Canada A mother's grief: 'You're never there. There's always work to be done'

15:05  09 december  2019
15:05  09 december  2019 Source:   ottawacitizen.com

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But there are some days that all seems like a lot to take in. We think back to the basics. If you finish this post and you ’ re annoyed about all the things we forgot, leave a comment to keep the list going. 63. You will never go back to being your “old self”. Grief changes you and you are never the same.

In our work , On Grief and Grieving , Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and I share that the stages were never meant to tuck messy emotions into neat packages. While some of these things to say have been helpful to some people, the way in which they are often said has the exact opposite effect than what was

a person standing in front of a window: Lynne Laramée's son Matthew died of an opioid overdose on Dec. 6, 2018, when he was 20. © Wayne Cuddington Lynne Laramée's son Matthew died of an opioid overdose on Dec. 6, 2018, when he was 20.

Each day, Lynne Laramée does her best to honour the legacy left behind by her son, Matthew Koeck, which she distills into three simple, but sometimes elusive words: love, laughter and kindness.

Some days are more difficult than others. Last Friday, Dec. 6, marking the first anniversary of Matthew’s death from an overdose from a counterfeit Xanax pill laced with fentanyl, was shaping up to be one of the hardest.

The 20-year-old had come home at around 11 o’clock the night before, on Dec. 5, 2018, after working two jobs; a full-time one with his father during the day and a part-time one at La Zone Chawarma in Aylmer, not far from their home. As he sat on her bed and told her about his day, Lynne thought Matthew seemed a bit anxious, but, if something was bothering him, he didn’t want to talk about it. He was tired. “I love you, Mom,” he said, and then he went bed.

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How does the grief expert handle such a tragic loss? There are many other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time, but anger is the emotion we are most used to managing. BARGAININGBefore a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared.

The grief of fathers, adoptive mothers and other relatives after a family death is no less real, but postpartum women in mourning endure a particularly Bereaved new mothers need people to remind them that there are no wrong feelings. “It feels incredibly isolating because you ’ re supposed to be

She found him shortly after seven o’clock the next morning, laying on his bed, his lips and fingernails blue, mucous spilling from his mouth.

“I seriously thought I was having a bad dream,” Lynne recalls.

She called 911, then administered CPR.

“That’s when I realized he was gone. The police and firefighters came, and I just sat on the couch thinking, ‘This can’t be happening.’ That’s your worst, worst fear as a parent.”

The police found no drugs in Matthew’s room other than the Xanax he took.

“The Xanax was his soft spot. He would escape by taking that and not feeling anything and just being numb, but that would make him more anxious.”

a man smiling for the camera:  Matthew Koeck died dec. 6, 2018, at age 20 in his Aylmer home from a fentanyl overdose. Matthew Koeck died dec. 6, 2018, at age 20 in his Aylmer home from a fentanyl overdose.

Matthew, she adds, had been in recovery for four months, so his tolerance to substances was much lower than it would have been if had he still been using regularly.

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I was never ready for it. I’m also saying this because I unthinkingly did that exact thing to my brother No matter how close you were to your grandparent, Aunty Janet and favorite pet, please don’t liken our No one asks to join us, but once you ’ re in, there ’ s so much support and understanding available.

“When you are a mother , you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to “ There is no way to be a perfect mother but a million ways to be a good one.” — Unknown. “My mother never gave me any idea that I couldn't do whatever I wanted to do or be whomever I wanted

“Plus I don’t think he knew he was taking fentanyl. So he took the pill, and that was it.”

She wishes she had known more about recovery then. She wishes she had reached out to other parents. “But, when you’re in chaos, when you go through that, you’re really parenting from a place of fear, and you’re not absorbing everything that’s going on around you.”

But of this she is certain: Matthew Koeck did not want to die.

His death was not well publicized, yet hundreds of friends crowded into a memorial service two weeks later. Lynne spoke, describing her son as a gentle soul, a free spirit who lived in the present, who remained positive and made the most of each day, willing to help anyone in need.

As a youngster, Matthew was happy, busy and fearless. When his family moved to Aylmer from New Hampshire, shortly before his fourth birthday, Matthew wandered over to a neighbour’s house, knocked on the door and enquired whether there were any kids living there that he could be friends with.

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I always thought I would be able to recognize unhealthy behaviour or changes of the mind. Expect to be dealt with in cold, callous language throughout your exchange—“ there ’ s a backlog at the moment On the flip side, if you ’ re dealing with a friend experiencing grief , you can make their journey a little

Yet, as the stages of grief suggest, there are commonalities found amongst grievers and if I were to add one When I was younger, there would be times when I would complain to my Mom, “I’m bored”… to So with that in mind, here are some ideas of what NOT to do if you are struggling with loneliness

Diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder when he was seven, Matthew was prescribed Concerta for a year or two, but that drug altered his personality. “He wasn’t him,” Lynne says. “He wasn’t the joking, laughing, full-of-joy boy that I knew.”

His parents enrolled him in Heritage Academy in Ottawa, which caters to students with language- and attention-based issues such as dyslexia and ADHD. Matthew flourished there, but, when it came time for high school, he wanted to attend a “regular” school.

a baby sitting on a boat:  Matthew Koeck as a youngster. Matthew Koeck as a youngster.

He switched to Symmes Jr. and D’Arcy McGee High School in Gatineau, where he discovered that his classmates also liked him better when he wasn’t on medication. So, at around age 14, he started experimenting with pot to address his anxiety. By 16, he was using it regularly.

“But using at that age alters your brain,” Lynne says. “So, to me, using at that age is really a gateway drug.”

Additionally, Matthew’s untreated ADHD led to poor outcomes in class, exacerbating his anxiety and lack of self-esteem. He began experimenting with oxycodone, which friends would pilfer from their parents’ medicine cabinets. He ran with the wrong crowd and started selling pot. After being expelled from D’Arcy McGee, he returned to Heritage Academy, where he graduated when he was 18.

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Mothers and fathers become bereaved parents; sons and daughters become orphans; brothers and sisters become only I still worry too much or, as Dad says, “I borrow trouble” just like you always did . Regardless of where you are in your grief , I’d like to ask you to give the following exercise a try.

There are no timelines and grief experiences generally vary from one individual to another. ‘Anticipatory Grief ’ is different than the grief response felt after a death and does not necessarily make the later any easier. Strong grief reactions that do not subside and last over a long period of time.

The substance use continued, however, and early in 2017 Matthew went into a three-month rehab program near Lac-Mégantic, Que. Lynne visited every weekend. “He made that place his home,” she remembers. “He was the caring person in that place, the rassembleur . He would bring everyone together.”

But when he returned home, Matthew felt out of sorts, as though he didn’t know where he belonged. He’d fallen in love with a woman while in rehab, so he moved to the Quebec City area to be closer to her.

The next year and a half were, in Lynne’s words, “touch and go.” Matthew couldn’t hold down a job for long. “He was surviving.”

Eventually recognizing he needed help, Matthew returned to Aylmer late in the summer of 2018. Rules about his substance use — pot only — were established, and weekly appointments with an addictions therapist were made and kept. Matthew re-enrolled in a welding course he had started and was talking about taking business courses at Algonquin College afterwards.

“I finally saw that old Matthew,” Lynne says. “He was on track. I’d never heard him talk like that. It was like, ‘Yay, we’re there!’

“But what I know now is you’re never there. There’s always work to be done. You’re always vulnerable.”

They had spoken openly about Matthew’s issues with substance use, and Lynne had repeatedly warned him about fentanyl in the drug supply.

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It’ s important to remember, there are many healthy ways to cope with grief . Also, if you would like to share your go-to coping tools in the comments below, please do ! In our work , we often connect with grieving people who are struggling to get a handle on certain grief -related emotions and experiences.

Why, when we feel we ’ re working so hard, and getting the support, and being patient and taking the time to grieve – why do we still face this daily hurt In the groups I’ve facilitated we talk about the idea of secondary losses. If you ’ re not familiar, the “primary loss” would be the loss of the loved one who

“I told him anything could be laced with fentanyl, but he insisted that it wouldn’t happen with him.”

About a month before his death, Lynne noticed changes. Matthew talked less, argued more with his girlfriend, started seeing new friends.

“I was always afraid with new friends.”

Then he came home one night after a long workday. He was tired and anxious. “I love you, Mom,” he said before going to bed.

a group of people standing on top of a grass covered field:  On Oct. 8 this year, which would have been his 21st birthday, friends and family of Matthew Koeck gathered in an Aylmer park and lit lanterns dedicated to him. On Oct. 8 this year, which would have been his 21st birthday, friends and family of Matthew Koeck gathered in an Aylmer park and lit lanterns dedicated to him.

This past Oct. 8, on what would have been his 21st birthday, Lynne and some of Matthew’s friends gathered at a skatepark in Aylmer where he liked to spend time. They scattered some of his ashes, then wrote messages to him that were sent skyward on lit lanterns. On Friday, the anniversary of his death, Lynne planned to spend the day with loved ones, honouring Matthew. Christmas, well, that will be something different altogether, starting new traditions with family and friends.

She shares his story because she wishes she’d heard similar terrible stories when Matthew was alive. She wants people to be aware of the traumas that can turn youths to substance use. Not just deaths, but bullying and anxiety and simply feeling they don’t fit in. She wants the stigma and shame of addiction erased, so that young people like Matthew don’t feel they’ve failed because they can’t fix their problems alone and so they aren’t embarrassed to share their stories.

And she doesn’t want another person to go through what she has.

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Tell them you ' re there to support them." Grief doesn't have a timeline or an expiration date, so checking in with your friend weeks, months or even "I did not want to be alone at all," Ryan said. "I know everyone grieves differently, but I felt the presence of my friends in my life was a great help.

We do think most grief theories have something interesting and insightful to offer. We also know that, whether they resonate with you or not, thinking about these theories often Once upon a time, long long ago (in the late 1970 s /early 1980 s ) there was a grief researcher named Simon Shimshon Rubin.

“We need to talk about this,” she says. “Parents need to see this.”

“I’m mourning Matthew, but I’m also mourning my old self. Because you’re not yourself anymore. There’s a piece of you that goes.

“It’s hard to find a new normal,” she adds. “It’s not a worse version of myself. It’s a different version of myself. My love for people is deeper, and I enjoy the little things so much more. I cry every day, but I still see the beautiful things that life has to offer. I have to because Matthew wouldn’t want me to be sitting at home, crying all the time. And that’s why I have to be Matthew’s voice. I have to honour his legacy, and that’s not by sitting at home, being depressed. And the only way I can survive is by being of service to others, even if it’s only in one small way. Because it helps me grieve.”



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