Sunday, January 25, 2015

When someone dies from a drug overdose

"Was your brother ill?" A nosy, but I'm sure well meaning friend asked, at my first social event since finding out my brother died.

And I paused for a moment. Because when someone dies from addiction, what do you say? Yes he was ill, deadly ill as it turns out. But maybe you wouldn't think so. 

"It was a drug overdose." I say flatly. "So yes. You could say he was ill."

I can see the shock in people's faces as I tell them. There is this sick part of me that likes that part. I have always loved shocking people with news. I think it's part of the reason why I keep getting pregnant so often. I love the shock when I tell people (though after 4 babies that is certainly wearing off). That sounds sick and twisted, I know. Character defect, I'll work on it again when I get to step 7.

When someone dies from a drug overdose the feelings are different than if they had died in a car accident. Or fighting bravely for our country. Or a strong struggle against cancer. My brother frequently talked about joining the military. I was a bit worried about it, with everything currently going on in the world, in the middle east. I expressed my concern to my sister, who replied candidly, "I'd rather my brother die a hero in the military, than from friggin' heroin."

Six months after she said that, those words would ring in my ears as the detectives told us my brother was found dead in his car.

You're not just dealing with grief. Which is tough enough. You're dealing with shame, guilt, what-if's, blame. And those emotions don't heal with time. They get buried and manifest themselves later in bouts of rage, binge drinking, and fights about taking out the trash. There are very few thoughts that bring comfort during this time. When someone dies after living a long life there is peace in knowing they lived a full life. You can say things like, "He's in a better place now." And, "He lived a good life." We try to say and hope my brother's in a better place, but in Catholic family who also teaches that bad people go to hell... but then in the next sentence say that JT is at peace... it leaves a bit of confusion and questioning of beliefs.

It's not right to compare your loss to someone else's. It's not. But yet I can't help but wish that if my brother had to die now, couldn't he have died any other way? Even gotten into a car accident on his way to get his drugs. Spare my parents the shame. Even if people say it wasn't their fault, assures them that this could happen to any family, I know my mother will spend the rest of her life blaming herself. 

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