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Delaware Proclaims New Remembrance Day: International Overdose Awareness Day

Healthcare, opioid epidemic and drug abuse concept with the map of USA filled with oxycodone and hydrocodone pharmaceutical pills on the American flag

International Overdose Awareness Day symbolizes a global event that acknowledges those lost from the disease known as Substance Use Disorder. It honors the memories of those whose lives have been cut short and recognizes the enormous grief shared by those families left behind.

Delaware has the second-highest rate of overdose deaths in the United States. In addition, North America continues to be ranked the highest in drug-related mortality deaths in the world.

Delaware has passed a Senate Resolution that designates August 31st as “International Overdose Awareness Day” in the state and directs the State flags to be lowered at half staff at all State facilities.

This global event was launched to educate the public regarding the impact of the disease on human life and allows families to mourn in public without embarrassment or stigma. This day also raises awareness of the deadliness of this disease and how it impacts the global economy.

International Overdose Awareness Day is a day I wish I knew nothing about. But, unfortunately, I am one of the hundreds of Delaware parents who have lost my child to this misunderstood disease. My son Matt lost his battle on January 3rd of 2015. There is not a day that goes by that my heart doesn’t hurt knowing that he is gone from this life.

By recognizing August 31st as International Overdose Awareness Day globally and in Delaware, we are sending out a loud and clear message to the grieving families across our world that their loved ones will never be forgotten. We are sending the message that our children’s lives mattered. As we lower the flags on that very bittersweet day, we are setting an example for the world that the stigma surrounding the disease must be replaced with compassion and understanding.

This resolution recognizes the tremendous loss suffered by so many Delaware families. It validates our grief letting parents know that those in power in our state also grieve alongside us and will recognize this day as an opportunity to continue the conversation that could lead to saving the lives of Delawareans.

International Overdose Awareness Day, although it is a bittersweet day, will also be a healing day as those of us grieving our loved ones know we are not alone as we remember and honor the memories of our children.

For my son Matt, and so many others, I am honored to have initiated the acknowledgment of this day and thank both our Senators and House Members for supporting this resolution.

Marybeth Cichocki’s new book “Letters to Matt” bravely voices the ugly side of addiction and the unimaginable pain that results from loss of a child. Her letters also give hope. Through the years, her writing reveals how she found a way to channel her anger and grief into helping others by advocating for change so Matt’s death will have meaning. They also reveal the strength of a mother’s love to overcome anything.

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