I am taking part in this event in memory of my mum who died in 2013 due to a long term problem with alcohol dependency.
It has been four years since my beautiful mum Jane died, feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago all at once. Life can be devastatingly short and for her it was at times very difficult, she struggled with many of the things that the rest of us take for granted. As her only child and I suppose her main carer, I found that in turn incredibly difficult to cope with. Looking back, I wish that I had been more proactive as soon as I noticed that there was a problem rather than just hiding from it. I wish I could have offered her all of the strength and unconditional support she needed to try and tackle the challenges that life threw her way.
I have reflected on this a great deal and have accepted that it is not productive to focus on the guilt I feel, or what could have been if I had done things differently, but instead to focus on ways that I can use my experiences and attempt to support others who are in some way affected by alcohol dependency. I know it is simple, but the first small step that I can take is to help raise awareness about the nature of alcohol dependency and continue to promote the idea that we must engage in tackling addiction in a way that is inclusive, holistic and of course free of prejudice. We must encourage an open forum for discussion and challenge the stigma attached to addiction if we are to overcome it.
It took a long time for me to feel strong enough to explain to people about what had happened to my mum, what she had gone through for years. I always worried that others would judge her, negatively ‘label’ her as an alcoholic, when to those that knew her she was so many things- a mother, a daughter, a sister, an artist, a teacher, a cat enthusiast! I realised that the cause of her death did not need to define her life, but that it is ok for me, or for any of us who have experienced this, to talk about it…to encourage discussion around it, and to recognise the impact that addiction has made.
It is so important that we act as advocates for those who suffer and help those we care for to feel supported and understood- this is the first small step to a very positive change :)
In light of this I wish to raise money for these two very worthy charities, who both work with and support vulnerable people within the community:
The National Association for Children of Alcoholics seeks to support those who have also experienced the impact of living with/ caring for a relative with an alcohol dependency issue. This charity seeks to work with families holistically and does not promote feeding into the stigma of persecuting those suffering from addiction, which is obviously so important, but sadly often disregarded. NACOA offer signposting, advice and guidance whilst ensuring loved ones are in receipt of the help they need to manage daily life.
Dover SmART are a wonderful local arts based charity run by the fantastic Dawn Maddison and co. They work with vulnerable people across the South East in order to promote positive community cohesion and inspire creativity, they run regular events and clubs including one for young carers.
Your donations to these fantastic causes would be so welcome, and in advance thank you for all of your support :)