Important event in Cincinatti Ohio to support families who have lost a loved one through addiction. I’m hearing that such families often feel uncomfortable attending traditional bereavement support programs, from the reactions received from others upon disclosing the nature of their loss. How tragic that stigma and misunderstanding still exists in groups designed to comfort those in the greatest pain imaginable. We need to educate the public and eradicate stigma now. A suffering family should not have to feel judged or put-down; all losses are equally deserving of validation and compassion. Families tend to blame and judge themselves irrationally; rather than adding to that, we need to support them with empathy and compassion.
CINCINNATI — It wasn’t supposed to happen to Sarah Jones’ family — in fact, she felt sure it wouldn’t.
“I was very judgmental about who I thought drugs affected,” she admitted.
Then, in the space of two years, she lost first her brother and then her mother to addiction. His descent — which began with problem drinking and ended with heroin — and eventual death in September 2016 accelerated their mother’s, Jones said.
“After her parents passed away, she started abusing alcohol,” Jones said. “She got better over time with grief, but then, when she lost my brother, it was just a downward spiral.”
People living through their own addiction can attend rehabilitation and peer support groups to help them navigate daily challenges. People like Jones — those living with the consequences of loved ones’ substance abuse — went Monday night to “The Family Afterwards,” an event aimed at helping them deal with the emotional weight of losing people they treasured to addiction.
The event aimed to teach family members to recognize warning signs of addiction, the best ways to find treatment and how to internally broach one of the most difficult subjects: Forgiveness.
Jones said the event has been a help on her emotional journey.
“I look at it like I have a very good guardian angel cheering section,” she said. “I just have to make them proud every day.”
People Advocating Recovery of Northern Kentucky plans to hold similar events in the future. Anyone interested in attending can learn more at the organization’s Facebook page.
This is so true. People attending traditional bereavement support groups have faced stigma because their child/sibling/partner died of a ‘choice’. There are now some support groups out there specifically for people who lost someone to substance use. My husband and I run such a group in Somerville, MA, which meets monthly. Please contact me if you would like more information, or check the GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing) web site (grasphelp.org) or Facebook page. There is help out there. It is a long road, but you can find support and healing.
Thanks so much Maureen for sharing your experience, and for all you and your husband and GRASP are doing to support families in tremendous need. Suffering the loss of a loved one can be a lonely and isolating experience; it’s encouraging to hear of a place offering compassion, understanding and connection. Keep up your wonderful work.