Thanks for joining in to another entry in my blog series, Grateful Heart Monday, where gratitude continues to remain my only focus of my writing. For today, I am dedicating my gratitude to all those I’ve come to know over the years in recovery whose lives were eventually taken away by their addiction, including my friend Anthony A., who just recently passed away due to an accidental overdose.
While I know there are some who probably would be grateful for unhealthy reasons, thinking things like “good riddance”, when an alcoholic or drug addict they once cared about suddenly dies from an overdose, I’m not one of them. That’s because I consider it a great loss each time anyone loses their life to a tumultuous addiction. While it indeed may be heartbreaking for me to see any life lost to an overdose, rather than focus on that tragic loss, I’ve always felt it important to dwell on the positive parts they left behind, as they’re always there.
In Anthony’s case, he was a good father to his daughter Mia, a loving partner to his sweetheart Kara, a funny guy who knew how to make plenty laugh, a caring guy with a caring heart who would help out when needed and called upon, and someone whose smiles and grins could make others follow in suit. Although it’s been well over 7 years since I last saw Anthony in any my 12 Step social circles, I will always remember his good-natured charm each time I saw him when he’d give me a big hug.
Dwelling on any of the negative legacy an addict leaves behind when they suddenly die from their disease though just leaves the door open for unhealthy resentments. That’s why I find it important to shift any negativity onto remembering the good the person did while here, as it helps immensely in the grieving process. What also helps in that is remembering that each was a child of God, worthy and deserving of love, rather than focusing elsewhere, leaving a door open in the process for judgment and hatred to form.
Nevertheless, I have seen lately that addiction and deaths from overdose have been increasing rapidly in these pandemic times, which most likely is due to the very limited in-person 12 Step meetings, infrequent social gatherings, and a serious lack of human interaction and touch, each being things meant to help an individual remain clean and sober. It’s in those three things where I regularly saw the good in Anthony, as well as in a number of others who have since passed on due to overdoses as well.
People like Aaron, Derek, Danny, Charlie, Bobby, Paulie, Beanzy, and countless others who came into my life at various points in my recovery and blessed it far before their addiction took them out of this world and into the next. So often people navigate to anger first when an addict dies from their addiction. I think it’s easier to feel angry than feel the pain of their loss. But as a person grieves, they find that below their wall of anger is a well of sorrow and tears emanating from the love and the good that person once shared with them.
Frankly, it’s never easy when any addict, who was also a loved one, suddenly passes away from their disease, but it’s far easier to deal with their death remembering the positive things they did while here, rather than dwelling on the negative, which is how I’ve learned to be grateful each time another tragedy like this occurs.
So, I dedicate today’s Grateful Heart Monday to you, Anthony A., and the countless others I once knew in my recovery life who have each at various points touched my heart and helped me to keep going, clean and sober, one day at a time, and for that alone, I’ll be forever grateful.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson