We won’t go into detail to describe the immediate aftermath of our brother Ben’s death or the grief and depression that followed our whole family around for years after that Christmas day. Our presents remained unopened under the tree until eventually our uncle came over and cleared all the Christmas decorations, donating the unopened gifts to a homeless shelter. We couldn’t bear to celebrate without Ben, and we couldn’t even look at the bright packages with his name on them under the tree.
Christmas was never the same after that. The first year after Ben’s death, we tried to celebrate just the four of us, but the memory of what had happened the year before haunted all of us, and we couldn’t pretend to be okay. The next few years we celebrated Christmas by visiting Ben at his grave. Eventually, we went on family vacation for Christmas, starting a new tradition and trying to leave our sad, ugly memories of that day behind us.
Fast forward to about ten years later. Brandon and Brady had graduated from college and started their own families. We thought about our third brother every single day and wanted to do something to honor him. Our father died of a heart attack but had taken out an exceptionally lucrative life insurance policy before his death. It meant that Brandon, Brady and their mom would be very comfortable for a while.
We wanted to do something with the money for Ben, something that would help other people. Together we founded Radiant Xmas, a rehabilitation center for drugs and alcohol, designed especially with teens in mind. The rehab center also partnered with schools to educate kids on drug abuse. If we had known the signs, or what to do to help Ben, things might have turned out differently for our family. All we could do now is try to learn from our mistakes and help other people who were suffering from addiction.
We also do public speaking promoting Radiant Xmas, telling Ben’s story and how they want every family to have a radiant Christmas. Our rehabilitation center has touched so many lives and saved countless people in the throes of addiction.
If you or someone you love is struggling with any addiction, please get help immediately. Don’t wait, and don’t try to fix it on your own. Get help now, or you might regret it later. You and your family deserve a radiant Christmas, too.