Not once in my life did I ever think that I would be jealous of a funeral.
Honestly, I feel crazy even putting those words out for the world to read. Last night, I went to a funeral visitation for the father of a dear friend. He had an overwhelming turnout- you could tell that he was a beloved man to not only his family but to his community as well.
I lost my uncle a month ago. He was only a mere 57 years old, and it was anything but expected. He did not have cancer or any type of physical illness, and he did not get the luxury of going in his sleep.
He died of a drug overdose. Whether unintentional or intentional, we will never know.
There is something to be said about foreshadowed death. It comes with pain, as does any loss, but it gives a chance for closure- to say the things that we need to say and to express to that person how much they truly meant to us. I never imagined that I would be jealous of this type of closure.
Losing a loved one to a drug overdose causes the same type of regret as suicide; instant self-blame.
Your head is filled with thoughts of what you 'could have' or 'should have' done because the person's death was completely avoidable. I knew that my uncle suffered from depression and a drug problem, everyone in the family did. No one did anything, either out of ignorance or denial. I remember watching him leave family events- he was always the first to go. The first time that I realized my uncle had a problem I was a teenager. I remember thinking to myself how I should reach out to him, invite him out for coffee or a beer- but I never did. I was always too busy- something else was more important, or the twenty-minute drive was just too far. This was my excuses for over ten years. Honestly, I think the real reason I never reached out was that I was scared it would be awkward. I let this fear of awkwardness stand between me and a relationship. Now my head swirls at night how if I had reached out to him, I could have changed the outcome of this entire situation.
It was a Saturday morning when we were called to the hospital. He was lying hooked up to five different machines, including a ventilator. The room was trashed- the nursing staff hurried to clean it up as much as they could before we could see the blood stained gauze that littered the counters. The doctor came in and told us they did all that they could to save him, but it wasn't enough. We were advised to say our goodbyes. My grandmother kept whispering in my ear that he was still breathing because she could see his chest rising and falling. I couldn't bear to tell her that it was because of a machine breathing for him. This is what substance abuse looks like.
Drugs not only destroy the addict, but they destroy the family.
If you're apart of a family who has lost a loved one to drugs, know that you are not alone. Do not be ashamed to get the help you need; you're so much stronger than you think.