Vigil For Loved Ones Lost to Drug Overdose
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing - or GRASP - says someone dies from drug misuse every two hours in California.
Friday is International Overdose Awareness Day, with groups across the world remembering their lost loved ones.
It is a night of grief, remembrance and coming together for those who lost loved ones to drug overdose.
GRASP has a local chapter in the Coachella Valley; they held a vigil in the heart of downtown Palm Springs.
The names are recited of the many people who have died from drug overdose.
Jeff Cullen was 27 when he overdosed on prescription drugs after six months of sobriety from a heroin addiction.
"He was gorgeous, he was funny, he was humble, he was compassionate, he was always for the underdog, he was a huge animal lover, he had tons and tons of friends," said his mother, Denise Angela Cullen, GRASP Director and CEO of Broken No More.
Cullen started a GRASP chapter in Indio to help herself and others deal with the grief.
She then grew GRASP from three chapters in the United States to now 45.
"The death is devastating, and then your whole world is changed, anyone who loses a child, but for you, you spent 10, 12 years trying to save your child, or your loved one.. then they are gone," said Cullen.
GRASP provides grief support for those who lost a loved one to drug overdose.
They are also working to change drug policy to health-centered methods, instead of a criminal justice problem.
GRASP volunteer, Nancy Fuhrmann, has been in law enforcement for decades.
"I've been 15 years in the jail in my whole long career, and I'm just amazed, I sent a message to Denise a couple weeks ago of a young person who overdosed two weeks before and then overdosed again, and this time he died," said Fuhrmann.
In May 2011, Lin Lloyd's nephew died of heroin overdose in Delaware, now he helps with GRASP in Palm Springs.
"Provide some solace and comfort to anyone who has lost somebody they really loved to this terrible problem, and the second thing we are trying to do is prevent it from happening to just one or two more people, it's devastating," said Lloyd
Marie Minnich wrote of the devastating loss of her daughter from a heroin overdose at age 32 in the book, "My Daughter's Addiction."
"I had actually started the book before she died, so she actually wrote part of it, or contributed to it from the addict's point of view. And it seems like people get a lot from it, as sad a story as it is," said Minnich.
Family members hold candles, remembering the light their loved ones brought into their lives for too short a time.
This is the 12th annual International Overdose Awareness Day, GRASP organizers also read a statement from Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, as well as reciting lost ones names, and stating their mission.