Kelly Gill and Shawn Nocher, The Founders of Love In The Trenches, have been friends for almost four decades. Life and family kept them busy over the years and sometimes they would lose touch and reconnect after intervals. Theirs was that kind of friendship. That is, until they both shared an experience so gut-wrenching and devastating that they would need one another’s support—not intermittently—but in a steady, call-me-in-the-middle-of-the-night kind of way.
Both of their sons suffered from the disease of addiction.
The experience of loving an addict is isolating, shaming, excruciatingly painful. A parent especially, is whittled down in time to nothing but raw emotion, guilt, blame, anger, and remorse. Eventually, in 2014, Shawn and her son Jamie were lucky enough to share the miracle of his
recovery. Jamie has been in recovery since that time, but Shawn will never forget what it was like to be in that trench of addiction, knowing they were walking towards only one of two outcomes. Either her son would go into recovery or he would die.
Founders & Friends, Shawn Nocher (left) & Kelly Gill (right)
Sadly, and especially as a result of the specific Fentanyl crisis, the worst outcome occurs and someone loses their child. This was the tragic case with Kelly who lost her beautiful son Randy in March of 2019.
One mother’s son went into recovery.
One mother lost her son.
One thing remained the same. These young men were loved through their addiction. In spite of the ugliness of the disease and the way it morphs an addict into the worst possible version of their self, both Jamie and Randy, were and are loved for who they were underneath this illness—creative, funny, generous young men with endless potential.
Kelly & her son, Randy (1978—2019)
Since Jamie’s recovery and the loss of Randy, many parents have reached out to Shawn and Kelly for advice and support as they, too, embark on one of the most horrifying of journeys in an effort to get a son or daughter into recovery. Both Kelly and Shawn understand the sleepless nights, fractured family relationships, fear, blame, and shame that come with addiction. And while they know that every addict will not be fortunate enough to find recovery, they also know that love must remain at the core of the relationship with an addict and that the disease of addiction feeds on isolation.
They are both clear that they don’t have a magic panacea that will lead an addict into recovery, but they do know that hope lies in our ability to love our addict while at the same time not get in the way of their recovery.
Shawn & her son, Jamie (in recovery)
Out of their pain has arisen the creation of the non-profit foundation, Love In the Trenches (LITT), a support group for parents of addicts who are suffering the collateral damage of their child’s addiction.