PHILADELPHIA—The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has launched a new
intended to honor and memorialize those who have lost their lives to substance use. The public is asked to view the memorial page and consider honoring a loved one that they have lost. Dozens of memorials, including images and touching tributes, have already been posted.

“With the magnitude of the overdose crisis, people often get lost in numbers and statistics and forget that the victims are real individuals who leave behind an entire community in grief”, says Laura Vargas, Bereavement Care Program Manager for Philly HEALs, the Health Department’s bereavement care team. Ms. Vargas “hopes that offering a space for bereaved survivors will provide comfort in knowing that their legacies live on.”

The digital memorial can be found on the Substance Use Philadelphia website. Memorials can be made for loved ones who have been lost to substance abuse at any time, not just recently, and don’t need to be Philadelphia residents. Memorials can be uploaded through an online form.

The Health Department will be using this page as a springboard for a real-life Overdose Memorial Garden, slated to open to the public on August 31, 2022, which is also acknowledged nationally as Overdose Awareness Day.

Organized jointly by the Managing Director’s Office, the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbilities Services, and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Overdose Memorial Garden, located at Thomas Paine Plaza (1401 JFK Blvd.) will be open to the public from August 31 through September 30, 2022, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. through 7 p.m. and on the weekends between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Details on an opening ceremony and dedication are forthcoming. The City anticipates holding a variety of events throughout the month of September focused on the overdose crisis, including Narcan and overdose awareness trainings, bereavement workshops, and resource fairs.