It was important to us here at ASD to recognize this date and encourage others to speak openly about how addiction and overdose has impacted their lives. Complacency is no longer an option – we have to bring these families together to talk about the difficult emotions associated with this type of loss. Grief and depression can sometimes get in the way of people taking proper care of themselves. Regular sleep, meals, and exercise may fall by the wayside. It's always good to let them take the lead. You can’t. Never try to make sense of the accident or get philosophical about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mauro T. The many victims of substance abuse. Losing a loved one is painful under any circumstances. The people you expected to help you the most are incapable of saying the right thing, or anything at all. Add a tragic death to the mix, and the situation becomes even more difficult for everyone—from the immediate survivors to extended family, friends, and coworkers. Even after years had passed, we would still get a call from time to time from someone looking for my dad. They struggled with their disease but, ultimately, this disease took their life. 2017;29(8):1288-1307. doi:10.1177/0898264317720715. No two people grieve exactly the same. Let the survivors know that your heart goes out to them, but please resist the urge to ask questions. Every time you answer the phone, you risk having your grief triggered by one of these calls. It feels like the details of his life and his legacy have been converted into a cautionary tale. Grief Recovery After Substance Passing (GRASP) was created to offer understanding, compassion, and support for those who have lost someone they love through addiction and overdose. 2007. Drug Overdose Prayer for Victims and Families. Recovering from a traumatic loss is difficult enough without a cloud of shame hanging over your head. The Loss of a Pet Could Trigger Mental Health Issues in Children, Tips for Coping With the Life-Changing Loss of a Spouse, 9 Tips for Communicating With Someone Who Has an Addiction, How to Stop Enabling an Alcoholic or Addict, Daily Tips for a Healthy Mind to Your Inbox, Grief and mourning gone awry: pathway and course of complicated grief, Liberation or relief that the addict will no longer overshadow their life with the unpredictability and, Extreme sadness about what might have been if the deceased had gotten clean, Guilt about the times they wished it could all be over, Responsible for bringing about the death of their loved one, informing friends and family of the death, dealing with doctors, lawyers and inheritance issues, dealing with unresolved legal issues arising from the addiction, such as debt, or issues around the death from drugs itself, make statements to the police or to reporters, talk to doctors, funeral directors, and lawyers. J Aging Health. The list below highlights the need for more grief support specifically for those who have lost a loved one to substance abuse. Did my father even have to lie to obtain that prescription? ", "His confusion and pain must have been much worse than we could imagine. The essay examines how an overdose death creates barriers for healing and complicates the grief process. To try to make sense of the senseless. “They all looked at me like there was something wrong with me. We feel, and too many times it is true, that no one understands our pain. GRASP – Grief Recovery After A Substance Abuse Passing – holds local grief support meetings all across the United States and also manages a Facebook group with over 7,000 members in the online community. We have suffered this same kind of loss and we have found the love and connection that only those who have lived this loss can give another. When I try to express the feelings I still experience to this day when I think about the letter, the most common response I hear are assurances that what happened wasn’t my fault, and that I shouldn’t blame myself for what happened to my dad. If you feel like talking, please don't hesitate to call. Be sympathetic without trying to make sense of the accident. However, supporting people who are going through drug-related bereavement can be complicated.. Before my father overdosed in 2006, I had never been acquainted with grief. You should never try to make light of a tragic death. When I stood at the foot of that dark, imposing mountain in front of me, I didn’t realize I’d be faced with a steeper climb than most. Read our, Medically reviewed by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE. My prayers are with you and your family. This personal essay was written by ASD Public Relations Specialist, Jessica Fowler, in support of the New York Funeral Directors Association’s Tribute Foundation and International Overdose Awareness Day. Since publishing this blog post, I have learned of a national organization dedicated to providing grief support to those who have lost a loved one to an overdose. These neutral comments allow the bereaved to come to terms with their own feelings, and to accept their own reasons for the way they handled the relationship, whether or not you feel they were correct. When it’s a four-day period however, it feels like an emotional rollercoaster that you have no control over. From his angry employer to the unstable addicts he used to get high with, it was rare to hear a compassionate voice from any of these callers. Here are some ideas. You will hear that you have to show your support and let the addict know you are there. This led to their eventual separation. Be encouraging and helpful in a kind, uncritical way. It rarely makes any sense at all. Even if you have lost someone to a death from drugs, the experiences and relationships are likely to have been quite different, so expressing understanding you don't have may be alienating to the bereaved person. When I think about the chain of causation, I realize how so much of the pain my family has endured can be traced back to that one moment in the doctor’s office. Many others were killed that week due to the same bad batch. Photos shared via International Overdose Awareness Day and What was it that made him start using again? Words can't express how sorry I am that this happened. I know in my head that had I read that letter, even if I replied, my dad would have still gone down the same path, but none of that changes the fact that he died believing I either didn’t read it or didn’t care enough to respond. It doesn’t matter. I found all kinds of ways to avoid using the word ‘overdose’ because I felt like that word would just paint this picture in the person’s head of who my father was and what type of family I had. For instance, they may have experienced distress seeing the loved one intoxicated or violent, financial problems which may have affected the family, as well as a possible history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, legal problems, or other difficulties. Even if you have lost someone to a death from drugs, the experiences and relationships are likely to have been quite different, so expressing understanding you don't have may be alienating to the bereaved person. The number of overdoses that have occurred just in the past few years is staggering. The problem with the word overdose is that it overshadows all of the exceptional qualities and positive achievements a person exhibits during their lifetime.

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