It will be held on Sunday, August 29th, 2021.
Frederick, MD (KB) Surviving Our Ultimate Loss (S.O.U.L) is a support group for mothers and families who have lost a child to substance use.
Deborah O’Connor said she has been a member of this group since 2016 after losing her son, Daniel, to an overdose.
“He was 19, he passed in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, February 16th, 2015. He took a pill off the street,” she said.
O’Connor said there is often a stigma that surrounds drug-related deaths.
“Way before the overdose, anybody with substance use will tell you, there is unfortunately a lot of shame and stigma wrapped up in this disease,” she said. “The more we recognize that this is a disease and not a choice, we will help reduce that shame and that stigma.”
She also said the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted those with substance use.
“What we noticed in Frederick, and also in Montgomery County, we did get many moms that would come into our meetings that had fresh loss, we’re talking a week or two out even,” O’Connor said. “Many of them expressed major concern about how the COVID epidemic has contributed to the deaths of many because of the isolation, the lack of community, loneliness.”
O’Connor said S.O.U.L will be hosting an outdoor candlelight vigil on Sunday, August 29th, to remember those who have been lost to substance use. It will be held at Frederick Health Village, 1 Frederick Health Way (off Monocacy Blvd. between Rt. 26 and Rt. 15), which also commemorates International Overdose Awareness Day.
“This year we will be doing something very similar, we will have many more, unfortunately, photos of loved ones lost that will be publicly commemorated, in addition to having a reception and a candlelight vigil,” she explained.
O’Connor said there will be an outdoor commemorative photo exhibit that will be on display until September 30th, 2021.
“When you see the faces of these beautiful people, you’re in awe that they’re not here anymore,” she said. “More importantly, we also ask the parent or whoever submitted the photo and the information about their loved one to please write up to five words about what you loved about them. It’s beautiful to see that, it’s on the purple heart on each photo.”
O’Connor said families can submit photos using this link: https://montgomerycountymd.seamlessdocs.com/f/IOADSOUL2021. Families have until Tuesday, August 24th, 2021, to submit photos for the outdoor display.
“I think when we gather together as a group, and those in grief, those who are suffering, I think we alleviate the isolation of the grief and we are there to witness people’s grief, which is probably one of the first steps in healing that can begin,” said O’Connor.
For more information about the event, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 301-514-3546.