‘Tell Them My Story': Pennsylvania Woman's Obituary Shines Light on Addiction's Terrible Toll

PITTSBURGH — A short while before Casey Schwartzmier died, she had a frank conversation with her mother.She'd been on Facebook and saw an obituary that had gone viral. It was for a man whose family, rather than writing that he died "suddenly," told everyone about his battles with addiction. Casey, who had struggled with her own drug addiction for years, told her mom that if she ever died of an overdose, she wanted the same thing."Tell them. Tell them my story. Maybe it would help somebody who's struggling," Casey said.And then, in what her mom said was typical Casey fashion, she cracked a joke and began talking about her upcoming trip to California, where she was excited to check into a rehab facility and get help for her addiction."She didn't plan on dying," her mother, Michelle Schwartzmier, said last week. "She didn't want to die. She just said, 'That is what I would want.'"'Would do anything for anyone'On Jan. 10, Casey overdosed — probably on heroin — inside the Ross home where she was staying with her mother, father, Richard Schwartzmier, and younger brother, Eric.The 20-year-old remained in Allegheny General Hospital for five days. Doctors and nurses — many of whom knew her mother, who works there as a radiology technician — came in and out, trying to help Casey as the overdose strained her heart and lungs. There were times when she surprised them, giving them hopes of a possible recovery. But that didn't happen.Casey was declared brain-dead Jan. 15. The family donated her organs. Her liver went to someone in Pittsburgh. Her kidneys went to someone from out of town.And her mother set out to write her obituary — the story of a "feisty and outspoken" woman who "would do anything for anyone and always lit up the room with her smile and sense of humor even while struggling with her demons."She hoped the obituary — rare for its candor — might shed additional light on addiction, which contributes to thousands of deaths each year. "There are so many of them, it literally is wiping out a generation," Michelle said.  Continue reading...

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