This week we welcome Jessica Kuperfman to The Brave Files. Jessica is the founder and co-host of She podcast, one of the world's largest platforms for female-identified podcasters. But Jessica didn’t join us to talk about podcasting. She joins us to talk about her daughter’s struggle with opioid addiction and her tragic loss.
A Story all To Familiar
Our host, Heather Vickery, invited Jessica to be a guest on The Brave Files after hearing the tragic story of her daughters death. Having lost a beloved cousin to the opioid crisis, Heather, wanted to talk with Jessica about her experience living through her daughter’s addiction and eventual death. This story doesn’t end well because nothing can bring Emily back – but hearing the pure love and joy in Jessica’s voice as she tells these stories, even the horribly painful ones, and the forgiveness she’s worked so hard for is truly beautiful.
An Unsettled Child
The mother of threes firstborn was a little girl, Emily. It seemed, almost from the beginning, that Emily came into the world unsettled. A psychic once told Jessica that Emily “May have been born in the wrong time.” While Emily was mostly happy and quick to joke, Jessica started to notice little “quirks.” First, she never wanted to be at the head of a line in school for fear of being bumped into. Then, she started pretending to be someone else when receiving phone calls and making up stories about where she's from. There seemed to be no explanation for this odd behavior.
Some things cannot be understood
It would be impossible to understand why Emily started using drugs but once she did, addiction seemed to be a rollercoaster Emily couldn't get off of and, hard as she tried, Jesica couldn’t help her either. For years, Emily was in and out of rehab. She had the undying love and support of her parents who tried to move mountains to save her. Unfortunately, addiction and rehab became a journey Emily would stay on for the rest of her young life.
Emily was in and out of rehab many times. Sometimes she graduated a program and was sober for a while and sometimes she simply got kicked out for breaking the rules.
Partnered with some mental health concerns, treatment just didn’t seem to stick despite the love, effort, and support of her parents. Emily was finally diagnosed with borderline disorder. Eventually, Emily was able to find a program specific to her mental health needs and she began to thrive. She even remained sober for several months but was ultimately kicked out of the one program that was working due to violating their rule of not having an intimate relationship with another patient.
Sadly, this was the last rehab program Emily would be in because shortly thereafter, Jessica couldn’t reach Emily and she just “knew” she was gone. A mother’s instinct is strong. Her little girl was dead.
Learning to Live Again
Jessica had long feared this would be how Emily's life would end. She tried everything in her power to change it but, in the end, there’s only so much saving of another we can do. Emily was deeply beloved by many. Her life was honored and remembered by hundreds of kids that showed up to her memorial. They tearfully shared stories of how Emily had helped them in their own times in need.
When asked how a mother survives the loss of a child, Jessica said “I don't think all of you does survive. I think part of you is gone and does not come back.”
Jessica went on to say – – In truth, you simply have a new reality. You're this new person now that has to learn to live with this loss. But we all have to make a choice when we lose someone we love. Loss can be liberating or debilitating, you get to choose.
Each and every day, Jessica continues to push forward for her sons, for the other mothers, and the other women entrepreneurs out there. Healing is a process. It took Jessica years to realize she'd been neglecting herself physically in order to survive mentally. These days, Jessicas's on a mission to change how she cares for herself. But during this process, she's remembering to be patient with herself. Things seem to come back piece by piece. There needs to be a lot of grace given to yourself, and others, in the process of healing and learning a new way to live.
After having survived the most tragic thing a mother can experience, Jessica says she can now do anything! So she’s leaving it all on the table.
What you should know about the opioid crisis
The U.S. Department of Health And Human Services shares this information:
When opioid’s were invented in the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates.
Increased prescription of opioid medications led to widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive.
More than 130 people a day die from opioid overdoes in the United States alone. Something must be done.
If you or someone you love has an addiction, the National Drug Hotline can help. You do not have to suffer alone.
More About Jessica:
Through her podcast and support network, She Podcasts, Jessica is doing everything she can to support a world where women's voices are not only heard but readily spoken. She's all about micro connection and helping women succeed.