My sons deserve respect bestowed to victims of other national tragedies
The overdose crisis is a national tragedy but the government has not lowered flags to fly at half-staff, a customary recognition of tragedy.
A decade ago, at the beginning of the opioid epidemic, my son, Corey, died of a heroin overdose at age 23. I knew so little about opioid addiction when Corey struggled, and I didn’t know anyone with a child who had died, let alone from an overdose.
For the next two and a half years, my family and I grieved alone. In 2015, I received an invitation to meet other mothers who had lost a child to overdose. They helped me get a new perspective on life with grief. It was then that I came to understand how much grieving parents, those whose children had died from substance use disorder, needed one another.
My grief is still there, but it now manifests itself in hope and advocacy. That hope still exists despite the death of my second son, Sean Merrill. He was prescribed painkillers, went into treatment and was in recovery for several years. Then, he relapsed, and we lost him in 2021.
People like Corey and Sean are dying every day. We don’t see all their deaths at once, but it’s happening all across the country.