Langley resident Heather Mullan holds a photo of her daughter Amelia, who died of a drug overdose. Mullan has launched a new support group for parents of overdose victims. Dan Ferguson Langley Times

Group for parents of overdose victims launched by Lower Mainland mother

There is a lack of long-term resources for grieving parents

It was 10 months before Langley resident Heather Mullan could bring herself to put up a picture of her daughter Amelia.

When she did, the photo she chose was a happy one of Amelia, who died from a drug overdose at 35.

It shows a contented-looking woman posing in front of 20 Mile Creek near Hedley.

At the time, Amelia was in a positive relationship and working hard to stay clean after years of addiction.

The photo was taken about two years ago.

Just over a year later, in March 2017, Amelia had a slip, took some heroin laced with fentanyl, and died.

She was one of more than 1,400 people who died from an illicit drug overdose in B.C. last year.

READ MORE: More than 1,400 people in B.C. died of drug overdoses in 2017

About 81 per cent of the deaths were the result of combining drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine with fentanyl, a painkiller that is 100 times more toxic than morphine and can be fatal in even small amounts.

The public health crisis has meant an increasing number of parents, like Mullan, are left to mourn their children.

“It’s horrendous and lonely,” Mullan said.

And it can be especially hard when someone is lost to drugs.

“A loss through substance abuse has a real stigma to it,” Mullan said.

She held her hands out as if to hold someone close.

“When you care for them (an addict) you hold them here,” she said.

Then she opened her arms wide.

“When they pass, “here” is empty.

Mullan paused a second to collect herself.

“I said I wasn’t going to cry,” she said, then reached for a tissue.

There was short-term assistance available for grieving parents of overdose victims, including a six-week program offered by a local funeral home, but there was nothing ongoing for parents struggling with the unimaginable, Mullan discovered.

“There was no support,” Mullan said.

So she started looking for something long-term.

Her search led her to GRASP (Grief Recovery After Substance Passing), a support group for parents and loved ones who have had family members and friends who have died as a result of drug misuse, overdose or addiction.

The group was started in the U.S. by a couple whose 20-year-old daughter died from a drug overdose in 1994.

They launched an awareness program that evolved into a peer-to-peer support network with more than 100 chapters in the U.S. and Canada.

There are GRASP chapters in B.C., in Victoria and Kelowna.

To become a qualified peer leader of a GRASP group, like Mullan, it has to have been a year since the loved one has passed away.

The first local GRASP meeting organized by Mullan will be held on Thursday, March 1 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in room 206 of the Cloverdale Recreation Centre at 6188 176 St., which has donated space.

For more information, email grasplangleysurreyfraservalley@gmail.com or phone 604-616-4800.

READ MORE: Drug overdoses almost a daily occurrence in Langley City



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Snow prayers answered as Manning Park ski hill opens Friday

Ski hill will be open seven days a week starting Dec. 14, and cross-country trails as well

Fleeing driver picks fight with Chilliwack police dog, loses

Good dog ‘Griff’ also locates large quantity of what police believe to be crystal meth in Abbotsford

UPDATE: Heavy rainfall, strong winds in forecast for Lower Mainland

Heavy rains, snow expected till Friday morning

Hope rescue crew remove man pinned in semi-truck on Highway 3

Tuesday night rescue was swift, with the man removed safely from the truck within an hour and a half

DFO confirms that investigation of fish habitat destruction in the Fraser River is underway

Conservation and Protection reps ordered Herrling and Carey Island owners to take corrective action

Omar Khadr wants changes to bail conditions

‘My life is held in suspension’, says the former Guantanamo Bay detainee

Sissons scores OT winner as Predators beat Canucks 4-3

VIDEO: Vancouver battles back to earn single point in Nashville

Lions announce seven members of coaching staff not coming back for 2019

The operational moves come two days after the Lions announced DeVone Claybrooks as the team’s new head coach

$12K awarded to atheist family who oppose Christmas, Hanukkah in B.C. classroom

Gary Mangel,May Yasue said holidays, Remembrance Day and Valentine’s Day not appropriate in preschool

Coach accused of sexual assault says apology letter was misinterpreted

Dave Brubaker has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of invitation to sexual touching

Give the gift of nature this holiday season

Please don’t be mad, but I bought you a moose

Aboriginal poet faces backlash for calling out NHL-themed totem poles

Rebecca Thomas says she received backlash for asking a drugstore chain to remove NHL merchandise

No plans yet for free WiFi on BC Transit buses

BC Transit says they are monitoring the roll-out of free WiFi on Translink vehicles

Some Kotex tampons recalled in Canada and U.S.

In some cases, tampon users sought medical attention “to remove tampon pieces left in the body.”

Most Read