Celebration of life...Memorial...Funeral...whatever your choice of vernacular it all means the same thing. Someone has died. Yesterday we attended the Celebration of Life service for Cliff's Uncle Larry. He died on Monday, way too young, at the age of 53. Everyone who knew him spoke of how kind, loving and generous he was. He would give you his last dollar or the shirt off of his back. He fiercely loved his family, kids and grandkids. The Pastor did a wonderful job addressing the elephant in the room. Uncle Larry died from alcoholism. He had a serious problem and everyone knew it, including him. Friends and family alike had tried to get help for him. We were thankful for the times he ended up in jail because we knew he was safe and he'd dry out and sober up...if only for a couple of days. Last week, he literally drank himself to death. He drank, wandered into the business his son currently runs, and died. His son found him the next morning when he came to open the shop.
My heart ached for his sisters, his children, my husband. I know they were hurting. His sister straight up said "I am so mad at him right now!" It broke my husband's heart that his uncle died the way he did. It is such a profoundly sad situation. I am trying not to be mad at Uncle Larry for doing this to his family...for hurting his son, his daughter who's getting married next week, my husband who wanted nothing more than for his uncle to get the help he needed and stay sober.
I know it's easy for me to sit here and talk about how he just needed to get help. I've never had a drug or alcohol problem and have no idea exactly how hard it is to overcome. I DO have family members who have had or currently have a drug/alcohol problem. I have a beautiful cousin who has overcome and is a couple of years sober. I'm so proud of her because I know it wasn't an easy road for her. Thanks to her, I know it's possible to overcome it. To my friends and family members who are currently struggling, I love you. I am concerned for you. I don't want to be angry at you when you die an early death, leaving your children to find your body or when you miss out on milestones in their lives. I can't force you into rehab. Your desire to live has to be greater than your desire to drink. I know that you alone have to make that decision and commitment. You may not think you even have a problem. I'll tell you this...if anyone in your family has mentioned your drinking or drug use to you then they feel that it's a problem and they are concerned for your health and well being. We want you to be around for the celebrations of life, the birthdays, weddings, family BBQ's. We want to see you more often and spend time together. The last time I saw Uncle Larry, he was drunk and I don't even know if he remembered seeing us that day. I HATE that that is my last recollection of him. Please don't let that be my last recollection of you. Please get help. Like I said, I don't know the first thing about recovery. I'm sure AA is a good place to start. I will even go to meetings with you if you want.
I know that Uncle Larry was handsome, athletic, silly, loving and generous but my mind always comes back to the fact that he died prematurely because of the choices he made.
Please don't let the way you die overshadow the way you lived.