On Sun, Apr 17, 2011 at 2:51 PM, Miriam beck wrote:
First of all i want to say im so sorry for your loss ,i am currently studying loss and grief at college in the uk and i was wondering if it would be possible if you could compile an e-mail for me to read out to read to the class ,my group is currently researching “coping with the loss of a child as a result of addiction”
i understand there are groups currently available in the uk and services but after visiting your web page and seeing the comments and advice you have given to people its amazing that such a tragedy (and a long difficult one)can become a positive for other people ,and although addiction is difficult and stressful usually for the people who aren’t addicted id like to have your view on how you came to turn your devastation around into helping others ,ive visited a few web pages and contacted a couple of groups but people are somewhat angry still ,i think you are an inspiration and i think its very selfless of you to be able to put your own anger at your loss aside to help and understand other people .
ill understand if you are jut too busy but i think it would be beneficial in the learning process if we had your thoughts and take on it,i was going to have a speaker come in and speak for us but i would like to have you as my speaker ,ill just read out what you have to say ,
the talk would include things like personal statements,from the beginning of emotional rollercoaster,what you went through emotionally,mentally and so on,how your behaviour has changed to how you were before your loss,how you managed your emotions ,how you coped then and ow you cope now ,and any personal things you feel would be beneficial to know ,
our teaching is based from kubler ross and what is said about the cycle of grief ,and whether this is apparent to your experience
sorry for taking up so much of your time ,i would really appreciate your help if you are willing ,i think you are a very powerful and inspiring lady and again i am so very sorry for you loss
Thank you for writing to me and for your condolences at the loss of my daughter. I appreciate you taking the time to contact me and express your insight into my advocacy of The Jennifer Act.
Here is what you can read to your class,
Hello. My name is Sharon Blair. I am a mother of four children.I have a very strong faith in GOD. I believe that Jesus is the Son of GOD and my personal Savior.
My daughter, Jennifer, struggled with a drug addiction for almost 13 years. She was bright, smart, talented, energetic and passionate about life and very compassionate toward others. (Much like a lot of you are, I am sure.) Somehow along the way of teenage years, my daughter decided to hang out with a new group of friends that were different from her old school mates. These friends were into partying (like alcohol and drugs). We lived in Largo, Florida and the “happening place” was to go to Tampa, Florida to “Rave Clubs”. This is a club where people dance and hang out and drink alcohol and use drugs. This was a choice that ended up destroying Jennifer’s young life, ultimately.
She started using Ecstasy, prescription pain medications (opiates), alcohol and smoking pot. This lead to another powerful addiction- heroin. I did not know Jennifer was using drugs at the beginning. I was seeing signs that were alarming, such as, changing her old friends for new friends, stopping school activities, sport activities, appearance changed, hair changed, starting wearing lots of heavy makeup, etc.
What was so shocking was that Jennifer was an Honor Roll student, had many friends, was very well likes by peers and teachers, attended church from a young age and believed in God and Jesus as her Savior. She was very helpful to me with her other siblings, a younger brother and a younger sister and an older brother. Everything changed when Jennifer made that fatal decision to use drugs.
When I found out she had in fact, an addiction to drugs, I was devastated and shocked and very afraid she would die. This set the ball in motion for me to get help for Jennifer. I sought out many, many counselors, drug treatment specialists, treatment providers, etc to find help for her. I was very scared for her life. That motivated me to keep pushing, keep seeking, keep asking, keep finding help.
Jennifer’s horrific addiction took her to many jails across Florida. Each time she was incarcerated, I wold plead before the Judges and beg for help for Jennifer. I would explain that she had a drug addiction and would beg them to court order her into treatment. I had one Judge in Tampa, tell me that “no one was going to be rail roaded in his court room”! He told me he did not want to see me again in his court room. I could not believe it! I explained to him I was a mother seeking help and intervention for my child and that she will surely die without proper substance addiction, long term, residential treatment. I was right. Jennifer did die, just like my instincts told me she would!
Jennifer and I had a very special bond and we loved each other very much. She was my daughter and no matter what, I was pushing and pushing to see her get the proper treatment she deserved. Her addiction was so very strong and it had such a strong hold on her that she could not overcome it on her own will power. She tried and tired to detox and fight the disease of addiction, but she always gave in and relapsed. She tried methadone maintenance many times and every time that failed to work as “treatment” for her. My child was slipping away and slipping in and out of reality due to her heavy drug addiction and I watched this as a “train wreck” happening in front of my eyes with no way to stop the devastation that my eyes were seeing!! Fear is a very powerful emotion and a mother whose child is dying is a motor that runs all on it’s own. It is an instinct for a mother to save their child. (Even if the child is young adult child). They are in grave danger and you know it and you will stop at nothing to get help before they die!
After dealing with the court system, Judges, policemen, Prosecutors, Public Defenders and many professionals in the addiction field, I saw a real need and a real urgency that no one was addressing on the legislative end. That was a petition with in the court system to assist those families who were in a life and death crisis. Florida has a petition called the Marchman, but it was very flawed and did not work. It was flawed!! After filing 5 of these petitions on behalf of my daughter to get intervention and help for her and then her death…..I knew I had to do something to fix this flawed system we have in the United States.
As for the grief part, you have graciously asked me about….that has been a very long process for me. I fought for 13 years to save Jennifer and to see her dead was very hard for me and very painful. I was very sad that after everything that happened, through all the trials and tribulations we went through, to see it all end so horrific and so in humane was un-bearable for me. I had to make a decision when I saw Jennifer dead. I could become angry or I could become an advocate for change.
I decided to take my incredible pain, grief sorrow and mourning the great loss of my dear precious child and channel it into something powerful and something good to help other people who are in the same crisis I was with Jennifer. I decided to log all the experiences and where there were gaps and flaws and where we need to fix things and implement things as tools to aid those who cannot help themselves. (those addicted) I knew GOD id not bring me through this incredible and indescribable experience for with out a purpose.
Now I am on television, radio, newspaper, magazines and do advocacy work with NOPE Task Force as a spokes person for those who have lost a loved one to substance addiction. I am on a committee to participate in a Memorial Candle Light Vigil for those mourning the loss of a friend or family member who has died from an overdose or a substance related death. This past week, I was a guest speaker for a benefit concert at Indiana University Campus in Bloomington, IN. called: Addicted To Music. I spoke of addiction to drugs and alcohol and shared some of Jennifer’s story and The Jennifer Act legislation for Indiana and Florida to assist those who are addicted.
Like I said in the beginning, I am a faithful woman who believe in GOD. With GOD by my side, I have made it through all of those years of Jennifer’s addiction, pain and suffering and I will tell you, I suffered each day that she suffered. With out GOD, I do not think I would have came though all of this with a sound mind. GOD has allowed me this experience to help others. I did my very best to save Jennifer and I use that same passion to help other people who are suffering. I have walked in their shoes.
Jesus Christ suffered and died for my sins and the sins of the world. He showed great compassion to die for all of mankind. I am following His example and doing what He wants me to do.
I get emails and calls from many mothers who are devastated by the loss of their child due to an overdose. They ask me the same thing you have, “how can I do this”? I can do this because I know it is what GOD wants me to do. I hope this answers your questions that you have asked of me.
Thank you for writing to me.