News of Interest: Support Group Members Share Their Pain, Comfort One Another

[August 23, 2018 — Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, NY] In The Nightmare of Losing a Loved One to an OD Brings Them Together, reporter Patti Singer re-creates the scene at a grief support group, where one survivor after another tells their story. In a series of intimate vignettes, we hear from the members of the Forever In Our Hearts group about the pain that brings them together to comfort each other and remember their loved ones.

Vanessa Desmore, a nursing student, shares how the death only last month of her brother William has inspired her to specialize in substance use treatment. “’My brother is still fighting,’ she said. ‘There’s still so much more that can happen in his name, in remembering him and honoring him.’”

Tina Salome tells of the guilt she shares with her siblings over their father’s death because of the difficulty of helping a person who “‘couldn’t stop using drugs … He would be doing great for a few months and then he would start misbehaving again and I’d say [to one of my siblings], OK, I’m done. Your turn.’”

“Angela Lana said the death of her husband was a nightmare for their children. ‘At first I’d sort of fallen in a dark place and then I’m like, wait a minute, I’m the only parent they have left, so I have to try to pick up the pieces. In the beginning, I was looking for them to save me. I’m their mother, so I have to save them.’”

News of Interest” links readers to stories and information related to grief after a death from substance use.

News of Interest: Book Blends Painting, Poetry to Tell Stories of Epidemic Victims

The portrait of Anne Marie’s daughter Jackie is on the cover of the book.

[May 13, 2018 — Associated Press] In Artist, Poet Publish Book about Heroin Overdose Victims, reporter Holly Ramer tells about a creative collaboration between two women whose lives were touched by the opioid epidemic. Just three months apart in 2014, overdoses took the lives of poet Mary Ellen D’Angelo-Lombardi’s son’s best friend and painter Anne Marie Zanfagna’s daughter — and those tragedies provided the impetus for Portraits, Poems & Heroin: Thirty Souls Tell the Story, a poignant and painful — and very beautiful — book that captures the costs of the epidemic through the images and biographies of 30 people who lost their lives.

Mary Ellen says that the book is bound together by “‘the commonality of all the stories, the commonality of addiction, the commonality of how it ends, the commonality of how those left behind feel … There’s just a commonality that runs through the grief of losing a loved one that way.'”

A slideshow of portraits is available on Anne Marie’s Angels of Addiction website.

News of Interest” links readers to stories and information related to grief after a death from substance use.

News of Interest: Inmates Denied Addiction Medicine Adds to Risk of Lives Lost

[July 9, 2018 — Globe, Boston, MA] In Addicted People Often End Up in Jail. That Can Be Deadly for Them staff writer Felice J. Freyer brings attention to the plight of prisoners who are forced off of methadone, telling the story of Stephen Gonzalez, who died of a heroin overdose this April a few hours after he was released from the South Bay House of Correction in Boston

“’I don’t think anybody should be denied medication, and that is a medication,’ said [Stephen’s mother, Dawn Marie Dingee], referring to methadone. She is hoping her son’s story will change prison treatment policies, not just here but around the country.”

More than two dozen advocacy and health care groups in the state are pushing for legislation to “require jails and prisons to provide the medications for opioid addiction to inmates … but so far there is no bill containing such a requirement, just a proposal to create a commission to study the question.”

“These medications ease cravings, prevent overdoses, and help people stay in treatment,” and, according to one advocate, “’the science and the research on this is clear. To wait any longer to do this is just going to result in needless loss of life.’”

News of Interest” links readers to stories and information related to grief after a death from substance use.

News of Interest: Mom, Champion for “Laree’s Law” in NY, Dies of Cancer

[July 27, 2018 — Times Union, Albany, NY] In Anti-Heroin Activist and Albany Cop Patty Farrell Dies, city editor Mike Goodwin informs readers of the death of Patty Farrell, “who after her daughter’s death from a heroin overdose became a driving force behind the region’s anti-opioid effort.” Patty, 51, died from cancer.

Patty’s 19-year-old daughter died of an overdose in 2013, and her advocacy included championing the passage of legislation in her daughter’s memory, “Laree’s Law,” which opens the door to charging people selling an opioid that is implicated in a fatality with homicide. The law is now in committee in the New York Assembly.

Speaking to students in 2015 at Colonie High School, Patty said: “‘It’s an absolute hellish nightmare. There has to be a way to stop heroin. We have to work together. Please help me do something about it so nobody else dies like my daughter did.'”

Patty opens the video clip below with a poignant statement about losing Laree. The clip is a promotion for a documentary film by the New York State Funeral Directors Association that features the stories of families who experienced an overdose death.

News of Interest” links readers to stories and information related to grief after a death from substance use.

News of Interest: Funeral Directors’ Challenges with Substance-Use Death Explored

[July 22, 2018 — Daily Herald, suburban Chicago, IL] In How Rise in Opioid Deaths Takes Toll on Funeral Home Operators, reporter Marie Wilson takes a hard look at how a vital industry is being affected by the opioid epidemic. The article covers all angles of the issue, including a funeral home getting involved in naloxone (or Narcan) training, how the number of sudden deaths affects funeral home staff, and how supporting bereaved people after a death from substance-use can be especially challenging.

Funeral director Marya Gibbons says that this kind of death has “‘a different aftershock,'” and the article explains that “opioid-related deaths cause an unusual form of grief, so throughly mired with guilt, shame, confusion, regret, anger, envy, failure and uncertainty, that even those used to consoling families say they’re sometimes at a loss.”

News of Interest” links readers to stories and information related to grief after a death from substance use.

News of Interest: Mormon Actress & Grieving Mom Creates Poignant Video

[June 18, 2018 — Church News, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints] In New Video Shares How LDS Actress Found Peace after Losing Son to Addiction, news contributor Savannah Hopkinson updates the story of Shaunna Thompson, who has spoken out about her experience of grief after her son Chase died of an overdose in 2016. The brief video, below, gets to the essence of a mother’s experience of a child dying from substance use, and Shaunna describes it as raw and says “‘it was a little hard to watch .. but that’s good. Sometimes the raw isn’t always addressed, and the ugly, dark side of it isn’t always portrayed.” In an hourlong interview with Lindsay Spear of the Everyday Mormon Girl Podcast, Shaunna delves even more deeply into the relationship between her faith, her loss, and her grief.

 

 

News of Interest” links readers to stories and information related to grief after a death from substance use.

News of Interest: Memorial Music Festival Supports “Sun Will Rise Foundation”

[July 14, 2018 — The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.] In Local Bands Play to End Addiction Stigma at Braintree Music Festival, reporter Amy McKeever captures the scene at a fund-raiser where the crowd enjoys  food, games and local bands as well as having access to addiction recovery information and Narcan training. The Beanstock Music Festival, now in its third year, supports The Sun Will Rise Foundation, founded by Robyn Houston-Bean in memory of her son Nick. “’We’re out here saying that Nick died from an overdose, so that other people don’t feel alone or feel like they have to hide if they’re struggling,’” explains Robyn.

In addition to its prevention and advocacy work, the foundation provides grief support for people who have lost a loved one to substance use, and is part of a growing network of grief support in Massachusetts.

News of Interest” links readers to stories and information related to grief after a death from substance use.

News of Interest: Survivor Explains Grief with Simple Observations of Loss

[July 13, 2018 — Delaware Online] In When a Drug Overdose Kills Your Child, This Is What It Does to Your Life, MaryBeth Cichocki offers a first-person view of grief after losing her 37-year-old son Matt Klosowski to an overdose in 2015. The article is, in fact, a prose poem in which she makes dozens of simply stated observations that could not be more poignant:

  • Losing your child goes against the cycle of life.
  • Every day, this club adds more members.
  • Life is now in pieces.
  • Your grief is palpable.
  • You ask for signs. You look to the sky …
  • You are trying to find a new meaning to life.
  • Your journey is to honor your child …
  • Their fight is over. Yours has begun.
  • You are the mother of an addict. You will not be silenced.

MaryBeth is a regular contributor to The Fix. Her blog is Mother’s Heartbreak.

News of Interest” links readers to stories and information related to grief after a death from substance use.

News of Interest: Parents Focus on Prevention in Memory of Children Lost

[July 2, 2018 — Times News, Lehighton, PA] In Grief Powers Parents to Help Others in Hopes of Preventing Overdoses, reporter Chris Reber talks to surviving parents of children lost to the opioid epidemic who are taking action to save lives in the coal region of Pennsylvania. Tammy Rusnock Kline is raising money for a local prevention coalition on behalf of her daughter Chrissy; Cindy Kester and her husband sponsored a poster for the coalition in memory of their child; and John and Tammy Sienkiewicz are honoring their daughter Alexandria through a nonprofit they founded, Safer Streets for Tamaqua’s Little Feet.

Below is a short documentary about the Sienkiewicz family’s experience, created by the musician Kulick, who went to school in the town where Alex grew up. A song Kulick composed based on a poem Alex wrote is available here.

News of Interest” links readers to stories and information related to grief after a death from substance use.

News of Interest: Families Lobby for Safe, Legal, Regulated Drug Supply

[June 23, 2018 — Globe & Mail, Vancouver, BC] In “How Could This Happen?” After Losing Loved Ones to Opioids, Grieving Relatives Take Action, reporter Andrea Woo covers the advocacy of Moms Stop the Harm, which is working in Canada for the decriminalization of drug possession and consumption, as well as access to safer, regulated sources of substances. The article tells of three families who lost a loved one to overdoses — and of how their views of drug laws have been shaped by their experiences.

The point of view of Jennifer Hedican, who lost her 26-year-old son to an overdose last year, is representative: “’I didn’t know you could love a drug user,’ Ms. Hedican said … ‘I thought that was something you never wanted someone to be, and if they chose that, that was just horrible. They didn’t choose it … [and] I’m ashamed of the views that I had before, and that I never took the opportunity to examine them and to say, Where did I get these views from?’”

News of Interest” links readers to stories and information related to grief after a death from substance use.

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