Yesterday, March 14th, I walked through the streets of my village for some exercise. As I turned a corner, I saw a father and son having a quintessential American pastime: a baseball catch. This would be nothing out of the ordinary for most people. While having this catch, they would banter back and forth about baseball technique, critiquing errant throws and players they admired. Simple images for a simple activity. They took hold in my mind as I walked away.
These simple pictures were like this baseball catch between the father and son except or one difference. The difference is that my son Zach and I were honing our Frisbee skills twenty years ago. At that time, the world was fairly mundane for my family. We just lived our lives without any great drama. How naive we were back then! We never thought we would lose our son to OUD.
So, now we share a mutual bond with too many people – the bond of grieving the loss, in this case, of a child. This day marks the 15th anniversary of his passing and the grieving process is quite different than 15 years ago. Then, emotions felt like a jackhammer slamming our senses with never ending exploding sensations, sending us to the deep well of sadness and grief.
However, I can tell you this will not go on forever. Personally, and through the lens of many families sharing their stories with me, I have found a way to somehow go on living. Yes, we will always miss our Ghosts because they are forever in our souls. We find ways to cope and become more resilient. As time goes on many of us fight the enemy, opioid abuse. We do this because we don’t want our ghosts’ passing to be in vain. We do this so other families do not become one of us. We do this to bring change and pass laws for those afflicted, especially to save their lives by better health and insurance coverage that won’t bankrupt families.
In the end, we all need to go on. As time has passed, I was able to celebrate Zach’s life by looking at photos and videos as he grew up. For you, it might be journaling, meditation, exercise, or other self help strategies. There are organizations like Shatterproof where you will find many strategies that have worked. My primary intuition was to proclaim my loss to the world despite the stigma attached to it. More work needs to be done in this area. Luckily, I found my way to Gratitude, a place I never thought I would see again. This takes time and work, and it has helped me. My hope is that you all can find your way to appreciate and celebrate the life of your last loved one.
The hurt will never go away, but it changes. Perhaps through the process of grieving, we can find a way to heal the world. Each person has their own way of grieving and hopefully growing. Each person has their own toolkit to get through the results of opioid addiction. Each person must find their own path through this difficult world. And, working together to find a way to successfully treat this disease, we can rest much easier knowing we can end this madness of Opioid Use Disease. We owe it to our Ghosts.