Website Links Bereaved to Loved Ones
SADOD is launching Honoring the Many, which according to a statement on the new memorial website, was created “because people who die from substance use deserve to be honored and remembered — and those who are left behind to mourn their loss deserve to know that they are not alone.”
It is easy to dehumanize people who die from substance when you look at only the numbers, says Glen Lord, SADOD director. “When you see a wall of faces, the reality of what we are talking about is literally staring you in the face. They were real people with real families.”
Honoring the Many was designed as a healing tool to help loved ones celebrate the life of someone who died from substance use. The focus is on the person as an individual and on sharing details that are most meaningful and memorable to family members and friends who knew the person.
Our society often minimizes these losses or people shrug them off or are even judgmental about them. This can create an atmosphere of stigma and shame and make it difficult for families to grieve. Grief can become a journey of isolation and despair.
There are signs of hope that we have begun, as a society, to acknowledge addiction as a public health crisis — for example, by the funding of Narcan trainings and of programs such as SADOD — but we have a long way to go to understand its impact on family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and community members who have struggled with the aftermath of a loved one’s death. While a memorial site does not address solutions to the complex nature of substance-use issues, it does provide a healing space for those who share this heartbreak.
In the end, families need to know that their loved ones mattered and that they will be remembered for who they were, not how they died. The bereaved can have a voice on Honoring the Many.
The ideas behind the design and features of the memorial websiteel all contribute to making the memorial a celebration of the lives of people who have died, while at the same time recognizing the suffering wrought by drugs and alcohol and the diseases and destruction they cause:
- A memorial can be created for anyone in the United States whose death was caused by substance use, whether the manner of death was accidental overdose or other accident, suicide, homicide, or medical condition.
- Each individual has their own page, where bereaved people are invited to share a picture of their loved one, a memorial statement, an obituary, and a eulogy.
- The picture can be a portrait or any photo that has only the deceased in it, as long as the person is recognizable.
- The personal memorial page can be shared on social media, where the person’s picture and name automatically become a very meaningful post.
- The landing page displays thumbnails of the personal photos, and as you scroll down, all of the memorials in the database are displayed.
- Each time the page is refreshed, all of the memorials are rearranged in a random order.
- The memorial includes demographic information (age, race, city, state, etc.), and a robust search engine that helps people see both the diversity and commonalities among people who die from substance use.
Honoring the Many is featured on the SADOD website because the idea that people bereaved by substance-use death are not alone also means that they deserve to receive the help they need. SADOD is a project that focuses on peer grief support for this community of grieving people, beginning with basic information for survivors and including virtual peer grief support groups.