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Blog Post | June 8, 2023

“It Will Never Happen to Me,” Until it Did

I am a mom of four kids. On December 29th of 2019 my oldest son, Trygve, passed away from fentanyl. He was 20 years old. He had a brother (19), a sister (18), and the youngest was 15 at the time of his death. Trygve had the most magnetic and energetic personality. He was always on the go. If he wasn’t working at his full-time job at Discount Tire, he was living his life to the fullest. He loved nothing more than his family and friends. Every moment he wasn’t working was spent going on outdoor adventures, whether it was fishing, hunting, boating, 4-wheeling, camping, or hiking in the mountains. His three biggest loves in life were family, friends, and the outdoors, and that love was felt and given back by all that met him. He had that personality that drew people in, and you wanted to be part of his crazy personality.

Trygve had been sick with a sore throat that would swell up so bad he couldn’t even swallow. He was in the ER twice. They would give him steroids, antibiotics, and a few analgesics to get him through the pain until the meds kicked in. The third time his throat started to swell he went to a walk-in clinic where they gave him more steroids and antibiotics. The difference this time was they didn’t give him any pain medication. Trygve would have been too embarrassed to ask out of fear of being stigmatized and labeled as an “addict” or a person that used drugs. It was simply easier for him to go to a known drug dealer and get some Percocet.

Trygve went home that night, talked to his girlfriend, and said he was tired so he was going to take his medications and try to get some sleep. She said, “Ok, I’ll call you later and see how you are doing.” Two hours later he never answered her calls. Several more hours passed with no word so she texted Trygve’s best friend Noah and his brother Soren to see if one of them would check on him. Noah found him lying dead in his bed and began CPR even though he had been gone for over eight hours. Soren had to call me to tell me that Trygve was dead; I couldn’t comprehend what he was saying. This cannot be true. What happened? He just had a sore throat. I dropped to the floor screaming “call 911 somebody do something.” My heart sank as I sobbed uncontrollably. I knew this day would come. I’d always known I’d lose him someday. From the moment he was born, I had an uneasy feeling that this beautiful, vibrant baby boy would leave me one day. I didn’t know when or how then, but as he grew up, I was sure of it.

Trygve was a risk-taker. The more dangerous or the bigger the adrenaline rush, the better for him. I thought I’d lose him to a car crash, boating accident, or him jumping from a bridge that was too high. But one pill? That never crossed my mind, that one pill would end his life in an instant. Hearing Soren’s voice having to tell me that his brother was dead was equally heartbreaking. No son should ever have to deliver that news to their mother. That night is forever burned into Soren’s mind, as well as Noah’s. There isn’t a day that goes by that those boys don’t re-live finding him, trying to save him, and making the phone call to tell me that Trygve was gone. That day changed their lives forever. My husband and I rushed to his house hoping that this was not true, that somehow they could bring him back, or maybe that Soren was just mistaken. No, it was all true. I had to say goodbye to my first-born son laying on a gurney in a body bag.

I had to pick my son up from the funeral home. I sat in the car sobbing. On my lap was a 6×8 inch plastic box of ashes. That was all that was left of him. This was the result of one pill. One pill that killed him instantly. One pill that had enough fentanyl in it to kill ten people. One pill that completely devastated his family and friends, and changed all of our lives forever. How do you move on? There is nothing but numbness and your life feels robotic. Everything is a blur as you try to make sure your kids, family, and friends are all going to be ok. Trying to figure out how to make sense of what really happened and what to do with it all. At first, I was like what do I tell people? Trygve didn’t do drugs. Not my kids. Yes, I was that mom. I had stood in my living room two months earlier watching the news about four teens that died from fentanyl-laced Percocet pills. I thought thank god my kids aren’t into drugs. Now it was me, my kids, and my family. How could I have been so stupid? The more my husband and I learned about fentanyl and what really happened to Trygve, the angrier we got. No one knew about this drug. It was just starting to show up in Seattle. We had no idea, nor did our kids. The schools or law enforcement weren’t warning us about this potentially dangerous drug on our very own streets.

There was no information about how this drug could kill you, and how it only took the amount of two small grains of sand. That’s when I decided Trygve’s death was preventable. He was 100% a risk taker but had he known there was something in that pill that could kill him, he would have never taken that risk. How do I know this? His last Google search was ‘is it safe to take Percocet with steroids and antibiotics?’ He was literally trying to make sure he was being safe.

We need to educate our kids and parents about the dangers of fentanyl. Trygve didn’t know. He didn’t have that choice to decide if he wanted to take that risk or not. Thousands die from fentanyl simply because they don’t know. Fentanyl awareness should be taught in all our middle schools, high schools, and colleges. Why wouldn’t we want to educate our kids about something that could potentially kill them the first time they take it? If our kids and parents don’t know, they can’t make an educated decision if they are willing to take that risk. These deaths are preventable. Fentanyl doesn’t discriminate; your age, race, gender, religion, addiction or experimentation, it doesn’t matter. It will kill you. When I started telling Tryg’s story the statistics were 4 out of 10 pills had a lethal amount of fentanyl in them. Sadly, in just three years that statistic has leaped to 6 out of 10 pills. The people that are dying from fentanyl are getting younger and younger. We need to urge our schools and public leaders to take action. This is the hardest thing I have ever gone through in my life. I promised Trygve that I would tell his story in hopes that other families would not have to live this nightmare.

One thing I have taken from this journey so far is to spend quality time and be present in their lives, especially when they get older. I realized in the last few years that I didn’t have all the pictures and videos that I did when they were younger. I was lucky enough that all his friends shared every video and picture they had of him with me. I got to see the life he lived after he moved out and all the amazing things he and his friends experienced together. I am also so grateful for hugging him and telling him “I love you” every time I saw him or talked to him. The whole family spent five days together over Christmas break before he passed away. Earlier in the year, something made me think about how we are hardly ever all together in the same place at the same time anymore. I didn’t know it then but spending that family time together is a time I will look back on and I can’t be any more thankful that we did. The world lost a beautiful soul on December 29th, 2019, and I will continue to tell Trygve’s story in hopes it will at least make people stop and think. Is this worth the risk? I am praying that the answer is no, it isn’t. One of his good friends made me a sign with this quote on it that I have hanging right by the front door. It is a reminder to cherish every moment we have with the people we love.

Before you leave
this home,
Always remember
I love you
No matter what.
I believe in you.

Trust your gut.
Follow your heart.
Come home safe.