My kindnesses for Day 8 are my least favorite. Today, I grieved alongside sisters that lost their brother and parents who lost their son. This was not the first funeral service I have sat through for someone whose life ended as a result of a drug overdose, nor was this our first family member to die as a result of drug addiction. On both sides of the family Tom and I have family members who battle drug or alcohol addiction, and today we said goodbye to Tom's cousin who died as a result of an intentional overdose.
For Day 8, the kids wrote letters to someone we love who is battling addiction and I spent time connecting with her. I reminded her that she is loved, that she is stronger than she realizes, and that she is not alone.
My brother's death was a tragedy. But, in a lot of ways my family is very fortunate. We can freely talk about what happened to Adam and (generally) there is no judgement, no shame, no assumptions about Adam's character. This is a luxury that many families do not know. Oftentimes, when people lose their loved ones as a result of a drug overdose or suicide, there is a cloud of shame that lingers over the surviving family members. The stigma surrounding the circumstances of these deaths often leads to secrecy and self-blame.
For my last act of kindness on Day 8, I want to de-stigmatize the topic of suicide and overdose so that survivors of suicide loss can grieve freely and openly, without shame. No matter how your loved one dies, it is painful and real and complex. Your loss is as valid as mine, your loved one was as loved as mine, your imperfect person was as special to you as my imperfect person was to me. And you are not alone.
Suicide and intentional/unintentional opioid overdoses are on the rise. There are lots of signs and symptoms to look out for and ways you can support an addict in your life. If you have already lost a loved one to suicide, mental health problems, or addiction there is a lot of online support out there. I guess I just want to free up anyone who might feel like they need permission to grieve just as fiercely and publicly as anyone else. Regardless of a persons' imperfect choices or circumstances of their death, each and every loss is profound. After all, there isn't anyone among us apart from God who has ever lost a perfect child.