It's always hard to lose a loved one, but when you lose a loved one to a drug addiction or overdose it can be even harder. Survivors may feel a range of anger, disappointment and confusion. They may wonder if they could have done anything to stop the situation from getting out of control, and they may not know what to tell others. The latter is what matters when it comes to writing an obituary.
If you are struggling with the difficult decision of whether or not you should write about a loved one's struggles with addiction in their obituary, here's what you need to consider:
1. You are not alone
After a loved one dies of addiction, you may feel like you are completely alone, but in reality, there are thousands of grievers just like you all throughout Australia. Sadly, four people die of drug overdoses every day, and in 2012, the number of Australians who died of drug overdoses exceeded the number of people who died of road fatalities.
2. Many people are starting to discuss the truth in loved one's obituaries
In the past, if a loved of died of a drug overdose, the tradition was to hide the truth. However, a new concept is emerging, and grievers are starting to open up about the truth.
One father received worldwide attention for the honest obituary he wrote about his daughter. In it, he detailed his daughter's struggles with addiction, he explained how the family tried to help her through it and he urged others in the same position to get help.
Although that particular obituary has received a lot of attention, it is certainly not the only one. Many family members are coming forward to share.
3. Talking about the issue helps bring it to the open
Drug abuse and addiction is usually wrapped up in secrets. People who struggle with these issues often hide their pain from their family, and the family often hides their struggles from others.
However, people who are brave enough to share their experiences help to bring this issue out into the open. If you decide to talk about the real reason your loved one died in their obituary, you may open the doors for others to have a conversation.
The obituary you write may prompt other addicts to get help, it may encourage other family members to intercede with a loved one's issues or it may just help other grievers in the same situation know they are not alone.
4. You can talk about overdoses without tarnishing the memory of your loved one
One of the reasons so many people choose to hide drug abuse and overdoses in obituaries is because they don't want to tarnish the memory of their loved one. Ultimately, if you decide to share, it is possible to do it in a respectful way.
You can write a traditional obituary that describes your loved one's life and their accomplishments, but you can also write about how they struggled with addiction and ultimately lost. Many people frame the addiction as a mental health issue rather than a personal weakness as that is a respectful angle to take.
5. Your funeral director can help
When making tough decisions about what to write in an obituary, your funeral director can help you. These professionals help with every aspect of planning a funeral from preparing the site for the ceremony to organizing the cremation to sending the obituary to the relevant newspapers or websites.
As funeral directors help people deal with grief every single day, they may have unique ideas for you on how to deal with your grief and how to explain your loss to others in the obituary.
Ultimately, the decision is up to you, and there is no right or wrong answer. However, if you decide to share your loved one's true cause of death, remember that it could help others.