Opioid addiction crisis spurs brutal candor in obituaries

Andrew Oswald kept a secret.

Friends and neighbors in his hometown of Hamilton, N.J., knew Oswald as a gifted writer, a music buff and the kind of guy parents wanted their sons to hang around and their daughters to date. On Jan. 27, Andrew died at the age of 23. His parents unsparingly shared his secret in his obituary. “Our beautiful son, Andrew, died from an overdose of heroin,” read the first sentence.

It’s a grim trend that follows the explosion of deaths around the country due to opioid addiction. Once a forum for sweet memories and floral language, obituaries for the casualties of opioids are becoming a platform for frank cautionary tales.

“We want to share his story in the hope that lives may be saved and his death will not be in vain,” Oswald’s parents explained farther down in the obituary. “Addiction is a mental illness. No one plans to be an addict.”

If baring the shame behind the failed struggle of a lost soul is jarring to other friends and family, that’s just the point. Now, there even is a Twitter account that posts links to the obituaries of people who have died of overdoses or tainted opioids.

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