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From Adversity to Advocacy: The Transformative Power of Gratitude

From Adversity to Advocacy: The Transformative Power of Gratitude

From Adversity to Advocacy: The Transformative Power of Gratitude

Posted on August 8, 2023

In life’s most challenging moments, the power of gratitude can be truly transformative. As a patient advocate, my purpose has been largely shaped by a profound wellspring of gratitude that emerged from our son’s 24-year battle with drug addiction.

Appreciating there is a purpose for everything and despite the heart-wrenching loss experienced by our family, gratitude has become one of the cornerstones of my existence, propelling me to effect meaningful change in working with clients who desire assistance navigating complex medical and health situations.

Gratitude as a Lifeline

Grief has an overwhelming way of engulfing one’s spirit, especially when faced with the death of beloved family members. The profound emotions of grief and loss create a feeling of numbness, followed by reflection and remembrance. The comfort of community, where friends and family come together to reminisce and share hugs, laughter, and tears, serves to heal.

With the death of your child, the emotional differences arising from the unique parent-child bond are overwhelming. Grief is unfathomable. There is enduring pain, anguish, and guilt that become a constant companion along the many months-long grief journey. Just when you begin to trust that finally the pain and tears are under control, you randomly come across a photo or a hand-crafted gift that somehow had gotten tucked away in a closet, and the heart breaks once again.

What I’ve learned from this experience is that within the depths of grief, gratitude emerges as a lifeline. In my family’s experience, we eventually came to a place where we were able to remind each other of our blessings. Over time, I embraced gratitude for the precious time I shared with our son. Through reflection, I discovered an unwavering appreciation for the lessons learned, cherished moments, and the love that permeated his tumultuous journey.

A Catalyst for Passionate Advocacy

In the face of tragedy, gratitude became the driving force that transformed my anguish into a passionate pursuit of change. One experience continues to inspire me today, a testament to my son’s resilience and brilliance. Jason, our son, possessed a natural skill for math and carpentry. He could effortlessly solve complicated problems and bring projects to life with just a few strokes of his pencil.

One Saturday, he and my husband were constructing a storage shed in the backyard. They encountered a challenge with a siding angle, and my husband consulted his plans. In a moment of brilliance, Jason pulled out his pencil, did some quick calculations, then provided his father with the exact dimensions needed for a perfect fit. The shed was completed that afternoon.

Jason’s talent led him to work as a skilled finish carpenter for a renowned yacht company in Maine. He had been in remission for several years doing well on a prescribed dose of Suboxone – until his employer's health insurance stopped covering the medication. As he was no longer living with us, he kept this information to himself and, despite his determination experienced a significant spiral downward relapse.

Upon realizing his deteriorating condition, we rushed to his apartment, where it became clear that he needed urgent medical attention. At the Emergency Room, a nurse summoned him to an intake room, and I followed. The nurse’s demeanor conveyed her preconceived notions about addicts, evident in her curt questions and dismissive behavior toward Jason.

As both a parent and a healthcare professional, I was taken aback by her bias. I intervened, urging her to treat him with the respect and care that every patient deserves. Fortunately, she adjusted her attitude to align with her professional duties. Sadly, this lack of empathy and understanding persisted throughout his care. It is a pervasive issue faced by those with substance abuse and related disorders.

Illuminating the Path of Resilience

Through the darkness, gratitude illuminated the path of personal growth and resilience. I am grateful for the strength I discovered within myself as our family weathered each of Jason’s storms of addiction. Each setback, there were many, taught me to appreciate my own resilience and the remarkable human capacity to endure and heal. Gratitude instilled in me the unwavering belief that even in the face of immense hardship, we possess the power to rise and create a meaningful impact.

Guiding Light in Advocacy

Since my son’s tragic battle with addiction, gratitude has become my guiding light, offering solace, purpose, resilience, and the navigation skills needed for effective advocacy on behalf of those impacted by substance abuse. This profound emotion has allowed me to embrace the beauty of life’s fragile moments, transforming my pain into purpose and forging me in the matter as an unwavering advocate.

Gratitude, now intricately woven into the tapestry of my existence, reminds me that even in the darkest corners, seeds of hope can blossom, bringing healing, change, and a renewed motivation to those who need it most.

As a patient advocate, my primary purpose is to encourage, educate and empower. The impact of Jason’s life and his battle with addiction have become the driving force behind my advocacy efforts. Through empathy, resilience, and a deep sense of gratitude, I continue to work tirelessly to bring positive change to each of my clients and their families. There is, however, a very special place in my heart for those impacted by substance abuse disorders.

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