In the wake of a death, it is often difficult to find a silver lining, seemingly impossible when that death is untimely.
But the case of Nelsan Ellis and his family, his untimely death may be an instrument of education and prevention to those he's left behind. Following his death on July 8th, reports confirmed it due to "complications with heart failure", yet over the past couple of days his father has come forward with the full story- in hopes sharing it will do it justice.
The actor, best known for his work on HBO's "True Blood"- breaking barriers as the lovable, gay short-order cook Lafayette- had struggled for years with alcohol and drug abuse, and after multiple tries at rehab, he decided to take matter into his own hands. According to his father- once he attempted alcohol withdrawal on his own, his body's reaction was simply too detrimental to recover:
“Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life....His family, however, believes that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.”
By releasing the internal circumstances of his passing, Ellis' family does both his fans, and the surrounding community an immense service- not only do they humanize a celebrity, but they offer an ally to those also struggling with what Ellis had.
Alcohol and drug abuse is often societally attached with shame and hopelessness, so much so that victims often put off seeking help- but by sharing the inner works of Ellis' struggle, hopefully the message aids in rehabilitating how we define addiction. Hopefully, as more stories are shared, this culture can learn to accept and not reject those who need us most.
By Cree B. McClellan, AFROPUNK contributor