"How will you be thought of by family members in the future who never met you, but see your death certificate?"
Miles writes a letter to his father, who died due to alcohol.
It’s not easy to know where to start in writing this letter to you. We all miss you but also know the pain watching you try to deal with and hide your drink problem from family and friends - from bottles hidden in the garden and around the house, the difficulty in holding down a job, and for the family the worry and concerns we all felt over what would come next.
I can remember the first time the impact of your drinking hit home with me - it was a photo taken a decade between family weddings - it was so clear what negative impact your excessive drinking was taking on your body.
I wish I had taken a more proactive role to try to get help for you. In so many ways the relationship between parent and child has to be totally turned on its head when it comes to discussing addictions. I know we all tried to talk to you and get you to seek help, but the strength to try to get someone to see what they are doing to themselves is never easy and the need for long-term support and understanding isn’t always available or accessible especially when you live in the countryside.
This may sound strange, but I keep thinking about the tv programme, "Who Do You Think You Are ?" and how will you be thought off by family members in the future who have never met you but researching our family tree find a copy of your death certificate and read Cause of Death: a) Decompensated Cirrhosis and b) Alcoholic Liver Disease.
They won’t have ever known you as a person - the entertaining and charismatic person you were - always at your best socially in the pub or at the races (that was probably also part of the problem as your escape and enjoyment often was aligned with alcohol).
That's why someone addictions just like a disability doesn't define them, but many people, people even reading this, will jump to the same conclusions and stigma which so often prevents so many of us from seeking help.
I know the cards you were dealt in life weren't great - losing mum at such a young age with 3 children between 7 and 14. I often get a glimpse of you in the mirror - having just turned 40 I have to say it's become unnerving.
I don't want this letter to sound just like a sob fest - it's important to remember the good times as a family and the three of us are happy and making our way in life.
Since you died you’ve missed so much. You’ve sadly not had a chance to meet your granddaughter or see your grandsons grow-up into fine young men. We probably don't speak enough about you as a family - that's partly because it can often return to what was a difficult few final year of your life.
Dad, you know you weren’t perfect, but then which one of us is.
I miss you and love you.
His death was preventable.
Miles'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.