Mary's daughter died some years ago now and she has discussed her daughters life and death with her grandchildren. Despite how difficult these conversations were Mary believes that being honest is the best option for her family.
Drugs tainted my life, left me losing a child and left children losing their mother.
My daughter was always a defiant child and even at the age of 11 or 12 she would pinch cigarettes from me. She started sniffing solvents when she was about 14. She went from this to going out most nights drinking when she got to about 15. She would get drunk often and one night she came home and hit me. This became a regular thing. She’d often refuse to attend school. I had other children at home and I couldn’t cope with her behaviour. She became aggressive, demanding and violent and she was placed in care. I’d still see her yet one night she came to my house and smashed everything up. She’d do this more as time went on. I’m sure that even then she was using drugs. Having her live somewhere else was a relief knowing she wouldn’t hit me any more. She hated being told “no”. At 15 she became pregnant and soon after that we found out she was using heroin.
Over the years I tried to help her, I’d get her support, got her onto treatment programmes and did what I could as drugs were always an issue. She’d be in and out of prison often. She’d steal from me and get others to steal from me. I’d always let her visit me as I didn’t understand drugs and how they affected people. Often things would be missing when she’d leave. I had money and valuables taken from my home, jewellery that had a sentimental value. She became pregnant again and started mixing with others who used drugs. I didn’t know how to help. Then she got involved in prostitution, all because of her drug needs. I felt lost. She visited me one time and beat me. I couldn’t hit her back, she was my child. She blamed me for her life being the way it was. I was frightened of her, yet I took on the care of her child. This only gave her the chance to carry on drug use. Later she became pregnant again. I never intended to look after this baby but when this grandchild was born I had to, I couldn’t not do it. Looking after another grandchild was very difficult and meant a lot of sacrifices for me.
Since those times I always did try and support my daughter with her problems and always encouraged regular contact between her children and her. They always knew they lived with me because their mum was poorly, and she was, they could see she was poorly, yet we still all saw each other often. I didn’t want to tell the children anything about drugs as they were so young.
My daughter died some years ago now and I’ve since spoke to my grandchildren about her problems and about drugs. I had to as I didn’t want them to resent me when they were older for not being honest.
Losing my daughter was so painful. Yet she won’t need to do some of the dreadful things that often go with drug use any more.
Me and the children still keep her memory alive and on special occasions we have our own way of remembering her.