Tag Archives: Death

Here’s to you Mom…

IMG_2890

Transitions are tough. Change seems to be the primary cause of fear and unrest in our world. But change and transitions are a fundamental fabric of our being.

My mother died this morning at 10 a.m.

Josephine was born in 1922. She married my father and had three children. I was the youngest…the mistake.

My father died in 1989. My father was my mom’s world. My ex-wife and I invited my mom to live with us after my dad’s death and she became part of my new family…she was Grandma to my step kids and to my two new little ones. It gave her life. It rejuvenated her spirit and passion. It also was a blessing beyond measure to have her around my kids at a particularly challenging phase of my life.

I divorced my wife and my mom went to live with my older brother. He and his wife earned their saints wings for the years they took mom in. She could be difficult. She feared change.

My mom and I had a complex relationship, as all parents/children do. It created a lot of guilt for me as she grew older that I resented her worldview and bitterness. I wanted her to be different. I wanted her to be happy. And I was angry at her because she wasn’t.

I loved my mom.

I found out she died this morning while riding my bike. I had just passed a convalescent home that had been the source of guilt for me every time I rode by (i felt guilt that I didn’t have the financial means or stable enough lifestyle that I could prevent her also from being in a convalescent home). As I passed I had the unwavering feeling that she had died.

The phone rang 5 minutes later. It was my brother…

I spent the rest of the ride cycling through tears. I prayed SO hard that mom and dad are reunited. She deserved that. She deserved peace.

Transitions are hard. I’m okay with my mom’s passing. It’s what happens. I just hope she can feel the warmth of my dad’s hand in hers after so many years apart…

 

 

Advertisements

Killing the Disease

72646805

The actor and comedian Robin Williams took his life today. Beyond this, I personally know very little of the details of the death or the events leading to the suicide.

There will be (and already is) prolific speculation regarding his motives in ending his life.

I’ll confine my discussion to what I know and how it may relate to this sad event.

Mr. Williams was a self-identified alcoholic/drug addict. Media reports indicate he had over 20 years sobriety before a relapse in 2006. He reentered rehab this year as a maintenance measure to maintain his sobriety, according to his representatives.

If I was putting money on it…I’m guessing he died sober.

Here’s what I do know. The effect chronic alcohol and drug use, particularly cocaine (a substance Robin admitted abusing), has on the neurochemistry of the brain is devastating. It takes at LEAST 2 years of complete abstinence before the user’s brain chemistry returns to a state of being where the individual is able to experience the same level of “happiness” that they did prior to use. Chronic, long-term use further damages/inhibits these receptors.

I know of many in the recovery community that suffer from profound depression; surprisingly, quite often after several years of sobriety. Unless you have been afflicted with this disease, it’s very hard to impart just how cunning, baffling, and powerful the allure of these legal and illegal chemicals are on the biology and chemistry of the brain.

In short: years of alcohol and drug use will cause changes in the structure and chemistry of the brain…often leading to profound depression.

Here’s what I also know. Robin didn’t need to take his own life. There are a myriad of drugs that combat these chemical imbalances and help maintain the homeostasis of emotion needed to…well…live.

Again, I don’t know the precise circumstances. I’m as heartbroken as anyone over the news of his death. He was a beloved celebrity that brought all of us many hours of joy. But I also lost a brother. A brother in sobriety. We lose brothers and sisters every hour of every day to this disease.

And it is a disease…

When Phillip Seymour Hoffman died, I made the argument for the disease model of alcoholism and drug addiction.

It is a disease. Just like depression. Just like heart disease. Just like cancer.

But nobody seems to care.

As long as it doesn’t happen to you or someone you love, it seems much easier to judge…to question the “will”…the “fortitude” of the sufferer. God forbid one did that for someone with cancer, but we do it with alcoholics and addicts every day.

And they continue to die of the most insidious and hated disease in our culture.

And we lose a lot more folks from this disease then we will from the current hysteria over Ebola.

It makes me sick…

Rest in peace brother. I know you are…I’ve witnessed the aftermath of enough suicides in my professional life to know you didn’t kill yourself Robin…you killed the disease.

If only we, as a society, could have killed it for you.

 

 


It’s Pretty Simple Really…

Courtesy Robin Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Courtesy Robin Beck/AFP/Getty Images

We love to express shock and sadness when one of our icons dies of the disease of addiction. I did it here when Cory Monteith died.

It sucks. And it will continue. It’s pretty simple really. Until we…collectively…are willing to recognize facts: that alcoholism and addiction are a DISEASE, not a moral failing, not a weakness of character, these deaths will continue.

We like to laugh at those suffering. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at Amanda Bynes. Or Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Or Dennis Rodman.

Do we treat them as if they had a chronic, progressive and fatal DISEASE. Of course we don’t. We use them as comedic fodder.

And when a guy like Phillip Seymour Hoffman spends his morning slamming Heroin instead of picking up his kids, we self-righteously feign shock and outrage.

I’m sick of it. I’m sick of living in a society that refuses to call this illness what it is: a DISEASE.

So, you’ve got cancer, and all your friends are talking behind your back about what a loser you are or a weakling. Come on man, you can beat this cancer, just get some radiation and be done with it.

Oh, did you hear about Suzie, the diabetic? I saw her buying a pack of candy at the store the other day. If only she’d wise up and start taking her Insulin.

Yeah…it’s what we do to our sick in this country. We jail them, we criticize them and we let them die. Because it’s easier for us to judge them than to help them. To offer a compassionate word or a sign of recognition that they are fighting a demon much bigger than all of us. A demon that no one can handle without treatment.

So in our ignorance, we continue to contribute to a culture of death. When we could have been funding more treatment centers and community outreach programs. Or stepping up and voting out the Neanderthal politicians in the pocket of the prison industrial complex that profit off the suffering of the disenfranchised masses.

It makes me sick to my stomach. Rest in peace Mr. Hoffman. Here’s hoping your death will make a difference…


How Many Have to Die Before We Call It What It Is?

How many of you think drug addiction is a disease? Or do you consider it a moral failing?  The product of a weak-willed person, someone with a poor constitution. What about alcoholism?  Disease? Or another moral failing?

Our community lost a promising 23 y/o young man this month.  I didn’t know him personally but he was part of my tribe, my community. I read his obituary and looked at what was probably his senior picture. Poster boy for good looks and clean-cut living. This death on the heels of another high-profile death in our community…the quarterback of a local football team, son of a former NFL player…dead as the result of a heroin overdose.

I’m tired of it. I’m tired of the ignorance of the rest of us. These are not bad people. These are not weak-willed human beings. These are sick people suffering from a disease. Alcoholism and drug addiction have long since been recognized by both the American Medical Association and the Supreme Court as a disease. By definition: a chronic, progressive and FATAL disease. Yet we as a society continue to treat the sufferers as lepers…criminals…outcasts.

Do we imprison our cancer sufferers? Do we shun the person with diabetes as someone who “just can’t handle his sugar”? No. But when it comes to drugs and alcohol, our social indifference kicks in and we stigmatize, we lock-out, we imprison.  The United States has the largest prison population in the world and the overwhelming majority of these prisoners are addicts and alcoholics. Should we forgive their crimes because they are sick? Of course not, but we need to reevaluate what is a crime.  Possession and under the influence penalties are ridiculous. Locking someone up for feeding their addiction is like busting the diabetic for possession of a Snickers bar. The criminal justice system is not the answer.  Compassionate, accountable recovery is.

Until our society as a whole has the moral courage to recognize this for what it is…a disease, we will continue to mistreat it. And we will continue to kill our young.  We are not exempt. You are not exempt. Jail does nothing to treat the underlying disease; it only manifests the problem and continues the lie.

So as you judge the alcoholic or addict next time, try to remember that they are suffering from a chronic, progressive and fatal DISEASE…if enough of us do this, perhaps it will save some lives, reform our prison system and finally begin to address the root problem.  If not, we will continue to bury our young. This is not getting better folks…only worse.

RIP Aaron. I’m sorry we couldn’t help. Shame on all of us.


reluctantjoy

Achieving Happiness Inspite of Myself

Jonathan latt

All the things you don't care about in one place!

theunravelingonion

learning life's lessons with an awkward giggle

L7 Bike Adventures

A couple's traveling adventures by bicycle

LADOT BIKE BLOG

Have fun while traveling, ride a bike!

Fisticuffs and Shenanigans

It was all fun and games, until the fisticuffs and shenanigans... -Deutschmarc

KingMidget's Ramblings

Pull up a chair. Let's talk.

Gino Michael Pellegrini

Education, Race, Mixed Race, and Multiculturalism

giorge thomas

it is what it is

Biking in LA

SoCal's leading source for bike news, from around the corner. Or around the world.

Cycling in NY

A blog from an average guy, cycling in NY

The Conejo Valley in the 70's & 80's

Sharing Photos And Stories About The Conejo Valley In The Good Old Days

eryn b good

trying to behave

All Seasons Cyclist

Real World Product Reviews For Avid Cyclists

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

The House Of Positive Vibes

Presented by The Average Jim's Playground

Los Angeles Boudoir Photography

Documenting the human condition with sensuality and complexity