Legacy of an Overdose


When people struggling with addiction and/or homelessness die, they leave behind grieving friends and family, just like anyone else does. When that person is young and they die from overdose, those friends and family members are also left with a very real understanding of the potential dangers of homelessness, addiction, untreated mental illness, and a range of the symptoms of poverty.

Philip, a youth I’ve known for years, called me today to ask for help getting to the funeral of a good friend who had recently overdosed.  The friend had been special to him because he had been able to ‘look past circumstances’ and see Philip as a human being.

I scribbled these words down on a napkin as we were speaking.  They are part of the legacy that the young man left behind.  And a valuable one – the notion that we should look past circumstances in order to be a good friend.

I had met Philip’s friend a handful of times only and didn’t know him very well.  But I feel sad today for all those who have lost him.  And I feel sad for the pain he experienced during his lifetime.  I hope he has found some peace.

But even more, I hope that we all make good use of his legacy and look past the circumstances of others to their human-ness.  If we take on this challenge, it must be something we do daily, especially when it is not easy or convenient to do so.

It is a strength rather than a weakness to be humbled by the wisdom of someone who struggled with their own difficult circumstances.

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