August 31st is Overdose Awareness Day. With overdoses going up year after year, it’s easy to focus on the statistics. In 2019, there were 71,999 overdose deaths… We see the numbers everywhere. But those numbers, they are people. 71,999 people. People with families and friends. People with hobbies and talents and hopes and dreams. People with jokes and dance moves and favorite books and favorite songs.
When someone dies from their addiction, it’s easy to worry that addiction is what will define their memory. There’s a fear that the overdose will overshadow all the other incredible things. But those of us who have lost someone to an overdose, we loved them for a million other things. We remember them for a million other things.
We wish we could share some of the million other things about each of those 71,999 people who died of an overdose last year. We wish we could share some of the million other things of every life lost to addiction. But instead, we can make a small dent by sharing some of the people, lives, and memories that you have been kind enough to share with us. And we invite you to continue to share, to raise awareness that those living with addictions, those who die of their addiction, are so much more than their illness. Share on the hashtag #amillionotherthings or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You were called an addict…
But you were a million other things.
You laughed and told jokes, you teased and smiled.
You cared and loved and hugged.
You played and studied and worked hard.
You cried and hurt and prayed.
You were called an addict…
But you were a million other things.
My Only Child, Eric
2/22/1987 – 2/12/2014
You were a lover of justice, a hater of the hateful.
Reliever of others’ pain, but not your own.
A grateful son, an adoring brother.
We loved to watch you dance.
A champion of the lonely, the elderly, the dispossessed.
You made the world a better place.
Alex. You were #amillionotherthings.
Aubrey Gail and Katherine Mae
On the left is my older sister and only sibling Aubrey Gail,
On the right one of my oldest and best of friends Katherine Mae.
I am in the middle.
This photo was taken on my 15th Birthday.
I lost them both within 6 months of each other.
There are a billion other things about them that I wish the world knew.
What sticks out most was their ability to remind me to be the best version of myself.
They both encouraged me to believe in myself.
When I think of them now, what I miss most is their sense of humor and how we could always have fun no matter what we were doing.
Thank you for reading this, whoever lays eyes upon it.
It’s nice to communicate about them, I miss them so much and don’t talk about it.
Stay close to the people who make you feel like sunshine!
I remember watching you on the lacrosse field, thrilled at your talent and skill.
And hearing the other parents spectators on the sidelines cheer for you when you took the ball away from your opponent and got it moving in the right direction.
For that, and for a million other things, I will always be so proud of you.
Miss you, Alex.
You had a beautiful smile.
You were a caring person with a big heart.
You were a great cook.
You loved shoes!
You were a mother, daughter, sister and friend.
My daughter, Julie.
5/14/1962 – 1/19/2018
Ryan was never a “junkie”, he was a person who struggled with “addiction” or a.k.a substance use disorder.
But even then I saw him for who he really was as a human being.
I loved his sense of humor, he was always telling jokes.
Ryan was loving, caring and compassionate, he loved his family and friends very much.
I will always remember the way his smile would light up the rooms of every place he went. You would never know from looking at him that he was battling a darkness inside.
On this Overdose Awareness Day, I want Ryan, and all of our loved ones lost to overdose, to be remembered for who they really were, someone’s loved one, a son, a daughter, brother or sister, not an “addict”.
Their lives matter, they always have and always will.
R.I.P. my beautiful angel.
Love you always,
You were a son, brother, uncle and friend.
You were a hard worker, animal lover, music enthusiast and meticulously organized.
You were handsome, funny, generous and always smelled fresh.
You loved coffee, ice cream, and macaroni and cheese.
Your smile was beautiful, laugh lit up a room, your style was perfected, and your heart was so kind.
Your mental health made you feel lost.
You had great things ahead of you but deeply struggled to find them.
I will always believe you fought hard.
You are loved more than you will have ever known and missed beyond measure.
You were called and addict but you were a million other things.
Remembered for #amillionotherthings:
father, son, husband, friend, brother,
musician, drummer, big heart, gentle giant,
animal lover, dare devil, kind soul,
truck driver, hard worker… the list goes on…
We were inseparable for 20 years, D and I.
From horseback riding, bike riding, camping, sleepovers, birthdays, holidays, summertime, trick-or-treating, swim lessons, going to the corner store, walks to the beaches and local parks.
Learning to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and face adulthood.
We talked on the phone almost daily once we became adults.
We always kept close as we could.
We were still growing up together when she died at age 26 from an overdose after using substances recreationally with friends at a party in her home.
She was every bit of a best friend I could have ever asked for.
She was always a part of my life because of her bright energy, unconditional love and heartfelt bond as best friends.
We had our whole lives ahead of us to share.
Her death shocked me for a long time.
Her life is a part of mine as long as I live.
I am who I am today because of growing up with her and I miss her dearly because she was and will always be remembered for a million more things than someone who died from a drug overdose.
Holly was a million other things.
She was my dearest baby sister.
She was a survivor of incest, a survivor of domestic violence, and a fierce advocate for social justice.
She was a beautiful dancer and talented artist.
She was stylish and fashionable.
She could make laugh like no one else.
She was a fabulous aunt.
She was the only person in my life who showed me unconditional familial love.
She is Lilly’s mama.
I imagine one day when I see her again, my first question will be: “Did I do you justice loving Lilly in your stead like I know you love her?”
If addiction were a choice, Holly would never have chosen it.
She would’ve picked her daughter, her husband, and her brilliant mind over the drugs.
Trauma is a silent killer.
It exists beyond our words, in a place that makes it difficult to treat.
My sister was a million other things.
She was in so much pain that the only way she could ever make it stop was to stop feeling altogether, whether it was with drugs or her own built in defense, dissociative identity disorder.
If someone you know is currently addicted, love them.
My beautiful son Tony was funny, loving, and a one of a kind human being.
He would help anyone in a heartbeat and touched so many peoples lives.
Everyone that met him loved him.
He would light up a room and always knew how to make people laugh.
I miss my beautiful son every minute of everyday.
I know that he has made heaven a better place.
I love you, Tony.
I really miss you.
I wish you were still here.
I’m scared I won’t remember what you sound like.Jaycob (10)
Camryn was a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin and a friend.
She had a beautiful caring heart with plans to be a social worker.
She loved to laugh and act silly, she was forgiving, sweet, compassionate and kind.
She could always say something to make you feel good.
She asked good questions that let you know you really mattered to her.
She liked to do makeup.
She liked movies, and gummy bears, and daisies.
My husband was an addict, but his addiction does not define him!
He stayed clean for 14 years and we had a beautiful life.
He was a husband, a father, a son, a brother and friend to many.
He was kind, extremely intelligent and so compassionate.
He carried the weight of everyone else’s issues on his shoulders as well as his own demons.
I will never know what triggered him to use again, but I feel like it was all too much for him.
Addicts need love and empathy… not anger and criticism!
I wanted to grow old with him, but that was taken away.
Grieving someone who has overdosed can be very complicated and an emotional rollercoaster.
In the end, I picture his smile, the way he made me laugh, and the little things I miss so desperately!
Thank you for letting me share… There is such a stigma with drugs and overdose, I have not publicly told some how he died. I am afraid they will remember him differently and he doesn’t deserve that.
Jerry died of a fentanyl overdose right before we had a chance to ring in another new year. No, he wasn’t a heroin user. No, he didn’t have a death wish. Nope, I wouldn’t even call him an addict. I say that only to say this: It really can happen to anyone. Jerry was a 26 year old guy, so he was invincible… untouchable… immortal, if you ask him. He was full of life and determined to live it while he still had the chance. There were times that he took “young, and wild, and free” to the next level, but that was my love—taking everything to the next level. One time was all it took. How can thirty seconds be long enough to rob a future? Jerry didn’t get a fighting chance. That drug robbed him of his life almost immediately.
If any of this changes your opinion on my love, then I feel sorry for you. My Jerry was so much more than his cause of death. He was my other half—a perfect balance. He was the life of any party. He was an incredible shoulder to lean on. He was the clown of any class and proud of it. He could cook an amazing meal and loved whipping up fruity drinks. He was helpful. He had a huge heart. He was the king of technology. He could light up a room with just one perfect smile. When it came to candy and snacks, he was like a little kid. His laugh made you laugh with him. His hugs made you feel like you were in the safest place in the world. You see, my love is so much more than an overdose statistic.
Sadly, Jerry’s story isn’t rare. I’ve since met many families that have had loved ones die at the hands of fentanyl. Our brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, best friends and boyfriends are dying at alarming rates and nobody is talking about it. So, I’ve decided I won’t be silent. I will say his name. I will always say his name.
Written in loving memory of Jerry Jamel Tyner.
May 17th, 1990 – December 30th, 2016
Ty lost his battle from addiction on April 9, 2020. A day before his 38th birthday.
The autopsy said an accidental overdose from heroin.
Ty struggled for years with this bondage, sometimes staying sober for a while then relapsing and spiraling downward.
After years of attempting help, his body just couldn’t take the drugs anymore.
Ty was a believer in Jesus.
He made that decision years ago and recently confirmed it as well.
Ty had a BIG personality!
He never met a stranger.
He had many talents and gifts, and I often wondered what he would be doing today if he had stayed clean and made a good life for himself.
He loved to landscape and to cook. He loved his pet Minnie. But most of all, Ty loved his family!
As his mother, I never gave up on him and I know how much he loved me and he knew how much I loved him!
If I could say one thing to someone struggling with an addict, LOVE them despite their addiction!
You never know when you won’t have that day to tell them.
Christopher truly was #amillionotherthings.
This photo alone captures Christopher’s goofball, spontaneous, random (but funny) shenanigans; to know him is to love him.
Christopher wholeheartedly cared for people other than himself.
When he was excited and happy about something or had one of his ‘grand plans,’ he was really into that particular idea/plan.
Although masked, his self-confidence was very evident—He always had to be what he called ‘fresh to death’.
Clothing, sneakers (which he cleaned regularly) and hair were always on point even if he was just sitting around in someone’s living room.
Christopher was truly one-of-a-kind.
Friendly and outgoing. He loved and he loved hard, especially his family.
Christopher, my lil’ bro, always had my back, was my biggest ‘cheerleader’…
Always so proud of me, for what I didn’t understand… until I did.
Travis was a loving son, a loyal friend, and an avid Green Bay Packers fan.
He was a smart, funny, caring, and hardworking young man.
Described by his closest friends, “Travis was a great friend with a huge heart. He was understanding and caring, loyal and loving. He made people feel comfortable. He was always willing to listen to someone’s problems to try and help them find a solution. He made his friends feel like they mattered and the focus was on each other when they were together. Travis was brave. He was outgoing, witty, and loved to make people laugh. If he wanted to have a good time, he went out of his way to ensure everyone was going to have a great time as well. He always knew how to make you smile.”
Travis was also a young man with a substance use disorder… a disease that is misunderstood by so many, a disease that he tried to fight but that was bigger than him in the end.
It is the hope of his family that others who are struggling with addiction issues will seek out the help they need.
Jay was a million other things…
He was talented, he flew up a hill with his KOM’s still standing to prove it.
He knew loads of useless facts ready for a pub quiz, mostly from shows like QI.
He was such a curious person, always on a project like his cars or bikes. Researching every fine detail, making tiny tweaks.
He had a great creativity and imagination with these projects. His creativity also expanded into his drawing which was amazing.
He was a more of daredevil, the opposite of me, he loved to push the boundaries.
He was funny, or so he thought, loved a practical joke, often including something like the world’s hottest sauce.
In life and in death, he taught me a million things, I am forever grateful.
Jay was a million other things, his death does not define his life.
My sister Yvonne was a million other things besides a victim of addiction.
She was my sister, daughter, friend, mother to four beautiful girls, adventurer, prankster, listener, cheerleader, and healer.
She enjoyed traveling, listening to our dad tell stories of our family history, staying up late at night talking, going for late night slurpee runs, drinking copious cans of Cherry Coke, watching horror films, speculating on the hereafter and the supernatural, and hoped to make a better world for her girls.
Just last weekend, I took her two youngest girls with me up north to Mackinaw City. Our family owns property up there, and it was the girls’ first trip up north ever.
Far in the back of my mind, with each family get-together we have and each time I get to spend time with my nieces, I can’t help but think of my sister and insist that this is all wrong and that she should be here.
“Look at what you’re missing, Yvonne,” I always say to myself. It just isn’t right that she’s not here. I love her. I miss her. I wish she was still here with us. I think about her everyday.
Yvonne is more than how she passed. She was indeed a million other things.
Before my brother, Andy, lost most of his identity to his addiction, he was an incredible drummer.
I used to hate how loud it was, but now I would give anything to hear him play again.
Gregory was my only child.
A loving son, big brother to his half brother and sister, Army soldier, defender of the underdog, comedian, nephew, and friend.
Loyal to a fault and drawn to the broken.
He was beautiful and caring.
He was the best thing I’ve ever done and his death has made me into a better person. I cultivated empathy, became a servant to others broken by grief, and he led me back to a relationship with Jesus.
He was a million other things!
“Memories saturate my heart and the story of you spills from my eyes.”
My precious son, Randy.
A father, son, brother, friend, and incredibly funny human and #amillionotherthings died of an overdose on March 9, 2019.
You were addicted to alcohol, but you were also #amillionotherthings.
You were handsome, smart and funny, caring, kind and sweet, loving, honest, a great listener, and fun to be around.
A friend, brother, son, uncle, father, and grandfather (you have a beautiful granddaughter that you never got to see as she was born after you passed).
You loved sports, especially the Chicago Cubs and the Green Bay Packers (you gave me tons of smack about the Bears).
Trying so hard to get back on track, but you just couldn’t do it.
You were a great man and so much more.
You are loved and missed so much by so many.
You were an addict but you were also #amillionotherthings.
I expect Jonathan will continue to present himself in my mind, certainly I hope so, for the rest of my life. Probably we all have loved ones like this—those we’ve lost but who never leave us, who return to us in dreams or thoughts or while reading a particular passage that conjures their energy, or sifting through memories and finding them there, as they always were. Jonathan wandered again into my mind in the past days, with Zadie Smith in my ears, reading her incisive and somehow life-affirming latest essay collection, Intimations. She writes: “A style is a means of insisting on something,” quoting Sontag. Smith uses this idea in describing a particular person: “…his vibe, his energy, his aura—whatever word is usually attached to the affect of a human being—appeared to me to be a means of insisting on something, a way of moving through the world, that was uniquely (his)…“
This was how it was with Jon. He had a way of moving through the world that was uniquely his. It wasn’t so much that he insisted on a particular style, but rather that I don’t think it ever occurred to him to be anything other than exactly who he was. It occurs to so many of us, either consciously or unconsciously, to change ourselves in order to fit more snugly or move more easily through the world. Not Jonathan. He was not swayed by the behaviours of his peers, nor the conventions of the day. Not that he was in any way out of touch with the world (he was deeply engaged with people and the world)—he just wasn’t one of those people who consciously avoided or curated things in order to make themselves appear unique while otherwise conforming. Jon simply was unique. I knew him for most of my life and he never changed. He was curious, loving, intellectual, empathetic, funny, frustrating—sometimes hilariously frustrating—engaging, generous, thoughtful, caring.
If Jon was born at any other time in history, I believe he would still have been precisely as he was. Although I do think it was lucky that he lived through the burgeoning of the digital world because he could speak it like a language and explain it to anyone, with patience and care and not a breath of condescension. But it wasn’t just technology, he could speak on nearly any topic at length and in great depth with anyone—fully engaged, interested and interesting. As long as it wasn’t about sport. In a room full of people, he was the one who stood a little taller, whose style made itself known. Jonathan was noticeable.
The more people I meet, the more I realize how truly rare people like Jonathan are—the ones who will not be tamped down, who will not be boxed in or corralled into a certain way of living, of being. The world does not make it easy for them. Last year, we lost Jon to overdose and this will always be the deepest tragedy. We need to end the stigma of drug use. But this didn’t define him and it’s not what he’ll be remembered for. I remember him for his style and a million other things; these are the things that bring him to my mind.
Jonathan Oliver Tunn, 30 September 1984 – 29 May 2019
Jonathan Oliver Tunn, 30 September 1984 – 29 May 2019
I was ‘Best Mum’ and you were ‘Best Son’.
I was a single Mum and you were my only child.
We were so close, but I didn’t know you were using drugs.
On 29 May 2019 you died. I, and the world, lost a beautiful soul.
You were super smart, could talk with intelligence on so many subjects, with anyone.
You had so much empathy: we used to wish to each other that we had less so we wouldn’t feel sorry for so many people.
You were tall, good looking (although you didn’t think so) with a rumbly, deep, soft voice (that I can still hear).
You were endlessly patient and kind to children.
You loved to travel, loved technology, power stations, airplanes, fonts, nature, iced coffees, people.
You were so many things.
The empty hole you left is huge. I am still reeling from losing you, so final, so unfixable. Words cannot convey who you were and what was lost by your death.
He was so kind, generous, smart and compassionate.
Our lives are richer for the 22 years we had him, but now our world has forever been changed.
It will always feel like something’s missing as time moves forward.
We will do our best to not let his life just be a statistic, but carry on his legacy of being a friend to all, supporting one another in love.
He was a first born child, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, an uncle, a cousin, and a father.
A friend in good times and hard times, he was a talented welder and loved frisbee golf, a successful hockey player and wrestler.
He loved God and his country and would always be a defender of the underdog.
He was funny and could light up a room with his smile and wit. He enjoyed the simpler things in life and didn’t care about trying to be someone he was not. He loved fishing, baseball, dirt bikes and was not afraid of heights. He was one of my best friends and called me everyday. He was my son, gone too soon at age 31. Forever missed and loved.
Our Stephen was a friend to all, known for his smile.
He was a drummer and music was his heart.
His bond with his mother was priceless—his silliness cheered up even the cloudiest days.
Son, brother, uncle—and a million other things.
He was more forgiving than I was, more easy going.
And I miss his goofy smile.
My son Devon, 11/11/86 – 10/21/18
He was an amazing soul.
Everyone that met him wanted to spend more time with him.
He lost a lengthy battle with addiction, but that moment should not define his life.
You were smart, spunky, witty, charming, charismatic and you could make anyone laugh.
You were adventurous, caring, fun and loving.
You had so much life in you and love to give.
You loved your grandparents, family and friends passionately.
You loved music, camping and any type of social gatherings.
You always made me smile and everyone around us smile.
You had an amazing personality and energy that made everyone around you feel comfortable.
I could go on for hours, you were most definitely A MILLION OTHER THINGS and I miss you dearly.
Of the million other things, Dave was a wonderful father.
I would like to remember a million other things about my son, Alex, other than that he died of a fentanyl heroin overdose on April 8, 2018.
Alex was funny, could do a great impersonation of Christipher Walken, loved animals and was a loyal friend to his buddies.
He thought of others more than he thought of himself.
He was an expert welder and was successful for a long time at his sobriety.
He was tech savvy and could help me with anything that had a plug.
He was most comfortable in nature.
Nick Hilgartner, we love you and miss you.
You were so excited about the future and becoming a neuroscientist.
I loved listening to you talk about the books you were reading and your music and your sardonic sense of humor.
I loved how big your heart was for helping friends in need and injured animals.
I love that you visit me.
When I see a red cardinal, it lights up my day and gives me hope to go on.
My heart is full of you, my sweet boy.
The lives that you saved before you left this earth were so incredibly blessed by you being on the planet at the right time. God is proud of you and I am grateful that He gave you to me, even for such a short time.
Audrey Marie (Naunton) Belcher, 12/30/1982- 2/26/2020, was my sister.
We lost her in February.
She left behind four amazing children.
Audrey loved camping and good music. She was an excellent poet and had a beautiful voice. She sang Landslide at both of my parents’ funerals and it was breathtaking.
She is missed every second of every day.
MJ (a.k.a. Sonny)
Marvin Jimmy, you are a MILLION other things!!!
Best father EVER! Son with a million watt smile. Amazeballs husband! Funniest, hardest rocking best friend to so many. Caring brother.
Your name is said a million times a day. Your energy is all around us.
Boy, oh boy how we all miss you… but, we feel you everywhere around us.
You ARE a million and one other things…
My son Kyle, who died of an overdose at age 26, was a former comedian who made people laugh all his life, even when inside he was terrified.
He listened lovingly to friends’ stories and told them he believed in them, even after he stopped believing in himself.
He let us, his parents, know how glad he was we’d raised him with love and joy, even as he kept throwing all his chances away.
He loved reading and talking about books, beating everyone at Scrabble, rock climbing and hiking, playing with children, dancing, camping, learning, acting outrageous, and cuddle puddles.
He gave the most amazing hugs.
He was a loving father, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, AA/NA friend, and son.
He hated that his addiction was hurting people and fought hard for years to recover before he gave up on himself.
We would never have given up on him and hope someone reading this finds or continues their recovery in his honor #amillionotherthings
Submit some of the million other things you’re missing about someone you lost to an overdose by using the hashtag #amillionotherthings and tagging us @whatsyourgrief on Instagram or by emailing email@example.com
And, as always, subscribe!