It is a year ago this week since my 41-year-old son died. He had been an alcoholic for many years but ironically it was not drink that killed him. He overdosed on non-prescription painkillers – his action, almost certainly, a tragic accident but we will never know for sure what happened in those final hours before he passed away. His mental health had deteriorated noticeably in the months prior to his death, exacerbated by the isolating restrictions Covid had forced on him and he was struggling both physically and emotionally.
For the past twelve months my family and I have had to deal with the consequences of his sudden, unexpected death. We have been interviewed by the police, read distressing medical reports, attended an upsetting Coroner’s Inquest, employed Solicitors to settle his financial affairs, and finally, sadly, we have had to dispose of his personal possessions and sell his home.
I am now left with bitter sweet memories and a freedom I have not experienced for over twenty years. I no longer fear the calls advising me that my son is being admitted to A&E yet again, or the messages from his worried neighbours, concerned that they haven’t seen him in a while. Nor do I have to watch while paramedics try to resuscitate him in his own home or accompany him to hospital in an ambulance when more prolonged treatment is required.
A year on and my grief is still debilitating but I don’t want my son’s life to be defined solely by his addiction. He was so much more to his family, friends and colleagues. I recall cherished memories of the happy, carefree boy who grew up to be a talented, funny, thoughtful, caring adult, much loved by those who knew him best. A man whose future was tragically cut short by a cruel, devastating dependency, which despite his desperate efforts, he was unable to overcome.
I continue to be counselled by Families Out Loud and I know I am not alone on this journey. I especially appreciate being able to share with other bereaved families the sadness, shock, and above all, the overwhelming sense of despair we all experience when losing a loved one to addiction.