This Thanksgiving has been different. It is the first Thanksgiving I have spent away from my son Ned. I had a COVID test pending due to an exposure and didn’t feel it was safe for him to come home. Luckily, the test came back negative a few days later. So, I was left to with time to reflect on some years in the past.

There was the Thanksgiving, I spent the day on the phone with Sean, unable to get him into treatment and he spent the holiday in jail. I spent the day before all day with the insurance company and couldn’t get approval for treatment in time to get him out. Then, there was the year we spent away from him as he was in treatment, only to have him get into trouble and get kicked out the very next day.

Interestingly, my favorite was year was at a treatment center that felt more like home to me. Ned, Tim and I flew out to be with Sean. We all gathered at the men’s house and had an amazing dinner with other kids and their families. What was astounded to me was the laughter. People enjoying the company of their loved ones. Most family visits I remember had tears and drama, we had just a few hours to have very tough conversations.  This time we had a joyful event to share and no hard decision talk. We could just be a family. Of course, we were all confident of the bright future our children had on the road to lasting recovery. The magical thinking that overcomes every parent when their child enters treatment, this will be the time. Surely, they have reached their bottom. They will succeed and we will all live happily after. Sometimes the dream comes true. Don’t give up hope.



This site is devoted to improving treatment of mental health in honor of Sean Blake.  He was a young man who loved kindness.  A poet, writer and chef. He gave gifts of stories, letters and recipes.  Sean showed his love by cooking for family, friends and strangers alike.  You may have seen him reading palms on Church St. in Burlington, VT.  He touched many lives with his wit, charisma and love of life.

The site is maintained by Sean’ s family. We hope to show that Sean was more than his disease. We share our stories and many stories of families affected by substance use disorder. We hope there will be less stigma and shame with mental illness and substance use disorder. We hope to raise awareness of the dangers of opiates and risk of death from their use. We advocate for compassionate treatment and harm reduction. We hope to show healing and growth in our recovery from his death.

As anyone reading this can understand, Sean wanted to live, he wanted sobriety. It takes only one moment of  weakness with an opiate to cause serious consequences.

Sean died at age 27 from an overdose of alcohol and fentanyl, combined with marijuana.

We will miss him forever.

Palmistry by Sean Blake

Palm Reading – also called Palmistry or Hand Reading – is an ancient
psychology science based on the study of your hands, which was developed
in India more than 4,000 years ago.
As Immanuel Kant once said, “The hand is the visible part of the brain.” It
shows everything that is happening to you, both inside and outside,
especially the many changes you are experiencing throughout your life.
Palm reading is therefore an extremely useful psychological tool that can
help you know yourself better.
It can be used for self-discovery, relationships, career choices, recovery
from depression, opportunities for children, or any other use you may have.
One of the greatest benefits of palmistry is that handprints taken at
different times provide you with “Before” and “After” snapshots of your
personality. This can be a great instrument to chart progress in mental
healing or attitude/habit reforming.
This site has a lot to offer. Enjoy yourself, come back often, and remember that your life is in your hands.


I went skiing this weekend. Sean was such a natural skier, he glided down the hill with the gentlest waves of motion. It was nice to remember the fun teaching him ski was, the joy of watching him, and the pride seeing him race. So I put on his snowsuit and went out there. It’s so hard to think of loss, never seeing him fly down the hill again #forkindness

Happy New Year

Grief and Gratitude

2020 has been a challenging year and there has been a tremendous amount of grief for all of us. Loss of so many people, illness for others, loss of jobs. There has been tremendous fear as well. So much anxiety for the virus and our families, coworkers, and neighbors.

Having done so much grief-work this year, the load does feel lighter. I can remember without tears, beautiful holiday memories, fun times filled with optimism for the future. I can enjoy the present . Enjoy what we do have to be very happy about. Relish in our smaller family.  The huge, gaping hole that was doesn’t seem quite as large this year.

There are a few strategies I have embraced. Not because I wanted to, because I had to learn new ways to cope. I start every morning with a few minutes of meditation. I enjoy the quiet, before my husband or dog rises to think of my day ahead. I read from a daily reader and contemplate the day.  To me, meditation continues with a walk outside, when I can. The 30-50 minutes of exercise outside grounds me. The angst of the morning melts away with every step.  I call it my daily dose of vitamin D. It may not be a huge hike or even a great calorie burner. It does settle my mood.

Before bed, in the evening, I do something relaxing before bed. TV or a meeting. Then I start my bedtime ritual which includes a gratitude practice. I read from a gratitude daily reader (Mark Nepo-The Book of Awakening) Then, I prioritize sleep.

On call nights and office days it means everything is shorter. I still try to get a few minutes in the day to start and end with intention and gratitude.

For the New Year, I hope to increase and improve my exercise regimen. I hope to continue to get out side more. Maybe some skiing, cross country skiing maybe downhill.  I hope to get more sailing in.  To do all this activity, I want to be in better shape. I hope some strength training will help with weight loss.

Since being diagnosed with diabetes I have had trouble managing my blood sugar, and weight has not been a huge priority. So this year I hope to improve on that area.

Peace and Love in the New Year, Sean’s Mom