I’ll never forget how I found my father after he died from alcohol poisoning. The image is seared into my brain and is even worse than picturing my frail mother in the hospital bed with her hairless head, hooked up to dozens of machines.

The day after my dad started talking to himself, I finally looked up treatment centers for him. I had printed up the information and was planning on gently suggesting he give one of the places a call.

When I walked into the house, it was quiet except for the TV. I went into the living room where I expected to see my dad sitting in his armchair with a drink in his hand, as usual. What I saw instead will haunt me forever.

My dad was lying on the ground, next to a pile of vomit. His pants were soaked with urine, and he wasn’t breathing. I cried out and checked his pulse while dialing 911, but I knew it was too late.

My father had died from alcohol poisoning. He had drunk more than his body could handle, and it just shut down. Despite the horrific scene, the doctors told me that he had been too drunk to feel anything or recognize he was dying, which is some consolation.

So within months of burying my mother I also had to bury my father, but this time I had to do it completely alone. I had no siblings or other close families to get me through this. I was horribly lonely and had so much guilt over my father’s death, on top of still grieving for my mother. I wish I had suggested treatment to him earlier, or that I hadn’t just stood idly by and watched his relapse into alcoholism. 

I’m okay now. I still miss my parents and deal with their loss and my guilt every day. But I have a beautiful family of my own now that I would never jeopardize by drinking alcohol. I haven’t even had a beer since my father died because the thought turns my stomach.

If you see any of the warning signs of alcoholism like what my dad exhibited, like drinking to take away the pain, losing a job, or drinking too much every day, please do not hesitate to get help.