DISCLAIMER: There is nothing profound herein; just a few random thoughts by the heartbroken, for the broken hearted.
“The blood-alcohol level was not compatible with life.”
The verdict of “death by misadventure” bears both gifts and harsh arrows. We can all live with and learn from both offerings.
First off, we should be more than a “likkle” pleased that contentions that Amy had long ago stopped using socially unacceptable and illegal drugs now appear to be largely supported by science. Yet, we are sad that one false agent of relief simply replaced another; that tells us that the pain never really left her and it hurts us to know that she was still hurting so badly.
Naturally, we are more than a bit angry at Amy. We have been and will long remain in severe pain; it seems not unreasonable to be mad at Amy for doing something that left us so much pain. But, while sound minds think of the inevitable consequences of actions, we must recognize that minds in turmoil seldom do. Thus, such anger must be quickly quelled and any imagined transgression forgiven.
Some of us are also still angry at ourselves. The collective WE knew she was in trouble, and while we are not sure what we could have done to save her, we are tormented by thoughts that we “should have done something.” While this anger is the hardest to tame, it is also the most crippling and self-destructive. That there is enough blame to distribute generously is likely true, but dwelling on our share – and that of others – in it, leads down a rough dead-end path that only delays our own recovery journey.
As a nearly lifelong teetotaler, it might be easy for me to launch into an “anti alcohol” tirade and wonder aloud why the most dangerous psychoactive drug ever created is the ONLY one that is socially acceptable and legally vended almost everywhere. Such a rant would be silly and would teach us nothing.
In fact, blaming alcohol for the disaster is likely akin to blaming a firearm maker for the misuse of his product. Both commodities can be used safely, but many times neither are. In an exam of either, early education as to their inherent risks remains the best defense against calamities like the one we acknowledge today.
In the USA, about 300 deaths are recorded each year to be the result of alcohol poisoning. Such poisoning is noted as a “contributing cause” in ten-times that many non motor-vehicle fatalities. And, about 50,000 folks present at USA hospitals for the syndrome annually.
The actual number of deaths from the condition is likely very much higher than reported. Most are noted as “death by natural causes,” due to a lack of sophistication in medical examiners; and, due to many physicians seeking any device by which to shield survivors from added pain.
It is now estimated that upwards of 200,000 USA college students are regularly harming their physical health via “binge drinking.” Such folks are the most at risk of dying from their misadventures and are the least likely to seek and receive professional help to identify the causes of their behavior. That circumstance must be reversed and the easiest way to do it is to assure, by any means necessary, that the “reasons” for such potentially self-ending conduct are identified and treated long before a frantic 911 call is placed by a shocked friend or relative.
Obviously, since more than 40% of traffic fatalities are caused by folks exhibiting some symptom of alcohol poisoning – confusion and loss of normal reflexes – every safe driver and cautious pedestrian has an interest in solving the problem. Please wait until your friend or relative is killed by such an impaired driver, before you suggest that “it is too expensive” to identify and treat such roadway time bombs. Having the means to solve the problem and not employing it borders on being sinful; no point in sinning, just to save a few bucks.
If you are reading this from outside of the USA, please note that many studies now indicate that “the problem” is actually much greater in South American and European countries than it is in the USA.
Folks who expected “closure” from today’s verdict are likely not feeling fulfilled. When a loss is so monumental, closure is elusive and may, in fact, be mythical. Our challenge remains to avoid the measuring of our sorrow by the worth and value we have placed upon the one we lost. As the “Shakespeare Mashup” notes:
They are but beggars that can count their worth;
but our love for her had grown to such excess, we
could not sum up sum of half our wealth. Yet, our
sorrow must not be measured by her worth to us,
for then our pain will have no end, and we, no peace.
For many, the pain of such a stunningly immeasurable loss would not have been cured by any “verdict” other than that the whole episode was something that had visited our sleep as a nightmare. Thus, all we can do is keep moving forward, always carrying the pain, while trying to leave the anger behind.
Her soul slid away, but don’t look back in anger. At least not today.