Addie Hampton - GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) - An Upstate obituary is going viral and shining light on a growing problem. The mother of an overdose victim is hoping her story can help break the cycle of addiction.
"Tuesday night, they found her dead. And it was too late," cried Jennifer Woodard, Monday morning.
She prepared to bury her first born, Monday night. 22-year-old Reghan Berry fought a heroin addiction for 4 years. It's an outcome this mother both fought against and predicted.
"I told Reghan on several occasions that I knew I was going to bury her and of course she says "that's horrible to say to me, mama" I told her it was true," said Woodard.
Woodard says she never shied away in Reghan's life from exposing her daughter's disease. Shed hoped that each person who knew would be one more person to hold her accountable.
With Reghan's death, she wants to help other families.
"I want to help, even if it's just one person because this is horrible," she said.
Woodard outlined her pain and terror of heroin in a heartbreakingly honest obituary for her daughter, published this week.
"Every time she relapsed, she killed a little piece of me," Woodard cried.
People are recognizing the struggle that Woodard and Reghan endured.
"That's the bravery of Reghan's mom. By her talking out, other young women and young men will come and get help," said Adam Brickman with Greenville's Phoenix Center.
Brickman says shame keeps a lot of people from finding help.
"The thing that overcomes shame and shame, is love," said Brickman.
Brickman believes love can help conquer frightening new numbers from the Surgeon General.
"1 in 7 Americans will develop a substance abuse disorder in their lifetime and, in Greenville County, that boils down to about 69k people have a substance abuse disorder at any given time," he said.
It's a sobering statistic that leads Woodard to fight by exposing their pain and their love for a little girl who took a dark road.
"She didn't mean to do this, but she's not hurt anymore. So, for selfish reasons I miss her, but I'm happy her fight is over because she had a very hard future ahead of her," said Woodard.
Below is the full text of Reghan Berry's obituary written by her mother:
Reghan was born on Sept, 13, 1994 at Greenville Memorial. She attended Riverside Middle and High School. Reghan leaves behind her loving mother Jennifer and step dad Brian, as well as her biological father Rick Berry. She also leaves behind Jacob and Abigail Woodward, James and Wesley Woodard and Richie Berry, as well as, her maternal grandmother Marguerite Cannon, and many aunts, uncles and cousins. Let's continue to remember the Reghan we all knew and loved!
For many years she fought a heroic battle with addiction. She had been sober a little over two weeks but her disease still had a powerful hold on her. We wish she had recognized the beauty and strength that everyone else saw in her. It has been many long, hard, and agonizing battles for the last 4 years and she fought like a warrior every step of the way. Addiction, however, won the war. To the person who doesn't understand addiction, she is just another statistic that chose to make a bad decision; a very uneducated statement indeed, but none the less that is what they will say, along with some other hurtful statements. We don't care though, because for people who do understand, this is our baby, our oldest, our child, our daughter and my everything. She was a sister, a niece, a granddaughter, a friend, a cousin, a human being with an addiction. She turned to drugs to make her feel normal like everyone else. Heroin told her "I can make you feel accepted, I can make you feel alright, I can make you feel worthy, I can make you feel normal, I make you feel loved and I can make you feel nothing and make you feel like everything will be okay." What it didn't tell her was how it would devastate her family and tear it apart, take her job and leave her penniless, take her home and make her homeless. How it would take her sparkle and smile, how it would take her humor and how it would take and take and take until it took her life. We need to talk and educate the world about this epidemic. My prayers worked and my baby girl may not be here physically, but she is working miracles from Heaven. She could not make me more proud. I love you my Reghan girl. Shine down on all of us and keep working those miracles from Heaven. Reghan never judged a person in her life and opened up her heart to everyone.
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