Psychedelics Healed My Broken Heart After My Son's Tragic Death

How alternative medicine propelled me forward after a devastating tragedy.

Woman on a psychedelic journey to heal her broken heart after sons death Africa images, Sandra Dans, mcKensa | Canva

On a crisp January morning in Northern California, our vehicle approaches the Victorian house where I will enter a mystical state of altered consciousness — a last-ditch effort to find peace after the sudden death of my 18-year-old son.

I exit the car and gingerly place my feet on the dewy grass when a sense of trepidation washes over me. I take a deep breath and remind myself that, to move through my current phase of grief and sorrow, I will have to take this next crucial step.


Victorian house Victoria Lea / Unsplash

My son was in the prime of his life and enjoying his first year of college in San Luis Obispo, California when he contracted bacterial meningitis and died within a few short hours of the onset of symptoms. He thought he had a simple case of the flu, not a deadly disease that would ravage his body and end his life.


As an ideal student of grief, I did all the things that society tells us to do when we lose someone we love. I attended individual therapy. I read countless books on child loss. I practiced yoga. I meditated, and I developed a daily journaling practice.

Yet, none of those things could “fix” me, and they certainly would not bring my son back.

Desperate for relief, I decided to explore the underground world of psychedelic-assisted therapy. I had experimented with psychedelics in college, but what I was about to experience in that two-story Victorian was no match to the childish play during my college years. My aching soul yearned to go deeper and to get there, I’d need an antidote beyond mainstream medicine.

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As the creaky door swings open, my eyes meet the gaze of a woman in her late thirties or early forties. She will be the one to guide me on my spiritual journey for the next SIX hours. Gently, she loops her tattooed arm through mine and walks me into her home where I am now surrounded by a plethora of trippy tapestries, tarot cards, and an array of colorful therapeutic crystals.

We walk into her study and I perch myself on the edge of a daybed. I can feel my body sinking into the softness of the mattress when an unsettling image materializes in my mind: my son, intubated and lifeless, lying in a hospital bed.

"I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to save you," I whisper to myself.

These words and their implications are unbearable. I’ve yearned to erase them from my narrative, but instead, I have ruminated over them for the past two years. I know it’s irrational — the idea that I could have saved him, but I felt an innate duty to protect him.


The alluring aroma of Palo Santo wafts through the air, captivates my senses, and draws me back to the present moment. For years, the sacred wood has been utilized as a purifying agent during meditative and spiritual rituals. My guide sets the smoldering wood onto a small dish and politely asks,

“Would you like to share your intention for the journey?”

“Please allow me to live a guilt-free life filled with joy and purpose while honoring my son’s life,” I say.

She acknowledges my intention and carefully extends a delicate handmade drinking bowl brimming with steaming hot tea. I drink the bitter mixture of psilocybin mushrooms, ensuring I don't waste any of the sacred medicine. Then she places a minuscule white pill on my trembling palm. I put the MDMA on my tongue, take a sip of lukewarm water, and feel it quickly descend into my throat. Now, there really is no turning back.


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The guide hands me a pair of oversized headphones and gives me a dark gray mask to cover my eyes. I lay my head on the cotton pillow and wait patiently as my world goes black. She tells me the medicine will take about 30 minutes to kick in, but I wish it would start sooner.

Within a few minutes, I feel a strange sensation in my stomach, like butterflies fluttering about. As the music intensifies, so do the butterflies. I try to steady them, but they refuse to be tamed, and their fluttering becomes one with the music. The journey has begun.

As the rhythmic beating of the shamanic Native American drums reverberates within me, I witness vibrant beams of light dancing alongside intricate and vivid fractal patterns. I tell myself to let go of all fear and to trust the medicine.


Perhaps an hour or so passes, and I see my cheerful son before me. I am in disbelief. He looks just like he did before he died: blond hair, blue eyes, and big, bushy eyebrows. The music is interrupted by the sound of his exuberant voice. He reaches out, takes my hands, and looks deep into my eyes.

“Everything is going to be okay, Mom,” he says.

I feel tears stream down my face, and the words, “I’m so sorry,” glide from my lips.

“Please stop apologizing; it’s not your fault,” he states matter-of-factly.

I listen in awe and relish every word he speaks. He tells me he was going to die young anyway. I am taken aback by this comment. He has a keen sense of knowing about him now, one I have not seen before. It’s as though he’s older and wiser, but he looks the same.


“I watch when you cry, Mom. I see you pining over me. I see you reminiscing over old photos, but I’m not in those photos, so let them go,” he says.

He tells me he is everywhere now — in the ocean, the trees, and in the air I breathe. He declares that there is so much more to the universe. More than what the naked eye can see. He says we are all connected by an invisible string and that I do not need to worry about him. He tells me he is happy.

Mystified, I pull him close and let him how know much I miss and love him. If only I could remain in this moment forever, he would be eternally alive.

With his companionship, my psychedelic trip settles into a space of curious self-exploration. As I travel in and out of various scenarios, I face past traumas with an open heart and deep understanding. Sometimes I find answers and closure; sometimes not.


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As the medicine wanes, my son disappears. Instead of feeling a sense of desperation, my spirit has a renewed sense of hope coupled with an understanding that everything will be okay. I have no other choice.

I say goodbye to my guide and step outside. It feels like an entire year has passed in a matter of six hours. I notice the twilight sky as the verdant grass moves with the breath of the wind. How gentle and full of love the world appears now. In my experience, the medicinal mushrooms paired with the MDMA allowed me to take a peek into another world, whereby I was able to see and communicate with my deceased son.


I don’t know if it was real, but I don’t focus on that. What matters is that it gave me a profound sense of hope and peace, one that I was not able to achieve through any other methods.

Psilocybin, commonly referred to as “magic mushrooms” is known as a spiritual opener. It induces auditory and visual hallucinations, opens up neural pathways, and alters consciousness. MDMA, commonly known as molly or ecstasy, acts as a heart opener and enhances empathy while reducing anxiety and defensiveness.

Together, the duo can unlock the door to the subconscious mind, helping users gain a deeper understanding of themselves while providing a sacred space for healing.

Three years have passed since my transformational journey, but the sense of peace and clarity I acquired is still with me.


Psychedelic-assisted therapy has been the most healing tool I’ve used yet, and I’m deeply thankful for it. It allowed me to access my son, ask for forgiveness, and continue to the next chapter of my life. Today, if a feeling of guilt creeps in when I smile or laugh, I reflect to that crisp January morning, conjure up an image of my son, and imagine his sweet voice saying,

“It’s okay, Mom, go ahead and smile; you’re allowed to feel joy.”

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Aracelly Bibl is a writer, grief coach, and bereaved mother dedicated to supporting parents who have experienced the loss of a child. Through her heartfelt writing, she helps parents rediscover joy, hope, and purpose as they navigate their unique grief journeys.