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Monday, 15 December 2008


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Touching post, sorry for your loss.



Mike, thanks for this story.

You do her honor with this post. Thank you.

Heartbreaking. My condolences.

Dear Mike,

My sincerest sympathies over this loss. My father passed away on December 22nd many years ago. The holidays can be a painful time for a lot of us. Take heart in the fact her last year may have been her best in many ways.



My condolences.


What a wretched end to the year for you and your family, Mike. As I read your horrific account, I found myself clutching my 5m/o daughter for solace. Zander's a bit older, but I sure hope he's around for you. Peace.


I am saddened by this tragedy and I empathize with you as I have been there, too. At the same time, your writing can be so powerful that it can make me not sit in my chair correctly. I guess that one of the many take-aways is that you'll never forget that 30-40 minutes conversation with her. Did you happen to take any pics of her?


I've been a big fan of TOP for more than a year, and today's poignant and heartfelt post is a good example of why I keep coming back -- the observations about all things photographic are always interesting (and thought-provoking), but the eclectic thoughts, comments, and stories are often as valuable.

Sorry to hear about your cousin Michael.

There isn't much one can say or do but offer sympathy and a prayer. If we can not know justice in this life, perhaps there will find peace in the next.

I'll keep you and your family in my prayers Mike. Thank you for sharing this personal experience, in so doing it provides a reminder that we may have stopped drinking but the "ism" will always remain.


I've been a long-time reader and I only comment every now and then. I'm very sorry for your loss and you have my deepest condolences. I'll slip in a prayer for you and your family before I go to bed (it's 1:30am here in the Philippines).

My deepest condolences, and my thanks for your sharing. These stories need to be told, with love, and this is what you have done - I think that you have honoured her memory well.

Mike Allen
Vancouver, BC
(friend of Bill's)

My condolences, Mike.

That's a heartbreaking story, Mike.

Addiction to drugs is never completely an individual's wish or decision. On some level, we all have failed to save her.

I hope your sweetest memories of her live on forever.

Mike; Having gone through something similar with the best friend I ever had 24 years ago I honestly can say you have honored her more today with what you have felt and said than many people would do by showing up to her funeral. I believe she knows this, but then I am one of those crazy Christian types. Hang in there.

Beautifully written with kindness and compassion. Many of us have been where you are today and understand your feelings and thoughts. I know she travelled the better path as long as she could, and it is unfortunate that she ran into the wrong person along the way.

Death shows those who want to live the face of tears and terror.

But it shows those who suffer the most the face of warmth and peace and solace.

My deepest sympathies, Mike. Beyond that, I just don't have the words.

My thoughts are with you.


Sometimes I think it is so much worse for family members who feel so helpless in the face of a loved ones self destructive behavior. But you took the time to listen to her as she talked about her struggle, and that was about all anyone can do. We can only hope she has finally found peace. My sincere condolences for your family's loss.

Mike, I'm sorry for your family's loss, and sorry for your cousin's pain. Thanks for sharing her story with us.

Thanks for sharing this. It is helpful for those of us going through personal trials to see that we are not alone.
-Take care-

My condolences.
It is sometimes shocking how some can be so cruel to those who are close to them, as the fellow seems to have been.

There are times each of us must beware the darkness in the world, and at times, withstand the darkness in others. But that can be very hard to do, if you yourself trying to remake your own life, essentially, from scratch. The holiday period can also be hard on those already in pain or despair.
I am sorry to hear of yours and your families' loss.

Take care,

Mike, I can hardly think of how to respond. I don't pray much. But today, both you and your cousin have my prayers.

That's truly wretched, Mike.

I am sorry for your loss, and hers.


I am deeply sorry for your loss, and for her sorrow which I feel through your words, and wish also you could be where you want to be today.

I am honored that you would consider us, your devoted listeners, students and friends from afar worthy of sharing your feelings, if just in a small way.

Bill Corbett


I'm sorry to hear of your loss and deepest condolences go out to you and your family. I will keep Amy and your family in my prayers. I hope that this story doesn't go in vain, but that someone can be encouraged and empowered through it. It's not only recovering alcoholics that seek and get involved with unhealthy relationships. Take care and keep your head up.

In my field, I've always found the best die early, and the rest of us live on to remember them.

My condolences...
Death of a close one can serve us in some sense. Perhaps, this break in our daily routine helps us become more aware of the things we miss. Your article made me feel like I have lost a cousin myself... To much to think about... Many thanks, anyway.

You've certainly honoured her with this tribute, Mike. I wish, for her sake and yours, that the outcome had been better.

A heartfelt tribute. A terrible tragedy. Very moving. God bless you.

This tragic tale makes difficult reading and highlights the real struggles of life.

My heart goes out to all those around Amy, to you Mike, her family and friends. I hope she has now found peace.

I lost a younger cousin a year ago, to the effects of Alzheimer's disease. Regardless of how you lose a loved one, or whether it was expected, there is a loss to be mourned. Regardless of whether they lived a long life or it was cut short, there is a loss to be mourned. Regardless of whether they are out of their suffering and "in a better place," yes, there is still a loss to be mourned. And while the loss will always be there, so too will the blessing of having known the person and having your life made richer as a result. The latter keeps me going when I reflect on lost family and friends. My sincerest sympathies.

Hey Mike, just wanted you to know I'll be praying for you and your family.

God bless.

Very, very sad; my condolences.

A tragic story, full of "if only"'s and one that happens too often. Alcohol probably causes more grief than all the illegal drugs combined. My father struggled with his own alcoholism and was too much of a loner to let AA help him, although they tried, and it contributed to his death at 59. I think I inherited some of the same weakness but 24 years ago I decided I liked myself better sober so I stopped drinking.

When it's someone close to you fighting with alcohol, sometimes you can help, sometimes you can't. In the end, it is a private struggle.

Mean people suck. Very sorry for your loss, Mike.

I'm with you on this, Mike, having just lost a friend to suicide, the culmination of a couple of years of crushing depression. Perhaps there's a bit of comfort in knowing that you've got company, as there was for me reading this post. Thanks.

My sincerest condolences, Mike. Relationships are hard, even for the most emotionally stable people--forget that, LIFE is hard.

She died fighting, and that's an honourable way to go. R.I.P. Amy.

Mike, I am so sorry. Words of course cannot express this well, especially in a blog comment. My mother tried to take her own life this summer, in the grips of severe depression. She's doing okay now, after some intensive treatment. I wish your cousin's story had turned out better. May she rest in peace.

It is difficult when loved ones pass through the door and all our attachments to the living them are stretched and then broken, snapping back at us to lay coiled at our feet, to leak and writhe... but also, at the same time, to begin to stitch and mend and heal. I send my warmest regards and best wishes to you on your journey to peace and serenity with your feelings about this event.

Cunning, baffling and powerful describes not just alcohol, but the twists of fate that are thrown at us in Life. No matter what happened in the end, the work she did when sober did not go to waste, there is absolutely no particle of earnest spiritual work that is ever lost. Truth.

One more little homily and I will leave you in peace. First thing I ever heard in connection with sobriety: "We are not physical beings seeking a spiritual experience. We are, instead, Spiritual Beings HAVING a physical experience." Again, Truth.

What a tragic and moving story.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

I'm very sorry for your loss. Life can be so cruel, sometimes, and often it seems cruelest to those least deserving. I also have a relative who is an alcoholic, and who has been for many years. He's a good man and we love him, but his health is failing, his faculties are clouded, and we find ourselves missing the man he once was. Things could have been different.


I am very sorry for your loss. Over 8 years ago my depression got to a point where I could barely function. I don't really know how long I had been suffering but it probably started in youth or high school. At the age of 24, I went and got help in the form of medication and therapy and I have been taking anti-depressants continuously for 8 years with one or two tries without medication that did not go as well as I hoped. I know the things I need to do to feel much better than I do on medication alone. I need enough sleep, healthy food and exercise. (In the fall and winter I need sunlight or a lightbox for seasonal affected disorder). But even knowing I need those things and how much better I feel when I get enough of all three does not ensure that I do fulfill those requirements. Exercise is the one that is really hard to accomplish even though thoughts that usually bother me seem to carry no gravitas if I have had exercise that day. The main problem is that depression makes me feel lethargic and it is very hard to motivate myself to make time for exercise when I feel tired and weak. So, I don't exercise and I feel more depressed and subsequently more tired and weak. It is a vicious cycle.

Knowing how hard it is for me to accomplish something as simple as exercise even when I know the extreme benefit I receive, I cannot imagine the strength and courage it must take to become sober. Breaking any comfort-zone is extrememly difficult. Like you said, it takes time and more time, tons of experience and personal awareness of success in situations where you have felt you would never make it without "help." I think people who have overcome these obstacles are some of the strongest people in the world. They are able to completely alter their daily lives to live without something they once believed they depended upon to function.

Some people may shirk away at the talk of depression, addiction and other mental diseases but to me they must be discussed more often. There should be no stigma attached to them for they are really no different from any other uncontrollable disease such as diabetes. I cannot wish my brain to have the proper balance of chemicals just as a diabetic cannot wish their pancreas to begin producing insulin.

Please discuss your family's history of alcoholism with your son. My parents never discussed my family's history with depression; they assumed I knew (I didn't). God forbid it ever happens but it will help your son become aware himself before he's too far down a rough road.

BTW, you can tell when I haven't been exercising or I feel sad: I will post something about how I'm angry with myself for reading about photography rather than just taking pictures and gaining experience. ;) lol

Hopefully the man with whom your cousin attempted a relationship will talk to someone and understand why he behaved and reacted the way he did. I bet it is also a self-damaging comfort-zone he needs to break to be happy too.

As always, Mike, thanks for the writing.

Sorry to hear of your loss. Many years ago, when I was 21, I lost my dear 24 yo sister to alcoholism plus she lived on the streets. Alcoholism is a terrible addiction.

I'm very sorry for your loss. Amy sounds like a nice person with a disease and I know, as you do, that she is at rest now.

A very moving story, Mike, deeply felt here. I'm very sorry for your loss.


I am sorry for your loss, Steve. And I could see that you yourself have struggled in the past, and without that struggle, you probably wouldn`t be able to see her the way you did, and write what you wrote.

My heartfelt condolences to you and your family. Thanks for sharing the story.


Thank you for sharing this with us. Your humanness is what draws most of us to you, the photography is extra.

You are in my thoughts.

Mike, thank you for sharing your emotions with us. May your cousin rest in peace.

Please, don't poison your heart and soul with thoughts of anger about the person who treated your cousin so badly.

About 25 years ago, my then 16 year old cousin was run over by a car at night and deadly wounded. The driver of the car was never identified. I could not attend the funeral. I know from personal experience how hard it is to forgive. But I also learned that it is necessary for the own peace of mind to forgive.

As Mahatma Gandhi said: "Hate can't be overcome by hate. Hate can only be overcome by love."

I wish you all the best,

This is a transitory life. But our heartache for those who leave us too soon will always be there. Your writing helps all of us to confront it. Peace to you.

Mike, as we say in Ireland, "Sorry for your troubles".

Having been through something similar, one realises how fragile people are, and how one takes health for granted until it fails.

I'm speechless. My thoughts are with you.

Tragic. I'm very sorry for your loss.

Don't ever think that we come here for the photographic stuff. That's what might have brought us here in the first place, but that's not what makes us stay. What makes us stay is you, Mike. I'm so sorry for your loss.

So sorry for your loss; I too buried a good friend this week. Like several other posters have said, thanks for sharing this story. It's "Mike the person" more than "Mike the photographer" that keeps us coming back here every day. Take good care of yourself.

I know what you're going through and yet I don't have any words that will make it any better. All I can say is that we should all have humility in the face of forces stronger than us and choices that can't be undone.


One of the things I see in the comments, is that many are drawn to this site for the photography, but they stay for the humanity.

I'm filled with empathy for you; the new millenium has not been kind to my family; but know that you are a very positive force in the universe.
The black dog comes, remember that.

I agree about Zander's need to know, but from conversations with my son, he probably KNOWS, but a little talk is good. Course, the need to butt heads with walls is important, too.

Hey, smile, be happy, we all know the denoument.



I am very sorry for your loss, as I read your blog every day I feel your pain and anguish for losing your cousin. I can't claim to feel what you are feeling but please know that I will remember Amy in my prayers.

Sincere sympathy,

Stan Semuskie

My condolences, Chris.

hang in there brother.

All of the above, for I am not eloquent.


Robert Munoz has already said what I had in my heart by'I've been a big fan of TOP for more than a year, and today's poignant and heartfelt post is a good example of why I keep coming back -- the observations about all things photographic are always interesting (and thought-provoking), but the eclectic thoughts, comments, and stories are often as valuable.'

My sincere condolences ...


P.S. I am in computers and usually tell my children that if there were no computers around the only thing I can think of being would be a teacher. In your case, I sincerely believe if it wasn't for cameras & photography you would have made an excellent writer!

Hi Mike,
What an incredibly touching column, and my deepest condolences. I am at a loss for words.

My deepest sympathies to you and your family.

As one who's experienced similar, there are no hollow words of cold comfort, just very best wishes for your coping with such a tough time.
So very sorry.

Such a painful tragedy... I'm very sorry to hear of your loss. My older brother is in the grip of alcholism, and is losing his battle. It leaves family feeling so powerless and helpless. The pain and anguish of witnessing a loved one give up the fight, despite having a lot of love and support. Your cousin was brave, and we honor her memory.
Deepest condolences,

Well expressed.

My thoughts, prayers and sympathies to your family.

Mike, I only know the stories of others who have suffered (or are suffering) alcohol or drug addiction. From what I've seen and heard and from what you wrote, I would readily believe that Amy's end was not predestined, but rather, tragic. That makes the loss even harder to bear. My condolences to you and your family.


Thank you for sharing this. I'm sure the loss has been trying for you, and I tip my hat to you for having the courage to write about it publicly.

I am saddened for you. Stay brave.

Mike, I am very sorry for you loss. I lost my mother in a similar way in early December 2001 after she'd had eight years of sobriety in the program. Thank you for making me pause and remember even if it still is very painful, especially at this time of the year.

Thanks for sharing!


Sorry to hear of you and your family's loss, and for the sad and unjust circumstances that claimed Amy's life. You are both in our thoughts and prayers.


Very sad, my sincere condolences.

My sympathies to you and your family, Mike. Be well.

My condolences.

My sincerest condolences Mike on your loss,you have painted a beautiful picture of your cousin's troubled life, I can only hope it helps others as much as it does me.It will serve as a reminder to all of us who may have traveled a path similar to your cousin's how important it is to be aware of life's pitfalls while not losing trust in others and confidence in ourselves.

A very sad story, Mike, but thank you for writing it.

My condolences.

Mike, I am saddened to hear of your loss, an all too familiar story in our fellowship. I'm glad to know you are a friend of Bill's; Amy will forever be a reminder to stay in the middle of the herd and stick with the winners...

Mike, please accept my deepest condolences to you and Amy's family.

I am the oldest of 33 grandchildren on my maternal Grandparent's side. Until ten years ago most of us would get together twice a year to catch up on things, meet each others children (my children reaching adulthood by that time) and just have a great time. Now we seem to see each other only at funerals. Having an extended family that cares for each other is a joy many never know.

May Amy rest in peace.



Mike, I have nothing new or revelatory to add, only that I am sorry for your and your family's loss, and that the world is diminished for the loss of your cousin. I am grieving on a daily basis for my own personal situation, but your story caused me to set aside my own pain for a bit to grieve for the far too early extinguishing of your cousin's life. Your family is in my thoughts.


My thoughts are with your family after this tragic loss.


I empathize with your sense of loss and outrage, but your words most eloquently convey your love and respect for your cousin. You've done her great honor and given hope to others by sharing your thoughts and feelings here. My condolences and thanks.

Dear Mike:

We are humans. And,as humans, fragile. More than most persons admit, even to themselves. Different fragilities, that have their different ways,sometimes clear, sometimes deeply buried inside us. But, still, fragile.
Your cousin found peace, in the way she could, at that moment of her life.
And we will continue, soldiering on, fighting our own fights, and the fights of our friends.
But keeping with us, very tight, the good memories from those who are not among us anymore.

Please, forgive my english,it's my third language. I just tried to be at your side, in this moment of your life, as a special kind of friend that I "visit" almost every day, and that became important to me.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Mike, very sincere condoleances. Your loss is cruel and your grief is incredibly sincere and touching. Not much to say to help other than I've read your report and felt your pain.

Dear Mike,
Please accept my sincere condolence. Your post in her memory is poignant. You do her honor.
May her memory bring peace.

Dear Mike,
A very moving tribute. Please accept my deepest sympathies.

I am very sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you tonight.

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