MDMA and Grief: Five Days Later

G. Scott Graham
Journal of Psychedelic Support
5 min readJan 17, 2024


Tuesday, January 16, 2024. Today, I am resealing the time capsules. I put the silica gel dry packs in the oven. It’s a three-hour process to recharge them, so I am taking this time to reflect on the impact of this MDMA Grief Time Capsule Experiment. There were many “Letters to the Future” in the two time capsules. Eight of them were incredibly difficult to read: the eight letters written by Brian and me. Four from 1998 and four from 2013. We each wrote a letter to the other, and we each wrote a letter to ourselves.

Today, I decided to scan each of those eight letters and re-read the originals once more this morning before putting them back into their respective time capsule. There is much profound insight in those time capsules. They shook me to my core. (I do not want to dilute the purpose of this post, MDMA and Grief. I will write another post just about time capsules later. Subscribe so you don’t miss it.)

I do feel a difference, some five days later after taking the MDMA, cracking open the time capsules and immersing myself in their contents. A week ago (pre-MDMA), the contents of the time capsules were something I avoided; the emotions around the time capsules were overwhelming, heavy, and crippling. I couldn’t even talk about the time capsules and their content without becoming overcome with grief.

Today, I still feel grief. MDMA did not fix the grief. I still feel grief, AND my relationship with the time capsules is different. My emotions around the time capsules are no longer overwhelming, heavy, and crippling. My emotions around the time capsules are a mix of grief and joy, admiration and loss, and gratitude and sorrow.

Is this the result of taking MDMA? I don’t think so. Otherwise, I could have simply taken MDMA and done nothing else. Is this the result of taking MDMA and simultaneously exploring dark, overwhelming, heavy, and crippling emotions? Like somehow the ecstasy of the MDMA mixed with the dark emotions and diluted it somehow? Maybe, I don’t know, although I am leaning toward, I don’t think so.

I think a big part of the shift of emotions was going through the time capsules and reading the letters out loud AND then (this was not part of the original plan) reading the letters from Brian and myself out loud again to a friend during the MDMA afterglow; going through all the artifacts as I re-assembled the time capsules during the MDMA afterglow; reading the mini-biography-moment-in-time-snapshots we each wrote in 1998 and 2013; reading the letters I wrote the next morning again to myself, still experiencing somewhat of an MDMA afterglow; debriefing the experience with a trusted friend; reading the letters that I wrote to myself again Sunday morning (three days post-MDMA); reading all eight letters one more time; plus reading the mini-bios we each wrote once more this morning.

It is like the first time going on a roller coaster (or even your first time driving a car, for that matter). There is all this extra “stuff” that goes along with that experience. That “stuff” might be so heavy that you need a friend to be with you for that first experience (or a trusted adult for your first car drive). Then, after you have been on that roller coaster several times, your feelings shift when you think about going on that roller coaster. Your stomach is no longer filled with butterflies of angst and trepidation. Your stomach is filled with butterflies of excitement and eagerness. (And that act of driving a car, over time, is no longer driven by this long list of behaviors that you must worry about; driving becomes second nature and driving becomes integrated).

I believe it is the work I did, repeatedly with the time capsules, and the feelings of grief and loss, that had the impact, not simply taking MDMA.

I believe I could not have done the work I needed to do without being under the influence of MDMA at the time I was doing the work.

MDMA seemed to increase my psychological flexibility around the work I needed to do. I felt less identified with the grief and was able to experience the grief as a transient emotion. After all, that is what all emotions are. Emotions are transient. We just get hooked and even own them (e.g., my grief, my loss, my pain, my sorrow). This was not what I was expecting from this MDMA Grief Experiment.

MDMA allowed me to be open to the flood of grief that arose when I cracked open the time capsules without becoming owned by those feelings. (Or having to own those feelings). Because of MDMA, I was able to explore the content of those time capsules. Because of MDMA, I was able to appreciate the joy, love, and adventure that I had with Brian. Because of MDMA, I was able to hear the words of wisdom and advice from voices who knew Brian and me better than anyone else: Brian and me.

MDMA created an environment where I had an opportunity to integrate those feelings of grief wrapped up in the time capsule, much like the driver integrates the skills of driving. And, it turns out, while driving that car down the road of life, I am not alone. Through his words, captured in his own handwriting, Brian showed me that he is still sitting next to me helping me read the map, navigate the terrain, and keep my eyes on the road.

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: Debriefing with the Trip Sitter (Part 3)
MDMA and Grief: Three Months Later (Part 5)
MDMA and Grief: Values (Part 6)



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