There seems to be a lot of death going on in my spiritual community right now. In a 2 week span we lost 3 people to suicide or drug overdose (arguably the same thing). Because of the nature of addiction, I can come across as cold hearted when I hear about an alcoholic or drug related death. I’ve seen too much of it to be shocked when it happens.

But Thursday, all my well placed defenses got ambushed when I heard that an old friend of mine had OD’d and died. I got nervous when I saw a post vaguely alluding to a “loss” on Facebook and so I reached out to my bestie and she confirmed that what I feared was true.

The name of my old friend was (is?) Claudio. We met in 2001, when he decided to try to kick his heroin habit and turn his life around. We started dating when he was newly clean, but after 10 months I broke it off pretty abruptly. That was in November 2002. About a month and a half later, on New Year’s Eve, Claudio attempted suicide via intentional heroin overdose.

That really shook up our community, and I certainly felt (imagined?)  that some people felt I was at least partially to blame. Eventually I spoke with Claudio, and we cleared the air. After that, I didn’t worry what other people thought. He didn’t blame me and that was enough.

Recently, I saw Claudio had gotten engaged, then married, via mutual friends on social media. He really did deserve happiness and it genuinely warmed my heart to see him smiling with his bride.

Less than a month later, he’s gone. And that’s a shame. Claudio was a very sweet and sensitive man. He was always quick to share a laugh, and to forgive. The outpouring of love I am seeing for him is very touching, but it’s difficult to think of the loved ones that were closest to him – how much they must be hurting.

Whenever someone takes their own life, it brings up my own issues with depression, and the finality of suicide. It takes that option away from me. I don’t think I could ever do that to all the people around me that love me. It is such a shitty feeling to leave others with.

And of course, there’s still a part of me that wonders if things would have been different if I’d played by the “rules” and not dated Claudio because he was so new to recovery. Maybe he would have focused more on building a program and taking care of himself, his physical and mental health, and he wouldn’t have tried to kill himself so long ago. I seriously doubt I have anything to do with his recent and final decision to/mistake of overdose, but these are the things that go through my head when I grieve.

I don’t know what my main theme of this post is, except that alcoholism/addiction is a serious and deadly disease, that death is hard to deal with, and that if you want to commit suicide and you think no one will notice when you’re gone – you’re wrong. Those of us left behind suffer. I can only hope Claudio is in a better place now, and that his hurting has ended.

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