Mike Shaffer

by Sandra Shaffer
(Mesa, AZ)

Mike was a 47 year old drug addict. I loved him in spite of that. He literally killed himself with meth. He had so many accidents happen to him. He was only 3, my baby, when he had his left foot mangled in a lawn mower accident. His childhood was filled with mishaps but he was a great kid and overcame a lot.

He was in a massive oil field rig explosion and fire at age 30 from which he was disabled and never worked after that. He spent months in the hospital and became addicted to pain meds. After he came out of the hospital, it was an easy transition to street drugs. I had lost my husband shortly before that and had started a new relationship.

I have always felt guilty that I did not do enough to try and - I don't know - keep him away from the drugs I guess. At different times he seemed to be clean and I had such high hopes. Then his girl friend and child left him and although he still had his boy alot I think he just sort of gave up and gave in to the drugs.

He was bad hoarder and I really could not bring myself to visit his home. The few times I did go I was physically sick. He did visit me and was always a good son to me and I love that grandchild. In December of 09 he had a stroke and developed heart failure. He did not take care of himself and finally came to AZ and stayed with me for a few months in Feb. 2010. He was in the hospital twice here but he got well and got on a lot of meds., listened to the doctors and felt so much better.

He told me he was through with drugs but I learned later he continued to take them. He was not very well the whole summer of 2010 and finally on December 4 of 2010 he became very sick. His heart was in the final stages of failure and all his organs were starting to shut down.

He came to stay with me and I cared for him until he died in my arms on December 17, 2010. I am so sad - I feel grief for the man he should have been and I feel guilt for not doing something about the drug abuse.

Comments for Mike Shaffer

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Jan 26, 2011
by: Sandy

Thank you to all who wrote such good comments to my letter about Mike Shaffer. I still grieve for him- I suppose a parent always will grieve until their dying day. The guilt has lessened. My head knows I was a good mother and there was nothing I could have done about Mike's drug addition-it just is taking some time for my heart to catch up to my head! I have talked to many parents about this subject and the only thing you can do is pray that the situation will be handled by God.

In many cases when parents have tried to intervene it has ended badly with the child just running away from them and that didn't solve anything. At least if you keep the lines of communication open there is hope you can get through to them.

Mike had a stroke in Dec. of 2009 and had suffered physically for that whole year before he died in Dec. of '10. So I know he is in a better place where his suffering is over. He had accepted the Lord as a young child and throughout his hospice time at my house he was strengthened by that faith, as was I. We have a wonderful minister and he came and prayed with us each day. I love you Mike and I am going to try and keep your memory alive by working in my church which has a wonderful outreach program for recovering drug addicts.

Jan 14, 2011
Don't feel guilty!
by: Pam

There is nothing you can do against a horrible drug like Meth. From all the different shows I watch on drug addiction, unless the person wants to quit on their own there is absolutely nothing you can do for them. They have something in their brain that actually desires the drugs. You changing anything in the past would not of changed anything for him.

You were the best mom you could be, you took care of him when he needed it most, and he knew you loved him. We all carry some guilt wishing we could of changed something to prevent what happened, but the truth is none of us could of changed anything.

Please be kind to yourself, and thank you for making me actually put in writing that we should not feel guilt about anything, as I have been struggling with that myself. My husband died alone at home while I was at work of a heart attack, how I wish I would of taken lunch a little earlier, perhaps I could of called 911 in time and saved him, but that did not happen. I also need to accept this fact as well.

Take care of yourself, and come back often. It does feel good to write our feelings down.

Jan 14, 2011
by: Anonymous


I would like to put my two cents in if I may.
My son "was" addicted to meth. He did some very stupid things while on it. For starters he disowned me, his mother. Now he claims that he just smokes a little pot. And truthfully I hope that it is true. One addiction tends to replace another. I am sure that he is an alcoholic at the young age of 24, and has been for some years.

I used to worry if he was even alive and was happy when he was in jail because I knew he was at least alive. Also I thought he might dry out without his drug of choice.

You cannot blame yourself over other people's actions regardless of what they are. Meth, prostitution, oh so many things that our kids can get into, and we can blame ourselves.

They are adults and no one can stop their addiction, the lying, stealing and whatever goes with being a junkie. We will blame ourselves because we feel at fault. Just know that we did not make them do this or make them need that. It was their choice and they thought they could control it but they could not.

Eventually the drug took its toll and for that I am so sorry... It could be my son, your neighbors son, your bosses son. It has nothing to do with how they were raised or where they were raised. It is an awful addictive drug that has taken the lives of many.

He is sorry for your grief. I am too because it could have been me writing that letter...
I hope that you are able to realize that it is not your fault and try to work through this awful grief.

My best to you on your long walk of grief and remember...one step one breath at a time.

Jan 14, 2011
by: Sandra

Sandra~don't feel guilty. It's so easy to blame ourselves when these things happen. I carried a tremendous guilt after by brother passed away at age 33. We always think there were things we could've done, or should've done.

It's very hard to accept a death. It's so final. They're not coming back~ we can't see or touch them any longer. My husband just passed away on December 3, 2010. I'm pretty much going through the same thing, what if I had gotten him to the hospital sooner, why didn't I realize he was so sick?

I can't do that to myself. He was exhausted and it was time for it all to end. I have to deal with my feelings. I miss him so much. I know he would want me to move on with my life and be a person that my children and grandchildren can be proud of. It's so hard though. Keep returning to this site and write your feelings. There are wonderful supportive people here who are all going through their own loss. We understand. God's blessings to you.

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