Writing an obituary for a loved one, let alone one of your children, is just one of the difficult ways to tell strangers and friends about the deceased with the intention of spotlighting why they’ll be missed. Generally, that includes mentions of how great they were without any mentions of their flaws, as if a human being suddenly became perfect upon reaching the end of their life. But when Tom Parks was faced with writing an obituary for his daughter Molly after she died from a heroin overdose, he wanted to change this. He loved his daughter in spite of her flaws, and he wanted others to know that there was no shame in grieving for people who weren’t perfect.
On Tributes, he wrote:
Molly graduated from Old Orchard Beach High School in 2009 and attended one year at SMCC until her addiction took over. … Along Molly’s journey through life, she made a lot of bad decisions including experimenting with drugs. She fought her addiction to heroin for at least five years and had experienced a near fatal overdose before. Molly’s family truly loved her and tried to be as supportive as possible as she struggled with the heroin epidemic that has been so destructive to individuals and families in her age bracket.
That’s what Larry Wilmore would call “keeping it 100.” While Parks did make mention of his daughter’s personality, citing her “trademark red lipstick” and calling her “fearless,” this was an obituary that didn’t deny the truth about her life, as well as her death. No matter how ugly it was, Molly was still deserving of love and support until the very end.
Tom Parks went even further on Facebook, saying that he hopes by telling Molly’s story, other parents will realize that there’s no reason to hide their love for their afflicted family members, and that he hopes they will seek out the same treatment and support in case it might save someone in time:
His overwhelming message, as he told BuzzFeed, was to not give up on people, especially the people you love.