International Overdose Awareness Day: Liturgy of Remembrance

International Overdose Awareness Day
Liturgy of Remembrance

In honor of International Overdose Awareness Day, and those who we have lost to overdose, TND’s Chaplin, Kelley Doyle, held a brief memorial service for all clients and staff. It served as a safe space to remember and honor friends and family who we have lost. It also reminded our team of the importance of the work we are honored to be a part of every day. This memorial also leads us into National Recovery Month in September which is meant to highlight the importance of mental health and substance use treatment.

Welcome and Centering

Welcome, all. I invite you to take a moment to arrive, to take a deep breath. Settle into this moment. As we ground ourselves, feel the earth under your feet. Recognize we are rooted here, in a holy place.

This morning we are in this space to recognize International Overdose Awareness Day, which occurs every year on August 31st. We gather to remember those we have lost to overdose and to call their names. This is a hard day for many of us, so please remember, you are welcome just as you are.

We will hear some Scripture together and pray; then we will have the opportunity for each of us to take a moment, light a candle, and speak the name or names of people whom we have lost.

Lighting of the Candle

We light this candle to remember that God, who is love, is here with us.

In the light of God’s presence, we are known, held, embraced, and never forgotten. There is no need to hide, for in Christ there is no shame.


Psalm 139:7-12 

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

Isaiah 43:1-3

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you,
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.


Holy God, today we come to you with tender hearts, bearing the difficulty of loss. Sometimes the shape of our grief changes, and our healing may not look linear. May we know that you do not leave us alone in our mourning. You are the One who remembers each of your children. You never forget us. You are compassionate, seeking our wholeness and wellbeing, that we might live in the freedom to which you have called us.

This morning, we call to our hearts and minds loved ones who have passed away from overdose- friends, family members, partners; we carry the memory of them every day, especially today.

Loving God, surround these people we call forth and us with your deep love. May we know that you weep with us when we are weeping. You, Good Shepherd, gently hold our grief and bind up our wounds. May the memory of our friends and ancestors strengthen us for the work we are here to do, step by step, one day at a time. This is a work we do together, empowered by your Spirit, for all of us are one in you, everlasting God. Amen.

Invitation to Practice
Knowing that God hears and deeply cares, you are invited to take a candle from the basket. You can turn on the light, speak their name, and set the candle on our altar.

Blessing – 
“A Blessing for Absence” by John O’Donohue

May you know that absence is full of tender presence and that nothing is ever lost or forgotten.

May the absences in your life be full of eternal echo.

May you sense around you the secret Elsewhere which holds the presences that have left your life.

May you be generous in your embrace of loss.

May the sore of your grief turn into a well of seamless presence.

May your compassion reach out to the ones we never hear from and may you have the courage to speak out for the excluded ones.

May you become the gracious and passionate subject of your own life.

May you not disrespect your mystery through brittle words or false belonging.

May you be embraced by God in whom dawn and twilight are one and may your longing inhabit its deepest dreams within the shelter of the Great Belonging.

Amen. Go in Peace.

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