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Shannon Bradley-Colleary Headshot

Why Cory Monteith's Death Breaks Moms' Hearts

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He's the boy you want your daughters to fall in love with; tall, affable, unthreateningly handsome -- like a schoolboy with his shirt untucked playing tag on the lawn after Sunday school.

He's the boy who is polite when meeting his future in-laws at their dining room table, who cares about his girlfriend's feelings, checking in with her frequently to make sure she's alright.

He's solid, tolerant and self-deprecatingly aware of his shortcomings.

You're glad to have daughters, but if you'd had a son, you'd want him to be just like Cory.

My daughters and I watched Glee together for the last few years, even though some of my mom-friends deemed the show age-inappropriate for elementary school kids. I worried they were right, but I had to share the show with my girls.

We loved the singing and dancing, Sue Sylvester in all her wickedly humorous incarnations with her salty sidekick Becky (played by Lauren Potter) and I was grateful for the opportunities Glee gave me to discuss sexual orientation and tolerance with my daughters.

But most of all we loved Finn, the character Cory played. We assumed that Finn and Cory were one and the same. They both seemed like such awkward, well-meaning, sweet kids.

Is there a lesson to be learned from this young man's tragic passing? For his loved ones probably not, and if so that lesson is a long way down the road. But, I've taken the opportunity to discuss the perils of drug use with my daughters. It's clear to all three of us that if Cory -- as an icon of boy-next-door wholesomeness -- can succumb to this disease then anyone can.

I try fumblingly, in my agenda-laden speeches, to explain to my daughters what drugs do to the brain. How, depending on the person, trying a drug JUST ONE TIME can lead to debilitating, even fatal addiction.

But I also think it's time we stop stigmatizing drug addiction as a moral issue. We should view it as a mental health issue that affects all of us. There are plenty of young people out there self-medicating with drugs who need our support (if only in attitude) rather than our judgment. No one can understand what another person needs to do in order to just stay even.

We cannot tolerate drug-related crime, but we can certainly hold a place in our hearts for all people suffering from drug addiction.

It may be that Cory Monteith, with his clean-cut good looks, his lopsided smile, will become the Everyman of drug addiction.

Maybe his death won't be for naught as the children and young people who loved him as Finn grow up and honor him by saying no to drugs. And, of course, he left us much more than that small slice of darkness he struggled with.

He made us laugh, dance, swoon and sigh. He made we mothers hopeful that there might be loving, thoughtful boys like him out their for our precious girls.

I am sending all of my love to the people who really know and love Cory. I am so sorry for your terrible loss.