Why grieving overdose death is so hard

Overall in Canada, from 2016 until June 2018, more than 9,000 Canadians have died of overdoses largely from fentanyl-laced drugs. That’s a lot of grieving family and friends, in a situation that is difficult to grieve.

Difficult to grieve? Yes because in North America our society criminalizes those with substance use disorders instead of understanding the deeper needs of the addicted. And that is reflected after an overdose onto those around them.

As Dr. Joseph Kirkpatrick from Atlanta, Georgia says, “Society treats this loss differently than a death from any other cause.” Anyone having any relation to the deceased, including the deceased are seen as “bad” people. And therefore, “an overdose death creates unique barriers for healing and complicates the grief process.”

“The problem with the word overdose is that it overshadows all of the exceptional qualities and positive achievements a person exhibits during their lifetime.” To have to explain that to others is just heartbreaking. “The suggestion that a person’s life doesn’t have any worth because they were overpowered by their addiction is so harmful to those of us that have lost a loved one because of this.”

An overdose death feels avoidable, and combines guilt, shame, blame, stigma and isolation, fear and anxiety into the grieving process. If this is you, get help. The links in this post all have suggestions of where to go for help. Please do it for yourself if not for those that love you. There’s been enough suffering already.

 

 

 

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