The Revere Beach Memorial will mark its fifth year in existence and the solemn ceremony will meet with less stigma than any previous event.
The Memorial seeks to remember those whose lives have been cut short by alcohol and drugs.
Remembering those who made bad choices was not seen in such a good light at first, but that’s changed for the most part.
Then there were the families.
Many of the participating families didn’t want the situation out in the public sphere, and felt they were being judged for what had happened. At the same time, they also need some closure.
That situation, while still difficult, has also changed a great deal.
This time around, the Memorial has become a part of the community, and the numbers of those remembered and those participating has grown substantially in the last three years.
“I do think the stigma has lessened with the growth of this Memorial,” said Katie Sugarman, RevereCARES alcohol, tobacco and other drugs program manager. “Some of the members of our planning committee have taken their stories public more often so they can help other families get the treatment for their loved ones. I think anecdotally I know that our committee members feel like the stigma is leaving. It doesn’t mean it’s gone, but it has lessened.”
For those left to grieve, such as Lucille Orlandello, the Memorial has provided a level of comfort that was missing for many years after the death of her loved one.
“When someone loses a loved one, no matter how or why, the heartbreak is overwhelming and frightening,” she said. “We feel so alone and helpless. We need hugs and love and understanding more than ever. This is why the Memorial and Recovery Walk are so important – it brings people together who have suffered a similar devastating blow and gives us a measure of comfort, and a whole bunch of shoulders to lean on. Support is crucial and remembering our loved ones publicly helps in the healing process. As long as we acknowledge them and remember them, they remain alive in our hearts and souls.”
The Memorial will run in much the same way as it has for the past five years. It will take place on September 18 at 7 p.m. at the Revere Beach Bandstand.
Those who wish to have the name of a loved one read can register the name between 6-7 p.m.
During the Memorial, names will be read as candles are lit. It is expected that there will be more than 200 names submitted.
In addition to the Memorial, this year there will be a walk sponsored by several students and clubs from Revere High School.
Natasha Noel, RevereCARES youth development coordinator, said that high school students in the Power of Know club had wanted to get involved in the Memorial, and thought that a walk would get them involved.
Walkers will meet at Costa Park on Shirley Avenue at 5 p.m. and will walk a circuitous route to the Bandstand, arriving at 6:30 p.m. for the Memorial.
“They really want the youth to get the message early on that substance abuse has fatal consequences,” said Noel.
In addition to the clubs, several of the sports teams will also walk and participate, including the football and soccer teams.
Sugarman said that the Memorial comes at a time when awareness of substance abuse is very crucial.
This year, while fatal overdoses have gone down, the overall number of drug overdoses has increased.
“We’re not sure if it has to do with the purity of the drugs, but it does seem like overdoses have been on the rise this year,” she said.