Pubdate: Wed, 18 Mar 2015
Source: Tri-Cities Now, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2015 Glacier Community Media
Note: Was Coquitlam Now until Jan 2014
Author: Jennifer Moreau


Mom Starts First Canadian Chapter of Support Group for Those Grieving 
a Death Due to Drugs

Jennifer Woodside has already been through the worst day of her life. 
It was April 4, 2014, when her 21-year-old son Dylan went to sleep 
and never woke up.

"Nothing can be worse than that day I went through," Woodside said.

Dylan, a young art student, had developed a taste for ketamine, a 
drug somewhat popular on the club scene. He was on and off it for 
about eight months and managed to get through detox, but as Woodside 
tells it, he did it one more time. This time, he took oxycodone laced 
with fentanyl, an additive responsible for the rash of overdoses in 
Vancouver's heroin-using community last October.

Dylan went to sleep at his father's house on the North Shore, and 
never woke up. His girlfriend found him, called 911 and tried to 
resuscitate him, but it was too late.

When Woodside heard the news, she couldn't believe it.

"It was like a big whoosh when somebody hits you in the stomach," she 
said. "Losing a child is a horrible experience for any parent, but 
losing a child this way is really devastating because you blame 
yourself. Why couldn't I save him? Why did he do it one more time?"

Along with the grief, Woodside felt a sense of shame and stigma 
surrounding drug use. For the longest time, she told people Dylan's 
death was an accident.

"It's not a normal death. It took me a while to be able to tell 
people," she said. "There's a term for this. It's called 
disenfranchised grief - it's a grief that's not acknowledged by 
society. Some people can't see past it. They think that person wasn't 
good, that it's not a good lifestyle, or the parent's not a good 
person because they allowed this to happen. So there's a lot of guilt."

Woodside scoured the Internet for some kind of support for 
drug-related deaths, but she couldn't find anything local. That's 
when she decided to take matters into her own hands. The retired Port 
Moody resident started a new chapter of GRASP - Grief Recovery After 
a Substance Passing - a support group for people who've lost someone 
to drugs or alcohol.

Based on statistics from the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C., 
Woodside is not alone. In 2012, illicit drug use caused 319 deaths in 
B.C., while alcohol caused 1,255. Those numbers have remained fairly 
stable over the past decade.

Woodside hosted her first meeting on Thursday, Feb. 12, and plans to 
hold regular meetings the second Thursday of every month.

While there are GRASP chapters across the U.S., Woodside believes her 
Burnaby group is the first in Canada. She's the group's facilitator, 
and hopes other parents will be able to share stories of their 
children and know that it's OK to feel guilt and anger.

She asks that people pre-register for the group by e-mailing  .
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom