Our son Aaron was one of the many who suffer from depression and anxiety. He was one of the many who sought help with medication, prescribed by a practicing physician intended to help alleviate this malady. But as it turned out for Aaron and nine others who saw the same doctor, the medication did not help.
All of these, including our son, died while under his care. Their deaths were deemed accidental prescription drug overdose.
The physician who had administered these drugs has since had his medical license revoked. Those who were his patients were not properly monitored but given what was toxic and lethal. Aaron had a history of ulcers, and we took it for granted that what was being prescribed for him was within safety regulations.
In August of 2011, our son died. Trying to work through our grief, we only knew that the autopsy report stated his death as acute drug toxicity. How did we assimilate that? As I look back, I think we assumed he just accidentally reached for more medicine than he was supposed to take. But who knows? We were suffering, our minds in shock.
How could we know these doctors were under investigation, that there are physicians who are careless about the lives of others.
As gradually came out of this coma of sorrow, I began to write a book about our son’s life and the suffering he went through. The book, “Broken Gifts,” was to be published in 2015. But prior to this, in 2014, we received a call from a reporter of our newspaper.
He began by asking me, as I was the one who answered that call, if we knew that our son was a “victim” of a local physician who was operating, in the reporters words, a “pill mill”? He related that one of the other doctors in the same clinic had pleaded guilty to murder in eight prescription overdose deaths.
We were stunned. We knew Aaron had been under the care of this doctor, but had thought he was helping our son.
I found myself reeling under this new information. Would this nightmare never end? Aaron wasn’t taking street drugs, he was going to a licensed doctor to get help, and the injustice of that seared into my brain.
We found ourselves now a part of a growing social problem, a black hole that seemed larger every day. We were interviewed, photographed, videoed, and put on display as an example of the over prescribing epidemic in America.
Yet even the story written about us in the paper portrayed our son in a demeaning way. The article hurt me deeply and added more to our grief. The article was intended to draw attention to this alarming reality of misuse and seriousness, and while I agreed with the intent, the way it was written was a discredit to our son. It was pain upon pain. The darkest of dark. Yet God had not abandoned us, we clung tighter. We trusted Him.
In a time like this, when not only old wounds are opened, but new ones inflicted, what should be our response?
Anger? Bitterness? Attempts at vindication? As a Christian, there was for me only one avenue however impossible. Forgiveness.
Not that those involved asked for it, or even deserved it. No, but because to become bitter would not solve anything except to make me as uncaring as those who exploit others.
As a Christian, I am in the position of seeking God for my own need of forgiveness. How many times am I told to forgive others? It goes way beyond the seventy times seventy. It stretches me beyond my ability.
Forgiveness is possible through Christ alone, not of my own strength.
But what about righteous indignation? Yes, because this is more positive than blatant anger. Across America, prescription drugs can be purchased at these so-called clinics with next to no responsibility on the clinic’s part. The clinic Aaron went to is still in operation today. Why is that? I have asked myself countless times.
Our family has forever been scarred by the way in which Aaron’s life ended. But we can’t allow another cancer to infect us with its poison, bitterness. We look to God, who has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. And we have peace.
Broken Gifts, FB