“What to Say to Someone Who Lost a Child”
For the full portion about “Grieving an Addict,” scroll halfway down the page or do a search for the term “Heidi.”


















A brief version of my son’s story appears in the book Loss, Survive, Thrive (by Meryl Hershey Beck: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2019). Here is an NPR interview about it on “Around Cincinnati,”

Here are powerful stories about what bereaved persons are doing to reduce stigma and slow the drug epidemic.

How pharma greed, government subsidies, and a push to make pain the “fifth vital sign” kicked off a crisis that costs $80 billion a year and has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.

What a Father Learned After Losing Both Sons to Drug Overdoses

Ames, IA mother sparks opioid conversation with billboard of daughter

Rapid City man speaks out against meth after twin’s death

This is how we reduce stigma and harm.
Patty Ellison lost her son to overdose and now teaches Naloxone training through Almost Home

Mother whose son died of heroin overdose connects to ‘compassionate’ agency

Denise Ilitch speaks about her brother Ron’s death, works to fight opioids

Brothers’ theater work explores toll of opioid crisis

What losing a loved one to an overdose says about the opioid epidemic in Delaware

Clermont County gives out resource bags for grandparents raising grandchildren

Woman’s raw post on addiction goes viral after brother-in-law’s overdose death

Her son died of an overdose. Now she sends hundreds of cards to parents like her, hoping to ease the stigma.

Blount County, TN, memorial tree to honor overdose victims: Tim Webb lost his daughter to an overdose in 2018. This year, he helped create the tree to honor her and all the other lives lost too soon.

With dozens of kids orphaned by opioid crisis, this Maryland county has new outlook on trauma services

Tinley Park, IL, Mom Gives Back After Son Dies From Opioid Overdose

Katz, who lost her son, Ian, to drugs now provides guidance to parents to help them reduce the risk of drug use in their families.

My husband was a veteran living in shame. He died from an opioid addiction. If the administration wants to help vets, they should address the stigma around pain and trauma.

Movie shot in western Mass inspiring others to take action

Overdose Lifeline offers a boxing class open to people dealing with all kinds of grief, and especially the anger toward the dealers, toward the addiction, toward themselves, toward community.

Seminole moms start support group for parents who lost kids to opioid overdose: ‘It’s really saved me’

Trish Perry is distributing clean syringes and first aid kits to drug users in Licking County, where official needle-exchange programs were recently banned. She knows the difficulty of addiction too well. Her son Billy advocated for syringe exchange programs, but later relapsed on heroin himself.

Those left behind: In the aftermath of an opioid death, families find ways to cope

Parents of student who died of fentanyl overdose open up about son’s death

Persistent false ideas about tough love or enabling or letting people hit rock bottom can seriously damage recovery, she added. “The definition of addiction is compulsively using a substance despite negative consequences.…How will having more bad things happen help that person get well? And yet, what do we do as a society? We take people’s kids away, we take their jobs away, we put them in cages. We kick them out of our health-care system, and we tell their families to kick them out on the street.”

Below Deck‘s Captain Lee Rosbach Opens Up About His Son’s Overdose: ‘I Deal with It Every Day’

This kind of honesty and request for assistance can help decrease the stigma of the brain disease of addiction.

Parents who lost their children to the opioid epidemic are now supporting families in the Buffalo, NY region who are faced with addiction.

Losing Claire: Family of 22-year-old who died of overdose calls for more aftercare services

“(The pills) are coming in through the dark web, they are being sold on the streets by drug dealers.”

Mother fights for families battling heroin after losing son to overdose. She co-created a team of counselors and experts with the mission of reconnecting addicts, families and the community.

Friend’s heroin addiction, death inspires Hanover woman to start helping kids

Like you, I never thought the opioid crisis would knock at my door. Then it came for my son. If our elected leaders have been slow to act, it isn’t because they are baffled about potential solutions

Saskatchewan: Fentanyl overdose victim’s mom wants Regina police to carry more naloxone kits

Parent’s mission to ‘do good’ after daughter’s overdose death comes to fruition with ‘Dillon’s Law’

Drug cop loses daughter to overdose, builds sober living house in her honor

Not in vain: Mothers to victims of the opioid epidemic band together

“Eliza had no way to call out for help. No way to alert her family that she was dying on their living room couch. That’s why her father is creating Eliza’s Watch — an app that would make it possible for an overdose victim to call out for help, even if they’re unconscious.”

“We are loving parents who have always given the best to our children. Lexi was not a ‘junkie,’ as some would say. She worked from the age of 16 and supported herself until her death. She was somebody. She was our beloved daughter. Her father and I will forever wonder if there was anything we could have done differently. It takes one use to become addicted to heroin.”

Week one of college, my son fatally overdosed. Schools must try to stop similar tragedies.

Grieving father donates to a nonprofit mental health center.

A grieving mother sets up a foundation to assist others. “Kennecke has started a nonprofit foundation known as Emily’s Hope which is dedicated to ending the stigma of addiction, educating people about it and financially assisting people who might not be able to afford treatment.”

Grieving sister speaks out against addiction stigma. “She’s lost several other loved ones since then and now the mother of three is hoping more families in southern Arizona will have candid, honest discussions about addiction and overdosing.”

Another parent turning grief into something that assists others. “We should do everything we can to prevent what happened to Giana from happening to anyone else.”

Virginia Parents of fatal overdose victim hope new law saves lives

“I want to save a lot of kids.” One father turns tragedy into drug awareness

Holly is a contributor to GRIEVING AN ADDICT. Very proud of what she and her husband are doing. “When we still had our Nicholas, we never talked about it. The pain and the shame and the stigma were real. They were part of our lives. That’s been our dream and our goal — for people to come out and talk, share their story to recognize and realize they’re not alone,” Holly said.

The Van Vs. An Opioid Addiction: Taking Treatment To The Streets

Two brothers, hockey players, dead on same day of opioid overdose. ‘It was just a horrible, horrible morning.’

How Psychologists Can Make a Difference

Brother of Ninety Six overdose victim shares family’s anguish

Hitting bottom is a myth for drug addicts. Many die before they even know they are in real trouble or can get help. Vicky Cornell: “We must integrate addiction treatment into our health care system — no more false narratives about the need to hit rock bottom, no more secret societies, no more shame — we must educate health care providers on how to treat addiction and best support recovery.”

This demonstrates how it takes a coordinated community effort to stop this mass-casualty medical event.

This is how it feels to lose a child to an overdose.

After the overdose: A family’s journey into grief and guilt

Moms of the dead from drugs: “Where is the outrage for us?” A mom who lost her own son to opioids now leads an organization of parents just like her. They do what they can to keep attention on the epidemic, testifying before Congress and speaking at rallies, believing more must be done to stop others from dying.

No One Tells You What It’s Like To Lose A Sibling

She reported on the opioid epidemic for years. Then, her daughter died of an overdose

The opioid crisis hits home. Mine. Our son Scott fatally overdosed last November. Nothing can bring him back, but I’ve learned some things that might help others cope with this affliction.

When the opioid epidemic hit home, this grandma fought back. Now she wants to help others

Mismanaged pain therapy — The real source of opioid addiction

Eric Bolling Shares Heartbreaking Story About His Son’s Overdose

Synthetic marijuana takes son’s life

Eagle Scout passes from overdose

Son lost to ‘demon heroin’

One danger of smoking marijuana is the possibility it has been laced with another substance

Treating addiction as a medical challenge