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In 1996 Joshua Michael Connerton was shot and killed by a deputy sheriff in rural Oregon.  The shooting was the final blow of a three year nightmare that started with Josh’s introduction to drugs, continued with his downward spiral into heroin addiction, and ended with his death.

In January of 2001, as part of his recovery and healing process, Jeff Connerton was compelled to write about life with his son during Josh’s years of addiction and about his own journey from devastation to resurrection after Josh’s passing.  What began as an open-ended private healing exercise evolved into structured writing sessions, ending in March 2001 as a 70,000 word memoir, entitled Hi Josh.

The work is in three parts. Part One chronicles the years of Josh’s drug use.  Parts Two and Three deal with Jeff’s recovery and healing after Josh’s death.

The writing sessions provided Jeff with a much needed format.  Part One enabled him to chronologically arrange the mish-mash of horrible memories of witnessing to his son’s disappearance into drug addiction.  And Jeff was forced to re-examine his role as parent in Josh’s demise.  Where is the line between over parenting and healthy guidance as your child goes about the business of making choices and growing up?  If you don’t intercede when your child is in trouble, are you clear about what is at stake or are you in denial?  When it becomes clear that your child is in trouble, are you able to call for help or do you try to will them to change?  And what is to be done if they refuse to respond or change their ways?

“What a powerful and moving story.... I am going to share it with some people who want to work with DAAC, who might not understand all of what goes on with addiction; it will be an eye-opener for sure.”

Susan Anderson, Marketing and Development Director
DAAC–Drug Abuse Alternatives Center, Santa Rosa, CA.

Parts Two and Three of Hi Josh gave new structure and added dimension to Jeff’s recovery process after Josh’s death.  As a metaphysician, the backbone of his recovery has been tools and techniques developed over twenty years of exploring new ways of being in the world.  As part of his healing Jeff kept extensive journals of both esoteric and common experiences as he dove into dealing with the severe emotional and mental pain brought about by grieving the loss of his son.  The 2001 writings brought continuity to four years of recorded rituals, meditations, and other forms of unconventional healing work, and to decisions like how to deal with requests for newspaper interviews and what to do with Josh’s stuff after he died.

But it was Jeff’s conscious choice to be well that drove him further, beyond grieving and beyond the circumstances of Josh’s death, taking the focus off Josh and placing it on him. “Who am I to play the role of grieving parent? Why take on so much pain?  Who am I?”  The choice to look beyond Josh’s life and death into his own journey through the ages has led Jeff back to the here and now, more able to deal with grief, loss, and pain, and able to know happiness and joy again

Jeff was initially unsure about sharing his writings beyond family, close friends, and some parents who had lost children of their own.  His change of heart began in 2003 when a family counselor read the work and asked Jeff to tell Part One of his story to teens in her drug counseling programs.  Positive feedback from the sessions convinced Jeff to publish Part One as a separate volume, Hi Josh–Part One: Addiction and Death.  Encouragement from those who read the entire manuscript prompted Jeff to publish Parts Two and Three in one volume, Hi Josh–Parts Two and Three: Recovery and Healing.

“Jeff Connerton has written a moving and heartfelt description of an odyssey through emotional terrain that presents perhaps the greatest challenges a parent can face.  His eloquent writing attests to the power of the human spirit to heal even the greatest of human pains.  As a bereaved parent, I found his writing inspiring and affirming.”

Charlie Bloom, Coauthor of
101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married


“When I awoke in the morning to find my son had arrived home safely, I was relieved.  I trusted Life but was never prepared for any consequences but the best. Hi Josh lets me know that the unthinkable does happen.  It also reassures me that Life’s Mystery will restore my soul when I open my heart.” 

David N. Harder
Herbalist and father

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