The Realities of Grief From Loss of a Son
Welcome to Healing From Within I am your host Sheryl Glick author of my newest book in the trilogy A New Life Awaits Spirit Guided Insights to Support Global Awakening which shares stories and messages from Spirit that show us that our challenges are not merely economic political or societal just a spiritual disconnect from our true being or soul wisdom. I am delighted to welcome Kris Francoeur, author of Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude which approaches grief with the realities and honest account of living with grief, offering healing and hope, without necessarily relying on religion, formal psychotherapy or pharmaceutical resources. A novel approach for people who struggle with mental health issues and addiction.
As listeners of “Healing From Within” have come to expect over the years Sheryl and her guests explore and answer questions about the origin of life and death to find the metaphysical aspects of our dual nature as spiritual beings having a physical life as we support energy and the Universal Source for continued expansion and creation. It is through knowing more about who we are that we can handle the challenges, sorrows and joys as well as the opportunities for personal and collective growth through our experiences and learn greater compassion and love for life.
In today’s episode of “Healing From Within” Kris Francoeur shares a deeply moving memoir honoring her 20 year old son Sam whose untimely death launched her need to search deeply within to deal with the complexity of grief and sorrow. Kris Francoeur is the author of three romance novels using her pen name Anna Belle Rose and lives in Addison County Vermont with her husband and youngest son, a small flock of alpaca, chickens and several hives of bees and the rest of her family and friends.
When Sheryl asks Kris to think back to her childhood and a person, place or experience that might have shown her or others the lifestyle or interests she might value as an adult she immediately remembers her grandmother whose name she honors for the fictional books she has written. Her grandmother encouraged in her a sense of being able to do whatever she needed to do from within her heart values and for Kris it was writing. It was the unconditional love and acceptance she received from her grandmother that also sustained her in dealing with the untimely transition of her son Sam.
In the prologue of your book you say your life is divided into two parts by a glaringly clear line. The first part was anything before October 9, 2013 and the other, everything after. This book is about the after. But we go back and start by learning more about Kris and her family and specifically your son Sam.
Sheryl likes the paragraph that describes Sam from his earliest days and Kris wrote,
“The first thing anyone noticed about Sam even at a few days old was that he didn’t sleep: he was eerily aware of everything. Perhaps his soul had always known his time would be short so he didn’t waste time sleeping too much. Sam loved his older brother and sister and would look at them intensely. Within a short period of time Sam started talking. He could talk in full sentences long before he could walk. And he would start a conversation with every person he met—I mean every single person. When he was a toddler and we’d walk up the street all the adults would say, “Hi Sam.”
Everywhere we went with Sam we had to keep an eye on him because he would wander off to have a conversation or joy of joys to meet someone new. Sam also could be very stubborn and controlling.
Sheryl suggests Sam was a sensitive child gifted by Spirit with a goodness and love for life that could not be easily tapped down. Many people labeled with issues that affect their physical or mental well being are simply souls having trouble grounding their immense energy into a physical body and life. Labels do little to truly appreciate the uniqueness of each soul being.
Kris shares with us as the days passed after Sam’s transition many of his friends came to tell her how they had received impressions thoughts synchronicities or messages from Sam and Kris shared this on FaceBook which began a way to share this new awareness of life surviving physical death which she was not fully aware of before the loss of her son. While Kris had used Facebook a bit prior to her loss, it somehow became a major means to communicating after.
In Kris life as a professional writer writing romance novels, the happily ever after stories in her personal life, she found that finding joy where and every moment you can, pushing others to do the same and loving as fiercely as possible became a new reality for her and her loved ones.
Sheryl says she has found in her search for the truth of our actual being an understanding of our energetic eternal soul essence much the same as Kris need to love fiercely and in her new book A New Life Awaits Spirit Guided Insights to Support Global Awakening Sheryl wrote in regard to love and life in all realms the following… “I grew up in a time when there were peace movements along with world concerns for idealistic approaches to living well and where personal fulfillment was a valued commodity. But always, we brought the precious values of our ancestors in Spirit with us, which positively affected our decision-making process and added to our spiritual awakening. So, we must continue now to work with all aspects of our physical and spiritual lives to heal and create a world that offers hope in the face of personal or collective hardships that often make us forget our divinity and ability to live with dignity. If we begin to do what feels right from within, without judging issues as good or bad, only experiences,… we will free ourselves from the many illusions or ideologies that still hold us prisoners to fear and the limitations of our conditioned minds, and lift these challenging times to new heights for advanced human evolution.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.”
-Rumi Kris tells us that she and her family live in rural VT. Her children attended Otter Valley Union High School—substance abuse was not talked about in your community. There is a side rant in the book that can discuss this.
Kris writes, “Turns out there had been three—count them three deaths from fentanyl patches and otherwise in our little county in the six weeks before Sam’s death, but that had been kept out of the press because Addison County didn’t want to recognize or be recognized for a growing opiate problem. We didn’t know that the medication could be abused, so it was the only drug that wasn’t locked up. The need for the towns surrounding Middlebury, Vermont and Middlebury College in particular to keep their pure healthy never-do-anything-wrong image meant that they withheld information from the public. And now, partially because of this Sam was dead.
Sheryl says Fake news and “lack of reporting news” can be so damaging to the people
In speaking with the funeral director you were asked about flowers—No we didn’t want donation flowers. Gaudy flowers were not Sam. Sam was garlic squash, hot peppers and LEGO bricks…
Kris wrote, “We sat in velvet chairs while Gary the funeral director asked us questions, What did we want for a funeral service? A private one. this hurt too to have it on public display. We wanted a teeny-tiny family service where on one else would see how incredibly broken we were……The questions went on: Did we want to bury him in a casket or cremate him? Cremation or burial….the decision for cremation was mutual. Gary went on to ask what kind of urn we wanted? An urn? We were going to make a decision about what to put his remains in. If he was cremated, we had to decide where his ashes would be stored. The questions continued. Did we want flowers for the service? Music? Did we want to have a musician at the service Speeches? …. Food? A reception. Program? Photos? How could this be happening? Sam was set to move into a new apartment on October 15th. We had just bought him a comforter for his bed there. Now we were looking at these shiny, gaudy urns in which to store his earthly remains. No no no no! This could not be happening. Then there was the matter of a burial spot for his ashes or most of them anyway. How many of you have your children’s gravesites picked out ahead of time? Or even your own resting place?” It seems that the process to plan a funeral should be simpler as this is a time when people are lost in sadness and cannot make rational decisions
Kris found ways to heal beyond religion, formal psychotherapy or pharmaceutical resources.
Kris tells us that as a grieving mother she has found joy and light again through the practices of conscious and deliberate gratitude, unconditional acceptance and connection with nature spirit and the eternal forces of creation.
Kris has also learned about the problem in our nation with abuse of opiate prescription drugs and shares that in her book.
The misuse of and addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain medicines is a serious national problem that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. An estimated 1.9 million people in the United States suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain medicines in 2014, and 586,000 suffered from a heroin use disorder.1 This issue has become a public health epidemic with devastating consequences including not just increases in opioid use disorders and related fatalities from overdoses, but also the rising incidence of newborns who experience neonatal abstinence syndrome because their mothers used these substances during pregnancy; and the increased spread of infectious diseases including HIV and hepatitis C (HCV), as was seen in 2015 in southern Indiana.
Existing evidence based prevention and treatment strategies are highly underutilized across the United States. In 2015, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched an initiative to address the complex problem of prescription opioid and heroin abuse in this country that emphasizes the implementation of evidence based prevention and treatment strategies to improve prescribing practices, deployment of the medication naloxone to reverse overdoses, and access to medication‑assisted treatment (MAT) to treat opioid use disorders.
Both prescription opioid drugs (such as oxycodone and hydrocodone) and heroin work through the same mechanism of action. Opioids reduce the perception of pain by binding to opioid receptors, which are found on cells in the brain and in other organs in the body. The binding of these drugs to opioid receptors in reward regions in the brain produces a sense of well-being, while stimulation of opioid receptors in deeper brain regions results in drowsiness and respiratory depression, which can lead to overdose deaths. Presence of opioid receptors in other tissues is responsible for side effects such as constipation and cardiac arrhythmias. The effects of opioids are typically mediated by specific subtypes of opioid receptors (mu, delta, and kappa) that are activated by the body’s own (endogenous) opioid chemicals (endorphins, enkephalins). With repeated administration of opioid drugs (prescription or illicit) the production of endogenous opioids decreases, which accounts in part for the discomfort that ensues when the drugs are discontinued (i.e., withdrawal).
People who use prescription opioids non-medically may seek to intensify their experience by taking the drug in ways that result in more rapid delivery to their brain. For example, extended-release oxycodone is designed to release slowly and steadily into the bloodstream when taken orally, which minimizes its euphoric effects. People who use pills for their mood elevating effects may crush them to snort or inject the drug, which not only increases the euphoria but also increases the risk for serious medical complications, such as overdose and substance use disorder.
Another important property of opioid drugs is their tendency, when used repeatedly over time, to induce tolerance. Tolerance occurs when the person no longer responds to the drug as strongly as he or she initially did, thus necessitating a higher dose to achieve the same effect. The establishment of tolerance results from the ability of opioids to desensitize the brain’s own natural opioid system, making it less responsive over time. This tolerance contributes to the high risk of overdose during a relapse to opioid use after a period of abstinence whether it is intentional – for example, when a person tries to quit using – or whether it is situational – for example, if a user cannot obtain opioid drugs while incarcerated or hospitalized.
Kris tells us how she began to feel most helped and close to Sam and at the same time help herself and the family heal. Shortly before his death, Sam had brought home some garlic he had helped to grow at Good Earth/Neshobe Farm in Brandon, Vermont. He worked as an intern for our friend Hannah who also happens to be our former daughter in law who had been married to our daughter Amie. Sam found his vocational calling on that farm . Specifically vegetable farming brought him joy in a way that nothing else did. So we googled how to grow garlic, Paul built a box and we planted it. It was well fertilized rich soil mixed with sand so it was light enough for the cloves to grow. Planting together Paul and Kris were able to talk and express all their mixed feelings of love and sadness as we watched Sam’s garlic cloves grow. Kris also used FaceBook to reach Sam’s friends who gathered his possessions and brought them home to the family. After a while the family began to go to the Boston Red Sox baseball games which Sam and the whole family had always found so integrative to their well being. Knitting. Thank God for knitting. Kris made many scarves that she gave to friends and years later it made her smile when she saw her friends wearing the scarves that were made and given with love. Serving others was an important part of the healing process.
Kris might like readers of Of Garlic Grief and Gratitude to take away with them after reading her intimate search for understanding life and death that those who have lost a loved one need to know that “Consciousness survives physical death.” And she writes…”Then there was another odd conversation at Otter Valley that centered on Sam’s spirit. It was the first time that someone told us that his spirit had clearly visited them and had a message for us, but it would not be the last time someone told us that. Keep in mind that Sam had only been gone from this earth for a day and already his spirit had visited someone with a message for us. While we now have come to peace with people coming to us with messages,” then it was like we were in a parallel universe or something.
Sheryl says In her second book The Living Spirit Answers for Healing and Infinite Love she tells the story of one of her Reiki students calling her very upset that her daughter’s boyfriend Michael had just passed hours before in a motorcycle accident, and asked if I could do a reading for them. Sheryl had been told by another medium that often it was not advisable to do a reading so soon after someone passes but because she had been asked and felt the tremendous suffering they were experiencing she felt that Spirit would not give her a task that could not be accomplished. The reading was most descriptive and told of his interests, dreams, love for his family and my client’s daughter and what would be happening at his funeral in a few days. Michael also expressed his feelings and thought that he had passed from his body quickly and there was no pain and while he knew it was time for him to follow the light beings that called to him, he looked back for a moment and felt sad, that his family would miss him and cry for him.
We thank Kris Francoeur for her sensitive honest and hopeful story of the loss of Sam a young man who was in his own way practical and loved life but got caught up in the confusion of the teenage years and life that was challenging overwhelming and changing so rapidly through these modern technological times of social media judgment perhaps, and false realities in relationship to what our soul truly yearns for. The confusion of these troubling times can be understood in Sam’s story
In summarizing today’s episode of Healing From Within we have shared probably the most challenging and heart breaking experience a family can go through and that is the loss of a child in this case Sam who was a sensitive much loved part of his family friends and community and who like all of us looked to move past pain anxiety or fear to feel joyful peaceful and happy. Addiction and drug or alcohol abuse is often a way that people try to subdue their feelings of discomfort in their body needing a self- medicating approach. If we think of life as a series of experiences, not good or bad, just part of an individual’s life plan or destiny that the soul has chosen before even being born, then we will not judge or deny what must happen, and will know that each soul is born with a time to come and a time to go, and be in eternal life, where learning love and personal growth continue.
Kris writes an interesting insight about Alpacas who for some reason mean eternal life for Sheryl…Kris wrote, “Alpacas understand death and sickness in a way that is hard to explain unless you have witnessed it. When an alpaca is getting sick, the others will comfort and support him around the clock, sometimes not eating so their friend is not alone. We have watched them stay awake for hours, keeping buddy company, and even after death, they will stay with the body and protect it….Their understanding of cycles of life and death has helped shape mine. These beautiful animals showed us kindness and empathy in a way we all could understand.”
Kris and I would have you open your heart and mind beyond sadness and loss and remember the soul and energy of those you love who are in spiritual life smiling loving and enjoying the process of eternal creation and growth. Nothing is ever lost, just transitioned to another dimension of energy and life.