Season 4, Episode 1

Sara McCann / Dan

Surviving Sibling Loss  & Stigma: Sara/ Dan

In this episode, of The Broken Pack: Stories of Adult Sibling Loss, Dr. Dean interviews Sara McCann, who bravely shares her deeply personal story of losing her brother, Dan, to substance use disorder. Sara candidly sheds light on the unique challenges of sibling loss and the stigma surrounding addiction.

Prepare to be moved by the raw and honest account of Sara McCann, as she shares her journey through the unimaginable pain of losing her brother, Dan, to substance use disorder. Listen as they explore the complex emotions and challenges unique to sibling loss.

Key Points:

  • Sara’s Loss: The profound impact of losing her brother, Dan, to substance use disorder.
  • The Stigma of Addiction: Dan’s struggle and the challenges faced by his family.
  • Legacy and Support: The Daniel Snel Memorial Scholarship & 5K and finding support for grieving siblings.
  • Awareness and Action: Sara’s mission to reduce stigma and empower those struggling with addiction.

Sara’s poignant story and Dr. Dean’s expert insights will leave an unforgettable mark. Sara’s grief story reveals the resilience and love that can emerge from even the deepest of losses.

Sara’s experience also tragically underscores the profound emotional burden of grief for surviving siblings. Her courage highlights the urgent need for greater awareness, support, and a shift away from the stigma of addiction. By amplifying voices like Sara’s, we can create a world where siblings receive the support they need and those struggling with the misunderstood, disenfranchised loss of a sibling.

Links mentioned in or related to this episode:

Content Warning: This episode discusses the loss of a loved one due to substance use disorder and may be upsetting for listeners who have experienced similar losses or have experienced substance use disorder firsthand or in loved ones.

  • If you believe you are witnessing an overdose, call 911 or your country’s emergency number immediately even if you are administering Narcan.
    If you are in the US and would like support for yourself or someone else with substance use, mental health issues, or other topics discussed in this episode, please call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or Text your 5-digit ZIP Code to 435748 (HELP4U) or call a warmline.
    For more immediate crisis call 911, 988, or go to the nearest emergency room.
    In the UK, a list of related resources can be found at https://tinyurl.com/3fknb36c
    In the USA an updated directory of warmlines by state can be found at https://warmline.org/warmdir.html
    A warmline directory for trained peer supports in over 20 countries can be found at https://www.supportiv.com/tools/international-resources-crisis-and-warmlines (some of these may be hotlines)

Sara and her brother Dan
Transcript

Dr. Dean:

Hello and welcome to the Broken Pack, a podcast focused on giving adult survivors of sibling loss, a platform to share their stories and to be heard. Something that many sibling loss survivors state that they never have had. Sibling loss, is misunderstood. The Broken Pack exists to change that and to support survivors. I’m your host, Dr. Angela Dean. In today’s episode, I spoke with Sarah about losing her brother, Daniel. She lost Daniel from an overdose, and we talk about losing him, how she’s doing, what it was like to grieve him, and the stigma of substance use disorder and how that affected her grief, and what she would like you to know about that, as well as sibling loss. Take a listen. Content warning- this episode contains talk of substance use, which may be upsetting to some people. All right, so welcome to the show. I was wondering how you wanted to introduce yourself to our listeners.

Sara McCann:

Sure. So my name is Sarah McCann. grew up in Hillsborough, New Jersey. I live just outside of Philadelphia now, in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. I’m married. I have a dog and a cat. worked from home and I am the little sister of my brother Daniel, who we lost in September of 2016.

Dr. Dean:

Thank you for that.

Sara McCann:

Yeah.

Dr. Dean:

before we talk about what it was like to lose Daniel, what would you like us to know about Daniel?

Sara McCann:

Probably the first thing that comes to mind that I feel like is must know about him was just honestly, he loved so hard. feel like it was, maybe it’s more common now, but especially back when he was growing up and especially as a young man, he did not shy away from telling people how much he loved them. how much he cared about them. he used those words frequently with people, that he was close with. And, he told me often, I have so many messages from him, telling me how proud he was of me, how much he loves me. and I know other people have said the same. he was just very open with his love, and I just feel like that’s kind of rare. And, yeah, I try to emulate that now in my life, and be more like him. But, that’s just one thing that, sticks out to me.

Dr. Dean:

Yeah, I think It’s a gender stereotype, but especially for men, I think it’s a little bit harder in our society to, to share that.

Sara McCann:

Yeah, exactly. Yep.

Dr. Dean:

What was the age difference?

Sara McCann:

just a little under two years.

Dr. Dean:

Okay.

Sara McCann:

Yeah.

Dr. Dean:

so what was your relationship like with him?

Sara McCann:

relationship was very close. we were a typical brother and sister growing up. we fought, pretty much like crazy, as young kids. but we were always very close. And then as, we got older, we got closer, call each other best friends. and then I would say, his struggles with substance use disorder, actually made us even closer because I knew that, he needed support and even though we went through a lot together, it made us stronger in a weird way.

Dr. Dean:

Do you want to say more about that? In what ways you were stronger because of it.

Sara McCann:

Yeah, I guess just, I knew that he needed a support. I, it was, back when he first, started struggling with substance use disorder, really didn’t know much about it. this was like still, maybe 2008, 2009. I could be getting that year wrong, it wasn’t, I feel like it’s a lot more talked about now. and we know a lot more about it, but back then we really didn’t. And, it took me a while to learn and. understand that it’s a disease. but once I did I tried to be a support to him and someone he could go to and talk to and I felt like he really leaned on me because Honestly through his addiction He lost a lot of a lot of friends along the way and I I think he was very lonely. So it did make us a lot closer than I think other adult siblings are.

Dr. Dean:

Thank you for sharing that. I like how you pointed out that it was difficult for you to realize it was a disease at first.

Sara McCann:

Yeah.

Dr. Dean:

hear that so much in my professional work, people that are either struggling with substance use disorder or supporting someone that is, that it’s like, Oh, I didn’t realize that this is an illness. Yeah,

Sara McCann:

it’s actual illness. and yeah, it’s hard to wrap your brain around initially, I think.

Dr. Dean:

for sure. Thank you for sharing that. Is there anything else you want us to know about? You or him before we dive into the difficult story of losing him.

Sara McCann:

Honestly, he was one of the funniest people that I knew. And, our relationship was, we had a lot of humor in it. we had a lot of inside jokes from growing up and, I think I miss that the most, like those inside jokes or, when you look at them from across the room, you know what they’re thinking. There’s a little smile, you’re gonna like chat later.

Dr. Dean:

Mm hmm

Sara McCann:

You just get each other. It was the ease of that. And, yeah, he just, he had a great sense of humor and he was just a very, loving and caring person. even when he was going through recovery. he lived with my mom for many years while in recovery and, he would bring home, people occasionally from his meetings who didn’t have anywhere to sleep and he would be like, can we give them even a sleeping bag or a tent or what can we do? he was always trying to help other people because I think he recognized how fortunate he was to have, his family supporting him. Not everyone has that. so yeah, he was just a really funny, caring person. And, I miss him a lot.

Dr. Dean:

Yeah, thank you.

Sara McCann:

Mm-Hmm.

Dr. Dean:

And I know that your story is out there and I read it, but many of our audience members probably have not. So what would you like to share about the story of losing Daniel?

Sara McCann:

Yeah. Dan was, pretty much your average high school guy. He had a lot of friends. He was pretty popular. he loved football, loved huge New York Giants fan. very smart. wanted to work with computers and specifically software development, coding. He could hack into anything. It was crazy and he didn’t even really have to try that hard in school. if I wanted to get good grades, I really had to study and apply myself. It just came so naturally to him. In, I guess it was his senior year of high school. He was in a car accident and, he was fine, just walked away with some bruises and, he went to the hospital, they prescribed him opioids, and that was pretty much, the start of his substance use disorder, but, we didn’t really know it at the time. Back then, we didn’t really understand they were addictive, at all, or else, obviously, we’d We would never have been okay with him taking them, especially granted he didn’t even have any major injuries, but I think that was his first taste of drugs and, he went off to college, but I, I remember being a freshman my year, my, first year in college and getting a phone call from him and he was just telling me how scared he was because he was, he felt like he was, addicted or hooked on, these, prescription pills. And that was the start of everything. his, substance use disorder spiraled from there. And, it moved on to heroin, which is, common, when people start with opioids. we didn’t know this was obviously still back in like, I guess this would now have been like 2010, 2011. we didn’t know, I remember learning even, we went to a family therapist and him telling my mom and dad and I that, they’re essentially the same thing. Just heroin is a lot cheaper. Yeah, we didn’t even have any knowledge of any of that. It was, we were all learning about it for the first time. So trying to get him help and support him while also wrapping our minds around, what this was and what it meant. but yeah, he eventually had to get pulled out of college. my parents, removed him because it was getting scary. he would not be answering phone calls for days at a time. And then from there, honestly, he spent many years in and out of rehab, halfway houses, psychiatric wards, diagnosed with multiple different mental illnesses, yeah, just shuffling through the system for years and years, and, towards, he had some legal troubles at different times, but essentially, he had been sober for a couple of years, and towards, the end of his life, he was still struggling with, prescription medication, though, that, psychiatrists had prescribed to him, so he still wasn’t, sober, when I say sober, I mean from heroin, but, there was other substances that he was prescribed that he was, he was always looking for something to be dependent on, he really struggled with just being completely sober, And, he went to Florida, for rehab. He wanted to go desperately, which is something about him that I find to be really remarkable, how much he really wanted help. he wanted to live a normal life. He didn’t want this. He fought tooth and nail for his recovery and sobriety. he just really struggled, I think, mentally. every time he would find himself again, I think he would always get pulled back down by those demons. but yeah, towards the end of his life, he went to a rehab in Florida. and, His probation officer pretty much said he has to come back to New Jersey, or he would risk being arrested. My mom went to the probation officer, the judge, and pleaded, he needs more because He had been granted, I guess the standard 30 days to be out of state for rehab, but most of that time he unfortunately spent in the hospital. He was having seizures from withdrawals from this prescription medication. So he didn’t really have like even the, 30 days, which is not enough in my opinion to begin with, but, he ended up coming home because he had to, and, We found out that he overdosed probably four days later.

Dr. Dean:

Oh.

Sara McCann:

Yeah, he had been at a meeting that morning. He had been texting me that morning telling me he got a new job. Like he sounded pretty positive. But, yeah, my mom, had taken a half day of work that day. And, She just happened to have a doctor appointment, so she got home and found him, on her kitchen floor. And the door had been left open, so we still don’t know if other people were with him and they ran. We’re not sure. but, it definitely, it looked like other people had been there because, he wouldn’t have left the door open like we have dogs. He just, I don’t know. it was an odd. It was just odd, too, because, he hadn’t, he hadn’t used heroin probably for four years, so it was a shock, I definitely, I can’t lie that we had thought about this being a possibility, at many times throughout his, addiction, but I wasn’t expecting it when it actually happened.

Dr. Dean:

That’s heart wrenching, especially because he was in the process of getting help and the system failed him.

Sara McCann:

Yes, it did a lot along the way, honestly. It was very heartbreaking and frustrating.

Dr. Dean:

How did you find out that he had died?

Sara McCann:

So my parents did not want me to find out while I was alone. I was dating someone at the time. I lived with him, actually. And my parents called him and told him. And, he, actually came to my work. so I had been, I’ll never forget. I was sitting at my desk actually eating string cheese and just like living my life. And my boss came over and said, I, can I come speak with you in the conference room? And I was like, okay, I’m definitely getting fired or something’s wrong here. Like, Your mind, your brain spirals But yeah, he led me to the conference room, and when he opened the door, I saw my boyfriend standing there, and I pretty much just knew as soon as I saw him. Yeah, I just knew, and he told me, and we just gathered my things, and my boss said, don’t worry about anything, please take care of yourself, and we went.

Dr. Dean:

Were you living close by to your parents? so I was living in Westchester, Pennsylvania. So, about an hour and a half from

Sara McCann:

my mom’s house,

Dr. Dean:

Yeah. I’m curious. I’ve talked to other people about this. How much time were you able to take off from work after Dan died?

Sara McCann:

Not enough at all. I think I got five days. Yeah, I got five days and actually because, his death was under investigation, we weren’t able to do a memorial service or an obituary or write an obituary, anything like that for like about a month after he died. So I went back to work before having even gone through like a memorial service or anything yet, which was awful.

Dr. Dean:

What was it like to go back to work? Were you able to focus or in the fog?

Sara McCann:

No, just no focus, definitely a fog. I remember feeling like I had like dark clouds just hanging over my head every day. I felt like answering a simple email, which would have taken me maybe a minute previously, it was like I was staring at the screen for an hour. I couldn’t form words. I just didn’t care anymore. And, yeah, it was hard and, I just felt like it was also awkward with coworkers. People didn’t know what to say, or they said the wrong things, or, it was honestly awful. I don’t think that, that people get enough bereavement time in the corporate world. But, you know.

Dr. Dean:

Correct.

Sara McCann:

Yeah, I they would change that.

Dr. Dean:

Yeah, it’s shocking to me, I looked into that thinking it was a problem specifically with the U. S., assuming that because of our health care system and everything, but it’s a global issue. not a lot of countries have any better bereavement policies. There are a few, but not significant.

Sara McCann:

Yeah, that’s really unfortunate.

Dr. Dean:

Yeah. I think it was Jen Oglesby on the first season that said she wishes that we still wore black, at least so people would have an idea that, you’re grieving.

Sara McCann:

like just because I’m back to work doesn’t mean I’m okay.

Dr. Dean:

Correct. Yeah. Right. So that month was obviously very difficult.

Sara McCann:

hmm. Mm hmm.

Dr. Dean:

So you didn’t have support from co-workers where did you find support if at all?

Sara McCann:

Yeah, I mean I also wasn’t super close with a ton of co workers. I had one I was close with and, the few were supportive but there was also some that just were really awkward or they didn’t know what to say. It was just uncomfortable But I did find a lot of support through close friends and family. I’m very close with my aunts and uncles i’m very close with my mom and dad. and then I have a couple of really close friends who you we’re also extremely supportive And still are honestly

Dr. Dean:

That’s fantastic. It sounds like you were able to support your parents, but also get support from them.

Sara McCann:

Yes, Yeah. It was tough at times you know because we’re all grieving in different ways. My parents are divorced actually. So my dad, had to fly in from Florida but Yeah, I, I worried a lot about my mom in those early, months, just because she lived with my brother. I knew she was struggling a lot. it’s one thing to lose him, but I can’t imagine having lived with him for years prior, and just have that loss. Like the absence of him, even in, their nightly TV shows they would watch together, all of that. I think, I worried about her a lot more than even myself or anyone else really.

Dr. Dean:

How are you doing now with it? It’s there’s no timeline, right? But it does change over time. So I wonder, wondering how you are.

Sara McCann:

I accept it now. and I would say How I think of it is when Dan first died, like I said, it felt like there was dark rain clouds over my head every day. It was like a fog. All I could think about was the loss. it was just constantly in my mind now. It’s like you’re walking around in a sunny day and occasionally there will be a rainstorm

Dr. Dean:

Mmm,

Sara McCann:

Because that, grief or a grief wave, will hit out of nowhere. and any trigger could set it off, but it doesn’t always affect, my entire day. I can move on. I can still enjoy things. I can be passionate about work again and, find laughter. So I think it just changed, I learned to live with it and, and not let it completely consume me.

Dr. Dean:

You’re a little bit further out than I am in my grief, and I’m just curious, what was the process like of learning to live with grief for you?

Sara McCann:

It was tough. I think I was hoping that I mean it will be eight years for me this September and I think I was hoping that by now it would be like gone oh, I won’t, feel this, gut wrenching pain randomly anymore. But I’ve learned that Without it, it’s because we love them so much. and that love is not going anywhere. It’s always gonna be here, so we’re always going to feel that. but I think just Learning to accept that and embrace it, like I know myself now and myself now, if I have days where I’m like, okay, I’m You know, sometimes I, it’s a passing, a small, maybe I’ll cry a little bit and then move on with my day and I’m good. Other times now I’ve learned to just kind of like, okay, lean into it. If I’m really having a day, I can’t shake it. Then I will just cry and feel sad. And then the next day I feel a lot better. so I think not fighting it as much. And then also I find a lot of comfort in talking about it, like we’re doing now, or talking with friends and family about it. Talking about him helps a lot. sharing stories. but yeah, I guess just it sounds weird, but making grief a part of your life, making room for it, because it’s really just love.

Dr. Dean:

Absolutely. I love that. Do you find that people at points have shied away from wanting to talk about him?

Sara McCann:

people in my life that fully embrace it and are, like, ready to hear whatever story I’m telling them for the 100th time and they act it’s the first time they’re hearing it because they’re amazing friends, and family. Like, all my family is great and they love talking about Dan. But I have some, people in my life that I can tell it makes them uncomfortable. maybe they just don’t, if they haven’t really experienced it, they don’t know, what to say. And I do totally understand that. I don’t know if I would have been so good with it had I not lost my brother. so I try to remember that, even though it can be a little frustrating when you feel like, Like people are shutting that topic down really quickly or dismissing it.

Dr. Dean:

Yeah, I think that’s an important point, because there’s always that gut reaction, like, well, that wasn’t appropriate to say when you hear certain things.

Sara McCann:

Right.

Dr. Dean:

don’t know if we would have said the same things or did say the same things before such loss. Yeah. So valid point.

Sara McCann:

yeah. I think about that a lot, honestly. if I showed up for people, as much as I should have, but I guess you don’t know what you don’t know, and I try to remember that and give people grace, but it’s frustrating sometimes.

Dr. Dean:

Of course it is, yeah.

Sara McCann:

Yeah.

Dr. Dean:

What’s been really difficult or those triggering days for you?

Sara McCann:

I think thinking about the future can be difficult, because obviously they’re not in it. My husband and I, want to have a family. Thinking of my children never knowing him. when I got married, my brother not being there, my brother having never met my husband. thinking about my parents getting older and navigating that, without my brother. that, that’s difficult.

Dr. Dean:

Do you find ways to stay connected to him now?

Sara McCann:

Definitely. I still try to watch as many New York Giants games as I can, even though they’ve been pretty terrible in recent years. So, it’s a struggle. But, we have a family game. it’s not just our family, but, all, the men, My dad’s side of the family played cribbage. It’s a card game. and my brother absolutely loved it. my husband and I play it pretty frequently. on, my brother’s birthday we’ll often go to, Longhorn Steakhouse, which was his favorite restaurant. make his favorite meals, stuff like that. little things that, remind me of him.

Dr. Dean:

So the anniversary and the birthdays and the big events, weddings. Those make sense. I wonder if there are other times that, the grief is going to seep in if it just catches you off guard, like it can.

Sara McCann:

Yeah, I’m always surprised at how much, the anniversaries and birthdays and even the holidays still really affect me. every year I’m like, I think I’m going to be okay this year. and it will just hit me out of nowhere and it’s still just as painful, I feel as it was in year one and two. But yeah, the other times where it just comes out of nowhere, yeah, I feel like you almost don’t see it coming. It’s just something small, I’ll hear a song on the radio, or, even just this morning, I was on Facebook and I love to look at the It shows you like what happened in previous years like who posted on your wall or something and Sometimes my brother will come up there and just this morning. It said I love you sister. It’s just like little things like that and you’re not expecting it

Dr. Dean:

mm-Hmm. I think that, the social media gets a bad rap. But you’re not the first guest or person and myself included to there’s something about holding on to that because you can see those memories. That is bittersweet.

Sara McCann:

Everyone makes fun of Facebook now and they’re like, oh, no one uses it anymore. and I’m like, I will never stop using it as long as it’s a platform because I have so many connections with my brother through it. I pretty much have it for like the memories with him and we have a memorial group for him that we’ll post in if we’re missing him or something. So Yeah, it’s interesting

Dr. Dean:

You feel the same level of support now that you did in the beginning?

Sara McCann:

Not as much, but I guess that’s also fair if I don’t require as much. I guess

Dr. Dean:

Good point

Sara McCann:

tough. Yeah, it’s tough. I think there’s certain times where, I would love to, you know, a friend said, hey, just checking in, like, how are you doing? Or, I think that would be helpful, or even, if people, didn’t shy away from talking about him, or, It’s hard though, because, like we were saying earlier, I don’t know if I would have, brought up that. the topic if I didn’t know now. now I know if someone’s lost someone, I will bring up that person to them. Oh, do you remember when? Or oh, this reminds me of him or something. but unless you’ve gone through it, you’re scared to bring them up. But really, when you’re grieving, you’re thinking about them all the time and bringing them up is the biggest blessing that you can give someone who’s grieving because you’re reminding them that, They’re not forgotten and that’s all we care about. We just want their memory to not be forgotten. so it’s such a gift when people do bring my brother up, especially unprovoked, like I didn’t say anything to start the conversation and they just naturally brought him up and it’s I, it means so much to me.

Dr. Dean:

Yeah. Thank you for that reminder and message. Is there anything specific to sibling loss that you found surprising?

Sara McCann:

I think initially, back in 2016, there was, like, nothing out there about it. I remember going on Google, immediately, just searching for support. Any kind of support group, local, there was absolutely nothing. I think that’s obviously changed. I mean, you’re doing amazing work, and I, yeah, it’s so needed, and, I’ve seen a lot more just about grief in general on social media. there’s a lot more resources, which is amazing. but I still think sibling grief is overlooked. everyone is concerned about the parents, rightfully

Dr. Dean:

Okay.

Sara McCann:

can’t even imagine that loss, but sibling loss is really, I think, a lot harder than people realize. Cause when you think about it, your sibling is the one person that you kind of start off life with and you and you almost end life with because you grow old together and its so its such an unnatural order to lose them at a young age or before their time.

Dr. Dean:

That’s precisely it, right? They’re supposed to be in our life, most of that before and after partners and parents and all of those things, And for you being the younger sibling, he was there the minute you were born.

Sara McCann:

Yeah, and that, there’s no one else that, knows all your history, your family history. Like your sibling does and one day when your parents pass you would have your sibling to remember when or talk about, you know your mom or dad or talk about family stories and Without that with my brother. It’s it feels devastating. Honestly

Dr. Dean:

Yeah, I think that’s an interesting point too. I don’t know if this was your experience, but I’ll share mine for a second. even at my brother’s funeral, this was like the first big family event he, he was there, but he wasn’t right. And I was like, he’d find this thing to be funny or irritating in the same way, right? Yeah. Yeah. I know the answer is probably everything, but what do you miss most about him?

Sara McCann:

Hmm Sorry, I’m trying not to get emotional.

Dr. Dean:

okay. Take your time.

Sara McCann:

Probably like, when I walked into a room, He lit up. He just gave me the biggest bear hug, And his whole smile, And he was just so happy to see me. I miss that, smile and that hug more than anything. I was told myself I was not going to cry.

Dr. Dean:

thank you for sharing that I know it’s hard sometimes to talk about.

Sara McCann:

yeah.

Dr. Dean:

sibling loss or loss in general.

The reason that we talk about them, post their pictures online

Sara McCann:

You know we talk about them and post about them years and years but maybe decades later it’s really, we want to keep their memory alive. It’s so important to us. and we love them so much that love goes nowhere. It stays with us. So it’s really important for us to feel like, they’re remembered. And I think that would be the biggest thing I could tell someone who’s never been through it. if you can help us keep their memory alive, it’s so important and it means so much to us.

Dr. Dean:

In that vein, I noticed when you sent those links, which I will put in the show notes, that you’re doing some great things around his memory. Do you want to talk about that?

Sara McCann:

Yeah, of course. Myself, my mom, my dad, and my cousin Chris, who was very close with Dan. we started a non profit, called the Daniel Snell Memorial Scholarship. So basically, we do a 5K every year, that we organize. And the proceeds go to a graduating, high school senior who has been impacted by addiction personally or through a loved one. And, they write an essay and we pick through, we try to usually pick at least two students. but yeah, it’s been really amazing. It’s really hard work, but, it’s so rewarding to feel like we’re doing something, even if just educating people or, helping to, fight that stigma, because it’s still so stigmatized. that’s one thing that was so difficult about losing him. It wasn’t just losing him and the grief It was also like losing him to something that is so stigmatized that people will judge him for Without ever having met him people judge him. I already know this. He knew that when he was alive. I think he I think There’s a good chance he would still be alive if that stigma didn’t exist. I think he was lonely. He had a ton of support from family, but you know just in general he was embarrassed and he felt so much shame and I feel like if it was less stigmatized and more talked about, maybe he would have gotten more help he needed. yeah, all that to say, we try to talk about it, raise awareness. If we can help even one person or one family that learns about it and knows what to look out for with their child, then, it’s all worth it.

Dr. Dean:

Thank you for doing all of that, I’m curious of the stigma of substance use, how that impacted your grief?

Sara McCann:

Oh, it really impacted my grief. I remember initially, like, all our close friends and family knew, obviously, that he was struggling for years. And I felt like I could talk to them, but even, when he first passed, it’s not like when he was struggling. We put out a PSA, oh, Dan has substance use disorder issues, it, so

Right.

Sara McCann:

Alright. initial, do I tell them? will they judge him? Will they just, that, that was hard I struggled with that a little bit, but quickly realized that, if someone’s going to judge him, that’s on them, but there’s so many other people that are going through this and to know that they’re not alone or, they have someone in their life who’s struggling, like not being afraid to talk about it and opening up more about it is so important. So it’s his story. And I felt like there’s no, No reason to be embarrassed. I’m extremely proud of my brother and I always will be.

Dr. Dean:

did you want to share some favorite stories or memories of him? You can share as many as you want. I’d love to hear.

Sara McCann:

My gosh. I have to think, I feel like I’m trying to think of like happy memories. cause there was some really tough years for a while there. honestly, we had so many amazing. trips. we would go every summer to Long Beach Island, New Jersey. and we would spend a week with, my mom and dad, me and my brother, and then, my cousins, Dana, Lauren, and Chris, and then my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Gary. And we would go for many years, and just so many fun memories. we were all like young adults, High school or very early college years and We were getting into a little bit of trouble, we were like some of us might have been using fake ids we were just young adults, but we had so much fun and we have so many pictures Those trips like I will always treasure all those memories so much. I’m trying to think of one particular story, but I’m like, I don’t know why I can’t think of,

Dr. Dean:

that’s okay. Sometimes it’s hard spend so much time with them that sometimes it’s hard to remember the. The little things that just you remember them.

Sara McCann:

like you remember them randomly, but for some reason I can’t think of one in particular right now.

Dr. Dean:

Yeah, that’s okay. you said that you want to have children, have you thought about what you want them to know about Uncle Dan?

Sara McCann:

Yes, definitely his sense of humor. his love of food, of all kinds of food, he was a big foodie, and, yeah, I can still picture, any holiday, if he was still sleeping, it was tradition for my family, we always made cinnamon buns, and by made, we just put the Pillsbury ones in the oven, but it was just like Christmas morning, That’s just, sticks out to me and the smell of it would, I feel like, wake him and he would just immediately be like at the table ready to go. and when my parents split up and it was just my mom and my brother living together, I would still come home obviously for Christmas and Thanksgiving and towards the later years of his life still just I’ll never forget just, he might be dead asleep, but as soon as you could smell those cinnamon buns, he was sitting right at the table, ready to go. So I honestly just his sense of humor, how much he loved people, how much he cared about people, how much he would have loved meeting them and being their uncle. He was so good with kids and he always said he wanted a daughter like a little girl one day

Dr. Dean:

Okay.

Yeah I definately want want them to know that and

Sara McCann:

Recently, actually my mom’s boyfriend found, like a camcorder, in her garage that I didn’t know still existed. and for Christmas he had found them and got them digitized for me.

Dr. Dean:

Oh, Wow..

Sara McCann:

It was my camcoder when I was probably eight. I haven’t gone through them all because it’s really, Sends me into a grief spiral, but my brother is obviously on them and it was such a blessing. I feel like I would love to show my kids one day, so they can see him and even though he was just a little kid, it was, he was hilarious. So,Yeah. Lovely. Yeah.

Dr. Dean:

Alright, Thank you for this chat,

Sara McCann:

Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. And

Dr. Dean:

You’re welcome.

Sara McCann:

questions. And it was really nice to be able to talk about it.

Dr. Dean:

Yeah, anytime I’d love to hear more as you think about it.

Sara McCann:

Yeah.

Dr. Dean:

Thank you so much for listening. Our theme song was written by Joe Mylwood and Brian Dean, and was performed by Joe Mylwood. If you would like more information on The Broken Pack™, go to our website, thebrokenpack.com. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter, Wild Grief™, to learn about opportunities and receive exclusive information and grieving tips for subscribers. Information on that, our social media and on our guests can be found in the show notes wherever you get your podcasts. Please like, follow, subscribe, and share. Thanks again.

Music:

“You’re second guessing. Cause you know. You just never know.”.

Listen wherever you get your podcasts!

More pictures of Sara & Dan