Dear mama,

I understand how hard this is for you, as much as one bereaved mother can relate to another. I know your walls are up and your heart is broken. You’re doing your best to get through each day when you’d really just like to just lay down on their grave or crawl into the casket and die, too. The pain is unbelievable, unbearable, beyond description.

This type of loss is a little different. You’ve lost a child, but you’ve lost him or her to darkness that’s spreading across our land at an alarming rate. It’s consuming our children. It’s a war. An epidemic. A plague. You’re living part of a horrible history in our country and frankly, you cannot believe this is your life.

You’ve asked why a thousand times. You’ve gone over every detail trying to figure out if you could have done something differently.

You became a world-class detective in this process. Quite possible a public defender as well. You called in every resource you could imagine. You read everything you could. You did your best to understand them and love unconditionally while trying to give boundaries and life-giving support at the same time.

Mama bear, you fought with claws and teeth, defending and protecting with your life, a life you would have gladly given for theirs. But you still lost them, and you’ll go to your grave asking yourself why. That’s OK. We are going to get through this, and I hope we can do it together.

Mama, you loved your child. You did everything you could.

They knew you loved them and now it’s up to you to hold your head up. Say their name. It’s your job now to represent them in this life. To help others in this battle. To share your story. Talk about them. Educate people. All the while continuing to love that child unconditionally and with hope.

Your child had a disease that took their life. It isn’t a reflection on your parenting and it isn’t a reason for anyone else to look upon your family in judgment. In fact, it’s a time for everyone else to rally. To offer love and kindness in the most profound of ways.

Our kids didn’t want to be addicts. They didn’t want to be controlled by the demon of drugs.

Try to find a few bereaved mothers in your area to reach out to, to meet up with. We’ve been dealt a horrible hand but we are warriors—fire-breathing dragon moms—and we will fight this. We’ll fight for them and for all the others coming along behind them.

You are loved, dear mama. You are not alone.

Stand on your faith. This didn’t take your Heavenly Father by surprise and He has never left your side. Turn your face to Him and draw from that well of power and comfort. It is a war and we need an army. And frankly, I’ve never witnessed anything more powerful than a mother’s love for her child, so who better to fight?

My son’s name is John.

He was 24 when we lost him.

We thought he was doing better.

We still naively believed he could conquer it on his own—although he could not.

He did his best to protect us from the ugly truth of it but we had just started to understand how deep it was. Our last month with him was a glimpse into the future we thought we were going to have with him. He and his dad working together on the farm. He and I made dinner together, laughing.

He stopped me in the hallway that afternoon and gave me a long hug. Did he have any idea it would be our last?

We found him the next morning, peacefully snuggled into his bed. Although, what made him who he was—it was no longer there. Sometime during the night, he stopped breathing and our lives were devastated.

Like you, we wonder how we will get up each morning and continue on. But we do it. We do it for him.

We do it for the countless others who are struggling as well.

It’s been 17 months for us and it feels like only a minute has passed. So yes, I get it. I see your fear, the panic, and yet . . . I also see the supernatural peace that permeates the air you’re breathing and I see the Father who holds you up when you cannot take another step.

Lord God, give us the strength to walk this path and endurance to fight the war.

Our children are back with you in their heavenly home and they are safe and free. Keep them for us until we all meet again at that glorious reunion.

You may also like:

This is What it’s Like to Love an Addict

I Changed Overnight When I Lost My Son

You Cannot Control Seasons of Grief; You Can Only Move Through Them

This is Grief

Kristin Schlegel

Kristin and her husband have been married for 30 years. She found writing to be very therapeutic after losing their son, John, to the opioid epidemic at the age of 24. She hopes her writing will help other bereaved parents know that they are not alone.