On Friday morning, November 6, I received a prayer chain call from church. While the requests can run a wide berth of concerns, this one caught my attention in a way that almost stopped my heart. Prayer was being requested for a church member whose 18 year old grandson, a young man I knew, had been found dead that morning. I really could not believe that I had heard it right, so I listened again and the message was indeed what was initially thought.
I placed a couple of quick calls seeking information before finally touching base with his grandfather who confirmed the story as true. The initial concern was that he had overdosed on prescription medication; a concern that eventually was determined to be correct.
Over the weekend, this young man’s Dad sent an email to family and friends, an email which is published below with his permission. It has been edited slightly for clarity and privacy. The words “my son” have been substituted for the young man’s name.
Dear Business partners and Friends,
Words cannot begin to express the overwhelming support felt by all of my family this past weekend. Thank you so much for the food, prayers, thoughts, hugs, and words of encouragement. I would like to share with you my son’s story in hope that no one else ever has to experience the tragedy of burying a child:
On Friday morning of last week, my worst nightmare came true, I received a call from my younger son, 15, that his brother, 18, was unconscious and I needed to get over to their house quick. When I arrived, my son’s mom and the paramedics told me that they had nothing to work with-he had obviously been gone for a few hours. Within 15 minutes the outpouring of love, support, and prayers began-God showed up and placed his arms of comfort and peace around everyone. Family, friends, pastors, co-workers, students and neighbors began to show up and offer any assistance they could. I was amazed.
Like most people, I live in a fast paced life. I am not sure where I thought I was going all the time, but I was always doing something quickly-sometimes doing things right –sometimes not. The death of my son has made me take some time and think about what is really important. Our children are important. If you’re receiving this email and you are a parent that feels like everything moves to quickly, please slow down and take time to find out what is going on in your child’s life. Spend time with them each day, talk to their friends, their teachers, coaches, and anyone else they are involved in. Check their cell phones-you will be amazed. Check there email, Facebook, etc. You’re their parent-you have the right!
Just 2 years ago, my son was a typical teenager- interested in girls and cars-the usual things for boys. Two years later- he is gone. Where did it go wrong, where did the tide turn, what were the signs? If you have a child in school, chances are they have been asked or know someone that has been asked to participate in the taking of “prescribed” medicines. They take pain killers, anti-inflammatory, anxiety, depression, sleeping pills and any other meds they can find to “alter” their state of mind. They do not take it as prescribed. They think if one is good-two is better- and three is “killer”! What they don’t understand is it can kill them- it killed my son!
Some of the signs to look for are: sudden changes in mood, appetite, irritability, sleeping to much or not enough…they will take something to give them energy and then take something to bring them down. It’s hard to tell- but the signs are there. Keep all your medicines in a safe place that only you know about. These kids will have their friends steal meds from you while they steal meds from those friends’ parents (they don’t feel as bad this way). Do whatever you have to do to try and keep them safe.
While his death is a tragedy-it is also a success story. Just three weeks ago, my son spoke to Pastor Robbie at Hopewell Baptist church and Robbie asked my son if he knew Jesus as his Lord and Savior- he said “yes”. They prayed and my son was so excited. He called me and told me that he was changing his life and gonna quit doing the things that had gotten him in trouble. I was so excited that he had seen the light and wanted to change, but the devil wasn’t finished. As the days went by, my son began to be tested – he gave way to temptation- he lost that battle—but in the end he won the war. Because of his decision to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior, he is in heaven and at his funeral over 10 people accepted Jesus and will spend eternity in heaven when they leave this world. I don’t think I could be any prouder of my son.
I hope that my son’s story will cause us to make changes in our lives for the good- I hope that his story will bring families closer, that people will get back to the basics in life and realize that we are only here temporarily-that there is a place in eternity with God if we want it.
If your family is dealing with an addiction or abuse situation, please seek help so that lives may be saved. A great starting point is Celebrate Recovery, a Jesus Christ centered ministry for those struggling with addictive behavior, hurts, habits or hangups. Search “celebrate recovery” and the name of your town to find a local ministry.