Dealing with Death

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Announcements, Grief, Stigma, Support,

ThinkstockPhotos-544452156-640x213I am now writing this in a completely different vain than I intended.

Carla and I watched a movie last week called Wind River.  When we selected this movie, all we knew was that it was a murder mystery, which I love, and we both like Jeremy Renner who starred in the film.

There was a scene in the movie where Renner is speaking to a Dad who just found out his 18-year-old daughter had passed (we find out that Renner had lost his daughter three years earlier).  Renner talks to this Dad about what he will face.  As we listened, we were riveted as his words were so profound; clearly, this writer had lost a child because the feelings were articulated with a depth and emotion that could only come from knowing.

We knew we wanted to share those words with everyone, but today, we share them under different circumstances.  As I type this, it is literally 48 minutes after finding out that a friend had passed.  In some ways, more than a friend, a beacon of hope that I looked to as proof of our ability to win.  Kenny was two years in recovery and an amazing advocate for recovery.  Ken was an active participant with Family Matters, and his presence was a big reason why I wanted him on the Board at ROBBY’S.  I had been talking with Ken about recovery, future business ventures, and the long motorcycle rides we were going to take next year with Nolan.  We won’t get that chance because today, God called him home.

I spoke to my Dad who knew Kenny really well and he asked, “when will it end?”  I don’t know that answer, but I know it will as long as we continue to fight; continue to hope; continue to believe. I think Carla said it best – “we have to be stronger than the devil.”  Yes, we do, and we will be regardless of the pain. We will be stronger than the devil.

So, I’ll share the words with you, and maybe someone who reads them will find something in them that helps.

WIND RIVER –

RENNER CHARACTER: I’d like to tell you it gets easier, but it doesn’t.  If there is any comfort…it’s getting used to the pain I suppose.

I went to a grief seminar in Casper (Wyoming). Did you know that?

I don’t know why.  I just wanted the bad to go away.  I wanted answers to questions that couldn’t be answered.  A Counselor came up to me after the seminar, sat down next to me and he said something that stuck with me.  I don’t know if it is what he said or how he said it.

He said I got some good news and I got some bad news.  The bad news is that you’re never going to be the same.  You’re never going to be whole, not ever again.  You lost your daughter, and nothing is ever going to replace that.  The good news is that as soon as you accept that and let yourself suffer, you’ll allow yourself to visit her in your mind.  You’ll remember all the love she gave; al the joy she knew.

The point is Martin, you can’t steer from the pain.  If you do, you rob yourself…you’ll rob yourself of every memory of her. Every last one.  From her first step to her last moment.  Just take the pain Martin. You hear me, just take it.  It’s the only way you’ll keep her with you.

End –

Well, we take the pain, we take it every day and we will continue to take it.

We will take the pain because we are stronger than the devil.

We will not lose hope, but run to it.

We will believe because to do anything less is to give in to darkness.

We will take the pain and it will not break us because we will stand strong together, and we will win.


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Yes, “these lives” are worth saving!

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Announcements, NarCan, Recovery, Stigma,

Drug-Addiction-642x336What is a life worth. What is your child’s life worth. These are questions that I ask when I hear people question the value of Narcan (Naloxone). There is nothing I wouldn’t do to have Robby back with us. So when people question the value of Narcan it does, well, piss-me-off.

At a meeting last summer, I even had a Police Officer tell me he struggled saving “their” lives.

Really? Their Lives?

Are we talking about kids like Robby who was so full of compassion as he dealt with the residents at the nursing home he worked at or when he chose to serve his country? Are we talking about kids like my friend Aaron who now, in recovery, is rising through the ranks of his company, is recently married, and who is a leader in the battle to stop this epidemic? Are we talking about our friend Stephanie who battled addiction, and now has dedicated her life to making a difference for young women in need?

Just whose lives are we talking about

Who gets to decide which ones live or die, which ones will make a difference in the lives of others or which family should have to live with the loss of that loved one?

Maybe we need a new movement called  Addicts Lives Matter to get the point across.

Every addict was once a child full of hopes, dreams and potential. Somewhere along the line they got derailed; overtaken with a disease they did not understand and have no ability to control. A disease that drives desperation and behavior that is simply, at times, reprehensible. But inside, under the weight of that disease, they are still those same kids that were once so full of life and hope.

Narcan saves lives. Narcan has proven, in communities where it is deployed, to reduce the incidence of use and addiction because it allows help to get to those that need it. Will some abuse it, play the Lazarus game? Probably. But should we condemn the majority of addicts who would trade every possession to be free of the monster that chases them daily for the actions of those under the influence of the devil himself?

Every addict is someone’s kid. It is never your kid until it is; then what? I believe that every addict deserves the opportunity to turn it around, to become that person God created them to be. You may not, but ask yourself this; “If it were my kid, would I want them to have that chance.”

For more information on Project Dawn, Narcan and distribution sites, please click on the links below:

Ohio Project Dawn

Cleveland Project Dawn


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Stigma of Addiction is our Greatest Enemy

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Grief, Robby's Voice, Stigma, Tags:

Have you ever had your child look at you and say “I didn’t ask for this. I don’t want this,” with fear and pain in their eyes?  I have, and there how-did-the-stigma-of-addiction-begin-532935_180x180was nothing I could do to save him.  I could be talking about cancer or any diabetes or any other chronic or life threatening disease, and actually, I am.  I am talking about drug addiction.

As a society, we put a stigma on addicts because we believe there is something dirty about them. Maybe it’s because drugs are illegal or we call it their choice.  Maybe it’s because we don’t understand addiction, and why would we.  We don’t get educated on it until after we are impacted.  As a result, we have an epidemic that continues to grow, and a disease that impacts virtually every family in this country in some way.  You say not you. I say you’re either not being honest or you just have not figured out who yet.  I say this because I know.  I have lived this.  I have had to face it.  I have had to witness the pain and devastation. And now, because of my ignorance, I have to live with the loss.

Old stigmas are stealing lives

What we say about addicts we would never think to say to a person with a “real disease.”

  • We say it’s their choice.
  • We say just quit.
  • We say they deserve what they get.
  • We say they know better.

 

We say these things about addicts, but yet we have compassion for cancer patients and diabetics.  We feel badly for them even when maybe their choice to smoke or have poor eating habits led to their diseases.  We have empathy for them because we understand these diseases, we have been educated, and yes, killing yourself through cigarettes or food is perfectly legal.

With addiction, even though we have failed to educate kids and families, we hold them in disdain. Our healthcare system doesn’t want to pay for the proper care, the same care any other chronic disease would get.  There are no fund raisers or national foundations, only the dark black hole of addiction and its stigma.

Learn from parents like us

There was a day, a time in my life when I held many of these beliefs. There was a time in my life I was ignorant.  I did not understand the disease or its impact.  There was a day that I would cast a stigma down upon the addict because they did it to themselves.  Then I learned, and I learned the hard way.  I learned about the disease.  I learned about the pain.  I learned about the desperation and hopelessness.

I learned too late. I learned after my son became an addict, a victim of a disease, that neither he nor we were ever really educated about.  I learned too late.  I learned after my son died and there was nothing I could ever do to fix it.   Because I learned to late, my family will live with a loss that will forever leave a hole in our hearts and souls.

I learned too late, but you don’t have to. I know, it’s never your kid…until it is.  Then what? 

 


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