Families remember lives of loved ones who died from addictions

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) Not many can remember what they were doing exactly one year ago, but Tuesday marks a moment Kathi Green will never forget.

Families of loved ones who died of addictions met Tuesday to remember their lives.

"It's like waves are just coming back at me over and over and over," Green said. "8:30 at night, my doorbell rings when I found out it was my daughter that died in the Anchorage jail."

It's this day one year ago Kim Whitaker, founder of R.E.A.L. About Addiction said prompted several gatherings around the state to remember loved ones lost to addiction.

Events were held in Anchorage, Wasilla, Fairbanks, Soldotna and Juneau on Tuesday.

Kellsie Green died while detoxing in custody.

"She died of the thing that she feared most, the thing that kept her an addict was a fear of detoxing, the suffering," Green said.

As Green grieves the loss of her daughter, it's also a hard time for Lisa Sauder who is coping with the recent loss of her son last month.

"We lost our oldest son on December 3rd to an overdose, he had been a heroin addict off and on over the last three years," Sauder said.

Sauder's son, Tucker had what she describes as a typical childhood.

"We had a lot of good times, a lot of good trips, a lot of good memories," Sauder said.

By age 20, Tucker was living in Oregon and fully gripped by a heroin addiction that eventually led to multiple health complications including an open heart surgery at age 23.

"He and I talked very frankly about it many times and I told him, I said you know 'you're like a cat with nine lives and you've already used up eleven of them,'" Sauder said.

After her son's death, Lisa said she finds comfort in meeting with others who share a similar pain.

"It's a disease and it's gonna keep killing people if we don't talk about it, remaining silent's not gonna help anyone," Sauder said.

Green said Kellsie tried to make a change before her death, creating a new Facebook page.

"This is how she described herself," Green said. "A heart full of love, a soul full of faith, a mind full of wisdom and a believer in miracles and unfortunately her miracle didn't happen, so I'm hoping that we can come together as a community and have a miracle and end this epidemic."

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