Grieving Overdose Zine: Your Grief Matters and So Do You

Content Warning: This is a zine about death, overdose, grief, and drugs. 

The Harm Reduction community observes International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31 each year. This year, The DOPE Project worked with artist Gaia Wxyz to create a single-page zine as an act of care for a community that experiences too much preventable loss. You can read the zine below, print, and fold your own at home on 8.5″ by 11″ paper and distribute them to friends, family, program participants, and direct service workers in your community.

Zine Folding Instructions: 

Free printable zine from The Dope Project designed by Gaia Wxyz called "Grieving Overdose"

Zine Text (Image Description) 

Overdose deaths are preventable. Naloxone saves lives!

Learn how to use naloxone: https://bit.ly/UseNaloxone 

Find naloxone near you: https://bit.ly/NaloxoneFinder 

Grief can be anything you experience related to a painful loss, like the death of a loved one, and it is normal. Grief is a reflection of love.

When you lose someone you care about, your love for them remains. This love is precious, and so is your grieving process. 

When you lose a loved one to overdose, your grief can feel both ambiguous and disenfranchised, which can feel isolating and like your grief doesn’t matter. 

Ambiguous grief: Loss that occurs without closure or understanding 

Disenfranchised grief: Loss that isn’t acknowledged or validated because of societal norms 

Acknowledge your grief and your loved one in ways that feel good to you. Take care of yourself. Let yourself be taken care of. You are not alone. 

Grief and death can teach us to celebrate a person’s life while they are still alive, and to be present for each moment we have with people we love. 

Remember the person you are grieving lives on in many ways. 

It’s okay to continue to hold space for them. 

Common feelings in response to overdose loss: 

  • Sadness over not having the chance to say “goodbye” 
  • Helpless that you could not protect your loved one 
  • Anger at your loved one, yourself or others who played a part in their addiction
  • Guilt, “should haves,” “could haves,” and “if onlys” 
  • Blame for yourself or others
  • Disappointment in yourself for not having a sixth sense or picking up clues 
  • Struggling with unanswered questions and a need to understand
  • Impatience waiting for toxicology or police reports, if initiated 
  • Difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, fear you are “going crazy” 
  • Frustration over the lack of support and understanding from others about addiction 
  • Need to have your loved one remembered for their lives and not their deaths
  • Difficulty sleeping, having intense dreams, intrusive thoughts or flashbacks about the deceased or circumstances at time of death
  • Feeling isolated from supports and possibly lacking places to talk about your grief 
  • Fear of this happening to others you care about 
  • Fear of re-use for people in recovery 
  • Relief that you are no longer waiting for bad news

This zine was created for Overdose Awareness Day 2021
for The DOPE Project
San Francisco
Art and design by Gaia Wxyz

About the Artist: Gaia WXYZ @gaiaw.xyz (pronounced “wize”) is a multimedia creator who specializes in visual art, specifically comics.  Last year they earned an MFA in Comics from California College of the Arts, and appeared in the award-winning documentary No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics. They write & draw autobiographical comics about being Black and gender non-conforming.  Art has been the major motivating force in their life, concocting characters and storylines in sketchbooks from an early age. Though they have skills in a variety of media, including printmaking, painting, design, sculpture, photography, installation and performance art, Gaia has focused their talent to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a published comic artist.