My Son Is Gone: Mother of Heroin Victim Living a Nightmare

Man Standing Alone

He’s gone. He’s dead. He died. Somehow, those words just don’t gel. There is no logic behind them. They make no sense. He was 32. He was the love of my life. I know that this is the worst thing that will ever happen to me. My son is gone. He died from addiction. His body could take no more abuse, and his heart stopped beating on January 22, 2016, at 5:55 p.m. The worst day of my life.

I begged. I screamed. I cried. I bargained for his life. I prayed that his pain would be removed, that he would find a way to kick heroin, give up alcohol, that he would find a way to love himself and life, that he would have quality of life before he transitioned from this life into the mystic, that he would outlive me. None of those things happened. He is gone.

I am angry. I am utterly bereft. Sometimes I am angry with him for not getting better, for not trying harder, for leaving me with all of this overwhelming grief. He certainly tried to get better. He went to rehab twice, detox twice, meetings a few times. He didn’t want the disease of addiction any more than one would want cancer or AIDS. He was sick. The disease is powerful, and it rips out the hearts of loved ones who watch their kids spiral out of control. I did everything I could to save his life. I loved him and I worked hard to show him that. With addiction, love is never enough.

All of his pre-addiction friends, the family members who adored him, were no longer “family” to him. His fellow junkies and alcoholics were where he felt most loved. I simply could not reach him. He was slowly committing suicide. He was successful. I saw it coming, and the sicker he got, the more powerless I became.

It’s never a dull moment loving an addict. Your sanity is always on the line, as they lie to you without any remorse. He lied to me over and over again, even as I watched him nod out mid-sentence. He would say, “Mom, I’m just really tired. I know what you’re thinking though. You’re always judging me. You have no faith in me.” I would question my own sanity, and wonder if he was right, and maybe I wasn’t giving him the benefit of the doubt. Addicts deal with the judgment of their loved ones forever and a day, even when they are doing well, there’s always their loved one’s responses to history. “I’ve been here before with you. Why should I trust you?” I hoped against the evidence that stared me square in the face that he was making progress. I knew, but I didn’t want to know. Denial’s tentacles reach deep into the most logical of us. Certainly, I was the crazy one. Crazy meant that there was still hope for him, I was wrong about him, he was going to kick it this time. He was going to be fine.

My son was well-versed in the 12-step language. He was manipulative. He was sometimes cruel in his counterattacks during our fights when I tried calling him on his shit. He was like a child who clings tightly to his filthy shreds of his favorite blanket. My son was strung out on dope, always holding on tightly to the promise of his next dance with it.

I watched him get sicker and sicker. I tried to prepare myself for the eventuality of his death. Note to self: You can never prepare yourself for the death of your child. It’s not supposed to happen this way. I used to lie in bed at night wondering where he was, wondering whom he was with, wondering if he was alive, and praying that he would have a moment of clarity and he would wake up from his heroin haze and want better for himself, but my dream for him has ended, and as I work out the details of where he is post self-destruction, I know this, he’s no longer in pain. I am trying to let that be enough, in between numbness and utter despair.

I’ve spent so many years with him as the center of my universe, I’ve forgotten how to be me without him. I did not know that it was possible to survive this kind of pain. I miss my son when he was happy, when he was whole. It’d been a long time since those days. My heart is broken. In the twilight of my dreams, I see him lying dead in the hospital bed, and in the final hour, his heart starts beating again, and he awakens from death with a new lease on life. And then I awaken, and he is still gone.

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28 Responses to My Son Is Gone: Mother of Heroin Victim Living a Nightmare

  1. Pam February 23, 2016 at 2:11 pm #

    Powerful, you took the words right out of my mouth. I understand your thoughts, feelings and sorrow. I am so sorry for your pain. I do appreciate you putting words to them for others. <3

    • Sherrie March 26, 2016 at 6:21 pm #

      You’re welcome, Pam. Another person who lost her grandson to this brutal disease told me that writing to her grandson everyday helps her with the grief. I’m a writer anyhow…and I’m not quite there yet to address my son in a journal. It’s still so new. The wound is still gaping and raw. I appreciate you reading. Thank you.

  2. Peter Cook February 23, 2016 at 2:45 pm #

    I am so sorry. My 18 yr old son Dan died of an overdose on 11/24/13. My heart shattered that day.

    • Sherrie March 26, 2016 at 6:22 pm #

      Peter: I am so sorry for your loss. That drug is vicious and our babies are gone because of it. My heart grieves with yours.

    • susan lingle May 15, 2016 at 6:12 pm #

      My son hanged himself on 10/23/13. He was addicted to heroin and he had gotten a dui lost his license and his gf broke up with him. He felt he had no other choice and that he was a burden.

  3. Magda February 23, 2016 at 3:41 pm #

    Beautifully expressed declaration of love and pain.

  4. Tatjana February 23, 2016 at 8:32 pm #

    My momma heart hurts for yours. I hope you will continue to write about this and am sure you will reach many people. May you find some peace in that – even if just a fraction.

    • Betty C Hendrickson February 27, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

      I know your pain, I lost my son, but he was only 7yrs old when he ran out in front of a car & died, the pain of losing a child is the worse pain in the world, but I turned to God & HE really seen me thru all my pain! I couldn’t have done it without HIS help, all I can say is I will pray for you & Ask the Lord to send you HIS comforter, but you have to also ask HIM to help you, I was hanging out in bars & the night I lost my son, I decided to go too Church the next night & that is where I got my help. It was a little Pentecostal Church out in Calif. I actually got filled with the HOLY SPIRIT that night, & was instantly changed! I will keep you in my prayers! Betty

  5. Janet D February 23, 2016 at 10:57 pm #

    Beautifully and powerfully written. Wishing you peace.

  6. Nancy oliver February 24, 2016 at 3:09 pm #

    Thank you. Your article really touched my Mommy soul
    as I have lost both of my children to this terrible disease. Please keep writing- it will help you and all of us!

    • Sherrie March 26, 2016 at 6:23 pm #

      Nancy: Words cannot begin to express my condolences adequately to you. My heart grieves with yours. Peace, Momma.

  7. Laura Ivy February 24, 2016 at 9:29 pm #

    Hi Sharon,
    I haven’t lost a child but I am quite familiar with addiction and the way it ravages families and turns our loved ones into strangers. I spent so much time upset and torn up about my Dad and all his decisions and choosing meth and alcohol over his family. Some small part of me still feels bitter even after seeing him ruined and eventually taken from us because of it. I too prayed that eventually he would have clarity and wake up one day and being free of his demons and getting sober would prevail. It never did. 🙁 Thanks for sharing your experience through this. May love and light embrace you and heal you in time.

    • Laura Ivy February 24, 2016 at 9:31 pm #

      DOH! I meant Sherrie of course. My apologies to the author. :/

      • Sherrie March 26, 2016 at 6:25 pm #

        Thank you, Laura. I’m so sorry about your dad. Addiction is a bitch. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I want people to remember to see the person who is still in there buried underneath the addiction. As long as the person is still alive, there is hope. I hoped until my son’s very last breath.

        Thank you for the gift of Light. I send the same to you.

  8. Patty February 25, 2016 at 6:43 pm #

    My 22 year old son died of a heroin overdose in 2009. I still hurts like it just happened. I am still broken. I don’t know what to say.

    • Sherrie March 26, 2016 at 6:27 pm #

      Patty: Yes, it hurts. I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s still relatively new for me, this whole, terrible grieving process, but I take heart from veterans in the process, and I listen and accept the wisdom from all of you. Namaste.

  9. Cathi February 28, 2016 at 3:34 am #

    My heartfelt sympathy goes out to you. I almost lost my Daughter but by the Grace of God she is still here. We have such an epidemic of bad heroin hete that we are losing such rapid numbers of our young each week. Im honestly at a loss for words. We had another 27 year old friend yesterday land in the obituary’s. His family wrote such a beautiful tribute to their son/brother and his addiction it would bring anyone to tears. Please pray for this illness. My heart breaks for the families whom have to say good bye this way. Just another caring petson with a big heart.

    • Sherrie March 26, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

      Thank you, Cathi. I pray that your daughter finds her way out permanently. It’s a horrible drug.

  10. Samantha March 7, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

    this is so true I myself am a recovering heroin addict and I cant seem to get the point across to a lot of people that it is a disease and that its very hard to make that first step to recovery and even harder to stay away and keep on the right path iv been clean for almost 2yrs now and I’m still struggling day by day to stay clean and I’m still in my recovery program here its called the BMAT program its amazing and works if you work it I’m hoping to help other addicts in the future I have tried to help a few people with only one success so far iv had to lose people that where my best friends but had to tell them that we can no longer talk anymore cause they didn’t want my help and didn’t respect my sobriety it sucks but to stay in recovery you have to change people places and things and have lots of love and support I’m so sorry for your lost and my prayers are with you your son is no longer in pain or suffering from this evil disease god bless

    • Sherrie March 26, 2016 at 6:29 pm #

      Thank you, Samantha. I appreciate your heart, and I pray that you have long-term sobriety and live to be a spunky old lady with wisdom to impart to those who truly want the help. Namaste.

  11. Laura March 8, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

    Your story is my story. I, too, lost my one a child, a son at age 22 to his heroin addiction. That was 20 months ago and I have days when I am still a wreck. We do all that we can but when facing heroin addiction, what we can do is not enough.

    • Sherrie March 26, 2016 at 6:31 pm #

      Laura: I’m so sorry for your loss. We will get through this together. Have you heard of GRASP?? It has a FB page, and the people there are so awesome. All of them have lost loved ones to addiction. Many, many parents are there. My heart grieves with yours.

  12. Maggi March 27, 2016 at 7:55 am #

    My dear, beautiful soul sister. I knew this day was coming, but could do nothing to stop it. I knew you were bartering, hoping, praying, and begging with addiction, to leave Rikki alone and let him live out his life as a son and a Dad. Addiction is killing our young people. I felt your struggle and learned from you, how to fight for my child’s life. I am still learning. I grieve with you for the child that you brought to this world, who left much, much too soon. He had an artist’s eye. A good heart. I watched my family grapple with Addiction. I watched their lives fall into pieces. I watched them lose everything and everyone they loved. Of the 6 of us, my eldest brother is an alcoholic, who is now fighiting Diabetes due to his self-abuse, my sisters, both ravaged by meth, alcohol, and one, by heroin, my brother, finally out of custody, making his way, one day at a time, at almost 60 years old, and the youngest, whose body shows the signs of chemical ablation. My own addiction, food, almost killed me too. It’s a disease that lives in every cell of our bodies. Together, we will shine a bright, glaring light on this disease, and hopefully, we will save some souls along the way. Rikki will live forever in his son. We will make sure this disease does not get a hold of him. With love, compassion, and whatever is necessary. I will do the same with my child. She will live. We will go on and fight this disease, wherever we can, in hopes of saving them. I love you and I wholeheartedly wish this had not happened, to anyone. I pray that every day brings you a little more peace.

  13. SCOTT GROVER March 30, 2016 at 6:48 pm #

    Sherrie, I was fortunate to have two parents who were polar opposites.

    My mother was addicted to liquor, nicotine, and many prescription drugs.

    My dad: none of those things nor any other addictions.

    ACOA (adult children of alcoholics) all sustain damage, especially when the addict parent is also an abuser.

    ACOA’s go typically towards full-blown addiction, or they shun it completely. I was blessed to have my non-addict, non-abusing father.

    One of our great sources of common ground, Sherrie, is childhood (and adult) pain. We strive daily to take our pains and pay them forward as common ground with others of like pains.

    Most of us go to our graves with deep hurts within us that have never healed. But in the meantime, we try to make our life’s lemons into sweet lemonade that we offer to others.

    Indeed, we are loved.

  14. Debra Cortez April 8, 2016 at 9:56 pm #

    Hi ..my son was 25..He over dosed on Herion..on Febuary 10,2016..I saw him struggle these last 5 years….After 3 cars 2 rentals…numerous phones. ..
    He was with me most of the time..he did try to get help . He was CLEAN..since Decmber 31…got dismissed on Feb. 5..we had a wonderful weekend with him..As if he was the person we knew with out .drugs…But on the third day ..he was going to the store…But never come..back…then we got that call…I am glad I gave him..unconditional love…I did know ..I could not help him….It had to be on his owe….he went to 7 rehabs..so at least he kept trying to fix his addiction..Herion is a drug……that’s just takes over…Oh ..I would cry, scream, get angery,..loss sleep…waiting for him to come home….as time went by..I realized…he was struggling..not happy..and he once told me…mom I think I’m in to deep..I asked…what do you mean..he said never mind…I thank God..for a beautiful son ..RIP. Henry Cortez IV..”JC”…

  15. Michelle May 12, 2016 at 1:10 pm #

    Sherrie i feel for u so much but i cannot relate to your pain and i pray i never have tò my 25 year old son had a ice addiction for some time went to rehab has amazing friends but now has a gambling problem its so hard all i have is me but im determined to leave this earth seeing my son happy with no addictions. Thstruggled

  16. Victoria July 29, 2016 at 4:23 pm #

    My heart aches so deeply for all of you-my son is in the midst of his battle. His last binge scared me so much that I still have every knife, pairs of scissors, and anything else that could be used as s weapon hidden away. I am spending food and rent money to repair the physical destruction to our home, but can’t find a way to repair my hurting heart. I told him I couldn’t do this crazy circus anymore and he left telling everyone I am so selfish that I kicked him out with no money and no where to go. He twisted my words & yet I feel afraid for him and guilty for appreciating the peace and ability to sleep through the night. My heart hurts so much knowing he’s out there, somewhere, alone in his addiction. His dad (my ex)passed in Dec, due to alcohol addiction that ravaged his body and mind, he was physically & emotionally abusive to our son, yet the courts continued to give him visitation over & over with each court mandated class he sat in . Now my son bears the scars, physically, emotionally, and mentally. I don’t know what to do; I am no match for him when he’s using and on a rampage, I’m grieving the disappearance of my sweet, loving, caring and intelligent son who’s still alive in an addicts body…thank you for this story; I am sorry for your loss- more than words could ever convey

  17. Lupe August 11, 2016 at 5:37 pm #

    Oh God so many of us are dealing with this. My son was saved, he OD and NARCAM was used twice to bring him back.I still feel like I’ve died. Blessings to all of you that have lost your child I’m so sorry.

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