BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Two mothers forced to bury their sons have a powerful message. They’re taking their painful experiences and sharing them among strangers. It’s all thanks to a support group they saw featured on WAFB. Now, they want other families to share their stories.
WAFB ORIGINAL DOCUMENTARY: Chasing A Fix
The lives of Primo Nardi, 34, and Jamaal Martin Sr., 40, were both cut short by opioid overdoses. Two families were left behind to grieve.
“The only thing that’s different is the names, because all of our stories sound exactly alike,” said Vickie Seal, Nardi’s mother.
Both mothers spent years suffering in silence.
“I was so emotional I couldn’t even talk. I tried and all I did was cry," said Deborah Martin, Jamaal’s mother.
”I guess I really couldn’t even put things in words for a long time because it was just devastating," Seal said.
They’ve now found their voices thanks to a grief support group launched in 2019 by Gwen Knox, another mother who lost her son. Knox’s group is specially designed for family members who’ve lost a loved one to addiction.
“I didn’t miss one week. I went every week for ten weeks, and it helped so much," said Martin.
”There is hope, but you have to talk about it and you have to get it out. Holding it in like I did for three years, I lost three years of my life," said Seal.
“I definitely did some enabling," Seal said.
"We all do, I mean, we’re mothers,” said Knox.
Vickie was so impressed with Knox’s group that she started one of her own. It’s the newest chapter of Parents of Addicted Loved Ones (PAL). It’s a little different though; it’s for family members of addicts who are actively using. Vickie’s group met for the first time in June in St. Amant.
“Now that I’ve kind of gotten educated and reading and learning a lot more about it, I just want to see if I can help others, and if I can help one person, I’m happy,” said Seal.
The groups provide a safe space free from shame and judgment. Talking is not required. Both mothers encourage other families to take the leap.
“There’s relief. There’s hope, so just seek it, pursue it, and if it’s for you, then tell your story,” said Martin.
There are three support groups total. The PAL groups meet in St. Amant and Baton Rouge, while Knox’s grief group will start up again on Tuesday, June 25 in Baton Rouge. They’re all free and open to anyone.