Planting Hope: A Mother Finds Her Voice After Losing Her Child

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By Debbie Edmondson, Board Member, A New Day

Without hope we will perish! I have heard this my whole life. Until we are faced with the perish part, it makes no sense. Loss is a loss, whether you are dealing with the loss of a roof from a hurricane, loss of a parent, child or friend, or simply the loss of hearing.

Mother And Daughter
Debbie with her daughter Katie on Easter Sunday 2017

When we lose someone or something precious to us, what keeps us from perishing? Losing a child is a loss like no other. Even the good days for a bereaved parent are harder than anyone can even imagine. You want to hug your child and talk about your child, but learn that when you do talk about your child, gone too soon, you tend to make others feel uncomfortable. Why? Because others do not know what to say or do.

About six months into my grief, after losing my daughter, I decided that my grief would never go away, but it is what I had to do with my grief going forward, that would prevent me from perishing. I had my faith and I felt God pushing me to plant some seeds.

You see, my daughter died from an accidental overdose. Yes, I just wrote the feared word …OVERDOSE!!! Here I sit three years beyond writing her obituary and I realize that she had to die so another could live. How can a mother say this, much less believe it?

My grandparents, and their ancestors, were farmers. They planted many seeds, watered them, nurtured them and harvested them. These seeds often endured harsh weather, some surviving, some not. The seeds that survived and were nurtured did so because someone planted them, that same someone cared for them, and that same someone saw those seeds through to harvest. One seed, one caregiver, one life springing forth and suddenly life and recovery begins.

We can wallow in our losses and in our fears, or we can start each new day by planting a seed to help ourselves and to help others. Our harvest may not always be plentiful, but there will always be more seeds to plant.

The seeds I choose to plant today are the seeds to fight the stigma of addiction. So, what is stigma? Stigma is a mark of disgrace or shame, associated with a particular circumstance or quality or person. To be specific, it is something folks in recovery become all too accustomed to experiencing. For them, stigma presents itself in words they hear over and over… ‘No, I will not hire you. No, I will not rent to you, because you have tattoos and piercings, you have been in jail or in prison, you are a felon.’ Many veterans suffering from PTSD and others suffering from emotional, physical or sexual abuse have nowhere to go where they feel safe or accepted because of the stigma associated with their disease or circumstance.

Yes, my daughter was an addict, but she was a responsible addict. She was educated, she educated others. She was never arrested, or in trouble with the Law. But my daughter, at age 29, died from a disease, the disease of addition. She could not help herself and I have made it my life’s mission to be her voice for others fighting this disease, planting a seed so that those suffering from addiction can help themselves.

Each of you reading this article today are in recovery from some type of loss, even if you do not realize it. It is time to start planting seeds, seeds to nurture not only ourselves, but seeds to nurture others. We cannot recover without the community coming together, helping each other, one person, one seed, at a time.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to A New Day, a local transitional Community Resource Center, located just off Front Beach Road. Each seed we plant at A New Day gives every man and woman a second chance at life. A New Day has saved my life and given me an opportunity to save another, and an opportunity to be my daughter’s voice. We all have a story. Stop by and share yours. Be the voice for our community. Most of all, let’s start each day and make it A New Day, if not for yourself, for another! It is time to harvest Hope for our community.

Hope differed makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12