Man sparks Reddit debate by revealing he refused to attend sponsor's funeral after relapse

A man is causing quite the debate online after asking if he's wrong for refusing to attend the funeral of his sponsor, who allegedly died of an overdose after a relapse.

In a recent Reddit post, the 28-year-old anonymous man, who is three years sober, says his sponsor, Duane, helped him kick his addiction and became “like a father” to him after his own family disowned him.

“He’s helped me with my relationships, with navigating my new career and getting back on my feet,” the author wrote.

What he didn’t know, however, was that his sponsor was also struggling with addiction, after being sober for 21 years.

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“I got a call last week that Duane’s body had been found and his wife told me it was an accidental overdose,” he said.

Despite the loss of someone who meant so much to him, however, the man said he refuses to attend Duane’s funeral because of how he died.

“The thing is, I don’t plan to go. I can’t square the sober man who helped me with the man who died of an overdose in his car in a parking lot,” he said. “I almost feel betrayed by him, like I didn’t really know him at all. If he had died of any other reason, I think I could go, but not when this is how it happened.”

After telling Duane’s wife that he couldn’t attend the funeral “due to the circumstances of his death,” he said, she seemed upset by his decision but “understood.”

“I feel like I made the right choice, but with Duane gone, I don’t have very many people to talk to anymore about this especially,” he said.

(iStock)

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Reactions to the post were mixed.

“You've made his death about yourself. You know the rate of relapse with addiction. Maybe is frightens you that he relapsed after 20yrs and you worry about your own sobriety,” one user said. “That's understandable. But what you said to his wife is unforgivable. If you didn't want to go, all you needed to say is I am sorry about your loss. I have a prior commitment. But no. You shamed him to his grieving widow.”

Another commenter wrote, “Addiction is (or is like) a disease, and sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it catches up with you. To judge him in death, despite all he did for you and others in life, is unfair to him, his memory, the people he loves.”

But some commenters were more understanding of the man’s decision to sit out the funeral service.

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“I have to say I don't agree. What if this triggered [him]? I can't imagine his sponsor would want him to go if it wasn't going to be healthy,” a user wrote.

“Attending a funeral is a deeply personal choice and nobody should force you to go out of a sense of obligation,” another user commented. “People are right that you might regret not going later so you should think about that. But there are other ways to show your love for this man.”

The user instead suggested that maybe the Redditor instead channel his grief into doing something meaningful for his sponsor’s family.

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“Do something nice for his wife or kids (if he has any). Send some flowers or other gifts. Send on a letter saying what he meant to you that might be read at his funeral or just meant for his wife in private,” the commenter wrote.

“No reason to just focus on the bad. We've all done terrible things (and what he did really isn't that terrible or his fault). At least this guy did something good," they offered.