The JOSHUA Tree grief group fills a need in our area, helping people who lost loved ones to drugs


According to the CDC, nearly 1,500 people died in Tennessee from overdose deaths in 2015. It's more than 1,000 who died in Virginia.

Now, one woman in Johnson City is on a mission to help those who have had a loved one die from drugs.

News 5's Jessica Griffith find out how the JOSHUA Tree grief support group fills a need in our region.

Thr group meets here monthly. Itt's a way for its founder to make sure her son's life still has a purpose, even after his overdose

Cyndi Ramsey's son died at 24-years-old from an overdose.

"It is terrible. It's a terrible thing to happen," Ramsey said. After trying out different grief groups, Ramsey found that she needed one specifically for losing someone to drugs. "There is still a huge stigma for people who've had loved ones die of a drug overdose," she said. So, she came up with JOSHUA Tree. "Joshua is the name of my son, and it's also an acronym, Jesus our savior heals us again," she said. The group meets once a month in Johnson City. It's a way for people to grieve and talk about their loss without any judgment.

"People will go to other grief groups and they will lie, my child got in a car wreck or some disease because they feel they're being judged," Ordained minister Todd Adams said. Ramsey and Adams worked to organize the group for about a year and they held their first meeting in May. They hope more people will find out about it and come to grieve together. "It's just important to know that you're not alone. That there are other people who are going through this, that have gone through this and that support is there, and people are not going to look at your strangely in this group and think what did you do to cause this," Ramsey said. Cicely Alvis works at Frontier Health's Crisis Stabilization Unit.

"Joining a grief support group is an opportunity to get together with other people who are experiencing the same type of loss and share in that experience," Alvis said. She said sharing your experience with someone who dealt with something similar will help in grief, and bottling up your emotions can be damaging to your health. "When someone starts to hold all of that energy inside, you can begin to withdraw socially you can also run the risk of engaging in substance abuse yourself," Alvis said. Ramsey said this is what happened to her son's girlfriend. "She grieved for a year before she overdosed," Ramsey said. JOSUHA Tree is open to anybody who's lost someone they love to drugs.

"Loss is loss. and when you put a stigma on that because of drugs it just makes it so much worse," Adams said. The meeting is every second Tuesday of the month at 7 pm at Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Johnson City.

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