The Deceased Didn’t Work and Neither Did the Eulogy

Funeral program

The LA Times ran a eulogy for a young Occupy protester this weekend . . .

Alex Weinschenker was born 23 years ago last month.

He was his parents’ only child, and he was beautiful.

Man who found a deep sense of purpose in Occupy L.A. is mourned – latimes.com

That’s a very young age to die — 23 years old. How did it happen?

. . . probably from a relapse of a drug problem he’d tried to put behind him . . .

OK, wait a minute. This seems a little disingenuous. It sounds like you’re trying to say — without actually saying it — that he was a drug addict who killed himself, perhaps accidentally, with an overdose.

Occupy L.A. had filled Alex Weinschenker with energy and optimism, which makes the timing of his death even sadder, said his father.

Hmmm . . . in my experience, people with energy, optimism and “a deep sense of purpose” don’t die of a drug overdose.

He was so smart, but different. He did not go with the flow.

He had no education and no job.

Last year, Alex became a father to his own baby boy, Rivers, now 7 months old. He was no longer romantically involved with the child’s mother, but he was committed to taking care of both of them.

Is there anything he could have done that would be too irresponsible or stupid for the Times to put a positive spin on it?

“Committed to taking care of them” — in what way? A lot of us have fathered children and committed to taking care of them but we do this via something called “work.” I guess you could say we “went with the flow.” We’re not getting rich, we’re not 1 Percenters, but we made a decision to go to school, get jobs and raise our kids.

Who’s going to eulogize us?

 

Here’s how you can tell a eulogy isn’t working: It’s relentlessly disingenuous when it’s not outright dishonest. You have to gloss over the cause of death, invest the deceased with “a deep sense of purpose” that he didn’t have, and ignore the collateral damage of fathering a child with no means of support and leaving him to be raised by a single mother whose idea of a good decision is to have unprotected sex with an unemployed drug addict.

I suppose the Times is trying to bring Occupy back from the dead with a positive write-up on how they became a young man’s second family, but he was a 23-year-old addict with no job, no education and a 7-month-old son. Who or what was he protesting against?

He made his choices. What did he want?

  6 comments for “The Deceased Didn’t Work and Neither Did the Eulogy

  1. Rachel
    1 Aug 2012 at 3:27 pm

    He did work asshole, but the occupy movement was a huge part of his life. He was one of my best friends. Guess how we met? Work.. Tool.

  2. Rachel
    1 Aug 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Oh and he was trying to do something so many people don’t have the backbone to do. Make the world a legitimately better place for his son. He had a drug problem and you think that equates him to being a worthless being? I guarantee his intellect far outweighed majority of the people around him. Oh and he also wrote, for commercials. For money. You speak of someone you know nothing about, and riddle me this…Whether or not you agree with the article… Do you think when you die, you will have changed so many peoples lives to surpass a simple obituary and actually get an article written about you in ANY paper? Alex was an extraordinary person, who actually helped me get clean, and had a relapse for the first time in a LONG time. How dare you judge someone you don’t know. Karma is a bitch, and I hope you and your family are given the same respect when you die as you have given us.

  3. PE
    PE
    1 Aug 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Hi Rachel –

    I just reread this post … it doesn’t say that Alex was a good person or a bad person or a “worthless” person, it says that his choices in life seem stupid to me. Probably my choices in life would have seemed stupid to him.

    I’ve made the world a better place for my son one day at a time by raising him and loving him and putting him at the top of my list of priorities, ahead of sleeping in parks and ahead of shooting up and killing myself, not to say that’s not an occasional temptation.

    I removed your repost of the entire LA Times article as a comment because I already have a link to it in the original post.

  4. Devon
    18 Aug 2018 at 4:16 pm

    Well, it’s been about 7 years now since the untimely death of my beloved Alex. My son is excelling in school (granted it’s only grade school, but he has shown us all that he has a tremendous gift and is well beyond his grade level in intelligence and emotional maturity). He goes to a prestigious french school and has been since pre-k. We have a beautiful home in Los Angeles (an actual house with a front and back yard and a driveway), a beautiful dog that my son adores, and all the love and family a child could ever want and more. We instill values in my son, like work ethic, responsibility, and to always remain humble and appreciative for everything he is given. Above all though, he knows that his father was a good man that DID work and he worked hard for us. He kept us afloat so I could stay home with our son. He also was an ardent member and supporter of the Occupy movement, as reads in the Times article, all true. He was never far away from either one of us, as our apartment was only five minutes away from City Hall. We also would sometimes stay in a tent during weather appropriate nights. He did not leave us to go and fight in Occupy. We were always his number one priority and that was very clear. Alex had a very privileged education, he went to Harvard-Westlake in high school, and UCSC in college. It is true that he was an addict, but that didn’t make him any less of a wonderful person and a wonderful father for the time he was allotted. From the sound of your article you did not do any research on your subject. It sounds as though you do not have much experience and/or empathy for people with the disease of addiction. His overdose was accidental, and it was his first relapse in almost a year. I know how badly he wanted to be a father and have a family. It was heartbreaking hearing that his disease got the better of him, but the disease takes thousands of lives but that does not make any of those lives of lesser value. Yes it is true that you did not use words such as “bad “or “worthless “ , but don’t cower behind your words when you knew very well your implications and your intent behind your article. It is clear by your words that you do not have a very well rounded outlook on life. It was also very transparent that you do not have much experience with the things that you write about. If you do indeed have any experience with addiction it is probably one fueled out of resentment and not of a sound mind. As I write this I feel petty for even responding to such a small minded writer on such a tiny little platform, but I remind myself that this is cathartic and there is nothing wrong with that.

    I’ll leave you with this, I hope that you are doing well in your life and if you are truly a father I hope that your endeavors to be said father are going well. Life is full of the unexpected and no matter how hard you try and how well you are doing, death and hardships will always be near. But take comfort in knowing that you are doing the best you can while you are here.

    • PE
      18 Aug 2018 at 7:37 pm

      Hi Devon –

      My experience with addiction is that my dad was an alcoholic and my sister was a drug addict until she ran out of money, after which she drank herself to death at a rather young age. In hindsight, I could say they were wonderful people whose disease got the best of them, but they weren’t. They caused a great deal of pain to everyone around them.

      Best to you and your son …

      pe

      • Devon
        22 Aug 2018 at 4:37 pm

        Just as I suspected, you sound like you have resentment. I know what it is to resent. My mother used my entire life and continues to use today, she is also mentally ill. She was never there for me and my father was a raging alcoholic who has long since passed as well. My childhood was broken and dysfunctional because of this disease and I spent most of my adolescent life and some of my adult life resenting them for it. I also battle addiction. I have been clean and sober for over 9 years now and am so grateful for my recovery and life today. I was lucky, The disease didn’t take me away and I was able to benefit from recovery. Unfortunately not everyone is dealt that hand. I realized today that resenting the ones in my life with this disease or anyone for that matter only hurts me in the end. I know this may sound like some hippie 12 step rhetoric, but it couldn’t be more true. When I learned to let go of my anger and my resentment, I felt lighter and happier. I knew that my parents do/did love me, but some people cannot find their way out and it’s really sad and unfortunate but it’s reality. There is no such thing as a perfect world and people are going to hurt us and people are going to leave us, but the more that we hold onto the pain and the memory of those things the more space we put between our own personal happiness. Have you ever heard the saying “resentment is like poison, you’re only hurting yourself by drinking it“ ? It’s very true.

        I hope you can learn to let go and forgive. While you may not see yourself resenting are holding on to anger, Reading your article it is all too transparent. Anyone else who has dealt with the life experience that we have will also be able to see that. This only makes you look angry and ignorant, not at all enlightened.

        Be well stranger. If the anger and pain are no longer serving you, try forgiveness instead.

        PS- While your loved ones may have not been the best of people in their life, that does not mean all people with this addiction are horrible. Not everything in life is that narrow/black-and-white.

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