I lost my son, Gregory, on August 25, 2015, to an overdose. He was 26 years old, an Army veteran and the most loving and kindest person who always put others ahead of himself.
The night I learned of my son’s death, I got very angry with God and screamed and cried and asked him how he could do this to me. God had always protected Gregory from birth as a premature baby, through his deployment to Iraq and many car accidents. Why not this time? “How could you let me lose my only son,” I asked him? He answered, “I lost my only son too.” It was from that moment on that I knew God would get me through this nightmare.
The next three months were the worst of my entire life. I wanted to die. I wanted to drink to drown out the sorrow. I didn’t care what happened to me anymore and a great darkness settled in. Somehow, by God’s grace, I decided I needed help because I wasn’t going to make it through this alone.
In October 2015, I went to New Life Church in LaPlata, Maryland, and attended GriefShare. God used that class to save my life. I had been away from the Lord for 24 years before this although I always acknowledged God in my life. I had not attended church or lived for him for a long time.
After being away from church for years, I attended a service at New Life Church on December 6, 2015. I knew I had found my church home. I began pouring myself into the Psalms, Job and Lamentations and letting God fill my soul with the most incredible revelations and wisdom about grief.
In March 2016, I began a Facebook group for those grieving the loss of a loved one because of substance abuse. The group is called Southern Maryland Overdose Death Support. In July of that same year, I joined the worship team and learned what power and healing there is in worship. I exchanged my spirit of heaviness for a life of praise to the Lord.
Just a few months later in 2016, the Lord impressed upon me to write a book about how people can grieve an overdose death in healthy ways. I learned what God says in Scripture: if you’re a Christian, you don’t have to grieve like the world. Christians can grieve in hope like it says in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, knowing we will be with our loved ones again one day.
This past July, I began attending New Plata’s location in nearby Calvert. I now speak at a substance loss grief program with Calvert Hospice, and I lead a women’s small group on Thursdays called Finding Freedom. I share how God took the worst thing that could ever happen to someone and use it to minister to hurting people. One of my favorite Bible verses is Genesis 50:20 when Joseph said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” God uses the broken to help the broken. I have various stories of how Greg’s death has impacted others so much that they are now in recovery.
God has restored my spirit, soul and body. After 15 years of struggling with anxiety and panic attacks, I have been delivered from that, and I am no longer on medication. I also find joy in helping many of my son’s friends who seek me out for help or advice. I’ve gone back to college to become a licensed professional counselor. God does exceedingly more than we can ask or think.
I thank God for New Life’s GriefShare program. I have found freedom, discovered my purpose and I am making an impact under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. I have hope and a future. Lamentations 3:20–26 says (NLT, paraphrased): I will never forget this awful time as I grieve my loss, but yet I still dare to hope when I remember the faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. So, I am taking this mess and making it a message and daring people to find hope. It is right there for the taking.