Recently I posed a question to a writing group I'm a part of. I asked them, "what is one thing you'd like to tell someone about your loss?" and I found myself mulling over that very thought.
One thing I'd like to say about losing someone to addiction is: the means by which he died does not discount the fact that he's gone. My brother's addiction was not his identity. My brother's addiction was his demon. Losing him in the way I did feels terribly traumatic and in a way, more tragic than the way I lost my mom.
I'd like people to know that addicts come in all shapes and sizes. They're not the same. Some are manipulative and compulsive liars. Some are thieves. Some have lost sight completely of what is good and true.
But I'd like you to know my Joel was none of those things. I'd like you to know that he was funny. Silly. Adventurous and wild. He was an amazing chef and he loved with a ferocity that could move mountains.
Those are the things I'd like people to know. I am unsure what kind of addict is in your life, should you find yourself loving of one. But hear me when I say, it's okay to talk about it. In fact, lets. Let's talk about it more. Let's talk of our losses and our grief and even the kind of loss that feels messy because perhaps our person is still alive - but lost to us.
If I do anything with my words from here forward I hope it's to encourage you to find your own. Break the silence, bury the shame. Will you?