A Mother’s Experience of Death & Recovery

A mother shares her story about the death of her husband and how her new family in recovery helped her through to the other side.

I find comfort when I think back to my childhood and the neighborhood I grew up in. I see vividly the tree-lined streets, the imperfect sidewalks with beautiful moss bursting out of the cracks and can even hear the sound of crickets. There were BBQ’s to celebrate the long summer days. My late husband also had a similar upbringing where family, neighbors and community were an important part of everyday life. Though disliking the task then, he was proud that most Saturdays were spent doing yard work for Mrs. Murphy two doors down.

Now the block we lived on as parents raising our boys had many aspects of what we loved about our neighborhoods growing up. We knew the first names of every family member in the twenty houses lining our street. Dozens of kids played outside exploring and having adventures in the many connected backyards. We all supported each other in times of need. Families would gather to celebrate the long summer days with BBQ’s on a deck or patio.

As the kids got older, life began to get more complicated. At times we felt the world was spinning faster than we could keep up. The culture of perfection seemed to be very prevalent in this high achieving community. The demands of school seemed to cause stress with the boys and extra curricular activities became less enjoyable and more competitive. In middle school and high school the boys’ peer groups began to change. Exposure to drugs and alcohol in social settings started. Their use spun out of control and family quickly became entrenched in the disease of addiction. Our lives became unmanageable.

In the overview of Al-Anon’s Twelve Steps it states “The first three Steps suggest that our human resources, such as intelligence, knowledge, strength, and even hope, are not enough to solve our problems. As others have done, we can accept the help of a Power greater than our own to guide our thoughts and actions. These three Steps show us how to bring that Power into our lives in an active, workable partnership.”

It wasn’t until we let go of the suffocating grip that we, as parents, could redirect our love in a healthy manner and allow the workings of our Higher Power to guide us. We began a partnership with professionals to help with the next steps of intervention and treatment. We reached out to our family members and received blessings beyond anything we could imagine. Our lives slowly began to be filled with compassion and understanding. As our family began the road to recovery we again gained a new community of support.

The New Life House staff were there for me when I had to make that call to tell my son about the sudden passing of his father. I felt this community support from many miles away. New Life House families were surrogate parents for my son when I could not be there. Knowing he was surrounded with the brotherhood of the House brought me comfort. Although I was grief stricken, I was able to let in the light of love that surrounded me. The many faces of my Higher Power were indeed guiding me and community was at the heart of it all.

The day my husband died, on his bedside table was a book by Eckhart Tolle called The Power Of Now. A quote by this author states: “In times of pain, despair and grief for what could have been comes the realization that it is possible to heal, find joy and reap the gifts of love, friendship, community and family. The family of your making. There is hope.”


  • Katherine
    Posted at 20:47h, 19 February Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. You have put into words the beautiful love we receive from our communities when in need and when we are open to such emotion and care.

  • Nancy
    Posted at 08:00h, 22 February Reply

    Thank you for putting down in words what so many of us share in common. New life house is truly a New Life for our boys. I loved your final quote. Blessings and Joy to all who read this.

  • Debbie O-A
    Posted at 10:11h, 25 February Reply

    This is a beautiful and heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing. I remember when you lost your husband and your son lost his dad. All of us parents were shocked and saddened. It’s true, the members rallied around your son, but from what I hear, he was incredibly strong and brave. To this day, whenever my son hears a member whining or complaining about his plight, he points to your son and says “look at him. There’s a real man.”

  • Kathy
    Posted at 08:45h, 25 March Reply

    What an amazing story. Thank you for allowing us to hear first hand about your struggle and learn from your experience. Both you and your son have been an example to all of us of true serenity.

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