This One Is Personal: #July15thForever - My Nephew and his untimely death...
Uncharted Path Productions presents:
"Let's Talk About It" Weekly Mental Digest
Spotlighting "My Nephew" and his untimely death.
by Shari Wilson, Psy. M.
July 15, 2022
When Someone Loss Their Battle and You Weren't Ready to Lose Them.
Hey, Welcome Back. This week touches a lot of nerves. So let's Talk About It!
Today is the first year that my family is celebrating my nephew, Derrek's 32nd birthday.
Although normally this would be a great occasion, this one is going to be celebrated a tad bit different because unfortunately, we aren't in the same realm. He lost his battle with addiction last May of 2021 and the number of emotions that are on shuffle and repeat can cause even the strongest to buckle. I can only empathize with her and even then you can hear the pain in her voice.
So imagine, receiving a phone call from an unknown number, to find out that the person on the other end of the line was identifying themselves as a coroner who is asking you questions about your child to see if you could identify a body.
WAIT, YOU'RE CALLING ME FOR WHAT?
WAIT, A BODY, AS IN SOMEONE DIED?
Being asked by the coroner, "Do you have a son by the name of Derrek?" With hesitation, "Yes, I do." Then being asked, "if you could give me his full name, date of birth, and any additional identifying information." With even more reservation, you give all information that matches what they have on file. That is when you are informed that your 1st born is deceased from an overdose. THAT, THAT RIGHT THERE is the initial moment that denial rushes in like a punch in the gut and having the wind knocked out of you.
My sister, Charlotte's brain was simply saying, "Nah, there's no way they meant to call me. They meant to call someone else about someone else's loved one". "Was that call even real?" "NOPE, couldn't be. " "We're just going to disregard that WHOLE phone call because he's still alive, THIS IS NOT TRUE."
At some point, that emotion then bled into the anger of simply "WHY GOD? WHAT THE HECK!?! WHY MY SON? WHY DID HE HAVE TO GET TANGLED UP IN THIS? WHY COULDN'T HE BEAT THIS? WHY DIDN'T HE REACH OUT? WHY ME? WHY THIS FAMILY? JUST WHY?
Honestly, when it comes to a mother and their child(ren), that's a different level of indescribable pain, void, and absence. I wouldn't wish that on my worse enemy. I can truly say that when it comes to strong women. My sister is one of the strongest I've ever known and yes, I may be a little bias, even in her strength. I believe that no parent should ever have to go through nor experience losing a child. A mother lays down their life for their child without any hesitation. A mother does any and everything for their child. So, it would only make sense for a mother that is going through the stages of losing a child to addiction to not only question "why?" but also bargain with the fact of "WHY NOT ME INSTEAD?"
Depression is an emotion that falls right in line with the previous emotions of grief that were experienced because this is now the body's physical response to what the brain is trying desperately to process. The will to do ANYTHING is easily lost; THAT'S MY CHILD! We've had our ups and downs, but still I want him here with me. This emotion is the hardest one to work through because there are so many woulda', shoulda' and coulda's that play through one's head. These scenarios can create a heavy weight because it tends to "bring to light" what they "missed", leading to beating themselves up over what you couldn't control.
With however much time is needed because the grieving process is direct, the beating yourself up goes from a 10 to a 7; along with a slight realization that maybe you couldn't change him. Although you would rather have him here you begin to accept the situation given. You're not accepting it because you're "ok" with what has happened, you're accepting it because it is out of your control. Continually beating yourself up can not change what has happened nor will it make your grief any less, it actually will do the complete opposite because those scenarios will play like a broken record. This will only lead to what feels like a continuous rabbit hole of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, guilt, shame, and even fear. This is not a healthy way to get through an already intense and painful time.
That guilt ALONE, if you let it, can be too heavy to deal with. You can become shameful because your loved one has died from an addiction that was downplayed or even the simple fact that there WAS an addiction. Like, "we don't do that in this family" type thing. Then it's like if this has happened to one of my children there's a fear that one may think "are my other children safe from this fate?" Questions from everywhere, may not even be logical but it's the simple fact, that one never thought they could lose a child to substance abuse, so then it's almost like trying to cover your bases of "what else could happen? "A loss from just natural causes, can still affect an individual who would still go through the stages of grief but it gets a bit tricky when a loved one is lost to addiction.
Now don't get me wrong, as challenging as the stages of grief are, it is still important to make your way through the stages so that a type of healing can begin. Is it going to hurt? YES and you CAN make it through! Whether an accidental or intentional overdose, they still don't want to hurt the ones they leave behind. In a misconstrued way, they want their family to not hurt for them in their absence, but instead celebrate their life and the good memories that were created.
So, what do you do when you've lost someone? If at ANY POINT, the grief gets to feel too heavy, reach out. TALK TO SOMEONE, ANYONE! Allow yourself to feel, not every difficult time requires you to be "strong". Sometimes strength comes in the vulnerability that is shown. Don't shut yourself off from everyone, allow yourself to be checked on. Everything doesn't have to be dealt with alone so surround yourself with those who you can process with. Start to dwell on the good memories. This is a start to getting to a place where you can process the trauma without completely shutting down. Will it stop hurting? Most likely not, but the more you allow yourself to feel, the more you talk about your loss; you'll begin to cope, process, and heal.
So to you Derrek, on your 32nd birthday today; we celebrate you and all of the good things you brought to us. You will always be remembered and never forgotten. Your mom sees you in everything, from cell phone notifications to things popping up that just remind her of you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! We love you!
Thank you all for stopping by. Here is a link to seek out help during grief or loss.
About the writer:
Shari Wilson has a true heart to listen to anyone who shares their experiences, traumas, or just life in general. She studied at Purdue Global University, acquiring her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Behavioral Analysis and Addictions Psychology in 2016. On the path to furthering her studies, she received her Master of Psychology in 2018 from Purdue Global University. Since then she has been enamored with the ability to use her education to help others through difficult times.
She is a Consulting Psychologist for UnCharted Path Productions, working on the upcoming psychological thriller series titled, “Hidden District”. She is a mom of 3, a wife, and an amazing friend to those around her.
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