Drugs, Death, Dignity, and Decency

21 06 2017

Carrie Fisher died.

She was someone’s child. She was someone’s friend. She was someone’s beloved. She was sick and she succumbed to her illness.

That is the end of the story. Period.

Now, I know many of you will say, “But, she was using drugs. She died from using drugs.”

No, she died from complications of her illness. The drugs were the rash and the fever; they were NOT the disease.

We need to stop blaming people for being sick.

There are many diseases that are exacerbated by, perhaps even caused by, lifestyle choices. None of that means a thing, once the disease takes hold. At that point, no matter what happened before, the person is sick. They should be treated for their disease.

We need to stop blaming people for being sick.

Sure, we can lament the cost of other people’s bad choices on our society’s healthcare system.  We can point fingers and whisper – or outright accuse – that “they brought this on themselves,” but we should never be so smug as to think that we are immune to bad fortune.

We need to stop blaming people for being sick.

We all make poor choices that could lead to serious health issues.

We drive too fast.

We use our phones behind the wheel.

We fail to hold the rail when we’re carrying a basket of laundry down the stairs.

We share our (should be) private lives in very public forums.

We ALL make poor choices.

We need to stop blaming people for being sick.

Let’s stop pretending that we lucky ones are somehow better than sick people, regardless of their disease, whether they were complicit in its damage to them or not. Blaming people for being sick makes us a special kind of ugly that even the best plastic surgeon can’t fix, and we truly do have only ourselves to blame for that.


A Love Letter to Martin Sheen

9 03 2011


Dear Martin,

There is no more awful feeling for a parent to endure than to watch your child suffer.  Irrespective of his other attributes – wealth, fame, success – your son is suffering.  I want you to know how sorry I am for your pain. 

Whatever one thinks about how people fall into addiction – they should have known better, should never have tried drugs, should never have taken a drink – is immaterial after the addiction has taken hold.  Whether or not he brought it on himself, your son is truly in distress.  He is killing himself in full view of everyone who loves him as well as acquaintances and strangers whose only interest is curiosity and schadenfreude.

I hope your son can recover from his illness.

I hope people realize that even celebrity hearts ache for their children. 

I hope people will find compassion in their hearts for your son – self-inflicted wounds are still wounds  – but I hope they never understand your pain because it must be experienced to be understood.

I understand.


Jessica’s Mom