“It is impossible to capture a person in an obituary, and especially someone whose adult life was largely defined by drug addiction.”
These are the heartbreaking words of a US mother coming to terms with the death of her daughter, who died after a long struggle with opioid addiction – and whose candid obituary has struck a chord with social media users around the world.
Madelyn ‘Maddie’ Linsenmeir, “a born performer with a singing voice so beautiful it would stop people on the street”, died at age 30 from a staph infection as a result of IV drug use, leaving behind her four-year-old son Ayden.
But as her family mourn the loss of the young mother, her poignant obituary and harrowing glimpse into the life of an addict has started an all-important conversation, as well as a sense of comfort for the overwhelming number of people who know the pain of losing a loved one to drug abuse.
Maddie was an athletic, bubbly 16-year-old when a high school party introduced her to OxyContin, the prescription painkiller that would begin to dominate her life and ultimately lead to her death.
“Maddie was hilarious, and warm, and fearless, and resilient,” read her obituary, posted in full here.
“She could and would talk to anyone, and when you were in her company you wanted to stay… being loved by Madelyn was a constantly astonishing gift.”
But while the words captured Maddie’s lasting impression on the world, and the elements of her glowing personality by which her family will always remember her – they also depicted the darkness of her relentless struggle and the toll it took on her family. A family whose hope that she could someday overpower the drug’s stronghold was never-ending.
“To some, Maddie was just a junkie — when they saw her addiction, they stopped seeing her,” wrote her family.
“Her disease brought her to places of incredible darkness, and this darkness compounded on itself, as each unspeakable thing that happened to her and each horrible thing she did in the name of her disease exponentially increased her pain and shame.
“For 12 days this summer, she was home, and for most of that time she was sober. 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. We believed this until the moment she took her last breath. But her addiction stalked her and stole her once again.”
Throughout Maddie’s adult life, she lost custody of her son and was in and out of the “system” – a system her family says is “failing addicts every day”.
Now, they speak of the somewhat sense of relief they feel knowing Maddie is finally free.