"To some, Maddie was just a junkie," but to the family and friends grieving the 30-year-old's death, Madelyn Ellen Linsenmeir was "adored as a daughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend, and mother," according to a moving obituary that has caught the attention of the nation and beyond. Linsenmeir, who was from Vermont, died Oct. 7, the AP reports, adding that the obituary's call for contributions to a local recovery center has resulted, as of this writing, in more than 100 donations from around the US and as far away as Denmark. Gary De Carolis, executive director of the Turning Point Center, tells CNN that the "response to the obituary has been nothing less than profound," adding that the family's "courageous act helped change the face of addiction to one that is the face of a brother, sister, mom, dad, friend, and neighbor."
Linsenmeir tried OxyContin for the first time at 16, during a high school party, according to her obituary, beginning "a relationship with opiates that would dominate the rest of her life." Her son was born in 2014. Despite her efforts to stay sober, she relapsed and lost custody—"a loss that was unbearable." But, the obituary says, her family always believed she'd overcome addiction. "We believed this until the moment she took her last breath." The obituary ends with a message of hope to people struggling with addiction ("Every breath is a fresh start") and a call for others to educate themselves about addiction ("It's not a choice or a weakness"). On Facebook, Brandon del Pozo, Burlington, Vt., police chief, wonders "why did it take a grieving relative with a good literary sense to get people to pay attention" to the opioid epidemic. "Maddie is gone," he writes. "But others are next." (These four obituaries also confronted addiction head-on.)