Standing for almost two hours in a receiving line following the Memorial Service for my son, giving multiple hugs and shedding buckets of tears… the phrase I reiterated the most was,
“There just are no good words, so don’t even try.”
There are certain life events that cannot be touched with words because the depth of pain is visceral and beyond words.
“My son died of an overdose,” is one of those life events.
What words can follow that?
By all means, say to the grieving family, “I am sorry” – “I am here whenever you need me,” because we need to know people are standing with us in our pain.
Don’t say things like, “Time will heal” or “At least you have other children,” because time doesn’t “heal,” it may lessen the raw-ness, but our hearts will forever be broken…and while our other children are a blessing, not one of them is my son who just died. Our lives have been permanently altered.
No. There just are no good words, so don’t even try.
Instead, just be there without judgment.
You see, the pain we have been suffering did not start on the day my son died. It started on the day we found out that our son was addicted to drugs. It continued for the years that we hid in shame, and fear, because we did not want to be “that family” with “that kid,” knowing the stigma and judgment that would follow; and sadly, we did reap those jabs in various ways from time to time, as it became apparent to others outside the family that our son was using drugs. We wept terribly as we scrambled to try and help him and figure out how to handle this disease that our son was now afflicted with.
Underneath the addiction, our son was a good person; kindhearted, funny, and creative. He was an encourage-er to others who struggled in life and he was a protector in that he sought to stick-up for the weaker one among the crowd. This is the son we miss terribly. This is the son we fought for and stood alongside through thick and thin.
I suggest that you replace any hint of judgment with love and compassion because addiction does not discriminate. Do not ever think, “this will never happen in my town, to my family – to my child…” Because statistics and the reality of our culture right now says otherwise. Sadly, I know.
So, are there any words to say?
Yes, I have words to say and I was given an opportunity to say them at a recent, local venue promoting AWARENESS & RECOVERY in my little town of Belchertown, Massachusetts this past weekend. I would be grateful if you would take the time to hear this message and to pass it along because these are the words that need to follow “My Son Died of an Overdose.”
Click on the preceding phrase, and turn your sound on to hear my words in a speech I gave.
“For (we) can do all things through Christ who gives (us) strength.” Philippians 4:13