How do human beings comprehend death tolls such as 600,000 + COVID-19 deaths in the US and 95,000 overdose deaths in the past year? The mere thought of so many people dying is almost incomprehensible, especially from maladies that so many find controversial, as in the case of COVID or supposedly based on choice, as in the case of Substance Use Disorder.
Losing someone personally brings the malady closer, makes it more real and more difficult to ignore and downplay. Indeed, among the thousands around the world who passed on from Covid-19 and overdose in the past week, I knew one and knew family members of two others. And, these three deaths have sent me, and many others in the BALM community and the broader recovery community reeling, during a time when death due to Covid or overdose have occurred far too many times here at home.
40-year old Jerico Ang, The BALM IT Coordinator, was working diligently all the way through September 27, when his Covid test came out positive. And even then, he continued to do his best for a few more days. But as his capacity dissipated and he moved first into the hospital and then into intubation, his work became to do his best to stay alive. By October 19, his body could no longer fight, first Covid and then pneumonia, and he passed away. Needless to say, for those of us who knew Jerico, this was nothing short of devastating.
All of us, Jerico’s family in the Philippines and our team of BALM staff, coaches, and family members not only here in the Americas but around the world in the Philippines, Australia, Asia, and Europe, have shared our waves of grief with each other as we have begun to somehow adjust to this ever present person in our lives no longer being here.
On the SUD overdose side, a beloved Family Recovery Advocate, Coach, and friend to many in the BALM community, Pam Lanhart, lost her son, Jake, to overdose on Friday evening. Pam has been relentless in her BALM-like compassionate approach to understanding the disease and how to relate to a loved one struggling with it. And still, her son, whom many of us came to know as a young man who fought the disease in himself valiantly, did relent, losing this battle that his mom has helped so many families and young people fight over the years.
These losses to Covid and to SUD overdose are only a few in the thousands that have taken place over the past weeks and months. And yet, many of us in the BALM community knew or knew of these three folks, which has made the pain of that loss so much deeper and opened us up to the universal suffering of families losing loved ones to these diseases.
Beverly Buncher, MA, PCC, CBFRLC, CTPC, known as the "Foremost Family Recovery Life Coach in the Nation", is the Founder and CEO of Family Recovery Resources, LLC, and the BALM® (Be A Loving Mirror®) Institutes for Family Recovery Coach Training and Family Recovery Education.