Patty Gail Patten was guest speaker at our last Parents Helping Parents meeting (Edmond Chapter). Her topic of “Grieving the Loss of the Child of Your Dreams” was one that was well received by her audience.
Parents of a child who is addicted to alcohol or other drugs must deal with their loss in much the same way as parents whose child physically has been lost.
Unfortunately, with parents of an addicted child, the grieving is repeated over and over with every relapse the child has on his/her path to long-term recovery.
There are three stages of grief for parents:
The first is shock and denial. You just can’t believe something like this can happen to you or your child. This forces you into denial and you go on with your daily activities as if nothing as actually happened.
The next stage is anger, or depression. You may find yourself turning inward away from your usual activities and/or people.
The third stage is understanding and acceptance. You will sense a feeling of peace and serenity. In addition, you will regain your ability to find a new meaning in your life.
Patty Gail indicated that these stages can overlap one another and they may not be experienced in a specific order. Everyone heals in his/her own way and time.
There was one last critical, vital statement from Patty Gail. She said addiction is now accepted as a mental illness.
I feel one of the most critical issues parents face is understanding that addiction is a disease, a primary disease, a brain disease.