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Grieving an addict

Old 01-10-2008, 09:41 AM
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Grieving an addict

Hey everyone,

I have been lurking around here for the past week, since my brother overdosed and died on New Year's Eve. It was an insane week, and now we are all faced with the task of trying to get back to "normal".

We got my brother's cell phone records yesterday, only to see a cell phone number that he called *repeatedly* and in a desperate fashion (i.e., many times in a period of minutes). It is coming to light that it doesn't look like he was as clean as I thought he was. Not to mention the fact that he lied right to my parents' face before overdosing.

Suffice to say I think I'm moving quickly to the "anger" phase of the grieving process, at the same time feeling guilty about it. There are just so many feelings that come with death in general, and I think when someone dies as a result of addiction, those feelings get even more complicated in some ways.

I actually feel somewhat normal today. I went to the gym and did a great kickboxing class that allowed me to sweat out a lot of tension and frustration. I feel bad that I don't feel as sad as I did just a few days ago. Does this make any sense? Has anyone else gone through a loss like this? How did you feel? I know everyone grieves in their own way, but I guess I didn't expect to get angry this early. Not to say that I'll avoid the sadness, because I know it's in there. Maybe it's just easier to be mad than sad right now. I don't know.

Thanks for listening. It's so strange to be here without being in a mode of helping him stay clean, look for treatment, help my parents deal with him, etc... Then you feel guilty for feeling a little bit relieved about that.

So much to absorb and take in. I don't think my mind can deal with it all right now.

Jen
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Old 01-10-2008, 09:50 AM
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******{Jen}}}}

My ex lost his life to his addiction. We were not together at the time, but the news hit and hurt big time!!!

I can only say that with grieving, feelings fluctuate .. I remember going from sad to angry and a bit numb very early on ... I was very mad at him because his death was senseless and could have been prevented if only he had stopped using dope.


I made my ex a online memorial .. with the heart that if his story could help even just one person .. then he died not in vain.

If you would like you can go visit my ex's memorial .. I have written on there from time to time my feelings. Look for stuff signed by Sher or Nytepassion ..

William Simmons (1957 - 2004)

******{HUGS}}}}
Passion
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Old 01-10-2008, 10:28 AM
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Dear Jen -

Please understand - not only is anger a completely normal part of this grief, but people almost always feel guilty for feeling anger...and then feel even more guilt when they begin to feel better and move beyond grief, even if for just a moment.

My family has lived with a magnified and long-term cycle between grief and anger and guilt. My husband's son ODd in July of 2005 at the age of 19...but he was "revived" by paramedics about 5-10 minutes after he had stopped breathing. I put "revived" in quotes because it was only his body that was revived. His brain was completely fried from lack of oxygen; the entire cortext was dead tissue.

From that day to the present, he has lived in what is called a "permanent vegetative state"....sometimes commonly understood as "brain dead". He may "live" many more years in this state (I should mention here that there was a terrible conflict between mother and father about what to do when he was declared brain-dead. But that's another story).

This situation is almost impossible to resolve emotionally. On the one hand he actually did DIE (because after all, there is not one shred of a "him" left on this earth), and this is a horrible source of great grief, loss, and pain. But in the meantime, enormous pain and drama and expense and continuing heartache goes into caring for his still-breathing body, which is a full-time major endeavor and it is often easy to be furious at "him" that his addiction and mistake could cause so many so much in so many ways. Finally is the guilt: the young man we're sometimes furious at is the most pitiful creature on god's earth and his life and end such a tragedy, so it is very difficult to feel such anger at a "person" who lost not only his life, but his dignity these last few years and for perhaps many years to come. There is also guilt on the days when we don't think about him. If he had died in mind AND body we would understand this as simply moving on and recovering from a loss. But as long as "he" still breathes, forgetting him, even for a day, brings guilt.

Jen, there is so much suffering and pain in some lives. There are more colors of it that we can imagine. There is nothing you can be feeling that hasn't been felt by others. As other wise people here have posted, the emotions will come in waves, and cycles, and sometimes they will surprise us. But always, always, our emotions are our own and there is no right or wrong in what we feel (only in what we DO with what we feel). The only thing that has helped me in this nightmare is my Mindfulness practice, which basically just asks that I be aware in every present moment to what IS...and abide with that, without trying or wishing to make anything be different from what it is. (If anyone is interested in this approach, a good start would be the book by Jon Kabat-Zin called "Full Catastrophe Living" ).

Wishing you continued strength and awareness for you and your family as you mourn your brother.

waxwing
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Old 01-10-2008, 10:42 AM
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Similar situation

What you describe is so close to our experience, it's amazing. My brother was "down" for 20-25 minutes, and was "revived" also. It's a small miracle that he was even able to be resuscitated after being down for so long. He was "alive" in the sense that machines were doing the work for him, but was brain dead also. I think we're all grateful that he is gone, because I think what you describe is worse than death in many ways.

What was left of my brother was definitely not who he was, and it was devastating and heartbreaking to see him in that state. We did walk away with one positive, in that he was able to be an organ donor as a result of being resuscitated.

All of these feelings are just hard to reconcile I guess. I didn't expect to feel angry this quickly, nor did I anticipate feeling somewhat "normal" at this point too. I think a lot of it is just a matter of how your mind works, shielding you from things you are not yet ready to confront or deal with yet.

Thank you so much for your response. This forum has been such a great source of information and support, and for that I'm so thankful.

Jen

Originally Posted by Waxwing View Post
Dear Jen -

Please understand - not only is anger a completely normal part of this grief, but people almost always feel guilty for feeling anger...and then feel even more guilt when they begin to feel better and move beyond grief, even if for just a moment.

My family has lived with a magnified and long-term cycle between grief and anger and guilt. My husband's son ODd in July of 2005 at the age of 19...but he was "revived" by paramedics about 5-10 minutes after he had stopped breathing. I put "revived" in quotes because it was only his body that was revived. His brain was completely fried from lack of oxygen; the entire cortext was dead tissue.

From that day to the present, he has lived in what is called a "permanent vegetative state"....sometimes commonly understood as "brain dead". He may "live" many more years in this state (I should mention here that there was a terrible conflict between mother and father about what to do when he was declared brain-dead. But that's another story).

This situation is almost impossible to resolve emotionally. On the one hand he actually did DIE (because after all, there is not one shred of a "him" left on this earth), and this is a horrible source of great grief, loss, and pain. But in the meantime, enormous pain and drama and expense and continuing heartache goes into caring for his still-breathing body, which is a full-time major endeavor and it is often easy to be furious at "him" that his addiction and mistake could cause so many so much in so many ways. Finally is the guilt: the young man we're sometimes furious at is the most pitiful creature on god's earth and his life and end such a tragedy, so it is very difficult to feel such anger at a "person" who lost not only his life, but his dignity these last few years and for perhaps many years to come. There is also guilt on the days when we don't think about him. If he had died in mind AND body we would understand this as simply moving on and recovering from a loss. But as long as "he" still breathes, forgetting him, even for a day, brings guilt.

Jen, there is so much suffering and pain in some lives. There are more colors of it that we can imagine. There is nothing you can be feeling that hasn't been felt by others. As other wise people here have posted, the emotions will come in waves, and cycles, and sometimes they will surprise us. But always, always, our emotions are our own and there is no right or wrong in what we feel (only in what we DO with what we feel). The only thing that has helped me in this nightmare is my Mindfulness practice, which basically just asks that I be aware in every present moment to what IS...and abide with that, without trying or wishing to make anything be different from what it is. (If anyone is interested in this approach, a good start would be the book by Jon Kabat-Zin called "Full Catastrophe Living" ).

Wishing you continued strength and awareness for you and your family as you mourn your brother.

waxwing
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Old 01-10-2008, 01:21 PM
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thank you both for sharing your story and sharing your loss and pain and healing.........

(((((((((((((((((((((((HUGS))))))))))))))))))))))) )
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Old 01-10-2008, 01:44 PM
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((jen))

prayers and good thoughts of comfort for you and your family as you go thru this painful time - please know that it is ok to feel everything you need to feel and you have a SR family ready, willing and able to listen whenever you are ready to talk about.

Wishing you Serenity & Comfort,
Rita
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Old 01-10-2008, 01:48 PM
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Ditto to what rita said...

All my prayers and thoughts are with you.

Broken
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Old 01-10-2008, 01:58 PM
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Jen,
Just big hugs to you.
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Old 01-10-2008, 02:59 PM
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Jen,

As I think I mentioned on an earlier thread, my brother died of an overdose in February of 2005. He was 42 years old. Although I suspected that he had a drug problem for a number of years (he was always in and out of jobs, never had any money...you know...some of the tell-tale signs of drug use...) he never seemed like an addict (whatever that means).

My brother overdosed about 6 weeks after he helped me move out of my marital home because my exah was a heroin addict. I was so damn focused on what my exah was doing...that I failed to see any signs that my brother was also struggling with addiction. I was completely blindsided. My whole family was blindsided.

One morning, my mother (who was 77 at the time) heard a loud thump in the upstairs bathroom. My brother was living at home at the time. She ran upstairs to find that the bathroom door was locked. She couldn't get it opened. She woke my dad (who was 79 at the time) and together they tried to force the door open. They could hear my brother moaning inside and they knew he was in trouble. They had to call the paramedics...and when the medics managed to get the door open, my brother was on the floor...blue...with a needle sticking out of his arm. An autopsy later showed that the needle had cocaine and heroin in it. My dear parents watched helplessly as my brother took his last breath.

The delay in getting to my brother probably meant the difference between 'reviving him' and losing him forever.

I remember being really really really ANGRY at first. Angry at my brother that he would do this in my parents home. The only thing I could think about was how badly I wanted to protect my parents from this pain.

At the time fo his death, I can fairly say that I was full of shock and anger but mostly anger. And then I felt guilty for being so angry. I felt guilty because I didn't know he was struggling...I thought about all of the things I probably said about my exah and addicts in general when he helped me move out of my marital home...I probably said some unkind things about drug addicts...not knowing...not even suspecting...that my brother was wrestling with the demon too.

The night before he died, my brother came over to my house and dropped off a piece of furniture that he had picked up for me at my former marital home. He got down on the floor and played with my son and his new race track. Before leaving, he gave me a big old hug and kiss and he told me that he loved me. And I was taken aback. We were very close but our usual form of communication was teasing one another... And the way he told me he loved me and gave me a kiss and a hug actually caught me by surprise. I told him I loved him too and shooed him out the door.

Ten short hours later, I got the call...he was dead.

I'm still grieving. Almost all of my posts on this board have dealt with my struggles in dealing with my exah's addiction...and how it effects our son...but honestly I struggle just as much with grieving for my brother. For some reason, I've kept this struggle more private... At first I think I kept it secret because I didn't want the moms on this board to read about this...like I wanted to protect them or something...but lately I've been thinking that I need to work thru this here...in a place where I feel safe because carrying the pain around inside of me isn't the answer.

I miss him like crazy. STill...to this day...I cry when I think about him. I don't know how long this grieving process is going to last...I really don't...but I do know thats its a long process and we have to be patient with ourselves.

You're probably going to experience alot of emotions...anger, sadness, guilt...and strange combinations of these emotions as time goes on. With time, however, I began to take comfort in so many of my happy memories from our childhood. We were really close growing up. I cherish those memories. I'm grateful that I got to tell him that I loved him one last time in the hours leading up to his death. And as much as I hate the fact that my parents went thru any of this, I'm even a little bit grateful that he died in my parents home...in a familiar and loving place...probably knowing that my mom and dad were on the other side of the door...instead of dying in his car or in some drug den under circumstances that would have left us wondering exactly what happened.


It helps to come here and share with people who understand.
I hope in time that your happier memories with your brother will overshadow the pain you are feeling right now. Give it time...and give yourself as much love and pampering as you possibly can.

With much, much love, understanding and support...
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Old 01-10-2008, 11:18 PM
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just wanted to send you my prayers and support....s
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Old 01-10-2008, 11:32 PM
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your stories mean so much to me and break my heart. thank you for them. may love heal you.
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Old 01-11-2008, 08:03 AM
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Same circumstance

Your story is pretty much EXACTLY what happened to my brother. He was in my parents' house, in their bathroom, and they heard a big "THUMP" when he fell and hit his head against the countertop. The door was locked, and my parents had to get in there to get to him. He too was blue, and my mom is the one who saw him first. That does make me angry, but then, like you said, I'd rather have it happen there than on the street somewhere.

Just before he went upstairs to the bathroom, my mom was unloading groceries and had gotten him some Mountain Dew. He said, "You're really taking care of me, aren't you Mom?" I had driven him to and from work over the weekend and told him how proud I was of him for staying clean and working. I'm glad I did that, but am left wishing I had said more. Given him a hug or something.

Thank you so much for sharing. Unfortunately, it is somewhat comforting to know that others have gone through the same thing.

Jen

Originally Posted by outonalimb View Post
Jen,

As I think I mentioned on an earlier thread, my brother died of an overdose in February of 2005. He was 42 years old. Although I suspected that he had a drug problem for a number of years (he was always in and out of jobs, never had any money...you know...some of the tell-tale signs of drug use...) he never seemed like an addict (whatever that means).

My brother overdosed about 6 weeks after he helped me move out of my marital home because my exah was a heroin addict. I was so damn focused on what my exah was doing...that I failed to see any signs that my brother was also struggling with addiction. I was completely blindsided. My whole family was blindsided.

One morning, my mother (who was 77 at the time) heard a loud thump in the upstairs bathroom. My brother was living at home at the time. She ran upstairs to find that the bathroom door was locked. She couldn't get it opened. She woke my dad (who was 79 at the time) and together they tried to force the door open. They could hear my brother moaning inside and they knew he was in trouble. They had to call the paramedics...and when the medics managed to get the door open, my brother was on the floor...blue...with a needle sticking out of his arm. An autopsy later showed that the needle had cocaine and heroin in it. My dear parents watched helplessly as my brother took his last breath.

The delay in getting to my brother probably meant the difference between 'reviving him' and losing him forever.

I remember being really really really ANGRY at first. Angry at my brother that he would do this in my parents home. The only thing I could think about was how badly I wanted to protect my parents from this pain.

At the time fo his death, I can fairly say that I was full of shock and anger but mostly anger. And then I felt guilty for being so angry. I felt guilty because I didn't know he was struggling...I thought about all of the things I probably said about my exah and addicts in general when he helped me move out of my marital home...I probably said some unkind things about drug addicts...not knowing...not even suspecting...that my brother was wrestling with the demon too.

The night before he died, my brother came over to my house and dropped off a piece of furniture that he had picked up for me at my former marital home. He got down on the floor and played with my son and his new race track. Before leaving, he gave me a big old hug and kiss and he told me that he loved me. And I was taken aback. We were very close but our usual form of communication was teasing one another... And the way he told me he loved me and gave me a kiss and a hug actually caught me by surprise. I told him I loved him too and shooed him out the door.

Ten short hours later, I got the call...he was dead.

I'm still grieving. Almost all of my posts on this board have dealt with my struggles in dealing with my exah's addiction...and how it effects our son...but honestly I struggle just as much with grieving for my brother. For some reason, I've kept this struggle more private... At first I think I kept it secret because I didn't want the moms on this board to read about this...like I wanted to protect them or something...but lately I've been thinking that I need to work thru this here...in a place where I feel safe because carrying the pain around inside of me isn't the answer.

I miss him like crazy. STill...to this day...I cry when I think about him. I don't know how long this grieving process is going to last...I really don't...but I do know thats its a long process and we have to be patient with ourselves.

You're probably going to experience alot of emotions...anger, sadness, guilt...and strange combinations of these emotions as time goes on. With time, however, I began to take comfort in so many of my happy memories from our childhood. We were really close growing up. I cherish those memories. I'm grateful that I got to tell him that I loved him one last time in the hours leading up to his death. And as much as I hate the fact that my parents went thru any of this, I'm even a little bit grateful that he died in my parents home...in a familiar and loving place...probably knowing that my mom and dad were on the other side of the door...instead of dying in his car or in some drug den under circumstances that would have left us wondering exactly what happened.


It helps to come here and share with people who understand.
I hope in time that your happier memories with your brother will overshadow the pain you are feeling right now. Give it time...and give yourself as much love and pampering as you possibly can.

With much, much love, understanding and support...
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