Several thousand people braved drizzly and blustery weather to attend the 4th annual FED-UP! Rally (feduprally.org) at the Sylvan Theater on the grounds of the Washington Monument on October 3, 2015. FED-UP! is a rally for a federal response to the opioid epidemic. Barbara Allen, Executive Director of James’ Place Inc. and vice president of the Board of Directors of The Compassionate Friends was one of the speakers.
The rally then marched to the White House to demand action by the federal government. The rally concluded with a memorial service on the Ellipse behind the White House honoring those who have died from this epidemic.
Read Barbara’s remarks below or watch the video.
Saturday, October 3, 2015 Sylvan Theater, Washington, D.C.
Barbara Allen Remarks
My name is Barbara Allen, Executive Director of James’ Place and I serve on the national BOD of The Compassionate Friends. The Compassionate Friends is a nationwide organization that supports parents, grandparents and sibling after the death of loved ones for any reason, at any age. I speak today for the bereaved. And there are many here today!
In my hand is a list of 600 names of sons, daughters, grandchildren, sisters, brothers, wives, husbands and friends who have died from the opioid epidemic now consuming this country.
We belong to a club no one wants to join. Yet as we know every FOUR minutes more people are eligible for membership. There are no dues for we have already paid the ultimate price.
Every single day through Facebook I communicate with bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings. Not one day passes without newly bereaved family members joining this club of tragedy. And…grief is not a six week gig. Instead we must live the agonizing years of learning to exist without our loved ones. Please know we never forget them, ever.
When my son, Jim, died from an heroin and alcohol overdose I gave his eulogy – who better than the mother who knew him best? I had no clue I was beginning a journey to meet thousands of other bereaved family members.
When Jim died I was defeated – a parent who had failed to save the life of her only surviving child. By then I had already failed to save my brother, Bill, and later when my niece, Amanda died…was I a triple failure? Overdose, murder and suicide have visited my family through this epidemic. This is a very personal matter!
This list of 600 could be thousands of names but many I represent have yet to tell family and friends the bigger truth of how their loved ones died. The stigma surrounding addiction does not reflect today’s facts yet it is alive and virulent. We distribute wrist bands saying No Shame or Blame ~ Just Love®. So this truth isn’t always shared.
There is one truth we do share. Polite society prefers to say we “lost” our loved ones. We don’t sugar coat it – in fact, our loved ones died.
NO, they are not lost somewhere in a forest or parking lot. We call it like it is: Our loved ones are dead. Small distinction? Grief is excruciating; Sugar coating the truth does not lessen our pain! Most importantly we don’t want anyone to be complacent about these deaths by softening the words used.
Please know that today, as bereaved families we are no longer defeated – we are BEYOND FED UP!
We do not want monuments for our loved ones. We already have them – they are called grave markers.
What do we want?
- We demand action by our Federal government to uphold their duties of protecting and healing its citizenry from this epidemic. We are BEYOND FED UP waiting!
- We demand the Federal government put more heads in beds – treatment must be available when it is sought – not when it is convenient in a mis-mashed system of care. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer last year he was quickly in a bed and put on a five year treatment plan. A few days of detox or 28 days of treatment is insulting to all the science available today.
- We demand a nationwide Federal Good Samaritan law to stop the ridicules state-by-state battle currently necessary to inch our way toward a lifesaving phone call.
- We demand a national Federal naloxone access law – again we are fighting state by state for a commonly used and well know antidote for an overdose.
- And, we DEMAND price controls by the Federal government to keep naloxone affordable and not allow needless profiteering for this long available and previously low cost medication.
- We demand mandatory use of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs by prescribers across the country. We have the technology to halt doctor shopping.
- In the name of all that is holy – we demand the Federal government stop talking and start DOING what other countries have proven – saving lives is not only possible it should be a priority!
- We demand the Federal government grow the number of our loved ones in recovery and not grow the number of bereaved family members instead.
- We want every elected/appointed Federal official to be mortified that our loved ones died under their watch. More than that? We want every elected/appointed Federal official to be terrified their loved ones might be next ….
We must move NOW from crisis to control – it was done for the Ebola crisis. Mobilize now for the opioid epidemic!
God bless each of you here today; bless your loved ones who struggle for life and bless those now healed in the Great Beyond.
As the bereaved in this epidemic…we are BEYOND FED UP!