October is Depression and Mental Health Awareness Month, and this week is Mental Illness Awareness Week. In honor of those we have lost to the disease of addiction and mental illness, Sanford Behavioral Health hosted its first annual event to commemorate the lives of clients, friends, and family members who have died.
Remembering the lives of those we have lost
On the lawn of Sanford West Behavioral Health Campus, on a gorgeous autumn day, we gathered. Present were Sanford clients and staff who shared memories, words of encouragement, and stories of lost loved ones. Sanford Founder and President, Rae Green, opened the ceremony with a few heartfelt words.
Rae Green said,
“Mourning death is a difficult part of life. But mourning the death of someone from addiction is so complicated that there is no manual, no how-to guide to follow. Nothing can undo the tragedy, devastation, or pain of losing someone to the ravages of substance use. And no matter how we replay the events, we cannot change the outcome.
As we stand together in tribute, and memory to those we have lost, we can make one promise. We can promise that we will reinforce our determination to fight the disease of addiction. We can also promise to share the stories and narratives that humanize this often misunderstood chronic illness. It is incumbent upon all of us to permeate the public consciousness and create compassion, not judgment. Just as you, we are doing right now.
There was an article in the Washington Post, written by a mom who lost her son. She said, “My spirit often wanders alone on a small island where grief is my only companion, and where the tide is always dark and cold.”
Very recently, the singer Melissa Etheridge lost her 21-year-old son to an opioid overdose. She called it a “nightmare that eats away at good people.”
Today we remember the good people who have lost their lives to this disease, who are gone too soon. As we gather in memory of these souls, we can stand together and promise to contribute. We can inspire hope. And in this way, we will honor those who we have lost.”