Sunday, February 12, 2012

Where do broken hearts go?

Whitney Houston died yesterday.

They haven't released the cause of death, of course, but it's almost as if they don't need to.  Everyone knows how much she has struggled with addiction.

It's not all that different than when Amy Winehouse died.  Or Michael Jackson, for that matter....though his addiction had clearly progressed past the point where he could satisfy his cravings without involving other people.

It's not a surprise.  It's not a shock.

It is, however, still very much so a tragedy.

There have been so many comments already from people who refuse to mourn her loss because she did this to herself.  About how she should have been more serious about her treatment and getting off drugs sooner.  About how we shouldn't waste our time being sad that she is gone, some even going so far as to turn this into a teachable moment for their children.

I'm not arguing that this shouldn't be a lesson.  A warning.  A cautionary tale to all the young people out there who still think they are invincible and can't see the dangerous path that addiction can take.  Who can't understand the seduction of fame and money and power.  Who can't see that with all that comes pressure and stress and judgement from others in society.  Some bend under that pressure, and once the addiction cycle begins it's hard to stop.  It should be a teachable moment, but it should be a teachable moment in humility and compassion for the human condition as much as it's a teachable moment about drug use.

Her death is still a tragedy.

I live in a world where people die because of their addictions.

While their deaths may not have always been related to illicit drugs, I've known many people who were ultimately the victims of their own addictions or those of someone else.

Cigarettes killed my father.

My uncle was killed by a teenage girl, who crashed head on into him while driving while high and drunk.

A few others in my past died after they fell into a bottle and never found the way out.

Some got their adrenaline highs from engaging in dangerous hobbies, and met their end that way.

I've seen sex addicts end up with AIDS, and I spent years helping them write their wills.

Unhealthy food choices have killed others.

Even something as simple as getting attention from others can be an addiction.  I've seen that one up close and personal, and it's far more destructive than you'd imagine unless you've lived it.

Addiction is a serious issue.  It doesn't always present itself in a sordid little box, tied up with a bow that protects all us "normal" people from it.  It doesn't just affect actors and musicians and other famous people.

It can happen to anyone.

It can happen to anyone.

It can happen to anyone.

I can't say that enough.

My challenge to all you out there today is to demonstrate compassion for her.  To listen to her music again and realize what a damn shame it is that she's gone.  To stop the rush to judgement that always comes with these situations.  To take a real good look around in your life and realize that addiction is closer than you think it is, that it's destruction is legitimate, and that you may be staring at it in the mirror without wanting to see it.

She was a flawed and troubled soul, but that doesn't make her any less worthy of your compassion, of your basic humanity.  Nor does it make anyone else with an addiction less worthy.

People who have never had an addiction don't understand how hard it can be. ~Payne Stewart


  1. Your compassion and empathy towards Whitney Houston is admirable.

  2. I agree. I read an article on Catholic Online today. It was far from what one would expect. I called them out on it. Christians shouldn't perpetuate rumors or tasteless waste. I have much compassion for her. And, yes, anyone can be addicted to anything. "There but for the grace of God go I."


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