A 28-year-old former alcoholic stirred controversy on Reddit after he asked in a forum whether he acted disrespectfully by refusing to attend his sponsor's funeral.
Two weeks ago, the unidentified man posted in "AmItheA**hole," a page where Reddit users publicly ask whether their questionable actions are morally wrong. In a lengthy post, he credited his sponsor "Duane" for serving as a father figure and helping him stay sober for three years. The man also said that Duane, who himself had been sober for 21 years, helped him with his relationships, navigating a new career and getting him back on his feet.
Yet, despite more than two decades of being dry, Duane appeared to have recently struggled with alcoholism, the Reddit user wrote.
"I got a call last week that Duane’s body had been found and his wife told me it was an accidental overdose," the 28-year-old posted. "The funeral is being held this weekend. I received an invitation from her yesterday."
The user said he then told her that he would not attend the service.
"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 explained. "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."
Though the user said that Duane's wife was visibly upset, he felt like he made the correct decision.
"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," the man wrote in concluding his post. He then asked other users whether he was wrong for turning the invitation down.
The Reddit user's post generated nearly 500 comments, with many fellow users criticizing him for being unsympathetic.
"You've made his death about yourself," one person replied. "You know the rate of relapse with addiction. Maybe [it] frightens you that he relapsed after 20 yrs and you worry about your own sobriety. 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."
"This man helped you when others didn’t," another wrote. "You may not have been conscience of his struggle and own personal problems but he helped you gain your life back. You can be mad and upset that he died in this fashion, but the facts remain. He saved you. Go pay your respects."
Others, however, were more understanding.
"Your first priority in this has to be yourself and your sobriety," one user wrote. "If you feel uncomfortable going, don't go. It might be nice to send his family a sympathy card or some flowers if you want to, but you absolutely don't have to attend the funeral. It might be a good idea to go to a meeting so you can connect with other people who are more understanding of your situation, Reddit is judging you really harshly and most of them have probably not been in your shoes."