It was supposed to be just a routine drop off at the pharmacy, but it would end up being the last time Linda Grover saw her daughter, Erica, alive some three years ago – the tragic ending to more than a decade of struggling with opiate addiction.
“I remember dropping her off to get her prescription and telling her I loved her and that was the last time I saw her,” said Grover, a Chelsea native who has lived in Revere for years. “The firemen had to break in the door of her apartment to get in there and get my daughter out. The baby was in there, but he was ok. My ex-husband ended up adopting the baby and he’s ok…I did everything but nothing worked. It just ended after 15 years of struggle. When they die, the hope is gone. You always have hope when they’re alive that they’ll get better. Then you’re left with the hope anymore and no one understands what you’re going through.”
For those like Glover and Linda Hanscom, whose son Joe died last September, the Revere Beach Memorial and Community Walk for Recovery – as well as the ongoing support group for people who have lost loved ones to addiction – has been the closure that, before addiction was addressed openly, never came.
“I’m just trying to put my grief in a good and positive place,” said Hanscom. “I attended the Memorial last year, but it was too soon after my son’s death. I’m looking forward to it this year. What I really think I want people to know is that these are people who died. They were someone’s brother, uncle, son, or spouse.”
The Revere Beach Memorial began eight years ago under the auspices of RevereCARES and Revere Fire Capt. Jay Picariello – a strong advocate for addiction education and treatment.
The Memorial will take place this year at the Bandstand on Sunday, Sept. 21, with the ceremony at approximately 7 p.m. The candlelight ceremony – complete with bagpipers and a tolling fire bell – serves as a way to remember those who lost their lives to substance abuse. Participants can enter a name to be read publicly.
Michael Manfra, a Boulevard resident originally from the North End, said he has lost multiple children to addiction and has had a long struggle with alcoholism himself – something he combats with regular sobriety meetings. He said the Memorial and the support group has been a great way to combat his loss and to educate the community about addiction.
“This is a disease of denial and it festers in ignorance,” he said. “We have to have the education and the publicity to let people know this is a disease.”
Grover said she wants to remember her daughter at the Memorial, but she also wants to be there to help parents who are struggling.
“I want to be there and be able to help parents that are going through this,” she said. “It’s so heart wrenching. They have the pictures of the kids and the bagpipers. There has to be publicity that this is a really serious problem. It doesn’t matter what family you’re from. It happens to anyone.”
Julia Newhall, a grant/program manager for the City, said one of the biggest goals is to raise awareness of the humanity of those that have died from substance abuse.
“The goal is to decrease the stigma that has been there in the past,” she said. “They were human beings and deserve to be remembered no matter how they died.”
The Recovery Walk is in its fourth year and will take place on Sept. 21 with registration at 5:30 p.m. at the Beachmont School. The first 300 Revere students to register will get an ‘Above the Influence’ t-shirt. The walk will end at the Band Stand on the Beach just prior to the Memorial.
To register a name for the Memorial, one can call (781) 485-6440. One can also register in person between 6-7 p.m.