A poignant obituary for a young mother is starting conversations about opioid addiction, as the woman’s family struggles to come to terms with her death.
Madelyn Linsenmeir died unexpectedly on Oct. 7 surrounded by her family. Now, in a moving obituary, Linsenmeir’s relatives wrote candidly about her years-long struggle with the addiction that ultimately took her life.
“We loved her more than you can imagine, and are heartbroken at her passing,” Linsenmeir’s sister, Maura O’Neill, tells PEOPLE.
Linsenmeir’s obituary has made its way around the Internet, prompting social media users everywhere to send messages of comfort to the family, think differently about drug abuse and even to share their own stories of addiction. But for the family, they were simply honoring the 30-year-old that they remembered as a loving mother who was “warm, and fearless.”
“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,” the family wrote in the obituary.
“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.”
Linsenmeir first began using opioids when she was 16 years old, the family wrote. She tried OxyContin for the first time at a high school party after her family moved from Vermont to Florida and “so began a relationship with opiates that would dominate the rest of her life.”
Linsenmeir struggled with sobriety several times during her life and, with the birth of her son Ayden in 2014, she worked even harder to transform her life.
“Maddie loved her family and the world. But more than anyone else, she loved her son, Ayden…” the family wrote. “Every afternoon in all kinds of weather, she would put him in a backpack and take him for a walk … she so loved to snuggle him up, surrounding him with her love.”
Ultimately, Linsenmeir relapsed and lost custody of the little boy and the family described the loss as “unbearable” for her. According to her relatives, the past two years have been the hardest for Linsenmeir as the “darkness” of the disease led to “pain and shame.”
However, the family has held onto one of their last good memories, the 12 days Linsenmeir spent with her family over the summer.
“For those 12 wonderful days, full of swimming and 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,” the obituary states. “We believed this until the moment she took her last breath. But her addiction stalked her and stole her once again.”
Concluding the candid obituary, Linsenmeir’s family offered encouragement to those suffering from the disease, and urged readers to educate themselves about the addiction.
“If you are reading this with judgment, educate yourself about this disease, because that is what it is. It is not a choice or a weakness,” they wrote. The family added: “If you yourself are struggling from addiction, know that every breath is a fresh start … It is never too late.”
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Family – Health.com