When I lost my son, Joel, in 2017 to complications due to heroin/meth addiction, I entered a time of deep depression and utter hopelessness. When others tried to offer well-meaning support, they often tried to connect me with “their friend who lost their son in a car accident” or “someone whose child died after a tragic bout with cancer.”
It’s not the same.
There is a stigma associated with deaths of this kind and the judgment that says, “they did this to themselves” or “your over/under parenting contributed to their death,” resulting in unrelenting self-abuse riddled with shame, guilt, and an endless list of “woulda-coulda-shouldas” that you will never be able to correct. Those of us who have experienced this kind of loss understand there is no one-size-fits-all to working through grief. Grief recovery is not linear and we need a safe place where our own kind of “relapse” is understood: in a world where overdose and substance use are in the news daily, there are many triggers that can send us careening back to the very earliest days of our loss with little warning, and an experienced, supportive community assures us these feelings and emotions are completely normal.
The Refuge is a private online space where parents find community and support in the deepest, saddest, loneliest, and most profound grief we never imagined possible.
Here, your pain is understood, as well as the roller-coaster of grief that never follows a linear path.
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