Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Teens, drugs, and creating hope out of loss

I didn't know Henry Louis Granju, who died on May 31 at the age of 18, after a horrible beating during an illegal drug transaction. I don't know his family, though I've been a fan of his mother Katie's blog, Mama Pundit, for ages. I can't fathom what his parents and step parents are going through right now -- losing their oldest son after watching him fight for his life for five weeks in the hospital, trying to help their other children cope, and also welcoming their youngest daughter, who was born just a couple of weeks ago.

But there are thousands of people who experience the nightmare of losing a child -- young or old -- to drugs. In order to wring something positive out of this pain, Katie Granju and her family have established a fund to assist others who are struggling with the costs of helping their children overcome drug and alcohol addiction.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, nearly 7 million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, which MSNBC reported is "more than the number who are abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, ecstasy and inhalants combined." (The Partnership for a Drug-Free America offers a tool-kit for parents who are looking for ways to talk to their kids about drug use.)

It's easier to chalk the early warning signs up to "recreational use" or even "teenage experimentation." In retrospect, Henry's mom wrote at Babble.com, that's exactly what she did: "Instead of feeling angry or upset with H, I found myself feeling empathetic and sorry for him, as he continued sobbing and offering up his repeated mea culpa. Surely, I thought to myself, no kid who obviously feels THIS bad about experimenting with marijuana a time or two can be in real trouble."

Authorities in Knoxville are investigating the beating; the Granju family has been straightforward about Henry's illegal drug use but, as his mom wrote on her blog, "the fact that he was engaged in drug activity did not give anyone the right to beat him up, rob him and leave him with major physical injuries." In the meantime, while they wait, they are working to help others avoid their situation.

From Mama Pundit:

In memory of Henry, our family is starting what we hope to grow into a permanent, endowed fund with non-profit status to provide funds for families who are struggling to pay the costs of drug and alcohol treatment for their children. Now Knoxville music legend Carl Snow has set up a wonderful way for people to donate to Henry’s Fund by offering $1 downloads of the GORGEOUS song he wrote about our boy. Just visit Carl’s site and all the details are there. It’s easy as pie, and we would really appreciate your support for what we plan to grow into a meaningful legacy of a wonderful child taken too soon by a terrible epidemic sweeping our nation’s children.

You can also donate directly to:

The Henry Louis Granju Memorial Scholarship Fund
via administrator James Anderson
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
2000 Meridian Blvd., Suite 290
Franklin, TN 37067

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