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  • Writer's pictureEllen Krohne

Heartbroken - "Coming Soon"

Updated: Sep 9, 2019

Ever since I attended the Washington County Health Department’s “Women’s Night Out” in January 2018, where the topic was “The Opioid Crisis in Washington County, IL”, I had the stirrings of a book on addiction and loss. The number of deaths from opioid overdose was shocking to me, I had no idea it was impacting our region so severely. I did some research and realized how catastrophic the epidemic had become in the last few years across the U.S.

I’d asked Diana Cuddeback, Director of Heartlinks Grief Center, if there were good resources available for those struggling with the loss of a family member to the opioid crisis. She said, “No, not really to help those grieving – there is not much out there.” We talked about the need for everyone, everywhere to understand what families go through with both addiction and the loss of a child to addiction.

I went home and prayed about whether this was a project I could do – to tell family’s stories of addiction and loss. To me, it is just so unthinkable, unbearable. My worst nightmare has always been losing one of our children. And, to lose them in that way, I couldn’t begin to understand that type of loss. How could I write about it?

I wasn’t at all sure I could, but felt it was what I was being called, somehow, to do.

Diana had agreed to be a co-author, providing the expertise on how to help those grieving an addiction loss. And, she offered to let me talk with the Heartlinks Addiction Loss Support Group, made up of parents that had lost a child to addiction. So, I found myself sitting there on September 11th, getting ready to ask for their participation. I’m not normally a nervous person, but I was shaking, inside and out, not sure this was the right thing to do.

My fear was soon alleviated. (I had no idea how to overcome my trepidation on writing their stories, but I figured, one step at a time, right?)

The group was so gracious. Diana had told them a little about what we were contemplating, and they welcomed me with their hearts open. I described the vision of a book that would tell family’s stories of addiction and addiction loss and the process I was thinking we’d use to write the book. We discussed that the primary purpose would be to give a voice to those lost – to help readers understand that the faces of addiction loss are families just like them. The book would serve to honor those loved ones lost and help others to gain understanding of addiction and loss.

Two other purposes we hoped for the book were:

1. To provide information on the “why” of the opioid crisis and call readers to action on what we can each do to help stem the tide and,

2. To help fund Heartlinks Grief Center through donating profits from book sales to the organization.

Another, perhaps the most important, message that became much clearer as we worked on the project in the months ahead, was the stigma that is associated with addiction and addiction loss that these parents had experienced. And, ways each of us can help stop this stigma. (More on this in posts to come, and about my other co-author, Matthew Ellis.)

Of the ten people at the group that September night, two said they were “in” that night, “I want to tell my child’s story” they said. Others wanted to think about it, talk with family. Over the next week, Diana heard from four more, and with one addition that came from another source (more on that in future posts, too) we had seven families share their journey.

Heartbroken – Grief and Hope Inside the Opioid Crisis was born that September night. It is “coming soon.” The book will be available on and at the Family Hospice website by the end of this month. Here’s the cover:

I am humbled to have been trusted with writing the families stories and I hope and trust that you will learn as much from them and my co-authors as I did.

Heartlinks Grief Center provides grief support to children and adults, to all ages. If you are grieving or know someone who could use assistance on their grief journey, please contact Heartlinks Grief Center at 618-277-1800 or email

Be blessed,


Ellen Krohne, author of We Lost Her, available on

Heartlinks Grief Center volunteer and Family Hospice board member

“We Grow Stronger Together”

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