In this blog post, part 2, we wrap up the series by discussing the signs of drug addiction so you can spot them before they result in a tragic overdose. Last week, we started a two-part series about Black Balloon Day, which is March 6, 2020. Click here to read the first entry.
Part 2 of a 2-Part Series
History of Black Balloon Day
Designed to call attention to the overdose epidemic, the Black Balloon movement was the brainchild of a Boston resident who lost both her son and son-in-law to overdoses. To memorialize the two men and highlight the drug addiction crisis in our country, Hurley and her family hung black balloons outside of their homes on the anniversary of their loved one’s deaths. The simple gesture morphed into a national movement celebrated each March.
How to Spot Signs of Drug Addiction Before Overdose Happens (Adapted from DrugAbuse.com)
- Blue lips or fingers
- Chest pain
- Convulsions or tremors
- Dilated pupils
- Disorientation or confusion
- Gurgling sounds that indicate the person’s airway is blocked
- High body temperature
- Nausea or vomiting
- Severe difficulty breathing, shallow breathing, or complete cessation of breath
- Unsteady walking
- Violent or aggressive behavior
Grieving Over Someone Who Overdosed
While all death hits hard, death by overdose comes with a plethora of emotions – guilt, frustration, and confusion, all of which are not always part and parcel for other types of death. Whether or not you knew that your loved one struggled with drugs before his or her death, try to be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to grieve. Try not to take the blame for stopping the addiction before it was too late. Remember that addiction is a disease, just like any other illness, with just as many associated conditions. Sadly, death is sometimes one of those tragic side effects.
Here are additional tips to help someone who is grieving an overdose, adapted from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids:
If you know someone who has lost a loved one to overdose, don’t try to avoid the subject.
Put a card in the mail, send flowers, drop off food, come to his memorial or share a memory of him.
Addiction is a disease. You would not judge someone if their son had died of cancer. Please don’t judge someone’s parenting skills if they lost a child to overdose.
Let me know that it was okay I was sometimes angry with my daughter while she was alive.
When I had enough, I sometimes said things to him that I did not mean. Have you ever done that with your adult child? For me, this is compounded by the years spent dealing with substance use and the frustration and grief of feeling that your child is not there.
Don’t tell me to “get over it” or that I need to “move on.”
Instead, encourage me to grieve. I need to grieve in my own way and my own time.
Don’t treat her death as if it was marginal.
It was not. It was a life and she had a light that went out. My heart hurts when something is said without thinking of the impact it has on everyone who is grieving.
Don’t “ghost” me.
To have a friend for 14 years who suddenly does not return your calls or emails because they do not want to be associated with the stigma of substance use is painful. It causes more pain — you now are not only grieving your son, but the loss of someone you thought was a friend.
Cut me some slack.
I will be angry at times, want to be alone or want to cry. Grief does not follow a formula; it is a rollercoaster and you are along for the ride. You do not always see the dips coming. If I leave abruptly it means I need to go home, please do not try and stop me. Please understand that during those times, I need to be alone.
Please don’t bring up my child’s overdose in a social situation.
If I want to talk about it, I will. Let me take the lead.
Display a Black Balloon in March.
Let Black Balloon Day memorialize someone you know who has died from substance use. Keep their memories alive and help those who are still battling this awful disease.
About Foothill Funeral & Cremation Services in Glendora, California
When the time comes, if you so desire, we would value the opportunity to help you pre-plan for yourself or a family member or friend. Feel free to contact us now to pre-plan your own memorial or at your time of need (626) 335-0615. Our relationship with United Methodist Church and Sacred Heart provide great places for mourners to host funerals and memorials. You’ll love the grandiose yet intimate settings in both locations.