Crisis, Grief, and Healing => Child Loss => Topic started by: Adams Brokenhearted Mama on June 28, 2012, 02:02:01 PM

Title: SENSITIVE: A father's eulogy to the son he lost to addiction
Post by: Adams Brokenhearted Mama on June 28, 2012, 02:02:01 PM
A bereaved Mom, a friend of mine, who lost her son to the disease of addiction, forwarded this to me. I thought it was excellent and wanted to share it with you.
XO Paula

A Father's Tribute to His Son
The following are excerpts from a speech that was given by Jim Contopulos at his son's memorial service.
Since Nick's death, we have experienced firsthand the truth that "a grief shared is halved,  and a joy shared is doubled", as you have continued to come, continued to give, continued to phone and text, continued  to cry with us and have continued to try and squeeze the grief right out of us. Please don’t stop. We will never stop loving Nick and neither will you. Let's commit today to share the grief and joys of this young man’s life. You have our permission and our request, because it is good and right to love Nick.
Nearly a year ago, someone recommended to me two books; written by a son and a father about the struggles of addiction and the family affected by this disease. The first book, written by the son, was titled "Tweak", because the son, named Nick, was a methamphetamine addict...a "tweaker". His book gave you a front row seat to the horrors and insanity; the crushing reality of Nick’s terminal disease that consumed both his life and those who loved him.
The father’s book was titled "Beautiful Boy", and it took us on a journey of despair and desperation, repeated hope and repeated failure that few of us will ever know. My Nick had read both of these books and many, many times, he would say to me... "Dad, you know, you and I could have written these books". How true that was, because Nick was an addict with unbearable pain and he was my Beautiful Boy.
For me the disease of addiction is the worst of diseases because it consumes the body, mind and soul, and, in Nick's case, when it is coupled with a mental health disorder, it is, in the words of the recovery community, a "cunning, powerful, and bailing disease".
Many, many times I had wished that Nick's  disease had been one that affected the body only, where it is good and right to surround the afflicted with love and care in the midst of their battle. Nick's disease carried with it the unbearable pain of loneliness misunderstanding, separation and, at times, anger from those of who could not understand addiction and mental illness.
I cannot number the times when Nick would do the courageous work of recovery, only to relapse and experience the tears of self-loathing. A friend recently said to us, that recovery is not about a bad person becoming good, it is about a sick person becoming well. How true this was for this Beautiful Boy.
For those of us here today, who have had a "front  row seat" to this disease over these past 13 years, or even to those sitting further back and have continued,  as it were, to hear "reports form the front line" we can confirm without any hesitation that addiction is truly a "cunning, powerful and baffling" disease.
Some of us sitting here today know nothing of Nick other that this courageous struggle, and it is my hope that as we allow Nick to "speak" through the songs he loved; the movies he loved; his love for animals; his love for children, especially his love for his daughter Hailey; his irreverent humor; his love and admiration for his sister Vanessa, his mom and myself; his strong desire for justice as well as his struggles with addiction coupled with mental illness, what's known as a dual diagnosis, that you will have a much larger context for his life.
Perhaps with this better understanding, Nick would ask you simply to love, rather than judge; the addict, the mentally ill the diseased, the imprisoned, the homeless, the poor, the unlovable and the lonely, because Nick himself was, at one time or another, all of these.
None of us sitting here today wants only to be remembered for our failures and certainly not Nick, which is why he so loved the final verse to the song "These Days" by Jackson Browne, which says. "don't confront me with my failures, I have not forgotten them".
Toward the end of Nick’s battle, he would repeatedly remind me that he no longer used heroin to "get high" but to simply feel normal....and my heart would break for this Beautiful Boy.
            I don't understand addiction, although I have enormous respect for its power to destroy the entire individual and those that love him or her. While we know of the "ingredients" that will make for a successful recovery, I know of no "formula" to stop the advance of the addiction or for the grief I have today.
            But I do know that Nick experienced many times, recovery's reward of self-respect. I also know that the pain in my heart and in yours, only changes as we live in communities that ask of us to do our own courageous work of recovery; communities that understand,  care and love us• communities that encourage our openness, honesty and transparency rather than "papering over" our pain. Communities that allow us to live, and be nourished in the wisdom of tenderness, from others, and from our God.
I recall one particular appointment with grief from years ago, the kind of grief that buckles your knees, and the advice from a good friend who said "let me be your legs". We who survive are not meant to "go alone". There are places for the healing of our lives.
Recently, CNN detailed the life of a lady who had suffered enormous loss and had faced her situation with singular grace and courage. I recall only one thing she said, and it rings deep in my heart. She said “I stopped asking "why me" and began asking "what now". And so, now ask, "What now"? What now, for a society that incarcerates its sick and stigmatizes it's addicted and mentally ill?
What now, when prisons are overcrowded, taxpayers are drained, and the doors of the mental hospitals are sealed? What now when we spend multiple billions of dollars on a War on Drugs and yet our states and our cities are bankrupt while gang violence increases, drug availability and potency increase funding the narco-terrorism activity that continues to tear at the fabric of our society?
What now for our "houses of worship" who remain silent in the face of this impending tsunami of impending mental health disorders and addiction? Will I be one to speak? What now for the many "other Nick's" and their families who will I have the responsibility of navigating their own costly and desperate way towards recovery? Will I be part of the change that requires more accountability for those that promise recovery to our loved ones? For those who have no resources, will I help to build a "lighthouse", a "city of hope" such as Delancey Street?
What now for a society that seems content to accept the death of this Beautiful Boy and the many others as an inevitable consequence of a crumbling society. Will I require more for those who live in society's shadows, knowing that they were at one time someone's Beautiful Boy?
These questions and others "haunt" my mind because I know with certainty that until the pain and cost of continuing on the same course becomes greater than the pain of changing, that we will continue to lose many "other Nicks". For me, the time has come to change and, in order for that to occur, I will need a measure of courage that is uncommon to my life.
May God give us the courage we need to change in the face of the loss of Nick and the many "other Nick's" who will follow. Until then, I will grieve the loss of Nick, and I know that when grief comes, I will, in the words of a friend, "satisfy its appetite of salty tears, and when it is full, it will leave".
And now, in closing, I know that for now, my sweet and Beautiful Boy that this absence is only for a season because of the God you loved and Who I love. The God who gave his own Beautiful Boy. The Savior, who greeted you with nail-scarred hands and who was able to stand near the graveside of a close friend and announce "I am the Resurrection and the Life, he that believes in Me will never die". Nick I am so grateful and thankful you were my son, and I was your best friend and dad. I know that many times, your struggle for sobriety was spurred on by your love for your mom, Vanessa, Hailey and me. I respect, love and honor you for that So very soon, we will meet again, and I will hear from you "Hi Dad" once again. Never forget, never, that I will always love you. That will never stop. Your Dad.
Title: Re: SENSITIVE: A father's eulogy to the son he lost to addiction
Post by: Terry on June 29, 2012, 07:29:27 AM
Hey Paula,

I'm going to read this message in it's entirety when I get back home today. This is just heartbreaking and we all know what that feels like.

Love to you,
Title: Re: SENSITIVE: A father's eulogy to the son he lost to addiction
Post by: Terry on June 29, 2012, 05:35:29 PM
Hey Paula - I had to read this a couple of times because there is not only a lot of information but also of feelings expressed. It wasn't until I read it over again that I saw a message that wasn't apparent the first time around.

I would assume from reading this that Dad is determined to honor his son Nick's death by trying to affect change - creating an awareness that the harmful stigma attached to the disease of addiction causes, if he indeed feels this strongly about it so maybe another parent doesn't have to suffer this pain as he and his family did.

It really is heartbreaking that we, as a society diminish the importance of a life due to the circumstances surrounding a death.

Thanks for sharing this, Paula.