EPISODE 020: How to Exchange a Life of Chaos for Love and Joy -- Parallels between the Impact of Death and Addiction


Caution: This week’s episode contains graphic content.

In this week’s episode, Fran Cooper van Allen starts by telling us what she does for a living today - hospice nursing and elderly care taking. We later discuss how coping mechanisms from her career helped prepare her for coping with addiction in loved ones’ lives. Fran tells about what her life was like growing up with an alcoholic mother and a father who committed suicide when she was 12. The theme of chaos and recovering from chaos runs throughout the episode. 

In this candid conversation, Fran really opens up about what it was like growing up with an alcoholic and how that chaos led to looking for more chaos as an adult in marriage because it was familiar - a pattern many loved ones of addicts can relate to.

Tune in to not only learn about coping mechanisms such as detachment and letting go of things you can’t control, but to hear about what codependence and enablement are, to hear about why loved ones of addicts and alcoholics also need recovery, and to find hope that you can pull yourself up, no matter what adversity you’ve been through.



  • Fran describes what life is like now - full of joy.

  • Being raised by older parents

  • Care taking for the elderly - as you and your loved ones get older, how your world begins to shrink.

  • The issue with paid companionship.

  • The joy that companionship with the elderly brings. 

  • The patience Fran has learned from being a care taker.

  • Learning to anticipate someone’s needs.

  • Staying respectful and tolerant.

  • How Fran became a nurse.

  • “I didn’t have to do futile treatments on someone who was not going to get better.” I think our bodies are intended to wear out. We’re going to die. Giving a blood transfusion to a 98-year-old woman that’s not going to live to me is not humane.”

  • How hospice is spiritual and beautiful. How Fran was able to be part of relieving suffering for people.

  • What the hospice team is like.

  • Hospice should be for the last six months of someone’s life.

  • A good life growing up in Columbia, South Carolina and how it went from beautiful to chaotic.

  • Asking Mom to stop drinking when Fran was 10 years old.

  • What it was like experiencing a mother’s attempted suicide. 

  • The impact a chaotic upbringing had on Fran’s life, from making excuses to irresponsible decision making to becoming bossy. 

  • The importance of structure and safety at home.

  • “I had to learn to take care of myself before everybody else.”

  • What is codependency. 

  • What is enabling.

  • How Fran’s early environment influenced her career. 

  • Why Fran joined Alanon - she describes the first time she went, how she stopped, and then how she went back. She says her life had become unmanageable. 

  • How Alanon/Naranon helps through all aspects of life and has helped Fran grow.

  • “Being brought up in an alcoholic home, you try to control everything because your life is out of control.”

  • What Alanon is and what the principles are. 

  • What Fran has seen Alanon do for others - restores joy, peace, and self confidence. 

  • “Our self esteem gets damaged when we deal with alcoholism from somebody that we love.”

  • The concept of recovery for someone who is not an alcoholic or addict, but who loves someone who is.

  • “We’re as sick as our addict is because we deal with the insanity of living with the. You’re in a constant state of fear or anxiety with them.”

  • What Fran has learned about addiction and addicts.

  • Details of the emotions of what its like to love an addict, even causing physical illness. 

  • The concept of detachment and its effectiveness. 

  • Parallels with the coping skills required for dealing with addiction and death and dying.

  • Recommendations for dealing with grief that comes with addiction and death and dying.

  • Triggers.

  • “I’m convinced we see each other again… we are spirit, we are soul.”

  • Examples of recovery.


  • Long-term care insurance is a good thing to invest in if you can do it.

  • “No matter what kind of adversity you come from and no matter what kind of stuff has happened to you, you can pull yourself up and you can better yourself.”

  • Taking care of yourself first is not selfish, its self preservation.

  • “You can still love the person without liking the behavior.”

  • Pray for those who hurt you. “You have to love them, but you don’t have to like what they did and you don’t have to like what they do.”

  • “Don’t shove your emotions because if you shove your emotions they’re going to come out eventually.”

  • There is not a time limit on grief.

  • “If you don’t have grief, you don’t know happiness.”


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