Peer Grief Support 


March 2022
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Clockwise, from left: assembled backpacks; Elaine Mitrano, Steven Magalhaes, and Judy Kelly in Boston; and Elaine Mitrano with her care packages

Searching for a Way to Move Forward

By Elaine Mitrano, Guest Contributor
My name is Elaine Mitrano and like many of you, I lost a child to overdose – almost 11 years ago. After losing my son Michael in June 2011, I spent the next eight years hurting terribly and desperately needing to do something in his memory. I went to rallies in Washington and I watched moms like Cheryl Juaire become warriors in the fight to end the stigma. But it wasn’t until I met Lois Gould, that I knew what my part in all this would be. The missing piece to the puzzle finally dropped into place for me when I discovered a way to honor my son’s memory, as well as all the others we have lost in this epidemic.


What Could I Have Done?

By Kerry J. Bickford, VOICES Editor
A recent social media post (see below, “Editor’s Note”) tells the story of a mother in recovery for the last seven years who lost the father of her five children and the love of her life. The story is painful in so many ways – while at the same time, showing incredible strength. She says: “I wasn’t sure if I should post this…” and went on to tell her story of courage and heartbreak. 

This young mother writes that her husband had used heroin sometime during the night this past January and had fallen on the bathroom floor, hitting his head on the sink on the way down. She was mystified about how she did not hear this, and it became the focus of her grief. “Why didn’t I hear him fall?” she asked herself over and over. She had NARCAN on hand, as he had overdosed before, and it haunts her to think that she was sleeping as he lay dying – and the NARCAN was sitting right there.


Finding Hope in Grief

Finding Hope in Grief is a peer support conference for people in Massachusetts who are bereaved by death from substance use - whether the manner of death is accidental overdose, suicide, homicide, medical complication, or any other related cause. The conference will be from Saturday, October 22 through Sunday, October 23, 2022, at the DoubleTree Hotel and Conference Center in Westborough, MA, in a weekend of hope, healing, fellowship, and remembrance. 

While the date, location, and mission are set, organizers are still working on details. This includes a search for workshop and healing arts presenters, as well as sharing session facilitators. We invite you to apply to present or contribute ideas as well as keep your eyes open for the upcoming registration materials – which will be sent out to everyone on the SADOD email list


David, Alyssa, Michelle, and Jamison Dunn
Peer Grief Helper Profile: Michelle Dunn
By Kerry J. Bickford, VOICES Editor
In​ ​late 2010, when Michelle Dunn realized her daughter was in trouble with drugs, she began to attend Learn To Cope meetings and did what she could to support her. But as she threw herself into managing Alyssa’s disease while working full time and raising Alyssa’s younger brother, everything she thought she knew about substance use disorder was challenged. She began to realize it was much more complicated than she had ever imagined.

Support Is a Click Away

Many non-profits and recovery support programs have popped up across the state in memory of loved ones lost to the disease of addiction. Many of these were started by members of the SADOD Peer Grief Helper network and Peer Grief Ally Program, and have been mentioned in articles in this newsletter. 

Below is a list of programs that support people affected by substance use disorder and their loved ones. If there is program in your community that you would like us to add, please email us at

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