‘I’m Just a Parent Who Isn’t Afraid to Talk About Addiction:’ Volunteer Edie Morrill Demonstrates the Courage to Speak Up and Help Other Grieving Parents
This is Part II of an ongoing series highlighting Catholic Charities Boston’s programs for those with a loved one affected by substance use disorder, in light of September being National Recovery Month.
Anyone who has participated in Catholic Charities Boston’s Growth through Grief or Hope and Healing retreat for parents with a child with substance use disorder may recognize Edie Morrill as Sister Maryadele Robinson’s dedicated co-leader.
Morrill, however, does not think of herself in these terms.
“I’m just a parent who isn’t afraid to talk about addiction,” she says.
Having lost her 26-year-old son to substance use disorder in 2010, Morrill knows firsthand how the stigma surrounding substance abuse can keep parents from expressing and facing their pain. She began working with a local Boston priest, Father Joe White, who is a board member at Catholic Charities Boston’s Laboure Center, to lead prayer vigils in honor of those who lost their life to an overdose.
“There were so many parents who attended who loved to see their child’s photo on the screen and to listen to the music playing, but they just couldn’t bring themselves to speak about it,” said Morrill.
After participating in a Catholic Charities Growth through Grief retreat six years ago and standing out for her ability to facilitate authentic conversations with grieving mothers, Morrill paired up with Sister Maryadele, Outreach Social Worker for Catholic Charities Boston’s Recovering Connections program, and Father Joe White to create the “Hope and Healing Retreat,” which has become an ongoing tradition for the Agency.
“The mothers loved having the opportunity to share,” said Morrill. “It is a time to let your hair down and speak up and express how you feel. I consider it a time to celebrate my son.”
This year, as always, Morrill said she carried a photo of her deceased son in her pocket throughout the course of the retreat. It is a reminder to her that her son’s presence and enduring love lives on in her heart. Morrill said her faith has been a saving grace for her since losing him.
“Even for people who don’t have a faith background, though, there is a quiet harmony that develops among the group, especially with the prayer and the candles and the music,” she said.
Like many of the retreat participants, Morrill said Sister Maryadele plays an enormous role in modeling a sense of unshakeable hope for the women, describing her as gentle, dependable, and a great listener.
“Slowly, over the course of the weekend, we learn to bring our light back out into the world,” she said.
For individuals affected by substance use disorder, who are seeking mental health services, Catholic Charities Boston’s Department of Basic Needs offers a range of counselling services, including the program, ‘Recovering Connections,’ for children and families of those with substance use disorders. To learn more, please click here: https://www.ccab.org/basic-needs/counseling-services/.