MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A powerful obituary for a Vermont woman with opioid addiction has inspired more than 100 donations to a local recovery center from around the country and as far away as Denmark.
The family of 30-year-old Madelyn Ellen Linsenmeir posted an obituary for her after she died Oct. 7 that appeared in several newspapers and has been widely shared.
Her relatives wrote that she first tried OxyContin at a high school party, starting a relationship with opioids that dominated her life. For years, they wrote, they feared her addiction would claim her life. The obituary did not say how she died.
“To some, Maddie was just a junkie — when they saw her addiction they stopped seeing her. And what a loss for them. Because Maddie was hilarious, and warm, and fearless, and resilient,” they wrote of Linsenmeir, noting she was the mother of a toddler.
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Drug addiction is not a choice or weakness, they wrote, and people struggling with it need and deserve empathy and support.
In lieu of flowers, the family asked friends and relatives to consider donating to Turning Point Center, where they said Linsenmeir “felt supported.”
By Wednesday, the center had received more than 100 donations, ranging from $5 to $1,000, said Larry De Carolis, executive director.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity,” he said. “Many of them have been from people who lost a loved one; many are from people who have struggled with addiction themselves and are in recovery now, and many are just citizens who were touched by the obituary and wanted to do something.”
Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo lamented on Facebook that people were paying attention to her particular story and not the larger problem of the many who have died opioid-related deaths.
“And what about the rest of the victims, who weren’t as beautiful and lived in downtrodden cities or the rust belt? They too had mothers who cried for them and blamed themselves,” he wrote.
More work needs to be done, he said, to help the others who will be next.
“They are all human beings and they need our help. Go. Get to work,” he wrote. “We still need to earn the feelings her obituary inspired in us. We should have felt them years ago.”
The Vermont Health Department said Linsenmeir died out of state but didn’t know where. She had spent time in Sarasota, Florida; Keene, New Hampshire; and Boulder, Colorado.