David died of an accidental drug overdose at age 30. As I interact with people I often bring out the fact that I lost my son. As they listen to my story with compassion, some ask me “How did he die?” When I tell them the cause of death, I immediately notice a change in their attitude either by changing the subject or blurting out words such as “What a waste!!” or “Didn’t you know?”
When David died I had no idea that the cause of death is so important to people as to make a difference in whether they feel sorry for him or not, or whether I deserve any sympathy or not. I notice a switch in their attitude from compassion and sympathy to being righteous and judgmental. I do not know if these people who are judging my son did or do drugs themselves and yet they did not die. I often sense a relief on their part that justifies David’s death in their minds. It is as if he deserved to die because he tried drugs. Even family members have reacted in a similar manner and blame David for dying. Yet the woman who overdosed five times and who gave David the drugs did not die? It is the innocent and the ignorant ones who die accidentally. They are naïve and inexperienced and therefore are more likely to die.
I do not think that the manner of death does make a difference to the bereaved parent as to the enormity of the loss. The loss is the same. The emptiness and void is the same. However, it would have been easier to the bereaved parent if society did not distinguish to such a measure as to the differences in the causes of death. We have lost many military young men recently in the Iraqi war. These young men who died fighting a senseless war are heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. I am sure that their parents are forever proud of them and have every right to be so, and so is the rest of the world. I am sure that the pain is the same for those parents. The difference is that people feel for them and make the parents feel better. In the case of my son, I believe that he is a victim of war, the war on drugs, a war which we are losing and which is claiming our young people on a daily basis. What people do not realize is that these young people do not want to do drugs. They just get tangled in a web and a culture that cares more about money instead of its youth. It is an unforgivable crime that my son was not granted the opportunity for the fulfillment, even in part, of the possibilities of this life. What brought death to David all too soon, and cut his life short when he was in his prime were drugs, a man-made cruelty. This untimely interruption of his life is unacceptable to me. Unlike other wars, this war is being ignored by our government and the rest of the world. When my son died alone in his house, the detective in charge gave me his card and instead of telling me that I could use his card to reach him for questions or help, he told me “I buy houses in case you want to sell his house!!”