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More often than not, losing a loved one in this way can be an isolating experience. People often feel uncomfortable acknowledging addiction. Obituaries rarely mention it as a cause of death. That's one reason it's so hard to calculate the human cost of the opioid epidemic — it's largely invisible.
To change that, Seven Days is creating All Our Hearts, an online memorial project. When launched later this year, the website will document the lives of those who are no longer with us and the people they touched.
If you've lost someone who struggled with opioid-use disorder, please submit a story by filling out the form below. It includes a mix of questions and prompts that we hope will help you describe your loved one.
Your remembrances can educate, change minds, awaken empathy — and inspire action.
In fact, this project grew out of an overwhelming response to an obituary. In October 2018, Madelyn Linsenmeir died of causes related to opioid-use disorder. Her sister, Kate O’Neill, wrote a compassionate and devastatingly honest obituary that conveyed the pain of losing Maddie and offered hope for those still struggling with addiction.
Kate's tribute immediately struck a chord with readers, who shared it on social media. In just a few days, millions of people around the world read it. Many of them, emboldened by Kate’s candor, shared their own stories of loved ones lost to this disease. Others left comments revealing that Kate’s account made them feel empathy for Maddie and others like her.
As a result, Seven Days hired Kate to write a yearlong series, “Hooked: Stories and Solutions From Vermont’s Opioid Crisis.” And we began laying the groundwork for All Our Hearts, which will help others honor their loved ones the way Kate memorialized Maddie.
A few example stories are already published on All Our Hearts. They demonstrate our vision for the site. Please submit your story here.
Gathering these voices together will document the lives lost to opioid-use disorder, and we hope it will serve as a beacon to remind those who are still suffering from it that they’re loved.
As Kate wrote in Maddie’s obituary:
“If you yourself are struggling from addiction, know that every breath is a fresh start. Know that hundreds of thousands of families who have lost someone to this disease are praying and rooting for you. Know that we believe with all our hearts that you can and will make it. It is never too late.”
Initial funding for All Our Hearts generously provided by Frank Cioffi and the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation.