The Empty Chair at The Holiday Table

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As part of my work with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) I have met many activist women that have helped me channel my loss into something that is both constructive and meaningful. This work is both selfish and altruistic, as it has helped me transform my pain into action.

I have written previously concerning the loss of my brother and the affect it has had on my life. Each year his loss is felt keenly: his smile, his laugh, his love. The holidays mean something different for me now. The joy I still feel being with those I love has an edge, a pang of grief that will never heal. This pain though has become more manageable as I work with the many families like mine, suffering separation not just from death, but from the many other harms of drug prohibition.

I hope and encourage the fans of Ladybud to join us, a New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing) and moms and others from around the country in remembering our loved ones this holiday season as we find healing through our “Empty Chair at the Holiday Table” campaign.

Leaders of the Moms United campaign include Gretchen Burns, who shared that “the holidays are a particularly painful time for families – whether they are separated because of a loved one’s incarceration, lost on the streets due to drug problems, in danger because of drug war violence, or have lost a loved one to accidental overdose.”

Moms United each year has been gathering photos featuring a chair with a picture of a lost or missing loved one, and a sign with one of these statements: incarceration, accidental overdose, Drug War violence, or stigma. These photos have become part of a growing collection of personal stories of loss for too many families, not just my own. Moms United also created a moving and poignant video featuring these haunting pictures.

We are asking mothers and others to take action during this holiday season in three ways:

• Share the empty Chair Video;
• Use the newly created “Empty Chair” as your Facebook or Twitter profile from now through Christmas;
• Sign and share the Moms Bill of Rights.

Through this campaign Moms United works to end the stigma and shame associated with addiction, as well as reaching out to and help suffering families. Join and follow our campaign on Facebook. Help us to end the failed drug war by encouraging that our drug policy be based on evidenced-based practices, compassion and a respect for human rights.