"I lost my son and I love him dearly. I have to do something that he’d be proud of me for,” Barbara Eden said.
Barbara Eden, the actress known for her series, I Dream of Jeannie. She is now 91 years old, and despite losing both her sons, she believes it's because of her faith in God and the support of her husband, Jon Eicholtz, she managed to stay positive.
According to PEOPLE, Eden's first son, Matthew Ansara was found dead in a car parked in a suburban L.A. service station in 2001. He was discovered slumped over the steering wheel by an attendant at a Chevron station. He was a fitness trainer and an actor. Eden was in "shock" and "devastated" after hearing the news. The family was preparing for his wedding.
It later came to light that he died due to an accidental heroin overdose. The actress told PEOPLE that her son had been in and out of rehab for 14 years before he died. "At first we didn't recognize the behavior — the sleeping and the bouts of anger that would come up all of a sudden with this charming, darling boy. I was scared to death," said Eden. "I didn't know what to do."
"He was too young to know he needed rehab or help," she added. "It's a wonder that he lived to be 35."
However, she shared that he was different when he was sober. "When Matthew was clean and sober, he was such a beautiful human being, inside and out," she says of her son, who died of an accidental heroin overdose in 2001. "Drugs are inexplicable. It's so frustrating."
Years before she lost her first son, her second son died in her womb in 1971. She had carried the child for 8 months. Eden said, "It was awful. I became numb. You just deal with everything every day. I went right back to work and lost a lot of weight. I'd come home and look at my little boy who's adorable and think, 'I'm so lucky. I have this sweet child. I have a husband who loves me. What's wrong with me?' And nobody told me what was wrong with me."
With that experience, she understood the importance of getting help. "At that time going to a psychiatrist, people didn't do it. You just healed yourself. Now you go get help when you feel that bad. When you can't move or don't want to do anything, go and get help," said Eden.
According to her, she survived the tough times due to this. "I happen to have a faith in God, of a higher power, whatever you want to call it," she said in an interview with Larry King, per CNN.
Eden said, “I think probably I will always be hurt. But you really have a responsibility to people around you to get going, to put one foot in front of the other, as I said before, and to try to do something creative and productive for the world. You know life is a gift. And, yes, I lost my son and I love him dearly. I have to do something that he’d be proud of me for.”
The other thing that kept her afloat was her strong support system. "I have dear friends," she continues. "I have a wonderful family and a very supportive husband. A dog who is adorable, but a brat! Yes, I'm very happy. I think life, everything, has to work itself out. There's a reason for most things, and I can't wish for it." She has been married to real estate developer Jon Eicholtz, for the past 31 years.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | (L) Michael Tullberg; (R) Jason Kirk