It’s that time of year again. The time of year that reminds me of the day I will never forget, the day my life would change forever. Parts of me cannot believe three years has gone by already. Parts of me feel like it was only yesterday I heard Josh’s laugh and saw his smile. Still, three years later when i dream of him, I wake up forgetting he is gone. It does not take long for that horrible realization to set in followed by overwhelming disappointment.
When you lose someone you love so dearly there are many painful anniversary’s, not just the date they left this world. Every birthday, graduation, family reunion, and holiday is a reminder of another special event i didn’t get to share with my little brother. Sometimes I even feel guilty for enjoying those moments without him. I have come to realize these feelings of guilt or wallowing in my sorrows is the last thing Josh would want me to do. Josh would want me to live life to its fullest and take advantage of opportunities he will never be able to.
Josh would also want me to tell his story , to prevent the same tragedy from happening to another family. One thing about my brother was you never had to wonder what he was thinking, you never had to wonder how he felt about something. He was never ashamed about his mistakes, he owned them, and learned from them. The problem with this mistake was it was one he would never have the chance to learn from. A mistake he never should have been able to make in the first place.
The stigma of drug overdose and addiction keeps people suffering in silence. It is hard enough to lose someone you love so suddenly let alone what comes along with the social stigma. The hurtful comments like ” He was a big boy, he should have known better” or “Nobody forced it down his throat” cut like a sharp knife. We have all made mistakes in our lives, especially as young adults, the difference is we woke up in the morning and Josh didn’t. After being exposed to such hurtful and uneducated attitudes it only confirms my need to educate others.
My brother Joshua Graves was one of the 437 people who died due to a prescription drug overdose in Nova Scotia over the past 5 years. 7 people a month are dying in Nova Scotia from drugs that originally came from a doctor’s prescription pad. Where is the outrage? Its being silenced by stigma and paralyzing heartache.
We need to demand change and be loud. Public outcry will determine how fast the wheels turn on this issue. As the years go by my advocacy group Get Prescription Drugs Off The Street continues to grow. This is not a club you want to belong to. If Josh’s story can save one life I will tell it until I am blue in the face. If I can let another family going through this type of tragedy know they are not alone, I can sleep better knowing Josh is still making the world a better place, even after March 19th 2011.