My son Brandon, 27 years old, when “clean” was a very loving, giving young man with a sense of humor and a recognizable laugh. Oh, how I miss his laugh. 

Brandon, sadly and frustratingly, was introduced to drugs at a young age, was unsuccessful in resisting temptations and had a long history of addiction despite the efforts of his family. He would disappear for periods of time, but would always come home when he wanted to clean up. He felt very bad for the chaos he created each time, but I always assured him that his family would always be there for him. We learned, as many who live with or know an addict, that the situation is not in our control and that enabling, as much as we repeat it because we are afraid not to try and help thinking maybe this time will be the change, an addict is the only one that can save an addict. 

Accepting this reality does not make the loss of Brandon any less painful. I was grieving and finding myself not wanting to be social. Isolation and depression was my new self. Grief is very lonely.

 I was in a health crisis situation. I saw a counselor who felt that I would benefit most from experts in grief and referred me to Cornerstone of Hope.

My experience at Cornerstone of Hope was healing. I attended an Overdose Support Group for 10 weeks. I found that my anxiety and depression steadily declined. I could breathe. I wasn’t angry anymore and began to feel relieved. I was not grieving alone. For two hours every week, I was not grieving alone but rather with individuals who understood my grief. There was a lot of crying but also a lot of laughter. It was healing to be able to share our tragedies and yet an opportunity to share and be reminded to not lose sight of the good memories, too. I was reminded that there is a lot of shame associated with addiction but to accept that addiction is a disease.

The balloon release was very emotional and impactful. It was symbolic to release any negative memories and emotions of anger, guilt or whatever anyone was hanging onto and at the same time recognizing that our loved ones were more than an addict, they were who we loved and who we will always miss.

My grief was validated at Cornerstone of Hope. I was given permission to grieve as long as I needed and told that there is no time limit to grieving. It is okay to not “get over it” in a timeline that others feel is appropriate. The discussion and education on addiction was very helpful and helped me to better understand Brandon’s disease and demons. NEVER GRIEVE ALONE. I recommend Cornerstone of Hope to anyone who is grieving and seeking hope and healing.