'We Don't Want Her Death To Be In Vain': Making Meaning Of An Overdose

Celebration Of Life

KERNERSVILLE, N.C. -- February 8th is Lauren Church's birthday.  Her whole family is celebrating at Sedge Garden UMC in Kernersville.  The only person not there to celebrate is Lauren herself.

Lauren passed away Christmas Day in 2017.  In her obituary, her family opens up about her struggle with addiction.  They paint a very painful picture of the way addiction plagues not only their family, but their community.  The obituary explains that while first responders tried to revive Lauren from a heroin overdose, they had 5 other fatal overdoses called in in the Winston-Salem area.  The shock and devastation hit her family hard.

"Knowing that we're never going to get to see her again, not in this life, anyway," says Cara Otey, Lauren's older sister.  "Watching her 8-year-old daughter lose her mom. That's been pretty rough. It was fairly sudden and unexpected for us. That part was rough, as well."

Lauren is survived by a very loving family, including her 8-year-old daughter Addison.  Lauren's sister Cara says Addison has been staying with family and has been well-cared for.

On Lauren's birthday, her family came together for a Celebration of Life.  Lauren would have been turning 28.

Photos: Celebration of Life For Lauren Church

"She was a great sister, she was a great aunt to my newborn daughter," Cara tells. "Her laugh. How she could turn any situation into a fun time. I think I miss that the most."

Just like Lauren could find good in any situation, her family is trying to do the same.  They wanted to open up about Lauren's addiction struggle to try and help other people who are battling the same beast.

"We wanted people to understand that addiction has a face and that if you don't beat, you're going to end up where she is," Cara says.

Cara says Lauren tried hard to fight addiction, even going to several treatment centers.

"It always grabbed her. It always pulled her back in. And unless you're an addict, you don't understand that."

Now the focus is on encouraging others to get help.

 "If it can save one person, getting her story out there, then her death won't be for nothing."

To read the obituary for Lauren Michelle Church, click here.

© 2018 WFMY-TV


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