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I would like to acknowledge the openness and courage of Amanda Krueger, Brian Krueger, Dan Baldini and all the family members and friends who spoke both openly and most notably, publicly about the tragic loss of their son, brother, cousin and friend Giancarlo Baldini. I also want to thank Jennifer Huffman for her compassionate writing of his story ("Goodbye to Giancarlo: Addiction took life of young Napa native," Jan. 13).

Every time I read an obituary of a person who seemed way too young to die, the death tends to be described as “suddenly”, “unexpectedly” or “at home.” As those are often today’s code words for death by addiction or suicide, I am disheartened to think that someone has chosen to hide the cause of death out of a sense of shame, fear, confusion or because they couldn’t bring themselves to write the words no parent or loved one wants to write.

Opioid addiction is a huge problem in America, including Napa County, and the more we can acknowledge it is real and that no one is immune to it, the better chance we have in addressing the challenges and heartache it brings.

Do we as individuals, a county and a nation think not talking about addiction will make it go away? There should be no sense of shame, guilt, failed responsibility or reason to hide when someone loses a loved one to addiction. It is not their fault. In fact, it is no one’s fault.

People of all ages and types are in pain, are testing the waters, are just trying it “once”, don’t know where to turn if they feel out of control and then all of a sudden, that one too large of a dose or the one unknowingly laced with fentanyl finds its way into their bodies.

Yes, they die unexpectedly, but that is not the whole story. For every parent whose child is struggling with addiction, I hope reading Jennifer’s article gives them a great gift; the realization they are not alone, that they can love their child unconditionally even though he or she is making choices they don’t approve of and that the world will not blame or shame them if something bad happens.

It might even inspire them to reach out to their loved one, seek help from Nar-Anon, a local support group, the National Drug Hotline (1-888-633-6239) or like Giancarlo’s family, do something to address the problem.

There is hope for all of us, especially our children, and acknowledging their imperfections and greatest challenges will help not only one child or one family, but countless others we may never know.

Sara Cakebread

Wilmington, Del.

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