"I am who I am because of you, not in spite of you."
Holly writes a letter to her mum, Mary Jane, who died
due to drugs in 2020.
It’s hard to know where to start without first telling you that I miss you and that I can’t believe it’s been over two years since you died. I’m okay. I hope you are too.
It was your heart that stopped working. You’d been working it really hard for a long time and then it stopped. I wish it hadn’t, I wish you had been kinder to it, I wish you had stopped using, and selfishly, I wish I had been enough of a reason for you to stop. Sometimes I’m angry with you, because you left me too soon, because of all the things you were and all the things you weren’t, and because I spent so many hours worrying. More often than not though I’m only glad that you have peace now; I know it wasn’t easy for you to find when you were with us. I understand that drugs made what was so agonising for you a little easier to cope with and I’m so sorry that there wasn’t more you or anyone else could do that would take it away.
It’s easy to think about all the things I wish I might have done differently, like how I wish I hadn’t cancelled my plans to see you the weekend before you died or how I could have been less impatient, less cold when I knew you were struggling. I wish I had been brave enough to have an honest conversation with you when I knew you had relapsed. I’m sorry that I didn’t, but I hope you understood why I didn’t.
I have so many happy memories. There were so many days when we laughed at something stupid until we forgot what it was in the first place, so many jokes, so many shared experiences. So many times that you came to my rescue with calm reassurance and no judgement. You were so, so kind to me. You gave me empathy and patience and a dark sense of humour that I love. I hope you know that I loved you then as I love you now, exactly as you were. Nothing ever did or ever will change that love. I wonder how things might have been different for both of us, but I’m proud of how hard you fought for so long. I hope writing this letter can be part of keeping your memory alive and of helping people to see that you, like so many others like you, are people like the rest of us deserving of love, care, treatment, and effort.
I am who I am because of you, not in spite of you.
Take care Mum, I love you.
Mary Jane's death was preventable.
Holly's story shows the devastating impact the loss of a life to alcohol or drugs has on the family and friends left behind.
We have the power to create change, especially when we come together to take action. You can support this work by agreeing to the "See Beyond" pledge below.
“I pledge to be respectful and compassionate towards those affected by substance use, including the families and friends of those who have died from alcohol or drugs.
I will show respect by using kind and non-judgmental language about those affected by alcohol or drugs.
I will show compassion by reaching out to someone who has lost a loved one to alcohol or drugs and asking them how they are doing today.”
Thank you for making a difference.
We have compiled some resources to provide support to people who are affected by someone’s drug/alcohol use as well as those impacted by the death of a loved one due to drugs/alcohol.