The death of Amy Winehouse touched me. The recent autopsy details don’t make it easier.
It isn’t just sensational news. It’s a sorrow that blurs the edges of every day in a family touched by addiction. Each newsworthy person…from Charlie Sheen to Lindsay Lohan to the well-known physician in your home town is someone’s aunt, brother, father, sister or child.
Those of us who love an addict thank God for each day of recovery. And each relapse spreads its tentacles of terror.
I commiserate with Amy’s family. How powerless we are sitting in the wings: we didn’t cause it, can’t cure it, and can’t control it.* Our role is only to live with love and try to do no harm.
I am heartbroken for everyone who loses a loved one to untimely death. And I have personal compassion for the Winehouse family. Ultimately they could do nothing but stand by helplessly watching their child try to find her way. And her way led to her death.
One wrong move can always be fatal; the wrong turn in a car, standing too close to the edge of the cliff, playing with the gun that “wasn’t” loaded. Yet we don’t sit with these possibilities. We assume that our children will drive cars and go swimming. We teach them to think, the necessary skills, and then expect them to be discerning as they mature.
Families of addicts don’t live with such assurance. Each day of sobriety is a gift. And we breathe more easily as time passes. But we can’t imbue in our loved ones the resolve necessary to recover, or to stay in recovery.
Yes, I do believe there is choice involved in addiction. But that choice isn’t easy and it’s continual. It takes recognition that there are other ways out of pain and shame. It takes understanding that your body reacts to substances in a way that kills. It takes learning that joy and happiness can involve altered states other than by virtue of substance. It takes remembering that the decisiona made are still important.
Although addiction doesn’t indicate spiritual weakness, recovery always requires great strength. It takes a minute-by-minute, day-by-day awareness of the tenacity necessary to survive.
I’m so sorry Amy lost her battle. Her life had great meaning. Perhaps by her death she can make a difference, too. I hope so.
* the three ‘C”s of Al-Anon