At around 11:50am on Friday 7th September, Mac Miller, born Malcolm James Mccormick, was pronounced dead at the age of 26 at his San Fernando Valley home in California. The devastation of the rapper’s passing permeated the music industry, in addition to fans, a small percentage of which have participated in the vilification of his ex-girlfriend Ariana Grande for her perceived role in his death.
The fatal overdose of cocaine, fentanyl and alcohol, was confirmed by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner under “mixed drug toxicity.” This is following research concluding more than 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids — a 2-fold increase in a decade.
Prior to Miller’s death and in a follow-up to a DUI he faced back in May this year, Grande also received backlash motivated by news of her most recent relationship with Pete Davidson after her (amicable) break-up with Miller, which she confronted in a tweet: “I am not a babysitter or a mother and no woman should feel that they need to be.
“I have cared for him and tried to support his sobriety & prayed for his balance for years (and always will of course) but shaming/blaming women for a man’s inability to keep his shit together is a very major problem. Let’s please stop doing that.” The two had been exclusively dating since September 2016.
The very discussion about Grande’s relevance to her ex-boyfriend’s death is indicative of a dangerous notion that one person can ultimately be a salvation for another, and pertains to a larger problem of codependency that is seemingly prevalent among 20-somethings; in an age where it is increasingly easy to be instantly available to one another. Whilst it is crucial that we try to push the importance of checking in with the people we care about, there needs to be an understanding that people in unhealthy relationships are allowed to leave if their own mental wellbeing is at risk of being compromised.
According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, “Before long, addiction becomes the focal point of the couple’s conflicts, and other sources of tension may be temporarily suppressed. However, these sources of disagreement will come back to the surface eventually, especially if the couple denies the problem and refuses therapy.”
Despite having endured grief and terror, the singer’s most recent track, ’Thank U, Next’ — an homage to past relationships and love letter to choosing to be alone — comes from a place of forgiveness and growth, and literally thanks Malcolm along with other previous boyfriends for what they have given her.
The blame attributed to Ariana fuels the dangerous trope of women being caretakers on a fundamental level. The lack of reporting on the impossible burden carried by romantic partners of those dealing with chemical imbalances is ultimately careless. To place importance on awareness of red flags in toxic relationships and then demonise people when they eventually find the strength to leave only proliferates the same ignorance that we are striving to eradicate.
In our efforts to promote mindfulness we mustn’t forget or disregard that of the loved ones who in turn also require an equal amount of attention. We must handle our approach to drug addiction with the utmost care, and have respect for Ariana during what she is currently dealing with; which in this event is the worst case scenario.