By AMANDA KIMBLE
ERATH COUNTY (October 20, 2016) – Losing a loved one is never easy. The pain is sometimes compounded – and mourning oftentimes lonely – when the loss was attributed to substance abuse.
Erath County Community Coalition (EC3) is taking notice, inviting the community to take part in a candlelight vigil to honor individuals whose deaths were related to alcohol or drugs and those they left behind.
“The main purpose is to give the community a comfortable place to remember those who have lost their lives to substance abuse,” EC3 coordinator Denise Harroff said. “A lot of the time, when the loss is due to substance abuse, their loved ones don’t receive the same support as those who lost someone to natural causes or even an accident like a car crash.”
She said while community members, friends and neighbors flock to offer love, prayers and support under other circumstances, those who lost someone close to them to addiction might be alone in their grief.
“I was reading something that said when your son overdoses, people don’t bring pies to your house,” Harroff said. “I believe that’s true. There’s a negative stigma associated with substance abuse and overdose, and a lot of people don’t understand what that feels like.”
EC3 hopes to finally offer the support and sympathy those affected by such circumstances deserve while at the same time raising awareness.
“We want to give those individuals an area and time surrounded by people who are empathetic to how they feel, a place of support and care,” Harroff said. “It’s possible there hasn’t even been a proper prayer for those they’ve lost, but we will have someone from the Baptist Student Ministry at the candlelight vigil to deliver that prayer.”
The event will be held 7-8 p.m. Thursday, October 27 at Tarleton State University’s Heritage Park, which offers a peaceful and serene setting in seemingly open and natural surroundings for a “comforting, calm remembrance.”
Tarleton choir will perform acapella, singing a South African song that speaks to faith, victory, peace, redemption and comfort.
EC3 also hopes to put a face to the purpose.
“We will have a memorial table set up at the event for anyone who is coming in remembrance of someone specific,” Harroff said. “We welcome them to bring a picture of that person for our memorial table.”
Meanwhile, a resource table will provide information on treatment, counseling and mental health centers in the area for individuals struggling with substance abuse, addiction or the loss of a loved one.
“The resources will be available for those needing assistance and for anyone who may know someone who needs help,” Harroff said.
The informal, “come as you are event” is free and open to the entire community. Attendees are invited to bring a blanket to spread out on the grass and relax at the park.
“We are looking forward to having the community out there to show support to our fellow community members,” Harroff said.
Due to construction in the area of Heritage Park, individuals who are driving to the candle light vigil are advised to park in lot P-15, off of Cain Street.
Finally, Haroff encourages anyone who is passionate about promoting a drug-free lifestyle to consider supporting the efforts of EC3 to call her at 254-965-5515 for more information. You can also email email@example.com.
October is Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Learn more about prevention and treatment from the STAR Council.