Five Years Without Matt

Matts Kindess
Matts Mom, Jackie, Matt (center), Matts Dad, Ron

“There are some who bring a light so great to the world that
even after they have gone the light remains.”
– Oscar Yulaw

Matt’s been gone five years today.  It still feels impossible.  I still grieve for him. 

Turns out the American Psychiatric Association has recently determined that I’m mentally ill.  They’ve decided that anyone who continues to grieve after one year is suffering from Prolonged Grief Disorder, a new mental illness that has been added to the DSM-5 (manual of mental disorders). 

Can you imagine losing your son or daughter and not grieving for them for the rest of your life?  One year, what an arbitrary number.  So, after one year, we’re supposed to “move on” “get over it” and go back to the way life used to be? 

The APA wants me to believe there’s something wrong with me and they have just the medication to fix me.

The relevant question in psychiatry
shouldn’t be…What’s wrong with you?
It should be…What happened to you?
– Eleanor Longden

Working hand in hand with the pharmaceutical industry, they want to turn every negative emotion into an illness so they can sell their pills to treat it. 

It’s time to stop treating negative human emotions as disorders.  It’s good for the psychiatric community and most of all the pharmaceutical companies who want to sell their pills to treat the disorders. Turns out 69% of the DSM-5 task force members reported financial ties to the drug industry. How is this ethically allowed?   

“It is revealing to see what happens when people are exposed to psychiatric drugs and other brain-active substances. There are remarkable similarities, no matter which drug or substance we use, whether it be prescription drugs, narcotics bought in the street, alcohol, or opium. Common effects are numbing of feelings, emotional blunting, drowsiness, lack of control over your thoughts, caring less about yourself and others, and reduced or absent capacity.”
– Peter C Gotzsche, MD 

This is their substitute for grief.  No thank you. 

There’s nothing wrong with me beyond feeling the pain of the emotionally devastating event of losing my child.

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” — Elisabeth Kubler-Ross​

I’m not suggesting that people don’t need help dealing with their grief, I think most people would benefit from help.  But the solution being given is to stick a label on them and give them medication that numbs their emotions.  With awful side effects.  Instead, we should acknowledge that this is a normal reaction to loss and then look at non-pharmaceutical solutions first, such as different types of therapy.  Unfortunately, they take time, money, and commitment.  

Within the first few months after Matt died, I was offered anti-depressants by two different doctors, unsolicited.  I was suffering but it was not a mental illness, it was a completely reasonable response to the loss of my child. 

I will grieve for my son for the rest of my life.  I will also move forward with my life and find ways to enjoy life with my family and friends while continuing to honor Matt in every way I can and that includes sharing information about our mental health system.

Is there someone who inspires you with their kindness?  Nominate them for the Matt Kurtz Kindness Award of $250.

Do you have an act-of-kindness project you want to do but need help funding it?  Submit your idea for the Matt Kurtz Kindness Grant of $500 and let us help you spread kindness.


16 thoughts on “Five Years Without Matt”

  1. So agree with you Jackie and Ron. Our daughter died a year ago. We will always miss her, the smile, the compassion she had for others. It does not mean we are unhealthy, rather I believe it points to our healthiness. There us a permanent hole in our hearts, we go on but maybe with a metaphorical limp.

    1. Steve, I’m so sorry, I didn’t know. No parent should ever lose a child, it’s just wrong. And beautifully said, “a permanent hole in our hearts, we go on but maybe with a metaphorical limp”.

  2. I totally agree with you, Jackie. Your message is very straightforward and brave. Just yesterday on his birthday, my sisters and I noted that our dad would have been 98 and that we’ve missed him for over 20 years.

    1. exactly, even 20 years later, there’s still such a hole in your heart. missing people we love, and wishing if only, never goes away. xoxo

  3. In Jewish teaching, the proper thing to say about Matt’s passing is “May his memory be for blessing.” When we say that, the blessing implied is this: it is up to those who bear his memory to keep his goodness alive. We do this by remembering him, we do this by speaking his name, we do this by carrying on his legacy.

    And that is exactly what you are doing!

  4. Losing your child is not a natural event in anyone’s life. Unless it has happened to you, there is no way that you can understand the emotions that you go through. To say that it is not a lifelong journey of ups and downs, they are sadly very wrong. Although I am just now approaching one year of the loss of my daughter, I am no where near the end of my grieving. Drugs are no solution to this process, if anything, they could put you into a tailspin that you might never recover. It is hard enough to maneuver your way through life with all your senses much less to be handicapped by some drug. This country and doctors believe everything can be treated with drugs and it is causing millions of people to become addicts; or worse death from their dependence. Let us all find the strength we need to face each day within ourselves and with the loved ones that are with us.

    Thanks for sharing, Jackie. It is nice to know that there are many others like us that are living through this most difficult tragedy in our lives. We will all somehow survive through this if we stay away from doctor’s and trust our feelings, instincts and each other.

    interesting Statistics On Opioid Addiction And Abuse.
    About 130 Americans die every day from an Opioid overdose.
    Since 1999, the sale of Opioid Painkillers has skyrocketed by 300%.
    About 20% to 30% of people who take prescription Opioids misuse them.
    About 10% of people who misuse prescription Opioids become addicted to Opioids.
    Approximately 2.1 million Americans have an Opioid use disorder.
    About 5% of people with an Opioid use disorder will try Heroin.

    1. Janice, I’m so sorry that you share in my grief. I wish your beautiful daughter was still here shining her kind soul out to the world. it’s just so wrong. you and I are blessed to have so many people who love and support us and they truly help make this awful journey less difficult.

      The drug statistics are a sad statement on where we are in the medical community and how far we have to go. This is something that affects all of us either directly or indirectly.

  5. Grief is a normal healthy response to a loss and there is no “one size fits all” definition on how one copes with their grief. Jackie’s grief, my grief, Brian’s grief, will never go away, nor should it and we each continue to cope with it differently. As a mom, Jackie’s grief has been, and continues to be especially tough at times and understandably so. But even with all that hurt, 4 years ago she chose to help channel her grief by establishing MKRO as an everlasting legacy to Matt and his message of kindness.For those of you who never knew Matt, now you do, and for that Brian and and I are so proud of her and grateful for this site..😘

  6. It is hard to believe that it has been 5 years. I know that you will grieve for as long as you have a breath to take. By sharing MKRO helps to keep his memory alive and it helps me for I was not fortunate enough to know Matt well. Sending hugs and prayers to you and Ron and Brian and don’t believe anyone who says “there is something wrong with you”. Stay strong and love to you all

  7. Another beautiful post. Matt’s memories live in all of you and us that knew him. And now all the people you have touched with MKRO “know” him as well. Love you all

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