There is No Right or Wrong Way To Understand Human Life

What does this mean?

I became interested in this statement after a recent obituary of a younger person which they stated “she did not do anything to cause her death”.

This hit me hard, of course, since I have a child engaging in risky behaviors daily that could potentially cause his death.

What IS a human life worth? Is it dependant on the choices he makes? A very famous case in the last year has drawn these lines so deeply that hundreds of (innocent) people have died as a result of these lines.

Sometimes, in my dark confusing days of navigating my son’s journey with addiction; I fight the worthiness battle. Is my son worthy of a healthy productive life again? Of course he is.

So why do I feel the need to prove this? I post memes like this continually:


I guess I’m trying to get someone to care as much as I do – which is ridiculous. Everyone has their own battles. That is a fact. but when drug addiction enters your world it turns every other thing into irrelevancy. You apply everything through the lens of addiction. I had a co-worker who lost her son in Afghanistan. I actually felt a twinge of envy! Envy that if my son died it wouldn’t be “serving his country”. Would I get compassion? Or looked at as the mother of an addict so the mourning somehow isn’t as valid?

What is a life worth? No matter the race, or their occupation or their manner of death. Pain is pain.

When I questioned this on a recent post on Medium, the author responded with this:

“All people can be heroes. But some deaths have a bigger impact on the world than others. Sure, you could choose to see your son as a martyr. No one would stop you. There is no right or wrong way to understand human life. It just so happens that xxxx death was public for all the world to see, and something about it resonated with people. You do not have to see him as a martyr, but others do. Again, there is no right or wrong way to understand a human life. Choose for yourself.

Joshua Gane

My road to my own recovery through my son’s addiction includes this insecurity of shame and blame (& projection). But ultimately, I have to direct my own thoughts. If I want to focus on seeing my son through other’s eyes, I will be halted in my recovery. What matters is my own well-being and peace and my treatment of my son as a human being with the horrible illness of addiction ruling his life right now. How others treat him or see him is NOT my concern. Even in my own family. Others are allowed to feel however they want.

Sure, I want to break the stigma of addiction. I want to show that no one is immune, that it can happen to anyone. I want people to let others recover in different ways without the bullying of strict words such as clean and sober. I want to quit the argument of whether addiction is a choice or a disease. I want to use that energy on increasing treatment pathways not inflicting more punishment and pain by incarceration.

I don’t want people to have to hide in obituaries the cause of death of their loved ones or make sure people know they didn’t cause it. If a diabetic person died from too much insulin or too much sugar, would the family state: she died through no fault of her own- from diabetes? Or would they just say “From diabetes”?

Another coworker, who just lost her beloved brother, put this in his obituary:

“Please seek to understand the disease of addiction. It is not a choice or a weakness, and at some point, you or your loved one may be touched by it. Please have empathy and support for those struggling and treat them with compassion and respect.”

There’s also this obituary which I’ve saved for awhile:

“Brandie never wanted to be defined only by her addiction and mistakes, she was so much more than that. She made it clear if she was to ever pass as a result of it, she wanted people to know the truth with the hope that honesty about her death could help break the stigma about addicts and get people talking about the problem of addiction that is taking away so many young lives. 

Addiction doesn’t discriminate, it will take hold and destroy anyone in its path, including the families and people who love them. Addiction hides in the faces of everyday people all around us. Brandie isn’t just another statistic or just ‘another one gone too soon,’ she was a great heart with a bright future and a gift that the world lost and can never be replaced. So the best way to honor Brandie, is for people who read this or knew her to think twice before you judge an addict.OR USE!

My sincere condolences to those who have lost a loved one to this insidious disease. As I continue on my search for peace, I hope we can all find more compassion- less judgment for those who suffer from addiction. Also, may we render more kindness to family members who are thrust into a maze of confusion where there is no blueprint to a singular way out.

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A unique perspective on the world from a small town girl turned big city nurse. Now a grandmother to 6 gregarious, resplendent boys and 5 endearing, magical girls, she strives the make the world a more understanding, pleasant place to experience this intense thing called life.

4 thoughts on “There is No Right or Wrong Way To Understand Human Life”

  1. The value of human life is not about how well a person lives, but simply being human. That alone makes them a treasure, unique and amazing whether the world (who is the world anyway?) knows it or not.

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