DANVILLE — When Bridget Farrell included in her daughter's obituary a poem the 23-year-old wrote about her battle with heroin before her death in 2017, she did it in the hopes of bringing attention to the scourge of the opioid epidemic.
Today, the Danville woman is continuing to tell others about her child's harrowing battle and untimely death with the same goal — and to comfort other grieving mothers.
Her story is included in a collection, "Not In Vain: Mothers Share Their Journey Through Life and Loss to the Drug Pandemic" available on Amazon.
"I want to decrease the stigma and provide comfort to others who are on this rollercoaster hell," said Farrell. "It's a lonely ride and when you're going through it you feel like you're the only one."
Farrell's daughter, Delaney, had battled drug addiction for years and wrote about it extensively in journals. She had just completed a stint in rehab when she relapsed and died from a heroin overdose.
Farrell and her former husband, Brian Farrell, decided to include a frank poem she wrote about her struggles in her obituary which was viewed more than two million times online.
Overburdened with grief, Farrell eventually logged onto a private Facebook page, Not In Vain, for mothers grieving children lost to the drug epidemic and has found some solace.
"It's helped me immensely," she said. "Nobody besides another mother will understand the pain. We all have guilt."
Pj Champion Sallie, the founder of the Not In Vain Facebook page, also lost a young daughter to the drug epidemic in 2017 and saw the openly honest obituary she penned for her go viral as well.
Five months later she began reaching out to other mothers whose children's death was drug-related.
"Every day more people are joining. We're approaching 5,000 people," Champion Sallie said of the toll the epidemic has taken on so many lives.
Farrell said just knowing there are women who understand and can support her has been a large part of her healing.
At the second anniversary of her daughter's death, Farrell joined several women from the group at a retreat in Florida.
"I didn't spend the day hysterically crying," she said. "We're a sisterhood — in a real awful club — of love, support and faith. With these women, I have 5,000 shoulders to cry on."