When Stephanie and Andrew Oswald II sat down to write their 23-year-old son’s obituary, they decided to do something powerful.
They decided to tell the truth.
“On Jan. 27, 2017, our beautiful son, Andrew, died from an overdose of heroin,” the first sentence, juxtaposed with a grainy black and white photo of their son Andrew Oswald III reads.
“We want to share his story in the hope that lives may be saved and his death will not be in vain.
“Addiction is a mental illness. No one plans to be an addict.”
While their son from Hamilton, New Jersey, was an old soul with “a big heart and a bright future”, addiction ravaged his life, leaving him with little to live for other than the high he got from drugs.
Andrew’s parents could see him unravelling, and tried everything in their power to save him.
“We are not sure when he started snorting heroin but as soon as we realised we sent him to a rehab in Pennsylvania,” they wrote. “He spent 90 days there and three months in a sober living house. He got a job and moved into an apartment with two of his sober friends. He seemed to be thriving until we got a call from a friend telling us he was injecting heroin.
“We did everything we could to get him to stop but heroin won the battle,” they continued.
“The day Andrew died, we died along with him… the pain of his death is heartbreaking and intolerable, which is why stories like Andrew’s should not be ignored.”
Now, the mother who exposed her son’s hidden life in the hope of destigmatising the disease that killed him has spoken to Fox News.
Andrew's loss, Stephanie says, was partially the result of keeping "the dirty little secret.”
“None of his friends knew he was doing drugs until he went to rehab,” she said.
While she and her husband were "hesitant" to write such a forthright obituary, and battled feelings they were "outing" their son, the importance of sharing the truth outweighed everything else.