☼ Crying Is Okay Here

crying, addiction, grief, mom of addict

Photo by SSG Robert Stewart

A child has died. Not my child, but the child of a friend. Technically, he was no longer a child. But still, he was her child. She was supposed to have her child forever. Except forever didn’t last.

I didn’t know this young man. My friend’s son. I don’t know if he liked basketball or if he wore his hair parted on the side or how he preferred his steak cooked or on what day he was born. My arms don’t cuddle the memory of his tiny heft and softness as though years haven’t flown by since his birth. I don’t know the feel of his hand — if it was calloused or smooth — or the sound of his voice curled around the name Mom. Like silk. Or wind. Or leather.

No, I don’t know the things, the essence, the him that filled the space in his mother’s universe like stars, filling and fitting like only he could. But I can imagine.

I don’t know what dreams her child had for today and tomorrow, or what dreams my friend kept polished up for her son. I never looked through their window of hope to the future. But I feel the slam. And the crumble.

He was, now he isn’t.

His mother has to find a way to live with that.

This mother is a puddle of tears.


Sandra Swenson is the author of The Joey Song: A Mother’s Story of Her Son’s Addiction . Her forthcoming book, Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers With Addicted Children will be published by Hazeleden in October, 2017. An accompanying app will be released spring 2018.

22 thoughts on “☼ Crying Is Okay Here

  1. Nicole Clarke

    I have experienced many people passing away, and none is harder than a mom losing her child. I am also grateful to experience and see the opposite as well – seeing many people transition into sobriety to take back their life. I appreciate your work in exposing the stigma, the epidemic, and not being ashamed. Thank you!

    So much pain.. Best wishes to the mom.

  2. Sandy Rawlinson

    No words come to mind that can adequately describe what’s in my heart for Barbara. Daniel was a person. He was loved. He was treasured. He was Barbara’s son. Daniel is at peace now and although Barbara and I have never met, my heart is adjoined with hers today. We mourn Daniel together as parents who live the journey of the unknown every day. The spirit of Daniel lives on through those who knew him, cared about him and loved him.

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  4. Janet

    I don’t know the Addict’s Mom, however my heart hurts for her pain today. I honor her strength and struggle. I feel for Daniel too as he was loved till the end by his Mother, gone too soon! So much pain. We must keep fighting the fight of drug addiction. Thanks for Sharing!

  5. Margaret

    Sandy your words are help to all of us clinging to hope and Barbara, Daniel was ALL of our sons and daughters at any moment. We are all grieving for him, for you, for ourselves. I have not lost my son but all that can change in a heartbeat so I weep with you. Too many angels are being taken way too soon and we moms are the only hope for change…

  6. sheila Nieman

    i don’t know Barbara or Daniel but I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you Barbara. My son is an addict and I do know your pain. It never goes away. It is always there. Being the mother of an addict I will never be free of always being worried and always hoping this nightmare could be over. I love my son always and wish more than anything the addict would be gone. Thank you Sansy for your beautiful words.

  7. Regena Pelham

    What an awesome capture of a mother’s heart in written word.
    Definitely in honor of the relationship of Barbara and her Daniel.

  8. Nancy

    Oh to paint a picture with words is a gift. We have all so benefitted from Daniels life and his mothers love. We all received a gift. So many tears and prayers are with you Barbara…so many. I hope God can give you some peace and reassurance that Daniel is free and happy and waiting to someday reunite with his mom.

    1. Jamie Felton

      My son, Jack, is 18 and started doing drugs when he was 14 and my brother, Jason, is a drug addict as well. That said Jason has been mostly homeless due to his addiction for 20 years. When I look at him his eyes are hollow like there is no one home. That said, good or bad, I often pray God will take him to relive him from his despair, pain, darkness and loss of himself. Like you said, God will give him peace and joy. Thank you for your POSITIVE response to Sandy’s message. There are so many parents that live in darkness when they can choose to see light. I count my blessings for the days I see my son sober and the times he has stayed sober for a longer amount of time. What a gift it is to see a glimpse of my child…even if temporary.

  9. cindee

    I have had had the pleasure of working, struggling, praying, hoping, crying, laughing, and stressing with an amazing woman, Barbara. has helped so many people in the world learn and care about being an addicts mom and all that it means. My heartfelt sympathy can not lighten this painful journey, my friend, but know I am still praying for you,and your family to have the strength and beauty that was Daniel, to live in your hearts forever.

  10. Pamela Davidson

    I personally Don’t know Barbara or her son Daniel but I can call them my Friend, I am Happy I am a member of TAM & THE ADDICTS MOM group’s. I don’t know where I would be right now without the groups. I have been following Barbara for some time now. Daniel will FOREVER shine bright and will be missed dearly. somehow I felt the presence of Daniel when I lit my candles and the middle red one was SHINING bright. I said a prayer and that flame grew higher I will never forget this! was he sending me a sign I’m not alone? all I know is that candle stood out from all the others. I say that is Daniels heart shining beautifully and bright. no more pain Daniel you fought your hardest and I am proud of you, now go Fly high you are a beautiful ANGEL and I am Happy to be friends with your Mom. (Barbara)

  11. Lisa Neumann

    To Sandy: I heartfelt and beautiful post.

    To us addicts: This is what we leave behind when we when we think our actions don’t matter. Family and friends don’t stop loving us just because we stopped loving us.

    To Barbara and Family: My love and prayers for peace as you journey.


  12. Edie Kalbaugh

    I don’t know Barbara or her son, but I felt this as if she was my friend. I guess it’s the bond TAM’s have. I pray none of us ever have to feel this kind of pain. It’s always in the back of my mind. I always tried to prepare myself during the bad times, but I don’t think we could ever really prepare for something so painful. My thoughts and prayers for Barbara and her family and friends.

  13. Jeanne Coon

    This has been on my mind since hearing the horrible news last night. It’s the nightmare we all hope we never wake to. It made me want to go
    To my son and take him in my arms and keep him safe, even though I know I can’t. Prayers are being said for the family. I know he’s in a safe place now. My heart breaks for the ones who loved him…

    1. Ann

      Very beautifully spoken Sandy. Oh how my heart breaks for Barbara. I can not begin to image life without my son. I pray that she is able to find peace moving forward. She has more work to do. God is not finished with her yet. TAM needs her:)

  14. Tracey

    My heartfelt condolences to barbara family and friends for their precious loss. RIP sweet Daniel ,,,,

  15. Kassie

    Beautifully said. This is a sadness that extends beyond his family, beyond their friends and beyond this place. It will happen again in minutes to another child–a grown one–and each time it happens, the pain won’t be diluted.


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