Cory Monteith is dead and I am sad.

For a few years, he and his Glee castmates brought me immeasurable joy each week.  I followed Cory and most of the original cast members on Twitter and loved witnessing their excitement about the show and one another’s accomplishments.

I was compelled by Cory’s personal story.  He dropped out of school at the age of thirteen, battled addiction, and seemed to find himself through acting.  Glee made him a tremendous success.

Cory recently took  a step away from his career to enter a rehab facility, so while we won’t know for probably weeks whether or not addiction played a role in his death we do know it factored into his life in his final months.

I remember when Cory tweeted this picture with his mom, Ann.  He had hosted the Gemini Awards in Canada, she was there, and he shared the pic with his followers.

That picture – and his mom – were very much on my mind after I heard the news.

As a mom, addiction scares the ever-living-daylights out of me.  I can’t imagine watching one of my children engage in self-destructive behavior that could restrict or ultimately end his life and feel helpless to make him stop.

I’m no expert in addictive disorders, but I have had long talks with friends who have experienced the deepest depths of addiction firsthand and watched loved ones suffer from it, and my best conclusion is that we as a society actually know precious little about what contributes to addiction and – most baffling to me – why some people win their battles against it and others don’t.

That arbitrariness is one of the reasons addiction scares me so much as a mom.  It blasts right through any illusion I still maintain about being able to protect and shield my children from the harm this world can inflict.

I’ve thought a lot about another mom in the wake of Monteith’s passing.  Mom blogger Katie Allison Granju lost her oldest child Henry to drug-related violence in 2010 at the age of 18.

In 2012, on the second anniversary of Henry’s death, Granju wrote a post that I revisit in my mind regularly.  My kids aren’t yet at the age where I really need to worry about drug use, but still her words echo.

In this post, she says:

But what I would like to share with other parents today is something I wrote 5 days before Henry died, while he was still in the hospital, battling for life. It’s a blog post in which I offered what I knew then and still believe two years later to be the MOST fundamental thing I did wrong, which was to not take his early experimentation seriously enough.

(emphasis added is mine)

She then relates the story of how she learned Henry had smoked pot.  Go read it, now.  If you are a parent, bookmark it, print it out, somehow save it and when the time comes, pull it out again.

My heart is heavy with the loss of a talented performer.

But oh, how my heart absolutely breaks for another mama who has lost her little boy.

7 Responses to “Addiction and Mama Love”

  1. on 15 Jul 2013 at 9:47 amSarah

    Such a wonderful post, Kristine. I am not even a mom, but I already worry about this. It seems to strike the best families randomly and destroy them from within. I have seen many friends and family battle addiction, but I can not imagine how you heal the scar of losing a son to drug or alcohol addiction. I’m even going to bookmark the post you reference – for days far ahead. Thank you.

  2. on 15 Jul 2013 at 9:51 amSusan Stafford

    Love reading your blog, Kristine! Today’s was particularly poignant – I had read the other mom’s blog. As a middle school teacher, I see experimentation more and more widespread and open. It is scary and heartbreaking..

  3. on 15 Jul 2013 at 10:03 amKristine Rudolph

    Middle school. Middle school!!

    It’s sometimes just too much for me to wrap my head around.

  4. on 15 Jul 2013 at 3:23 pmKate Burkhart

    Thanks, Kristine, for engaging in this important conversation.

    Addiction and drug abuse are scary problems, but parents are not helpless. “From the time children are born, parents influence their cognitive, social, and emotional development. Parents’ interactions and activities help shape children’s readiness for school, and consistent engagement during children’s elementary years is also related to positive academic and behavioral outcomes. Family engagement remains important in adolescence and predicts healthy youth behaviors and higher rates of college enrollment.” (Harvard Family Research Project)

    You can help strengthen your children’s resilience and prepare them for a healthy adulthood. Focusing on developing children’s assets — rather than waiting and addressing their deficits — has been shown to reduce risky behaviors, including drug use. Research continues to show that parents and other adults can have a real impact on youths’ decisions about substance abuse.

    Here is a list of references and resources for parents, teachers, caregivers, and others:
    Talking with Kids About Drugs & Alcohol
    Developmental Assets – What Are They, How You Can Strengthen Them
    The Importance of Parental Engagement
    Family Check Up and Positive Parenting

    The most effective tool is communication — with your children, teachers, other parents, and your community.

    Kate Burkhart, Executive Director
    Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (Alaska)

  5. on 15 Jul 2013 at 4:10 pmKristine Rudolph

    Thanks for all the wonderful resources, Kate.

  6. […] In yesterday’s post, I mentioned a mom blogger who spoke about her son’s drug addiction.  Acknowledging that you don’t get a “parenting do-over,” she shared some reflections that she hoped would help other mothers help their children. […]

  7. […] my vacation, we talked a bit about the concept of “do-overs.”  I wrote about blogger Katie Allison Granju’s parenting do-over in the context of her son’s death from an addictive disorder.  Then, readers and I shared […]

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