THIS MADNESS IS MINE - A Mother's journey through grief at the loss of her son to drugs

Grief is an intimate and life-altering process and the troubled pathway through this inevitable human experience is graphically recorded in Rebekah Roberts’ ‘This Madness is Mine’.  

With rare emotional honesty Rebekah illumines the psychological torment and the annihilating sense of guilt and remorse which can overwhelm a parent upon the loss of a child to the demonic world of substance abuse.  

By reliving her own son’s journey she hopes to present a more human face to the insidious sickness of addiction and to dispel a degree of the stigma which continues to attach to those who become its tragic victims. ‘This Madness is Mine’ also touches upon the rampant failings inherent within the medical, mental health and rehabilitation systems.  

Whilst undeniably a mother’s crusade-of-the-heart, ‘Madness’ shall touch not only those who have been there or who fear being faced by its reality – but shall also speak to those who have known the tumultuous devastation of personal loss.

In Store Price: $AU19.95 
Online Price:   $AU18.95

ISBN: 1-9211-1844-X
Format: A5 Paperback
Number of pages: 95
Genre:  Non Fiction

Cover design: Clive Dalkins
Cover sketch: Cassidy

Author: Rebekah Roberts 
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2006
Language: English


About the Author    

Rebekah Roberts’ first stage play was funded by a grant from the former Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board and from that time she has consistently written for theatre, often directing her own works. She held an early writer-in-residence position with the Salamanca Theatre Company and has conducted creative writing workshops and freelances for magazines. 

This is Rebekah’s first book and as such is both a tribute to her son – and to other families who have similarly lost loved ones to the horror of addiction.

…only those who have been lost in shadow,

 know addiction to be an illness, not a choice…  


I have never known how to begin your story. And perhaps because of this dilemma I have at times questioned whether it was necessary that your story be told.  

Perhaps I fear that if I begin I may fail in the telling? I do fear that it shall be too hard, that my heart shall groan at the drawing out of old memories, old hurts, old hopes. But of course they are not old, not in a chronological sense and their vibrancy has the power to despair, uplift, defeat and delight me still.  

How deluded are those who profess that the agony of loss ultimately lessens, for as I begin your story now I find it incomprehensible that it is six and a half years since your death, with the pain still so immense that I remain unable to weep for you.  

I question also whether you would want your story told. Is this why it has taken so long. Do you hold me back from committing thoughts to paper? And is the telling of it in truth for you or for myself? Perhaps in the end this won’t matter terribly much.  

Perhaps this is simply the story of a mother’s devotion for her first-born son, whose journey ended by his own hand before that journey had really begun.


                                       And so to the telling.


Thunderous pounding upon the front door of our small cottage.

      Saturday, 4.00 a.m.

      The urgency of it has me immediately alert.

      It continues, becomes more insistent.

      Already my heart is sinking.

      Two police officers await me.

      Already I know.

      ‘Your son is dead.’

      My universe heaves and shudders.

      In that one moment my life alters forever.


I gaze down at you upon the mortuary table. You are dead. They tell me you are dead. How can that be? How can you be dead, gone from me, gone from yourself? Gone from everything!  

You appear to be sleeping. Surely you are simply sleeping? For so long I have feared a moment such as this. Feared its ultimate reality. I gently stroke your forehead. You are clammy, like play-dough. Cold. I move the tips of my fingers through the thickness of your hair and bend to kiss you just below the hairline. I kiss your cheek, stand back to look at you. I am so calm, so quiet, so accepting. Is this mere disbelief in disguise? Silent and composed, how impressed the police, the coroner’s assistant, must be. Or are they waiting for me to suddenly erupt into crazed hysteria, surely the more normal response in such situations?  

Curiously almost, I lift the sheet which covers your body and see the familiar arms, so skilfully self-tattooed with your own unique design. I place one hand upon your chest above the heart, at age 26 still resembling that of a youth. I stroke your face again, kiss your brow, talk quietly with you. I must absorb and preserve every touch, every feeling, for the voice in my head tells me that soon this shall be forever denied me. I whisper ‘I love you’ so many times I drown in the words. I see the stark blue-black bruising upon your left ear, neck and upper chest. This is later explained to me as lividity, the pooling of the blood in the body after death.  

Tenderly I open your lids, exposing the eyes. They appear normal, as though I have just now stirred you from heavy slumber to ensure you were simply resting awhile. 

This time you shall not stir. Never again shall you awaken and look at me with seeing eyes. In wonderment I gently seal the lids, your thick lashes closing the door forever upon the exquisite blue of the orb, motionless now yet still so strangely clear for something that is no longer living.

The members of officialdom remind me there is work to be done, implying that surely I have had long enough and am ready to leave, to move on with my day, as they must theirs. I demand more time. I need more time! Am told as a statement of fact with no discernible trace of empathy that I shall be able to view the body again later that week once released to the funeral home. ‘But my son won’t be the same then, he will be different, he will have changed!’  

Sternly I am ushered from the room by those to whom my son is no more than another of the previous night’s statistics.  

Twenty-six years of loving care and support, of anxiety and elation, of protection and letting-go, of anger and pride, of sometimes making it right but mostly making it wrong, but of unrelentingly striving to guide my son’s life to a happier resolution. Twenty-six years of a mother’s adoration, fear and anticipation and I am expected to say goodbye within mere moments?  

And yet I allow myself to be led away mutely, obediently, to my own consternation graciously thanking everyone in attendance.    

I turn back to gaze at you once more. You are gone.

I know that you are gone. But where?  


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