Upon discovering his son has died in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, King Theoden says that "no parent should have to bury their child." For any mother or father who has ever lost a child, these words carry a heavy burden that few others do. Saying goodbye to a child is never easy. Regardless of how young or old they were, they were still your baby.
When children pass away due to circumstances that could have been avoided, parents can only hope to spread the word and prevent other parents from experiencing that same heartbreak. Clay Shephard's parents have done just that with a touching obituary they wrote after the passing of their 22-year-old son.
On the outside, Clay's life appeared to be going fine. He was upbeat, active, and had a sharp wit to match his huge smile. Little did his parents know, Clay was battling a drug addiction that would soon take his life. The Shephards know that their son's death is not their fault, but hope to use his obituary as a way to educate others about the dangers of drug addiction and the need for open dialogue between loved ones. Talking about these things is never easy, but sometimes the only way to make a change and save a life is by asking those around you for help. Scroll down to read the Shephard's touching obituary for their late son.
"Clay William Shephard
November 25, 1992 - May 17, 2015
We loved Clay with all of our hearts, but we now know that was not enough to shield him from the world. This note isn't an attempt to assign blame for Clay's death. It's not to vent our anger and frustration at a world where drugs can be ordered and delivered through the internet. We write this obituary in hope that it may provide an insight to those that need to change their behavior one night at a time.
Clay was a solid student, decent athlete, and a very likeable kid. With his seemingly endless positive traits, he had the potential to be anything from a captivating politician to a brilliant engineer, but drugs began to creep into Clay's life while he was in high school. As trouble hit, his father stepped in and forged an incredible bond with Clay. Although Clay could never be completely honest about the trouble he was in, his love and respect for his father became a lifeline over the last few years. He successfully completed drug rehab several times, but the craving that comes from true addiction was more than he could overcome.
While we always felt we had some grip on Clay's issues, his ability to hide and disguise his addiction proved superior to our parental (and sibling) sixth sense. The worry that we have felt watching Clay struggle, has been replaced by a deep feeling of loss that now exists knowing we will never see his smiling face again. Despite these troubles, we can smile knowing that the last communication we had with Clay was a text and answer between mother and son to say "I love you", just as it should be.
To all children, this note is a simple reminder that there are people who love you, with everything they have and no matter what you do - don't be too afraid/ashamed/scared, too anything, to ask for help. To all parents, pay attention to your children and the world that revolves around them - even when the surface is calm, the water may be turbulent just beneath. Clay's struggles have ended. He is finally at peace. We will miss his keen sense of humor, impersonations, cooking, plant advice and rhythm on the dance floor.
Goodbye Clay, we love you and miss you dearly.
Mom & Dad, Cole, Wade & Jess, Jean & Lucas"
If you would like to make a donation in memory of Clay, his family has requested that they be sent to Carolina Tiger Rescue.
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