Grieving Parents Shared Their Daughter's Poem About Addiction in Her Obituary

July 7th 2017

The drug overdose epidemic continues to get worse every year, with 2017 shaping up to be the deadliest year yet for deaths from overdoses of painkillers or heroin.

The vast majority of these deaths happen anonymously, tucked away in stories of "overdose clusters" when dozens of people land in hospitals at a time. But Delaney Farrell's death has become national news.

The Selinsgrove, Pennslyvania, woman wrote a haunting poem about her battle with heroin, and after her death, her parents included it in her obituary.

According to her parents, speaking to local station WNEP, Delaney was introduced to heroin at a party when she was 18 years old. Soon, she was one of countless people ensnared in the heroin addiction crisis that's gripped many white rural communities. She battled the drug for five years, and her parents told the station of her up-and-down struggles, getting clean, only to relapse.

Before her death, she was staying at a halfway house and working at a local motel. But an overdose cluster hit the area, and even Delaney seemed to know what was coming.

"She told me the night before she died that she knew all those kids (who) overdosed," her father Brian told WNEP. "She called me and said, 'Did you see it on the news?'"

She was found dead the next day, July 1, in a bathroom at the motel where she worked, part of 50 overdoses that killed at least one other person.

In the aftermath, Delaney's parents wrote an obituary that included the poem, written at some point earlier. In it, Delaney made clear that whatever heroin gave her, it took away far more.

"Funny, I don't remember no good dope days," her poem begins. "I remember walking for miles in a dope fiend haze. I remember sleeping in houses that had no electric [sic]." In a stream of consciousness deluge, she recounts shooting up in bathrooms, falling asleep in front of family, blacking out, prostituting herself for a hit, and the constant pain and guilt she felt.

"I remember thinking my family would be better off if I just left them alone. I remember looking in the mirror at my sickly completion. I remember not recognizing myself in my own Damn reflection," the poem concludes. "I remember constantly obsessing over my next score but what I remember most is getting down on my knees and asking God to save me cuz I don't want to do this no more !!!"

Sadly, Delaney isn't the first person whose death was memorialized with an obituary writing. When a 27-year-old Kentucky man succumbed to overdose, his parents shared his writing, which included a sentiment he shared with Delaney: "There seems to be no escape. Some of you will never fully grasp or comprehend this ... I'm stuck, trapped, owned, miserable."

As the opioid crisis has deepened, it seems many grieving parents are doing what Delaney's parents did: using the platform to lay out the devastating effects of addiction, and the unshakable grip the drug had on their loved ones.

Medical journalism site Stat News complied over 50 obituaries from 2016 heroin deaths, and, like Delaney, they serve as pleas for others to get help, lawmakers to devise better treatment options, and the public to simply remember that they existed.

Delaney's parents told WNEP that they've received a great deal of positive messages from others who saw the poem and decided to get help, or help someone else. "If it could help even just one person it would be worth it," her mother, Bridget, said. "What do you think she would have said? She definitely would have wanted me to do it."

Delaney Farrell's full obituary, including her poem, can be found here.

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