Sarah Hepola, author of the memoir, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, remembers Friends star Matthew Perry, his personal struggles, and how he worked tirelessly to help other substance users get and stay clean.

Of course, Perry’s biggest claim to fame will always be Chandler Bing. Could that be any more obvious? But by opening the door to the humiliations of his life, his failures and not-good-enoughs, he gave untold companionship to the lost and lonely, and he showed that change was possible. Fleeting at times, excruciating at others, but: possible.

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing turns out to be the obituary he did not know he was writing for himself. As sad as that is, consider how few people get to write such an extraordinary obituary. One that doesn’t merely document a life but might save them, too.