This post was submitted anonymously.
An early morning in August 2016, the day before my 60th birthday, the phone rang. My beautiful son. “What, what – what are you saying?? “He is dead?” My son gone, in untenable circumstances. His life just another snowflake in the fentanyl poisoning avalanche, part of the aggregate in a BC Coroner Service Report Illicit Drug Overdose Deaths in BC January 1, 2007 – October 31, 2016 and so many, many more since.
This is the reality that is still unreal to me. My beautiful snowflake, unique from any other, is no longer here to laugh with me or argue or to give me parental angst. He is no longer here to hug his children, whom he loved so fiercely, with such joy and delight in their own unique personalities.
Yet I get up every day. I kiss his picture. I wear his clothes. His baby shoes and work boots sit side by side on a table next to his photo. People tell me I am doing so well – I don’t know what that means. I expect him to return. I expect a sign, a visitation, a resurrection.
I am telling you this story. I can’t help myself. I can’t seem to contain it. Those close to me think that what is happening to me is “complicated grief” where you become stuck in the acute grief period. The literature says some factors that may contribute to this state are: death of a child; if the death has been violent or traumatic, sudden or unexpected; or the circumstances surrounding the death.
Yes – sudden, traumatic and tragically I believe following from the violence and trauma he experienced in his short life. This is the legacy of violence in our home against my children and me. Trauma that carried on after we got away, when social workers chose to believe a charming abuser and not the disclosure of a frightened little five year old. A system steeped in patriarchy that insisted I send him to stay alone on visitation week-ends or go to jail for withholding access and risk losing him myself. And for which I can never forgive myself for not just taking him and running away, but where and with what resources? This trauma that eventually led my son as he grew into a teenager into addiction to deal with his pain, and that due to a poisoned drug supply took his life.
It has been just over a year now since he died and in that time over 1,200 other mothers have lost their children. I feel their pain. The resulting community trauma from this loss is exponential. We know that addiction is often the result of childhood trauma, much of that trauma from either witnessing or being abused. We have not even begun to address the roots of this problem. That is where we need to begin.
In this so-called “season of peace”, we would do well to reflect on what peace really means. We will never truly have peace on earth until there is peace in our homes, until they are places where violence has no place, until there is true equality between men and women. Whether male or female, we are so programmed into male dominance and female submission in all aspects of life by patriarchy we can’t freely engage in any activity without its taint. Peace begins in our bedroom, kitchens, and living-rooms, in compassion, equality and loving respect toward each other, as partners, as parents, as people, as co-inhabitants of this beautiful blue marble of Earth. We must return to balance and reverence for all life. When we have achieved that state there will be peace on earth.
Do you have a story to share? Write to me @firstname.lastname@example.org