Have you ever grieved for someone nodding off across the room from you? I have. I remember looking at our son and thinking, “Where are you? Where have you buried that easy smile and gentle spirit?”

There is no other word for it but grief when your child is lost in the haze of substance use. My son is still alive, thank God, and this grief is not the same as the grief a parent feels should their child pass away. It’s not the kind of grief that brings people around with a show of condolences and support. It is a silent grief that no one talks about. It is buried in shame and despair. Nothing prepares you for the experience and certainly, nothing prepares you for the deep sense of loss that enters your daily life. And so you grieve.

While I was grieving such things as the loss of spending meaningful time with my son and what appeared to be the end of all the hopes I had for him, I also began to wonder if I wasn’t subconsciously preparing myself for an unthinkable outcome. I knew my child was in mortal danger of his addiction. I seemed to be “trying on” what I feared the most — what would certainly be the death of my child. How could I possibly face that outcome?