Woman's heartbreaking obituary sheds light on realities of opioid addiction

An obituary for a woman who died after struggling from drug addiction is shedding light on the power of addiction, and is a message to help people see the disease for what it really is.

Madelyn Ellen Linsenmeir, who passed away on Oct. 7 at the age of 30, was “hilarious, warm, and fearless,” and “suffered from drug addiction” for years, her obituary says.

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“While her death was unexpected, Madelyn suffered from drug addiction, and for years we feared her addiction would claim her life. We are grateful that when she died, she was safe and she was with her family,” the obituary, published by Vermont news outlet Seven Days, says.

Linsenmeir, who was born in Burlington, Vt., first tried OxyContin at a high school party. This experience “began a relationship with opiates that would dominate the rest of her life.”

“It is impossible to capture a person in an obituary, and especially someone whose adult life was largely defined by drug addiction. To some, Maddie was just a junkie — when they saw her addiction, they stopped seeing her. And what a loss for them,” it reads.

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“She could and would talk to anyone, and when you were in her company you wanted to stay. In a system that seems to have hardened itself against addicts and is failing them every day, she befriended and delighted cops, social workers, public defenders and doctors, who advocated for and believed in her ’til the end.”

In 2014, Linsenmeir had a son, and “tried harder and more relentlessly to stay sober than we have ever seen anyone try at anything,” the obit says. “But she relapsed and ultimately lost custody of her son, a loss that was unbearable.”

The obituary says that during this past summer, Linsenmeir spent 12 days at home with her family, where she was sober for most of that time. Those days were filled with swimming, Disney movies and family dinners.

“We believed as we always did that she would overcome her disease and make the life for herself we knew she deserved. We believed this until the moment she took her last breath,” the obituary says.

“But her addiction stalked her and stole her once again. Though we would have paid any ransom to have her back, any price in the world, this disease would not let her go until she was gone.”

People have called the obit “honest” and lauded it for its candid portrayal of addiction. Some have said it’s shedding light on the opioid crisis in the U.S. and highlighting how the epidemic is affecting many younger adults.

The obituary ends by offering support to those struggling with addiction, and also asks readers to educate themselves about the realities of the disease, saying that it is “not a choice or a weakness.”

“If you yourself are struggling from addiction, know that every breath is a fresh start. Know that hundreds of thousands of families who have lost someone to this disease are praying and rooting for you. Know that we believe with all our hearts that you can and will make it. It is never too late,” the obituary says.

“We take comfort in knowing that Maddie is surrounded by light, free from the struggle that haunted her. We would have given anything for her to experience that freedom in this lifetime. Our grief over losing her is infinite.”

“And now so is she.”

If you or someone you know is engaging in problematic substance abuse, please visit the Government of Canada’s substance abuse resources site for help. 

Laura.Hensley@globalnews.ca

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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