Map helps families remember loved ones lost to drugs

When Jeremiah Lindemann created the map in 2017, he didn’t think people would still be using it today. Sadly, the notifications are increasing.

THORNTON, Colo. — “Kevan was kind, gentle, talented, loving and an exceptional fisherman,” Brooke Perez read from the description she wrote about her brother.

It’s the second time she’s posted on the Celebrate Lost Loved Ones map, a place where family members can share about a person they love who died from opioid use or addiction.

The first time Perez posted was in 2017 when her sister died from a fentanyl-laced heroin overdose.

“My brother and sister both suffered for over a decade with this addiction and even when my sister died it was kind of, it still was this tough love approach,” Perez said. don’t reach out to us, it’s a choice’ kind of thing. And just kind of educating ourselves on this, me and my family, it’s not a choice it’s a disease.”

Perez shared Krystle and Kevan’s stories and photos as a way to show they are more than just numbers, but she thought the epidemic would get better.

“No, I did not think we’d be here today,” Jeremiah Lindemann, the Colorado creator of the map, said.

Recently, he’s been getting more notifications from families who have lost loved ones to fentanyl, a drug that has only made the crisis worse.

“Sadly there’s been more families finding it and adding their stories too,” he said.

In 2017 Lindemann made the map to show that the opioid epidemic was everywhere. The first dot on the map was his brother, JT, who died in 2007 after his struggle with an Oxycontin addiction.

“A few years ago it was such a hidden disease. It was something families would want to bury and not talk about,” he said.

Some of that shame and stigma has gone away, but there are still people hiding from help, and hiding from helping others.

Perez hopes that as she tells Kevan and Krystle’s stories even louder, others won’t have to carry the grief she’s become accustomed to.

“It’s something that’s here, that’s now. It’s in our community,” she said. “And we need to talk about it and do something about it.”

Perez also started an organization in honor of her brother and sister called KK Fearless to continue to erase the stigma surrounding addiction.

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