Heart-wrenching obituary of a young Vermont mom struggling with addiction gains attention

A heart-wrenching obituary detailing the opioid addiction that ultimately led to the death of a 30-year-old Vermont mother is gaining attention, as the woman’s family seeks to raise awareness over the issue.

Family members wrote the poignant obituary for Madelyn Ellen Linsenmeir, who died on Sunday, Oct. 7. It was published in the Burlington Free Press.

“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,” her family wrote. “Our grief over losing her is infinite. And now so is she.”

When Linsenmeir — who was also called “Maddie” — was 16, she tried OxyContin at a high school party in Florida where she attended a performing arts school, “and so began a relationship with opiates that would dominate the rest of her life.”

“To some, Maddie was just a junkie — when they saw her addiction, they stopped seeing her. And what a loss for them,” her family wrote. “Because Maddie was hilarious, and warm, and fearless, and resilient. She could and would talk to anyone, and when you were in her company you wanted to stay.”

Linsenmeir gave birth to a son, Ayden, in 2014.

“She transformed her life to mother him,” her family wrote. “She sang rather than spoke to him, filling his life with song. . . . Maddie tried harder and more relentlessly to stay sober than we have ever seen anyone try at anything. But she relapsed and ultimately lost custody of her son, a loss that was unbearable.”

The family wrote that in the last two years, Linsenmeir’s addiction took a turn for the worse, bringing her “to places of incredible darkness.”

They wrote that Linsenmeir lived with her family for about two weeks in the summer, during which she stayed mostly sober, leading her family to believe she would overcome her addiction “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,” they wrote.

To those reading the obituary who might be struggling with addiction, Linsenmeir’s family had a message: “Know that every breath is a fresh start. . . . Know that we believe with all our hearts that you can and will make it. It is never too late.”

The family also urged the public to educate themselves about addiction and called it a disease, “because that is what it is. It is not a choice or a weakness.”

A service will be held for Linsenmeir on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Society sanctuary on Pearl Street in Burlington, Vt. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The Turning Point Center, “a place where Maddie spent time and felt supported.”

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com.

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