Part of my grief process is to let go of such insane resentments and just do something about it instead.
It sounds crazy. It sounds inhuman. But there were times when I felt jealous that others got such overwhelming financial and even emotional support in their struggles to get medical help for a child who was ill. My resentment was never directed at a specific family. It was resentment that society could turn their backs on mental health while embracing physical health so passionately.
The outpouring of support when your child has a physical ailment is so amazing.
I never got that.
And at times I was bitter over it. I craved that kind of support–wanted it more than anything in the world. Sometimes I was so desperate for it, I would tell some stranger with a sympathetic ear.
There were times I tried to talk to someone that I had known for a long time, only to get cut off mid sentence. People that heard rumors stopped inviting us to their parties. Admittedly we stopped having a lot of social events since our house was in such turmoil and money was so tight.
We struggled financially trying to get mental health help for my son after exhausting all local resources. When our money did run out and we tapped into retirement, the IRS came down hard on us and threw another big debt in our faces. So many times, someone offers you a lifeline for your child only it comes at an exorbitant price tag. Weighing the options is so hard to do in a live-or-die crisis.
Many times we were faced with having to get hold of $10,000 or $20,000 in 24 hours. But what parent wouldn’t do everything they could to save their child?
Not only did so few want to hear about mental health and drug abuse struggles, there were and are no financial options, loans and certainly no fundraisers. I always said, no bake sales or casseroles when your child goes to rehab or a psych hospital. Yet the agony is certainly equal to that of parents who have a child with a physical ailment. And certainly the cost is overwhelming.
I did reach out to a handful of friends that listened and I joined a support group, Families Anonymous— the best thing I ever did. They were like family. They understood the struggle of the drug abuse and the helplessness that went with it.
A friend did offer at one point to start a “fund me” but I ended up saying no because when I presented that option to friends, no one endorsed it. I don’t think anyone really realized how dire our circumstances had become. I was embarrassed about that, too. I had sold as much as I could sell and we had the house on the market. Sadly, the suicide happened before we had access to more funding.
So next time you hear that a family is struggling due to a mental health or addiction crisis, consider taking a meal, taking someone out for a meal, sending a card or ask them if they support your having a fundraiser. I know it’s a bold move. At the very least, offer emotional support without judgment.