‘Remembering my son’ by Susan C

IMG_2398Some of the most moving blogs on Wired In To Recovery were from Susan C who lost her loving son Michael from a heroin overdose in 2010.

Sue contacted me recently and said how much she missed the old website. She found it to be a lifeline when she was struggling. I had the impression that writing helped Sue deal with her terrible loss, if only a little. Here is one of Susan’s blogs from 2011.

Next week, I start a three part ‘Story by Blog’ by Susan C entitled ‘Missing Michael’.

Before leaving you with Susan’s blog, I would like to take this opportunity of thanking Susan and Michael for their very generous donation towards this website. I was humbled by Susan’s kindness and I would like her to know that her generosity has really helped and been greatly appreciated.

“Michael, I never had the pleasure of meeting you, but I have learnt a lot about you from Susan. You clearly are a very special person.  I know that I am going to hear much more about you, through Susan, and I hope that I can help distribute your Story to large numbers of people, so we can help as many people as possible. You would be very proud to know that I, and many other people who read her blogs on Wired In To Recovery, think that your mother is a very special lady.”

‘My son Michael was born 30 years ago yesterday and died last year from a heroin overdose.

Michael was such a lovely young man who struggled from drug addiction and mental health issues. Dual diagnosis in the medical world.

At the time of his death he was in the care of the NHS under Section 3. I thought he was safe and secure, looked after and at last a chance of recovery. What has followed during the last year has been a nightmare of raw agonising grief, regrets, unanswered questions, police investigations, an NHS inquiry and a Coroners Inquest still to come.

What has been lost in all this has been my son, the young lad who brought me so much love and happiness and the man who struggled to get his life back on the straight and narrow. During those harrowing years, I was always alongside Michael being pushed from pillar to post as ‘only the mother’ – yet the only consistent person in his life.

Often taking ‘the tough love approach’ as suggested by Families Anonymous (FA), or the desperate approach of begging for support for my son, but all the time watching the disintegration of a beautiful human being.

Imagine seeing your son begging on the street, homeless, filthy with gangrenous feet. Receiving little or no kindness when he visited the hospital for his daily injection for his blood clot. Or pleading for some kind of help and support, but with no registered doctor or home address he became a non-existent person.

Visiting the prison where he was on remand, kept in the hospital wing because he was so mentally unwell until a secure hospital unit became available. Reporting him as a missing person and wondering if one day I would get the dreaded phone call.

But Michael picked himself up, went into detox, completed Stage 1 and Stage 2 of rehab and to see a glimpse of my son returning was like a gift from heaven. Yet his mental health was on the decline. What comes first? The drug addiction or the mental health problems? What the hell does is matter? Treat the person. Treat them together. It’s so frustrating.

And then safety. Michael was in hospital safe, warm and secure and then the phone call. Michael was not on the streets, not homeless in the true sense of the word, clean from drugs, being cared for by the system. Yet the phone call came when I last expected it. He was dead.

Now over a year later I can write and talk about things – albeit in a detached way. And do not feel the raw grief but an acceptance that has come through time.

Also a sadness that Michael is one of many who search for recovery and are so dependent on the system. A system that strives to support, but still judges. And often forgets that this person is still a human being, someones son or daughter, is loved by someone and certainly did not wake up one morning and choose to become an addict.

I loved my son and he was such a special young man. And I believe that Michael has given me such a precious gift. The gift of acceptance. To value every human being as special, not to judge. But more importantly to move on in my life and to begin to make a difference.

Sometimes I can’t believe that this has happened. It’s not a living nightmare any more, as in my earlier blogs, but more like a strange dream but I am awake and it is real. I would love to talk to Michael again, but that is not possible. What is possible is for me to learn from this terrible experience. Challenge where possible. Value the smaller things in life. And to start to live again.

Yesterday morning, I visited the place where Michael died and saw the daffodils swaying in the breeze, felt the sunshine on my face and remembered Michael smiling at me. And felt more at peace than I have done for a long time.

Thank you for allowing me to share this with you.

Sue x’

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