The authors of Devastating Losses, William and Beverly Feigelman join Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley to discuss drug and alcohol related deaths. They lost their son to substance abuse and have committed their lives and careers to helping others prevent such losses or heal from them. The Feigelmans took a narrative and wove it into an immense amount of research. Beverly is a social worker, William is a professor at a private college, and they share their story of how their son took his own life after struggling with substance abuse.
Healing losses with service is one of the best tools a griever can use. “They have one foot in the professional world and one foot in the personal world—they’ve lived it,” says Dr. Heidi Horsley. Vanessa McGann, clinical psychologist also joins the group to talk about support groups and networks for suicide loss. The Feigelmans lost their son 11 years ago. He was in his 30s when he died, had just become engaged, and, as far as his parents knew, was on a positive track.
Using Life in a Positive Way
For the Fiegelmans, helping others to navigate these waters became their natural calling. Beverly specialized in substance abuse for several years, both in a private practice and as an adjunct teacher. “Death by suicide just grabs you, and you’re not prepared in any way,” she says.
No matter what warning signs there might have been, or even if a loved one had been professionally treated for substance abuse, nobody expects it. Suicide loss is also a disenfranchised loss. Parents experience two losses: the loss of their child and the loss of their role as a parent. Professionally, Beverly also had a third loss (her career), which led to a snowball effect of grief.