New blog out now: Cath(art)sis: how women in historical and contemporary art have used their practice to process their trauma. Read here!                                                                                                                                                                                         

Losing Parys

by Alison Lapper

Released: 17th May 2022

On 13th August 2019, my son, Parys, died of an accidental drug overdose at the age of just 19.

I remember, a young policeman stood in my lounge and asked me to sit down. My first thought was ‘what has he done now’. Over the last few years, the police had often been to our house, it was always something to do with Parys and his drug use. What followed next is still to this day, a blur.

Apparently, he said Parys had been found dead in a hotel room where he had been staying, it was a halfway house used by Social Services. I didn’t believe it. I just kept saying, ‘no you’re wrong, it’s not him’. He said Parys had been identified by the landlord and I just screamed. I have never felt pain like it. I literally felt my heart break in two that day.

I went to see Parys the next day in the hospital mortuary. He was still beautiful and looked like he was asleep. I was lifted up so I could be near him and kiss him. I kept asking him over and over to ‘wake up’ …. but of course, he didn’t. He was so cold; I remember getting even more upset because he really hated being cold.

Parys was later moved to a funeral home, there they lay him on a wicker bed draped in fabric on the floor, so I could kiss him and spend time with him. The night before the funeral he came home on the same bed and lay in the lounge where we spent most of the night with him. The next day he left home for the very last time, that same day he left a huge hole in my heart that can never be filled.

Parys had suffered from a variety of mental health issues as a teenager and started taking drugs to cope with his depression and anxiety. But over time taking drugs had a profound negative impact on his mental health, and so eventually became a vicious circle.

I don’t want any parent to ever have to go through those few days, or to be left with this emptiness and loss that I will always feel for the rest of my life.

Far too many young adults are going through the same thing as Parys, and it needs to change. This is why we have created The Drug of Art to try and reach out to them.

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