MDMA and Grief: Three Months Later

G. Scott Graham
Journal of Psychedelic Support
5 min readApr 10, 2024

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It has been three months since I took MDMA and did a deep dive into grief.

Things

It feels like yesterday that I took the MDMA and opened the time capsules.

The things ignited on that day, three months ago, continue to evolve.

Things.

I know that is vague. Let me clarify.

“Things” include the feelings of grief, the concepts of what I do, the premise of who I am, the priorities of how I focus, and the values of why I continue.

I often think about the MDMA and if there is any sort of ripple effect on feelings of grief since that day. The truth is that if there is any residual impact of the MDMA on feelings of grief, it is clouded by the impact of the contents of the two time capsules. During these last three months, I frequently reflected on the words written by Brian to both me and his future self. I also found myself reflecting on the words written by “1998 Scott” and “2013 Scott” to Brian but especially the words written to my then-future-self: me today. The profound wisdom contained in those words to my then-future-self, written ten and twenty-five years ago, has permeated my soul these past three months like a knife slicing open the meat of my evolution. The surgery revealed parts of my identity I had forgotten, parts of my vision I had let others blind me to, and parts of my spirit I had ignored.

I need to remember who I became. I need to see who I am becoming. I need to attend to who I am revealing.

It is not possible to extricate the ongoing impact of the MDMA from the ongoing impact of the wisdom in the time capsule. Because they occurred in concert together, they seem forever intertwined. That said: the evolution of “things” over these past three months is a direct result of taking MDMA.

I Know This

I could not have opened the time capsule, explored the contents, and exposed the wisdom contained in the letters without taking MDMA. Four months ago, when I simply thought about the contents in those time capsules, I would be overcome with tears, paralyzed by grief. I was counting on two documented effects of MDMA to break the emotional barricade I had around the time capsules: MDMA creates feelings of well-being, and MDMA creates a willingness to explore emotionally-charged memories. Indeed, the empathogenic effects of MDMA allowed for not just a review of the contents of both time capsules in the hours after I took the drug but also allowed for a sustained emotional deep dive days and weeks later into two very distinct periods of my life and my life with Brian.

I Believe This

MDMA has somehow shifted the emotional landscape of the time capsules and how I relate to them. Before MDMA, I was frozen with trepidation. Now I am inspired with gratitude.

MDMA allowed me to connect with Brian’s words in the letters he wrote, which, in turn, allowed me to connect with Brian’s soul once again. MDMA allowed me to connect with my words in the letters I wrote, which, in turn, allowed me to connect with my soul once again.

There were words in those letters that I needed to read. There were words in those letters that I didn’t want to read.

MDMA allowed me to move past fear and pain to not only read those words but to consider those words.

Now, three months later, I am living those words.

I Hope for This

I was courageous when I advised my then-future-self in 1998 and in 2013. The words I wrote reflected the Scott I could be — the Scott I can be: my best self, my honorable self. It was difficult beyond words to have a conversation with 1998 Scott and 2013 Scott. And it was important.

Brian was, well, Brian, when he advised his future self and my future self in 1998 and in 2013. The words he wrote reflected the Brian I loved, respected, and cherished. It was beautiful beyond words to have one last conversation with him. And it was important.

I hope to continue to live the courage, honor, love, and compassion embodied in our words.

Graham-Stephens

Shortly after Brian died, I petitioned the court to change my last name from Graham to Graham-Stephens legally. I used the word “integration,” but honestly, that was not my motivation. I think at the time, I wanted to take steps to remember Brian. I remember thinking, “I really don’t know who this Graham-Stephens guy is.”

These last three months, ignited by MDMA and propelled by the wisdom in the time capsules, have clarified who this Graham-Stephens guy is. And here is the profound truth:

Graham-Stephens is not someone who I needed to become. He is someone I already am.

Graham-Stephens is not someone I needed to discover. He is someone I already know.

Graham-Stephens is not someone I needed to integrate. He is someone already at my core.

He was born from thirty-one years of love and conflict, cheerleading and cursing, laughter and crying. He was forged through thirty-one years of blessings and challenges, passion and loneliness, connection and isolation. He developed through thirty-one years of partnership in unwavering and unyielding commitment.

Brian and I were committed to our life together. Committed to getting to the top of the mountain or moving forward in the trenches — whatever was needed. Committed to embracing both our strengths and limitations with love and acceptance. We never sought to change each other. Ever. And at the same time, we supported each other to be our best selves. During those three decades together, decades filled with both joy and strife, we rubbed off on each other.

My best self already encompasses Brian. Brian is a part of me. My best self already integrates grief. Grief is a sign of a life well lived. My best self already cherishes loss. Loss is a reflection of our love.

A Tool

Through this process, I have come to appreciate MDMA.

MDMA is not a “fix,” a “remedy,” or a “solution” to anxiety, depression, PTSD, or grief. It is a tool that, if you choose to, makes engaging potential fixes, remedies, or solutions easier. MDMA shifts your emotional landscape enabling you to explore dark emotions, memories, and thoughts that you might not otherwise explore. MDMA creates a positive emotional engagement with those dark emotions, memories, and thoughts, so when you revisit them, as I have over these three months, your emotional connection is different.

MDMA shifted the contents of the time capsules from something I dreaded to something I now treasure. MDMA allowed me to embrace the wisdom in the time capsules. And that wisdom has made all the difference.

This article is part of a series exploring the impact of MDMA on grief:
MDMA and Grief (Part 1)
MDMA and Grief: Launch Day (Part 2)
MDMA and Grief: Debrief with the Trip Sitter (Part 3)
MDMA and Grief: Five Days Later (Part 4)
MDMA and Grief: Values (Part 6)

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G. Scott Graham
Journal of Psychedelic Support

G. Scott Graham is an author, a career coach, a business coach, and a psychedelic support coach in Boston, Massachusetts. http://BostonBusiness.Coach