The family of Emmett Scannell is hoping to bring together families who have lost a loved one to overdose or who are dealing with a loved one who is battling addiction. A remembrance event is set for Sunday in Bridgewater.
By Sarah Cline
Posted Jan 26, 2017 at 5:08 PM
Updated Jan 26, 2017 at 5:14 PM
BRIDGEWATER – When Aimee D’Arpino and her family were doing everything they could to help their son, Emmett Scannell, beat his battle against substance use disorder, she said it was a very isolating experience, and at times felt her family was alone.
D’Arpino doesn’t want anyone else who is fighting against drug addiction or has faced it to feel that way.
And on Sunday, Jan. 29, they won’t have to.
The Trinity Episcopal Church, 91 Main St., Bridgewater, will be holding a National Day of Remembrance event which honors, helps and brings together community members and families that have lost loved ones to drug addiction.
“It is a completely open event, everyone from anywhere is welcome,” said D’Arpino, who has been involved in putting together the event.
The event, which begins at 5 p.m. at the church, will have a service that includes three families sharing their story about loved ones the lost to substance use disorder, a men’s choir from a men’s sobriety program in Brockton and a candle passing.
After the service there will also be a dinner and information on resources who are actively dealing with addiction, or helping a loved one who is.
“This is a way not only to help support families but also to give them resources,” D’Arpino said. “At the event people will get to meet others who are going through what they went through.”
The National Day of Remembrance, which is occurring all over the country, was initiated by the Addiction Policy Forum in Washington, D.C., and its #129aDay Campaign.
According to the campaign’s website, the #129aDay represents the number of individuals who die each day from a substance use disorder, which in 2014 was 129 people each day.
To honor those individuals who died from addiction, for 129 days the campaign shared a different individual’s and family’s story each day.
One of those stories was of Emmett Scannell, who died from a heroin overdose in 2016 at age 20.
“It was not something people wanted to talk about,” D’Arpino said. “People didn’t want to hear my son is a heroin addict but it had to be put out there because it can happen to anyone.”
Following Scannell’s death the family decided to share his raw and honest story right away, beginning with putting it in his obituary.
“On April 20, 2016 our 20-year-old son, Emmett J. Scannell, lost his battle to Substance Use Disorder and died due to a heroin overdose,” the first line of Emmett’s obituary read.
“You see Substance Use Disorder is not something to be ashamed of or hidden,” the obituary stated. “It is a DISEASE that has to be brought out into the light and fought by everyone.”
Since Scannell’s death his family has continued to share his story and will be doing so again at the National Day of Remembrance event.
“There are too many obituaries where young people have ‘died suddenly’ when that is not the case,” D’Arpino said. “It is not sudden. For Emmett it had been 18 months. We need to know that and share our stories to help the community know they are not alone.”
Of the service she said, “I hope that people leave knowing that there is a little bit of hope, whether that is that the epidemic can turn for the better, whether that is us reducing the stigma of addiction or whether that is making connections with someone else in similar positions.”
To learn more about the #129aDay Campaign visit www.addictionpolicy.org.
“If Emmett were here I know he would be proud of what we are doing,” D’Arpino said. “I just know he is in a much better space now.”