August 30th is National Grief Awareness Day and August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day. Anyone who has experienced the grief that comes with the loss of a friend or family member who died and/or suffered from an overdose might wonder why there is just one day in the year that has been earmarked as special when they live with the memories of these experiences every day. These two days are special because they are about far more than awareness.
National Grief Awareness Day was the heart-driven creation of Angie Cartwright, in 2014. The reason she selected August 30thwas because that was the birthday of her mother, Rhonda Sue Newsome. Rhonda died of an accidental drug overdose in 2010. That was not the first death that impacted her life. When she was just five years old, she lost her baby sister and in 1996, her husband died in a car accident, caused by a drunk driver. She had more losses as well. Angie knew what it was like to be overwhelmed by grief from her own personal experiences! She had heard all the clichés that are often offered grievers and became tired of people wondering why she had not put this all behind her with the passage of time. She decided that grief is not wrong or a sign of self-pity, and that “silent grief” is deadly. In creating this special day, her hope was that everyone would increase their awareness of how emotionally painful and impactful grief can be. She hoped others would make a conscious effort to educate others about this subject that will eventually impact everyone! She hoped that others would take the necessary effort to see that grief education became a part of everyone’s lives. Her goal is to have the President of the United States make this an officially recognized Day of Awareness.
We at the Grief Recovery Institute, salute Angie Cartwright for her efforts. What she is striving to accomplish, in terms of making everyone aware that grief is the normal and natural response to loss is what we have been saying for the last 40+ years. We agree with her that grievers are not broken and do not need to be fixed with simple clichés and encouragement to “feel better.” They need, instead, to be heard, as they voice their feelings about their personal emotional loss, without analysis, criticism or judgment. We, at the Grief Recovery Institute, further feel that they need to be offered an action plan to help them deal with all of the things that are unfinished for them in their relationships lost: the things they wished might have been different, better or more in that relationship and the unmet dreams and expectations for the future, which would have been far different had that loss not occurred.
International Overdose Awareness Day is likewise focused on education and awareness of the signs and dangers, not only to us as individuals, but to friends and family members of the signs and dangers of overdosing. It’s about reducing the stigma that comes with drug-related deaths and making everyone aware that the tragedy of overdose is preventable!
The Grief Recovery Institute firmly believes that these are both elements of awareness that everyone needs to carry with them, daily. Grief, no matter the cause can be overwhelming. Grief is not just about death, whether or not it is the result of an overdose. There are more than 40 life events that can bring elements of grief into our lives!
It’s wonderful to be aware of the dangers of drug and alcohol overdose and grief, but we also feel that it is important to be aware that there is hope for those who grieve these and every other loss as well. The Grief Recovery Method® is a program that is designed to help. This is the only internationally available program that focuses on grief as an emotion, rather than a matter of faith or a mental issue of concern. We recognize that the vast majority of grievers are suffering from broken hearts, no matter their loss. We recognize that they are not broken, and therefore do not need to be fixed! They need to be heard, as they voice the emotional pain they are experiencing, without analysis, criticism or judgment. They need to be offered an action plan to deal with that unfinished business they have in their lost relationship. They need to have the opportunity to say “goodbye” to everything that is painful in remembering that relationship, so that that they can once again be able to find joy in their memories, and not be constantly stuck on the events that resulted in the end of it. We even offer those who are in painful ongoing relationships to better deal with that past pain, so that they can move forward with their lives and look for a better tomorrow.
— by Stephen Moeller, The Grief Recovery Institute