It’s been almost three and a half months and I still haven’t written Mother’s obituary. Why? Because I don’t yet know what to say. I’m struggling. What do I write? How do I write where someone pays attention? How can I make a difference? How can Mother’s death contribute to something greater than her addiction and the destruction the disease created? How can minds be opened and more compassion and empathy be offered to those who are fighting for their lives?
It’s important to be honest. The secrecy destroys and gives addiction power. But people are ignorant to addiction. They see it as a moral issue. They judge, discount lives, and say cruel things. People look at it as a life choice instead of a disease. They devalue a person’s life when they find out they are or were an addict. “I’m so sorry about your loss. How did they die?” And when you tell them, an overdose or drank themselves to death…the tone changes. Most of the empathy and compassion are gone. I’ve been fortunate and those close to me who were aware of the extent of the pain I’ve endured for most of my life and the things that were stolen from me…got it and offer compassion and empathy. But most people don’t get it. They discount what the addict and the addict’s family have suffered and survived. The stigma is real and heartbreaking in and of itself. There is a huge difference in the amount of support that occurs when a person dies from a car wreck, cancer or some other disease other than addiction. Addicts are treated more like lepers. They suffer and their family suffers for many lifetimes.
I’ve been guilty of seeing it as a moral issue too. I know better now. It is a chronic disease with relapses and remissions/recovery.
Mother deserves an obituary. It’s like the close of the final chapter of her life. The things I had to sit and helplessly watch or protect myself from by setting boundaries to save myself or prevent myself from going down the exact path still haunt me at times. Even though I know I did the best I could with what I had…I still can’t help but think… “What if I? …Why didn’t I? …I wish I would have…Did she feel loved enough? …did I tell her?” I feel like I can do so much more for her in death than I could in life. Mother wanted to be something. She wanted to be loved. She wanted to be a good mother and a good wife. She was a nurse at one time until her addiction stole that from her too. She would tell everyone and anyone who would listen about her stories from working in the ER. Her addiction took most all of the sweetness from her life. She became and did things she never wanted to become or do. That’s what it does, it robs the addict and the family of a little sweetness each day, month, year and years. And for some like mother – they lose most everything…including themselves. I’m not ignorant…I know they have to want to help themselves and have to do the hard work. And I know the devastating pain they cause through their addiction. And for reasons I can’t explain some beat it and some don’t. No one sets out to become an addict…just like no one sets out to be in a car wreck or get diabetes or cancer.
Mother deserves an obituary and when I’m ready or when its time, the words will come.
The thing I continuously feel is what Glennon says – Life is brutiful…It is both brutal and beautiful.
Mother’s addiction showed me so much brutal but it also inadvertently taught me to always seek the beauty and sweetness.
Finding the sweet side of crazy!