Baton Rouge mother offers tips to cope with a ‘deathiversary’

Baton Rouge mother offers tips to cope with a ‘deathiversary’
Gwen Knox shows off her new tattoo, honoring the life of her son, Brian, who died from a heroin overdose in 2015. (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - After losing her son to a drug overdose, a Baton Rouge mother is determined to help other families through their pain.

The latest stop in Gwen Knox’s journey is Black Torch Tattoo.

Gwen Knox gets her first tattoo at Black Torch in Baton Rouge to celebrate her son’s "deathiversiry."
Gwen Knox gets her first tattoo at Black Torch in Baton Rouge to celebrate her son’s "deathiversiry." (Source: WAFB)

“I never thought I would get a tattoo, but I do this in Brian’s honor,” Knox said shortly after getting inked for the first (and probably last) time.

It has been four years since her son died. His battle with heroin addiction caught up with him. It’s still catching up with Gwen, especially on what’s commonly called the “deathiversary.”

“Whenever the date was approaching, I was feeling really stressed and tensed,” Knox explained.

This year, she’s healing that emotional pain through a bit of physical pain, but not everyone takes the same route.

“Find something that your loved one loved doing and celebrate that,” Knox suggested.

In 2019, she fried up beignets like her son used to make. In 2021, she plans to hit up a cigar bar with Brian’s friends.

Brian Knox died in December 2015 of a heroin overdose.
Brian Knox died in December 2015 of a heroin overdose. (Source: Gwen Knox)

“It’ll take your mind off the loss and bring in some joy to that day that can be really, really stressful,” Knox said. “You can make a decision to celebrate the loss of your loved one.”

Knox has launched several support groups in Baton Rouge, and she recently became certified in grief recovery. She’s about to start a company called Brian’s Gift to help more people cope with loss.

“There are over 40 different things in life that we lose that we grieve, and we think it’s only death, but it’s divorce, it’s bankruptcy,” Knox said.

Her infectious personality lends itself to her newfound calling.

“I just hope that people are able to just grab onto my energy and my ability to move forward. You never want to lose a child,” she said.

For the first time since he passed, Knox says Brian’s latest “deathiversary” felt like any other day. That’s a big victory in the long process of grief recovery. If you or someone you know needs grief counseling, here’s a list of resources provided by the Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center:

Grief Recovery Center

  • 4939 Jamestown Ave., Suite 101
  • 225-924-6621

Hope for Life Recovery Center

  • 2274 Wooddale Blvd.
  • 225-928-1088

Hospice of Baton Rouge

  • 9063 Siegen Ln., Suite A
  • 225-767-4673

Dignity Memorial/Greenoaks Funeral Home

  • 9595 Florida Blvd.
  • 225-925-5331

Survivors of Suicide (BRCIC)

  • 4837 Revere Ave.
  • 225-924-1431

St. Joseph Hospice

  • 10615 Jefferson Hwy.
  • 225-769-4810

Restoring Hearts Outreach Center

  • 1821 Wooddale Ct., Suite 210
  • 225-330-4479

RLM Adolescent Bereavement Services (bereaved child support group)

  • 641 E Airport Ave., Suite B
  • 225-683-1320

Compassionate Friends (bereaved parent support group)

  • 2012 Tara Blvd.
  • 225-752-8314

Pregnancy Infant/Loss Support Group

  • 9637 Jefferson Hwy.
  • 225-924-8456

Sarah’s Laughter (infant loss bereavement)

  • 646 N Foster Dr.
  • 225-678-1051

GOAL (Going On After Loss)

  • 5131 Greenwell Springs Rd.
  • 225-907-8114

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