Mothers Are Not Supposed To Bury Their Children – By MaryBeth Cichocki

flower-316437_1280Mothers are not supposed to bury their children. It goes against nature. When a mother loses her young, the world slips off its axis and spins out of control. The universe mourns knowing it has gone against the circle of life, children should bury their mothers, not the other way around.

Yet every day, another mother joins my club. The club of the brokenhearted, the club every mother prays to avoid. The club where one day you were whole and the next broken beyond repair. Breath and joy have been sucked out of your body and replaced with a pain so powerful, your soul is lost in the grief. Your world shattered beyond repair. Your child is gone. A victim of a horrible disease. A misunderstood, mistreated disease. The disease that marked them as unworthy and disposable. The disease of addiction.

Your grief is never ending. It begins as you wake and follows you like a lost puppy throughout the day. It crawls into bed with you at night and wraps its arms around your heart. Brief sleep is your only respite. Dreams of your child may come and comfort your heart but when you wake the nightmare of your life begins anew. They are your last thought before closing your eyes and the first thought as you awaken. Your child is gone and you remain unable to be comforted.

Your days are now counted out in weeks and months. Last words, hugs and I love you’s are forever sad-659422_1920burned into your brain. Little things; reminders of your child can take your breath away without warning. A trip to the grocery store can throw you into a tailspin and leave you struggling to breathe. A bag of chips, a can of Beefaroni, a smell. You find even the smallest things difficult as your mind remains in shock. Your brain refuses to believe that your child is really gone, knowing that reality will take you to a place of no return. It tricks you into believing they are just away. Things will return to normal when they return home from the beach or treatment. Your body hurts. Physical pain becomes a part of daily living. There are days you feel like you are slowly losing your mind.

Your days are spent questioning every decision. You wonder what if. What if I forced him/her into rehab? What if I paid more attention? What if I brought him/her home? You battle guilt every day. It seeps quietly into your soul. You relive childhood moments and wonder if you were too harsh, if you loved enough. You sift through memories with a fine tooth comb, looking for answers to questions that will never be found. Arguments replay over and over in your mind. You remember and pick apart every word. Things said and those unsaid whirl through your mind. Your brain has become the enemy, refusing to quiet. Wishing with every fiber of your being for a do over. Hindsight, slaps your face daily. Knowing what you know now, knowing what you would have done differently. Mothers protect their children. You were unable to protect your child against the demons more powerful than a mothers love.

If you believe, you pray. Every morning and every night. Praying that you are forgiven. Praying for acceptance, peace, guidance and strength. You ask for signs that your child is finally at peace. Their bodies are whole and healthy. Their brains no longer tortured by the demon cravings they were unable to escape while alive. You look to the sky into the clouds yearning to see something that will give you a sense of peace. Cardinals in your yard have new meaning. A song, a sunset, clouds that resemble an angel flood your heart with waves of hope that your child is safe and in a better place.

Your bookshelves now hold books you never thought you would ever need or receive. Books on losing a child. Books on stages of grief and how to survive each one. Books no mother should ever need to touch or read. Books written by authors who have survived near death experiences and tell of bright light and vivid colors. Of peace, happiness and beautiful music. Stories of feeling great love and feelings of being with family. No pain, no fear, not wanting to return to their battered bodies.  Just a peace they never experienced on earth. Books on the afterlife become your bible as you search for answers to the unknown.

Your truth is you want them back. Living the roller coaster, chaotic life of loving an addict is far better than your reality. The lies, stealing and everyday chaos seem like a walk in the park when compared to the endless grief that surrounds your world. You dream of a future that will never be.  Meeting girlfriends who become wives. Weddings and birthdays and babies you will never hold in your arms. You close your eyes and go to a world where your heart doesn’t hurt. Even for a little while you allow yourself the luxury of a dream. Your world of what if – giving you a temporary reprieve from heart ache.

heart-401499_1280Holidays and birthdays now come with gut punches. You’ve learned how to avoid the parties. Other mother’s plans remind you of your loss now that your family is broken. Old traditions are too painful to continue and new traditions feel like a betrayal to your child.  Family pictures are now missing the face you long to see. Your mind tells you to move on but your heart says no.

Friends have gone back to their lives – back to their living children. Their calls and visits become less frequent leaving you alone with your grief. You learn that being alone is better than feeling like a stranger in a room full of people who are afraid to look your way. Afraid to speak your child’s name. Afraid that someday they will be you. Their excuse of not knowing what to say gets old as you learn to accept your solitude. True friends shine like diamonds on your dark days and you can count them on one hand.

You are trying to find new meaning for your life now that loss has left a void as deep as the ocean.  Your time was spent trying to save your child. You are angry and battle acceptance. The stages of grief warn you that these feelings will come. Your anger is directed not toward your child but toward the stigma that continues to follow your grief – the stigma that shows on the faces of people when they hear the word overdose. Not sympathy but accusatory looks as if you caused the disease. You refuse to accept their ignorance. They run away not wanting it to touch their lives. You are the black sheep in the flock. Your reality is their nightmare.

Your anger becomes your strength and your loss becomes your passion. You find a voice you never knew existed. Your soul comes alive fueling itself off your grief as pain pushes you toward a path that becomes your new purpose. Your journey is to honor your child. To fight against the system that broke, then killed you both. To prevent another mother’s heartbreak, your hands on education makes you an expert in this disease.  You are the mother of all mothers yet you loved and still lost your child. You are their voice, their warrior. Their fight is over. Yours has begun. You are the mother of an addict.  You will not be silenced.


A version of this appeared on




About Magnolia New Beginnings

Magnolia New Beginnings, Inc. is dedicated to advocating for those affected with the disease of addiction, creating educational opportunities to inform and raise awareness about substance abuse, and supporting addicts and their families in the process of seeking recovery, maintaining sobriety, and reaching their highest potential through a new beginning. Magnolia New Beginnings has no paid staff, no overhead aside from minor administrative costs such as postage, website etc.., which allows all donations to go to the intended purpose; raising awareness and helping to create new beginnings for those affected by the disease of addiction. We strive to create a united voice among advocacy groups in order to create change. Check out Magnolia on their facebook page and website
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  1. Boy, this was spot on. I lost my 14 year old daughter, over 26 years ago, not to drug or alcohol, thank God, but she was morbidly obese and had pneumonia, the bronchial tree hemorrhaged and she literally drowned in her own blood. I came home from Sign Language Interpreting and AA meeting, and found her dead in bed at home, I called the emergency number (ambulance) and heard them Pronounce at my home. I remember nothing for over 6 months after that, I was in shock. I moved in with my present husband and that is when I began to be able to remember again. I am now an ordained minister, who works with recovering addicts/alcoholics, on a daily basis. I love being able to help others, especially one who have lost family members to this disease. I feel full-filled and at peace with myself, and comfortable in my own skin after almost 27 years of being sober myself. Miracle happen now, in spite of me instead of because of me.

  2. Thank you for this article, it’s as if you read my mind. I lost my oldest son on 6/8/16 to heroin and fentanyl mixture. I have struggled so much since that day. My brain also refuses to believe that he’s gone. I want to believe he’s still alive somewhere, but my heart reminds me it’s not true. My family and friends try to understand, but really don’t. I’ve lost my Mom, Grandparents, and an infant son, but none of these compare to losing Chris. I keep pushing forward for my husband, daughter, and 3 grandchildren but it’s hard to even get put of bed most days. Hugs and prayers for all of you who are part of this horrible epidemic!

  3. finally someone. knows my pain and put it in words

  4. Thank you for sharing what is in your heart! I lost my son Paul 12/6/2013 and my only other child, Mary, on 12/8/2015. Both to this terrible disease. I am so sick of the shame and misunderstanding of others, but especially from their father. He tells everyone that the reason they are dead is because of me- a 20 year recovering addict. I lived their battles with them and their guilt and shame- I am sick of it and I miss them so! I would love to reach out and help but I don’t know where to turn. Again, thank you for an excellent description of what I live daily!

    • Bless you So Very sad but please don’t blame yourself. Everyone is in control of making there own choices in life. I made mine at the late age of 45- you would think I would know better! But again it was my choice. Been Clean 16 month’s

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you. My roller coaster started 7 yrs ago when my daughter lost her husband to a work accident, with 2 and 4 year old boys. She lost her life in February of this year, the roller coaster is over, and now we are raising her 9 and 11 year old boys. Everything you wrote is so true. I am not alone, I would like to ride the roller coaster one more time.

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  7. we lost my niece to this disease almost a year ago (July 6). Tempted to send this to my sister, but may be too much for her. Was good for me to read however. While I lost my precious niece and know how hard it was for me, I do not have children and truly can’t know the pain parents go through.

  8. So beautifully written. I posted the article for family and friends to read because I know there are many who were afraid to ask what happened. I lost my precious 31 yr old son, Jonathan, Feb 22, 2011 to a multi-drug overdose. My life changed forever just as the article described. I lost my beautiful 37 yr old daughter, Karen, May 20, 2016 to prescription drug overdose. My world is still spinning as I try to learn how to go on living. Grieving one child was a difficult journey, but now I’m having to learn how to grieve two of my babies. My heart is so heavy. And I am tired. I pray everyday for strength to keep on keeping on for my living son, his family, and the grandchildren given me by my two older children who lost their struggles with addiction. They will forever be in my heart.

  9. This is absolutely beautiful and is exactly how I feel as well. My beautiful daughter passed away on Feb 12, 2016. She just started using, never had a chance at rehab, we had no clue! We are heartbroken, full of questions and angry! Fentynal was the cause! How could this have happened? Why did God choose my daughter? How did I not know there was an issue? I miss her so very much and as much as I try to find something tomakeme feel better nothing does! I love you MY SWEET BRITTNEY!!!

  10. This is my sad story I lost my eldest son December 2014 at the young age of 23. My life is a living hell I wish it was me that had gone rather than live through this! Thank you for sharing. Xo

  11. My only child, my 44 yr old son, that I raised on my own from 2 yrs old, took his life on January 31, 2015. The words spoken in this article are things I think and feel daily. His addiction was a secret one that I knew nothing about and still confuses me.

    Addiction, no matter what kind, is something only the addict can do anything about. I’ve studied addictions for many years, know intellectually there was nothing I could do to help my son, and still do the “what ifs”. If his two best buddies would have given me insight to the things they knew, if my son would have/could have confided in me…..because I’m his mother, I’d like to think I could have at least gotten him to the correct help.

    Counseling helps some, but only intellectually. My heart is not hearing the words of the counselor. Most of the time I watch myself move through this new, horrid, life I’ve been left with.

    I feel the pain of every parent on here and I’m so very sorry for the loss you have to bear.

  12. Not only should a mother not have to bury her child, but she shouldn’t be going through the financial troubles of figuring out how to provide them with the services either.

  13. How very accurate, you explain the pain and horror so well. I have lost two sons, one in Aug 2011 to a prescription drug overdose, Rian. Then Jan 14,2016 his brother Tyler to fentanyl he believed was heroin. My world is shattered, I keep asking why did I have two sons and now none? I must keep living for my daughter and my son’s children, I don’t want to, but I am still a mother and have to. Yes I would go back to the chaos to have them back and yet could never want them to have to re-live their suffering, Their days of trying to beat it and then their days when they gave up. I am not ashamed of my boys, I have great sorrow for their suffering. I will speak out and try to bring down the stigma and wall of shame that surrounds addiction. They were good people with a bad problem and few places to go for help. Too much ignorance and judgement. If you had to live one day of addiction, you would know you would never have chosen it.
    Thank-you for sharing.

  14. So beautifully written, Marybeth. Just seeing these comments here, it reminds me that way too many parents have lost their children to the disease of addiction. Every one is one too many. Thank you for stepping up, and not being silent which helps others families going forward. Thank you! Sending love.

  15. Every Word < Every Sentence was EXACTLY how I feel < My son Ryan Died of an Overdose @ the age of 23 on May 13th 2008 < in and out of Rehab < thinking he's "Good Now" < Feeling like I have failed him < my therapist said <look at ALL the things you DID do <NOT the things you didn't . I cried reading it < Thank You for letting us know where not alone < My wish for ALL of us ~~ Is to someday have PEACE in our SOUL's .

  16. These words are not mine but they are!! So sad that so many of us share this nightmare.

  17. Your words are so true, a lot of live’s have lived this. I have lost my son 5 years ago to an accidental adverse drug reaction. I still cant believe it at times because I have lost my first son 15 years ago to a murder. So Justin was all I had left. He was ina bad auto wreck and broke his femur and had surgery. His start of prescription pain drugs. The Dr. took him off everything, his father, my x, brought him to a new DR. that ended up loosing his practice here in Delaware. This Dr. kept him on oxycodone and Xanax for no reason, well my x gave him methadone and it killed him. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of both of my son’s, I miss them very much…

  18. Avatar
    Dorothy Pasieka

    I miss my Beautiful daughter Dorothy… She died from a combo of drugs……..Noone can tell me why.She was in a methadone program. She should of been monitered. The clinic won’t call me back……

  19. Avatar
    Dorothy Pasieka

    I miss my Beautiful daughter Dorothy… She died from a combo of drugs……..Noone can tell me why.She was in a methadone program. She should of been monitered. The clinic won’t call me back……

  20. I just read my life in this story. I lost my son Feb 3, 2016 to an accidental heroin overdose. He was clean for 8 months and in one night with one dose, he was gone. He was 23. He was my 1st born. My life has forever changed in the worse possible way.
    Thank you for sharing this!

  21. Avatar
    Tanya Hart Garman

    This is so very accurate. I know my mom feels this way. As a sister I feel this way too. When siblibgs are as connected as Richard and I are it doesn’t surprise me to feel this. RLC 8/18/2003

  22. I lost my 27 year old daughter…who was my only child on May 14 2016. I could have written this myself. She was clean for almost a year and my husband and I thought for the first time in 3 years she was finally going to be okay. She had been in and out of rehab 3 times. All I think about is what I should have done differently. My heart is broken and I feel like I am just walking around in a daze. I wrote a letter to our local news paper about her struggle and what we went through to get help for her. They may publish it this month.

  23. Honestly, and Beautifully spoken words. I too am a mother who has buried my son. How we have been given this in life, we will never understand until we cross over. May God bless all of us through the rest of our days here.

  24. Avatar
    Christine Davenport

    We lost our 42 year old son Jason to an overdose 5/18/16. We have grieved him for the 25+ years he has battled his addictions. We are raising his precious 9 year old son.
    We have experienced great sorrow but also the great love of so many people who shared our story throughout the years and now blanket us with their comfort. We hold on to our belief that our son has earned his place of peace in heaven through his great suffering. RIP Jason

  25. Thank you for this beautiful, heartfelt, pin-point accurate description of loss of a child through addiction. My daughter, Lauren, has been gone 3 1/2 years (11/8/12) and although I’m now more functional, your words remind me of my early grief, a time of devastation so deep I thought I’d never survive. As I reflect on my early process of grief only in hindsight can I see those defined steps of grief. It’s a lonely, lonely road, and likely similar to the grief Lauren experienced in her pain and isolation with drug use. In addition to your article, the most helpful piece I’ve found has been the description of the biological imperative of a mother: “Every woman who has been pregnant still carries cells from her fetus within her bloodstream. Cells from the pregnancy will reside within the mother’s bloodstream and organs for the rest of her life. Even if the pregnancy was terminated or if there was a miscarriage these said genes would remain with the Mother. ” So I know I will always carry my daughter with me as you will your child. Yes, I too am “fighting the system that broke us both.” Thank you and blessings.

  26. I Lost my Son on 11/15/14, life is never the same after loosing my husband on 11/09/06, I thought my life was changed forever but a child! You summed it up in this article. A knock on the door can change your life forever. R.I.P my son Anthony ❤️

  27. I honestly thought I was the only one who felt like I have been losing my mind… I already lost my heart. My son died from an overdose 17 days after his 24th birthday. I am still grieving… The pain doesn’t stop nor has it even decreased… The waves of emotions are overwhelming….and yet life still moves foward…. I miss him terribly. RIP Trey 04/18/16

    • I feel for you Cherrie. I share your grief as an Aunt who lost my precious 23 year old nephew on 2/7/16. I can’t imagine a mommas pain, knowing just how bad I hurt. God be with you

  28. You just took the words right out of my Brain,I lost my son 2/1/16

  29. Avatar
    Kathy Norsworthy

    My son overdosed two days ago. By the grace of God, emergency personnel revived him. Right now I’m just numb. I never know when the phone rings if it’s going to be the call that tells me he is gone forever. I do my best to let God have this and to love him with detachment. We have been going through this for years now. I have learned there is nothing I can do, could have done, or will be able to do. I can’t cure addiction any more than I can cure cancer. I will ALWAYS love him, pray for him and be there when he will let me.

  30. We lost our son September 20, 2015. Our lives are in pieces. Your words are my words, and every other mother’s words. So powerful. Thank you for sharing and may God bless and keep you.

  31. I just read my story in your words. I lost my son in January of this year and not a day goes by that I don’t ask him why, why did you relapse after 7 months clean, why didn’t you reach out to me or one of the others you had in your support system. Why did just one bag of Heroin kill you that day when I know you have used way more than that in the past. Why did you give up?..

    • my daughter also died of accidental heroin overdose. the detective said that when they don’t take the drug for a while, and then begin again, they may start taking as much as they took be4, which is too much for their system to handle. this stops their heart, brain and lungs. I am sorry for ur child’s passing. my child passed away 6-3-10 🙁 praying for u

  32. Avatar
    Marybeth Cichocki

    Thank you. It’s been the most difficult time of my life

  33. Such a powerful and moving piece. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Wow! Reading this makes me feel like someone has been in my head and heart, going through the same heartache and confusion that I am forced to endure every day. I lost my 24 year old Veteran son on 10-14-14, after he fought addiction since he returned from the Iraq war with the PTSD, traumatic brain injury, nightmares, confusion, depression anxiety, and all the other demons that haunted him day and night and led him to self medicate. He ultimately died from methadone that the V A was sending him to have administered; the methadone that killed him was supposed to be a means to keep him off of other drugs. My son never had the chance to hold his baby boy who was born at about the same time my son died. I just can’t imagine living another 30-40 years with this heartache and emptiness. I have other children and now grandchildren, but it feels there is a hole going right thru me and like I’m always on the verge of a panic attack. If anyone has any suggestions to help cope with this loss more effectively, I’d love to hear them because I’m failing miserably.

      • Yes, it seems as though she was taking inventory of every thought I had, and still have! Although my son didn’t die of an overdose, he did smoke weed, and took pills! He committed suicide, hung himself! I don’t know why, and I will never know why! He (Bobby) was 34 years old. He would have been 36 this past July 5th. He died March 2, 2015. I still cannot wrap my brain around this. The ache is so unbearable at times. People don’t understand why I am still struggling, as though it just happened yesterday! Because, to me it did just happen yesterday. Loosing a child, and the level of grief that comes with that, stands alone. Loosing a parent, g’parent, etc…simply does not even begin to touch the surface of this level of pain that claws at your entire body. Swallowing you up, only to spit you out and swallow you again, and again, and again, with no relief in sight! I’m severely depressed! My friends (most all) have abandoned me. And the select few that started to come back around, have found that I am no different than the day I was told my son is dead. Words I never expected to hear that bright, sunny, Monday afternoon, just finishing my lunch break at work. I have wanted many times to follow in his footsteps, do exactly what he did! He had to be in such a dark place. If he felt like, I, do now; I get it! The pain is excruciatingly painful, and all you want to do is escape it all! There is no happy days in my life anymore. I do have a daughter, and 3 beautiful g’children – but when that one person that makes the family picture complete is gone, it’s just hard to be normal.

        I am truly sorry for your loss! I am sorry for everyone’s loss!!!

        God Bless us all!

      • Sweetie, if you truly need help with panic attacks, ask your doctor about Citalopram ( Celexa). I was bedridden from extreme panic attacks for a solid month until my doctor put me on this medicine. I’m so sorry you share this tragedy.

    • Your words are my word’s

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