Drug Treatment: Katie Granju Makes a Difference With Henry’s Fund
What do you do when you find yourself the mother of a drug-addicted teenager? What do you do when that teenager, a bright boy you love so much it hurts, passes away from that addiction at the ripe old age of 19? How do you continue to mother your younger children with confidence and hope? If you're Katie Granju, you blog your way through it and you start a nonprofit fund to help finance treatment for other teenage addicts. You rally, you share, and you help others.
Those seem perhaps logical steps, but as anyone who has gone through a back-breaking trial with a child can attest, they were hard-fought. She wrote, before he passed away: "My beloved, firstborn child suffers from a terrible disease, addiction, and he has been struggling with it for several years. It started with early juvenile experimentation with marijuana at about age 14 and has progressed to where he is now, addicted to hard street drugs and as a result, lying in a critical care hospital bed, dealing with a horrific brain trauma along with various other physical injuries that are the direct result of that disease."
That was her family's trial, the type that she herself didn't want to admit for quite some time. But she did, and the comments poured in at that time. They were plentiful and supportive, and they helped rally her.
Then, she shared. Alot. At MamaPundit.com, JusticeForHenry.com, Babble.com, and HenryGranju.org. And many others shared Henry's story as well. Her friend Shane compiled a blog memory album of posts about Henry from people who knew him. Her friend Pan organized the Henry Granju Christmas Tree project, in which 100 people worldwide, both friends and strangers, included Henry in their own holiday celebrations in some way, and then shared a photograph with Katie, which she then posted on MamaPundit. And her friend Julianne, a former handbag company exec, designed and sells a totebag specifically for Henry's Fund, with 25% of the sale proceeds going to the fund.
As friends helped, so has Katie helped. She sought out another mother of a teen who had died from a drug overdose and comforted her. She sought and still seeks to help other parents understand the slippery slope that can lead to addiction, to dispel myths about addiction, and to fight for heavier criminal prosecution for those that sell drugs to minors. And she raises money for Henry's fund, because she believes that those who want help for addiction should be able to get that help, regardless of income or insurance status.
Grieving a child is, at least, something that feeds in on itself, isolates, and exhausts. At most, it is all-consuming. To reach out takes strength. To help others avert it takes fortitude and will amid frequent reminders of what might have been. But, ultimately for some and particularly for Katie, to do those things has been a natural, logical way to recover, to make hope for herself, her husband, her four younger children, and the many other people Henry's life touched.
Have you talked to your kids about drugs? How did you go about having this conversation?