Families Speak Out: Obituaries Showcase Addiction
Obituary writers have never been strangers to euphemisms and outright omission of facts. For centuries, societies have valued, to one extent or another, discreet retellings of the lives of those who may have lived or died in stigmatized ways. Some families are changing their approach, though. After realizing that obituaries showcase addiction and how it can destroy lives, some survivors have decided to put the narratives of their love onesâ€™ lives to use by sharing them with others struggling with drug abuse problems.
Ryan Bossieâ€™s death has garnered attention after his parents decided to open up about their sonâ€™s overdose. Initially, they did what most people do. They let the obituary get printed without mentioning that addiction had played a role in their sonâ€™s death. Upon further reflection, the Bossies thought it better to bring the facts out into the light so that others might benefit from Ryanâ€™s heartbreaking story. Their active, sport-loving son passed away as a result of a heroin overdose, and the Bossies want others to learn from his tale of addiction.
The Bossies are not alone in this desire to reach out to other vulnerable individuals. The Hesse family in Harrison, Ohio had similar feelings about the passing of Alex Hesse. Alex fought a heroin addiction for years, going in and out of rehab and running afoul of the law on multiple occasions. Rather than quietly accept their sonâ€™s passing, the Hesse family harnessed how obituaries showcase addiction in order to highlight what they refer to as â€œan epidemic.â€
In some cases, addicts themselves have realized that obituaries showcase addiction and have written their own in advance. Elizabeth Sue Sleasman, a Washington woman who ultimately lost her battle with methamphetamines and alcohol, left a letter about her life with her parents before she passed away. Subsequently, Sleasmanâ€™s parents have published the letter in the hopes that others would see it and free themselves from the shackles of drugs.
In this era of social media and viral stories about every facet of life, obituaries showcase addiction in a touching and urgent way. Anyone who has experienced a chemical addiction of any kind knows how difficult it can be to break free from it. The final testimonies of the addicts and those who knew them best have already begun to shed light on this issue. These families hope that, at the very least, their loved ones’ stories will put a human face on addiction and help others put themselves on the road to recovery.