Shaun Joshua Kay

Shaun Joshua Kay

Charming, sensitive, determined, generous, playful

Shaun was sensitive, caring, and compassionate, but also lively and not afraid to fight for what he believed in. He was proud to have earned his scuba diving certification and very advanced in the gaming world, playing one online game for 20 years. He also loved movies and had a large collection of videos that he watched over and over.

Shaun spent a lot of time with his grandparents; his grandfather taught him to drive and they were the best of friends. Shaun was an extrovert but still struggled with intimate relationships and friendships. It was his biggest disappointment in life that he never felt like he fit in anywhere. He finally found passion and connection in two ways; one with his new bride, Jamie, and the other in the countless hours he spent in the CARE center at Lorain County Community College, where he provided support services to those with addictions.

Shaun’s substance use began after a serious car crash that left him with severe injuries and ongoing pain. As his drug misuse progressed, he became incredibly manipulative and eventually spent time in prison for various drug-related offenses. After his release, he got an old car and spent hours working on it. saying he was “rebuilding his car as he was rebuilding his life.”

Part of rebuilding his life was being accepted into the Social Work program at Youngstown State University to major in addiction counseling. When a background check revealed his substance abuse and felony record, the acceptance was rescinded. One of Shaun’s proudest accomplishments was that he fought for readmission and won, convincing the board that his background was what made him a good candidate. He was to start classes the month after he passed away.

Shaun’s generosity was shown the day he “clicked that little box” for organ donation while renewing his driver’s license. After his death, his organs saved or improved several lives. His mother, Sheri, was recently in touch with an organ recipient who said that she has a “whole new life” thanks to Shaun’s thoughtfulness. “That is where I find grace in this whole flipping mess, ” his mother said.

Sheri misses going to the movies with Shaun and their talks. “We could have conversations about anything,” she said. What she doesn’t miss is the anticipatory angst of waiting for the call that the worst had happened. “It is hard to be the mother of an addict. The empathy and compassion that others have if your child has cancer or another disease is not present with addiction. We need to reframe the shame around this whole thing.”

As time goes on, Sheri feels herself softening, letting go of anger, and moving toward a more loving space. “One day, what I hope to have left are the good memories and the love I have for my son.”

Shaun’s mother, Sheri Kay, provided the information for this narrative.

July 21, 1984-July 27, 2018
Age 34 – Lived with addiction 14 years

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