my son from the fear of him ending his life. I stayed too close in case he committed suicide. Now I realised My duty to was to rear him and LET HIM GO. Go to live his own life his own way. My duty was not to look after him FOREVER. I do have BOUNDARIES NOW. No parent is responsible for their Adult children FOREVER. They reach an age of accountability.
You don't have to feel guilty for failing your son. He was an adult with CHOICES. WE as parents are not responsible for the CHOICES our children make. THEY ARE. This is what God is going to judge us on when we meet Him. I hope you lose your Guilt.

Oct 25, 2012
Lost Our Son Too
by: Anonymous

I understand your pain as we are preparing to scatter the ashes of our 33 year old son. We lost him to alcoholism and the cold streets of el paso last Christmas Day. We had not seen him in a couple of years. I told him that I did not want to see him kill himself. What I would't give to see his smiling face. I know that he is at peace now but the pain over losing him forever overwhelms me. As a mother you are supposed to take care of your children no matter their age. I tried to help our son and failed. As mothers we prepare for our childs birth but there is no preparation for their death. Take care

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