EP 32: A Mother's Story of Grief Recovery After Substance Passing with Kathy Posey

Anyone who has lost a loved one as a result of substance abuse knows that society treats this loss differently than a death from any other cause. Grief Recovery After Substance Passing (GRASP) was created to offer understanding, compassion, and support for those who have lost someone they love through addiction and overdose. Too many times, they suffer not only the death of the person they love but also become isolated in their grief. Today’s guest is Kathy Posey, who lost her own son, Josh, to substance addiction at the tender age of 23. In this episode, Kathy speaks candidly about her experience, her son’s struggle with addiction, and his untimely passing. She shares what she wishes she knew at the time, how she managed to take care of herself – both before and after Josh’s death – and the importance of realizing that there is no shame in addiction or overdose-related death. Kathy also explains that every person grieves differently and how starting a GRASP group helped her with her own grief process, and she shares some words of hope and advice for those dealing with grief or those who wish to support them. Tune in today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Kathy shares a bit about her family, herself, and her background.
  • Talking about Kathy’s son, Josh – she describes his path and his personality.
  • The signs Kathy and her family noticed in Josh and when they first sought treatment for him.
  • What stands out to Kathy from her journey and what she wished she knew at the time.
  • Kathy explains that addiction is a disease that brings a lot of shame and anxiety for parents.
  • What Kathy found was that talking about it and educating herself helped her take care of herself.
  • The importance of realizing that there is no shame in having a child with addiction – it has nothing to do with parenting.
  • Kathy talks candidly about Josh’s passing and the few months prior to his death.
  • Starting the journey of walking through grief – Kathy shares some of her key takeaways.
  • Everyone grieves differently, and each approach is valid and understandable.
  • Starting a GRASP group for families and how it has helped Kathy with her own grief process.
  • It’s human nature that sharing our experience helps us feel less alone.
  • Realizing the reality of having a child with addiction is different from the dreams of their future.
  • Being ready for a group, finding a local group that works for the individual, and how GRASP has been affected by COVID.
  • Advice for friends and family who want to come alongside those grieving: be there.
  • Kathy’s story of hope: even though loss is incredibly painful, you will recover and laugh again.


“I think that what would have helped is to know what [the] signs [of substance addiction] are and for people to talk about it. I never read anywhere or saw anybody post anything on any social media about what to look for.” — Kathy Posey [0:11:48]

“This is a disease. When you get to the point of actual addiction, it’s a disease. It brings a lot of shame, it brings a lot of anxiety about being around your own friends, because you’re trying to avoid the conversation [about] what your kids are doing, and it makes it very difficult.” — Kathy Posey [0:12:13]

“If you share, you don’t feel so alone. I think [it] is human nature that we all want to seem unique or to one-up each other sometimes but, in grief, I think you want to hear the ‘me too’s. You want to be able to share with somebody and have them say, ‘I understand that’.” — Kathy Posey [0:27:48]

“Even though I’ve shared a lot of ugliness and pain today, I want people to know that they will recover from this loss. They are going to learn to live and laugh again, they are going to learn to navigate this life with her new normal. I hope that GRASP becomes a safe place for people to share about their loved ones, and talk about their feelings, and find a connection because I have met wonderful people in this group.” — Kathy Posey [0:41:47]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Kathy Posey Email

GRASP (Grief Recovery After Substance Passing)

GRASP Facebook Group

Mosaics of Mercy Support Group Resources

Memorial Hermann Prevention and Recovery Center (PaRC)


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