It has been a year since my son Jeffrey passed away due to addiction. As any parent who has lost a child knows, it is a day that you relive every minute of every day. I look back and try to figure out what I could have done differently. When the power and evil of addiction takes over the life of a loved one, we justifiably feel frustrated, helpless and often push them away.
I never understood why he would want to do this to himself as it was something I have never experienced in my life. ·We were just an ordinary middle-class family. We tried to teach our children good values and proper behavior. All three were good students. Jeffrey was a scholar-athlete who had a sunny disposition and despite his addiction never missed a day of work. Since addiction is often rooted in anxiety and/or depression, something was going on deep within him that no one saw.
If I can offer any advice to the parent of someone struggling with addiction, don't push them away, bring them closer. Don't be ashamed that your child might be struggling with issues that may be difficult for parents to accept. I know my son fought his addiction and he didn't want to be this way. His goal was to have a family of his own and drop his heavy burden. His family is with the Lord now and one day I will see him again. In the past year, my wife and I have tried to use this as a teaching moment for other families.
We have started a foundation called Eye on Addiction, which helps educate children in the school system about addiction, and how to develop self-esteem to fight peer pressure. I have also had the honor of being on the board of directors at Genesis House Ministry, an organization run by Reverend Terry Sanders. Reverend Sanders has helped me to understand the next steps to take in my life.
I encourage anyone who is carrying any burden to come to the 3rd annual Light Up the Night for Recovery on September 14 at Storey Square from 5 to 9 p.m. We are willing to help you with any situations you may have. I can never hold my son again, hopefully, we can help you hold onto yours. Individually we can do nothing, together we can make a change.
Chalk Hill/Deer Lake