Tuesday, July 23, 2013

thank you ~ and honesty about a delicate subject

 I want to thank all of you who left such kind, loving, supportive comments
on my last post in relation to Phil's birthday. It truly touches my heart and gives
me some comfort to know that my friends in Blogland are thinking of me and my family.

 
 And I want to tell you this: I was honest with saying how Phil passed away. 
That it was drugs (alcohol played a part, too) that killed him. I am not ashamed to admit
 that. There is no need to pussyfoot around it. Like my mom said, she used to think
that those who used drugs were derelicts out on the streets. Obviously, nothing
could be further from the truth. Drug addicts and alcoholics come from all walks
of life. Not only do I know this personally from my own family, from friend's children,
 and from those I've met in support groups, but I've done a lot of  research on this
 subject, too. I can't speak for the area you live in, but here in the Chicago suburbs,
 heroin is an epidemic among young people. It is cheaper to buy than beer, easy to get, 
and these young people do not realize that it is a killer. Or, they hear about that, but
 have the mindset that "it would never happen to me." I don't know where to begin
 to educate people about this epidemic or to even help anyone. For right now, I can
 talk about it on my blog.


We were a "normal" family in the suburbs ~ mom, dad, two kids, pets. Brian 
and I have a good marriage, a strong foundation. We do not smoke, do drugs, or
 drink (OK, the occasional glass of wine for me and the twice-a-year beer for Brian.)
 We love our children with all our hearts and were very involved in their lives. 
The boys were in soccer, Scouts, art club, science fairs, Sunday School. I did tons
 of volunteer work in the schools and was a "room mom". We have loving, supportive
 family members on both sides of the family. In other words: typical "white bread" 
suburban family. Except for the white picket fence.


Moral of the story: drugs and alcohol can happen to anyone. Any family.
It is not a "derelict-on-the-streets" problem. No one should be walking around
with the mindset of, "That would never happen to my child." Or, "My child would
never do that." So then, what can be done to prevent this horror and possible
tragedy? I honestly don't have a pat answer for that. Education helps. That's
why my story on this blog, for starters. Be involved in your child's (or ANY
child close to you) life. Know what is going on with them and who they're
with. Talk to them and their friends. If a child is having any kind of problems,
get them help. Do not hesitate with that.

We knew when Phil was around 15, that he was depressed. From then on,
we went through the gamut of counselors, psychiatrists, outpatient programs,
antidepressants, even hospitalization at one point. We never, ever gave up
on Phil and constantly encouraged him. However, when he turned 18, he 
decided that he wasn't going to take medication anymore (didn't like the way it
made him feel) and he was done with doctors, counselors, or any kind of
groups. We couldn't force him to go since he was 18. All we could do was
constantly encourage him and be loving and supportive. We talked to him
all the time. I told him I'd even go to AA or NA meetings with him and he
refused. He thought he could handle things himself. I need to point this part
out though ~ we had no idea that Phil was into hard drugs near the end. That
he was snorting heroin. And he lived at home! Don't scoff. We are not naive.
We knew he drank and we knew he smoked marijuana. But we never noticed a
behavioral difference with the heroin. He still managed to hold down a full-time
job, own a car, and pay us rent. Drug users are very deceitful. There was never
any evidence of heroin in his bedroom. Of course, the scary thing about having
older kids is that you sometimes have no idea what they're really doing when
they're out with their friends. We didn't find out a lot of stuff until after Phil passed away.


As you can probably imagine, I could write a book about all this.
Maybe someday I will actually start a separate blog. But, for now, this is it.
My hope and prayer for all of you is that 1) this little bit of information will
open your eyes to the reality of drugs and 2) that you never personally experience
this horror with any of your own children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, or 
any child that is part of your life. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this. God bless you all.

45 comments:

  1. Melanie I am so sorry about your son's passing. Please accept my condolences. I too have lost a child. My oldest daughter Laurie passed away 9-30-2010 from Ovarian Cancer at the age of 50. I know how hard this is. I just know she is in a better place and free from being sick. I just want to say that I commend you for discussing your sons drug addiction, I have a granddaughter who is 23 yrs old who is struggling with heroin addiction. She is a present in a youth facility right now in West Virginia, She has been there since May and we went to visit her last weekend and the only difference I could see in her attitude was she was not on drugs, She is my youngest daughters youngest child. My daughter is a single mother with another daughter and son, She has been a good mother and Crystal was raised as well as she could be, She started giving her mom problems when she was 13 yrs old. We have tried everything to help her but she seems to fall right back to the same routine, She started stealing things and got into trouble, I just pray that God will speak to her heart and she will stay away from drugs, I hate those things, I am so sorry that your family has gone through this. I know how hard that has been for my daughter and my family. I love my granddaughter so much and wish the best for her. I do so enjoy your blog, I live in Southeastern Ohio and am in my 70's, My husband and I camp and fish and I crochet and love to cook. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Hugs Dixie

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    1. Dixie, it is so nice to "meet" you. Thank you for leaving such a lovely comment on this post. I am so sorry that you are facing these sorts of problems with your granddaughter. My heart goes out to you.

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  2. Thank you, Melanie. This was an important post and I appreciate it.

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    1. Thank YOU, Jennifer, for taking the time to read it.

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  3. Melanie - What a heart wrenching post you wrote! Thank you for sharing with us. I too, know the effects drugs can have on a child who was raised in a "normal" home. We've been thru alot with our son and hopefully he is now in a good place in his life. But the wear and tear on a family can never be measured. Bless you and your family for having to go thru this and losing this precious son. I am lucky - I still have mine.

    Thanks for having the courage to write this post.

    You are in my prayers daily.

    Judy

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    1. Wow, Judy...your comment made me tear up! I had no idea that you were going through issues with your son, too. Yes, going through years of this with Phil was extremely wearing on our family. I can't say what we would've done if Phil were still alive and still involved in drugs...if we'd still allow him to live at home or if we would've kicked him out. I've personally seen two families close to us that are still dealing with these scenarios with their adult children. There are no easy answers. Thank you so much for your prayers, Judy. You know that you and your husband are in mine, with your illnesses.

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  4. Hi Melanie,
    We had a family member addicted to drugs and alcohol. When she was hospitalized, the nurse said to our family, that this addiction is an illness. They have so many, many patients with the same problems. She said that families shouldn't be embarrassed to admit this...no more so than to be embarrassed of a loved one with pneumonia.
    I was just listening to a program about the Heroin problem in the Chicago area. Kids use it because it's affordable without knowing about the dangers involved.
    Your post is a good way to get people thinking about this. You have no idea how many people you might reach.
    Balisha

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    1. Addiction is indeed an illness, and unfortunately, an epidemic. I only hope that I can be of some kind of help to someone who may be going through what I did with Phil.

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  5. My heart goes out to you. I agree with the others, writing about it will help others and yourself. I had a site about my grandson and it helped our family and others know about the disease that killed him. He died of Hyaline Membrane Disease at 5 1/2 months old.

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    1. Thank you, Betty. I am so sorry that you lost your precious grandson. I've never heard of that disease. I'll have to look it up.

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  6. I think your post is going to reach out to many people, maybe even have them a second look at how involved they are with their children. As you know, two of my nephews died from drug overdoses. The police confiscated one of my nephew's cell phone and the were later able to make some arrests for a group selling heroin. The drug selling has to end, the kids in the suburbs may not be as "street smart" as the kids in the city and their naivete can certainly play a role in an accidental overdose..

    Thank you for enlightening all of us.

    XO,
    Jane

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    1. Phil's phone was taken too, and they found the phone number of the guy in Chicago who sold the heroin to Phil. But they never caught him. Honestly, it wouldn't have made much of a difference. Like the small town cops here said, "There'll just be another seller stepping in to take his place." And even when these guys do go to jail, they just get right back out and sell again. It's a disgusting, vicious circle.

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  7. You are doing the best thing to spread the word by writing about your experiences. The heroin problem really scares me because I keep reading about more and more kids, younger and younger who are dying from heroin overdoses. It shouldn't be that easy to get.

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    1. I totally agree with you, Carol. I never knew about heroin and the huge problem it was until after Phil passed away. It's scary how many people I talk to that personally know a young person who OD'd on this horrible drug.

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  8. I'm sorry to read about your loss. Unfortunately stereotyping does happen, but the reality is that it can happen to anyone on any street in any home from any walk of life. Blogging about your son's life will help you and possibly others.

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    1. Thanks, Alex - and you're absolutely right.

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  9. Hi Melanie - I have been a reader of your blog for several years and always enjoy your writing but have never commented. Thanks so much for sharing your family's journey and the great loss of your beautiful son, Phil. I am sure that your message will travel far and impact people/families in ways you never imagined. Blessings, Shirley in Washington

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    1. I am so glad you chose to comment today, Shirley. Thank you for the encouragement!

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  10. thanks for sharing this Melanie.
    It took a lot of courage, and you have been through a lot.
    I am so very sorry for the loss of your son, I simply do not know how folks get through that.
    My daughter had a classmate you over-dosed on heroin and died. This was shortly after they graduated.
    Small town here, less than 4000...it's everywhere.
    And my daughter and step-son both 23 have abused alcohol at times (binge drinking).
    It's a scary thing.
    Thanks again for sharing your story.
    Cindy

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    1. Yes, it did take a lot of courage, Cindy. It's not exactly something that we go around talking about! But I felt it was important to be honest with what happened to our family - and that it could happen to just about anyone. It's amazing how many people admit they personally know someone close to them who have, or who had, problems with alcohol and/or drugs. It's a scary world.

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  11. Melanie, I came across your blog and was deeply saddened by your story. I am so sorry for the loss of your son. As you say, it is far too familiar these days. I have lost three family members to drug/alcohol problems and there are some right now who are struggling with these addictions. Thank you for your courage in speaking out about this epidemic.
    Sincerely,
    Anita

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    1. Thank you for your sympathy on the loss of my son, Anita. I am so sorry for the loss of your family members, too - and so sorry to hear that are still others struggling with addictions. It's all so heartbreaking.

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  12. Hi Melanie;
    What a blessing you are to others! Your honesty and love are coming thru your post, and I just want you to know that I appreciate you so much. I have never really had your problem with drugs with my children, and I hope to never have then with my grandchildren. Please keep up your posts about this, it is so important. God Bless you. Love and Hugs, Nana

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    1. Thank you so much, Nana - that is so sweet of you to say. Thank God you've never experienced any addiction problems with your children and I hope your grandchildren will stay safe, too.

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  13. Melanie thank you for your open and honest post on this subject. So many parents are blind to what is going on and they must pay attention, because even in your case when you did...well the worst happened. Its so hard when the become legally adults. All we can do is love them,be there for them and pray. Sending you a big hug!

    Linda

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    1. That's the scary thing, Linda...sometimes a parent's love isn't enough to save a child. As a parent, you always think your love is enough. It's a terrible wake-up call. Thanks for the hug!

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  14. Melanie, as a mother of two grown daughters and five beautiful grandchildren, my heart breaks for you for the loss of your precious son. I have not lost a child, but being a mother, I know that even with the passing of years, my heart would never totally heal. As my girls were growing up,with the world changing so fast and so many temptations and trials that come along in a child's life, I was very concerned for their future. Now, with the grandchildren, I often feel the same way. It is very brave and loving of you to share your and Phil's story with your readers.

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    1. You are right, Lynn - a parent's heart does not totally heal after the loss of a child. There will forever be a hole in mine and my husband's heart - and probably my younger son's heart, as well. Poor Tim (younger son) has been through hell with the loss of his older brother. Thank you for such a kind reply to this post.

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  15. Brilliant and Touching. Well said, thoughtfully and gently expressed. Thank you Melanie . . . I can't imagine your loss . . . continue to keep talking and sharing . . . it helps me and I am sure others to hear your sorrowful truth.

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    1. Thank you for your support, Lynne. Means so much to me.

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  16. Thank you Melanie for writing from your heart. Addiction of any type can be found in any family. None of us are excluded from a loved one, or ourselves, being addicted. Herion, oxycodone, oxycotin, lortab, alcohol - all are so available so easily in our society. Keep sharing your story. There are parents out there beating themselves up for something out of their control. You can be a great comfort to them during their time of sorrow.

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    1. Thank you so much, Susan. I can only hope that I can be of some help to someone else. Even if it's just support and/or comfort.

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  17. Thank you Melanie for sharing your son's life with us. I love when someone feels comfortable enough to share their real life as well as pretty pictures on their blog. We all have trials in life but losing a child must be the most devastating thing to happen to anyone ever. Sharing your son's story may end up changing someone's perspective or saving some other child's life so again, thank you. J

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  18. And thank YOU Julie for visiting my blog and leaving such a compassionate comment on this post. I agree that everyone has trials in life, but you are right - I think that losing a child is probably the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone. I have an older friend that has lost 3 of her 4 children and I don't know how she can bear it.

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  19. I'm sorry I missed your posts earlier this week. I was so sad for you to read about your loss. I can't even imagine how you feel, but the two posts were beautifully written.

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  20. Melanie, I couldn't help but notice Phil on your sidebar and then saw this post. I just retired from working at a high school and raised two children too. The world is such a scary place. I wonder what my new grandson will be dealing with 15 years from now. Thank you for your honesty. As the others already said, you are helping others with your words. So sorry for your loss.

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post and comment on it. Blessings to you.

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  21. Melanie,
    I seem to have missed this honest, heartfelt post and while visiting you today on 2-4-2014 I am reading it. I have shared with you my story on losing my sister. She and I came from a down to earth loving family. Mom and Dad were excellent parents and I never doubted how much I was loved. Church on Sunday-family dinner after, camping trips, homemade meals.... Sandra became involved in a high risk lifestyle too and died at the age of 32.
    It is important to share this candid information with others-
    Jemma

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    1. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your sister. My heart goes out to you.

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  22. Such a profound post. My brother is a 46 year old addict. He could not have come from a more moral family. My father was a career soldier and my mother a stay at home mom. We were raised in an evangelical church. Drugs happened to my brother despite all that! It is sad to ever be so naive as to think this only happens to low income, dysfunctional families. It happens in any type of family. My brother has fought addiction now for 30+ years. By the grace of God he has lived this long.

    Thanks for the honest, heartfelt post.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear about your brother. I can't imagine what he and your family go through with him fighting addiction for over 30 years. God bless you all.

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    1. Thank you for sharing with us, Teresa. I'm so sorry to hear about your brother.

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I read and appreciate every comment!