Taylor’s Story-Stop the Stigma

Thank you Jon Avery, Sarah Kamaras, Frank Sun and Thom Cameron and Weill Cornell Medicine for making this a reality


In the first few weeks after we lost Taylor it was all such a blur. I don’t remember much about it in truth, but thankfully my letters to Taylor in those early days remind me about some of the extraordinary things that happened to remind us we were loved and that the universe works in mysterious ways. A colleague of my husbands sent us a medical journal from Weill Cornell Medicine. In it bookmarked with a blue post it was an article written about Dr. Jon Avery. Dr. Avery, M.D., is the Director of Addiction Psychiatry and an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital. His mission is to see things improve in the medical community in how we treat those who suffer from Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health issues. We wondered aloud if it would be possible to talk to someone doing such important work to learn more about our lived experience over the last few years. As fate would have it, we learned that the person who sent us the article had a personal connection to Dr. Avery and in a matter of days we connected.

I am always in awe that there are such kind and loving people in the world. Here is a very busy doctor who took time out of his busy schedule to talk to two grieving parents, who had just lost their 20 year old son. Our conversation was like talking to an old friend and as we finished I told him I felt this incredible pull to tell Taylor’s story with a video that we could use to shed some light on what happened to us and to hopefully help another family from the heart-ache we felt.

It never in a million years occurred to me that Dr. Avery would email me back with the opportunity to do just that. He wanted to send a film crew to Ashland, VA from New York City and create a video that we could both use to tell Taylor’s story. Long story short, it happened and it was a gut wrenching, amazingly, awful, healing experience that I am so grateful for. I hope you will watch it, share it, and think of my beautiful boy and all the beautiful people who are struggling.

Thank you Dr. Jon Avery I am so glad that the universe decided to cross our paths. I look forward to hugging you and meeting you in person as soon as it is safe for us to do that. There are really no words for how grateful we are. No one Chooses Addiction. Thank you for helping us remind the world of just that.

Published by Kerri Rhodes

I am a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) with twenty-eight years experience in the mental health field. None of my experience, prepared me for my own son's struggles with addiction and the journey it would take our family on. This site focuses on my journey, grief, addiction, and mental illness. It is for anyone who struggles with addiction, loves someone who struggles with mental illness or substance use disorder and those who live with grief. There is the grief of loving someone who is standing right in front of you that you no longer recognize and the grief of losing someone you love. I lost my beautiful son, Taylor when he was 20 years old to an accidental overdose. It was a moment I will remember for the rest of my life. In that moment, as I fell to my knees my heart breaking into a millions pieces I was unable to think, breathe, or speak. The next day in the early hours, I began to write and it was like someone undammed a river. It would become a huge part of my healing in that first year. Taylor's was a light in this world and this blog is a tribute to that light. When we share our broken pieces we begin to bring light to the darkness. This site will be a place I share my grief, my brokeness and my healing in the hope that it might help someone else. It will be a place to share the things that are hard to watch and even harder to live.

2 thoughts on “Taylor’s Story-Stop the Stigma

  1. I loved this line: “gut wrenching, amazingly, awful, healing experience that I am so grateful for”. The video so beautifully tells your story.


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