‘We want how hard she fought to be a part of her story’: Family writes of Maine woman’s struggle with addiction in heartbreaking obituary

"We do not want people to feel sorry for her because she struggled with addiction and succumbed to it."

Maggie Brown. —Provided.

Maggie Brown had a vivacious spirit.

She was a talented writer and wanted to become a veterinary technician.

She loved to sit by the ocean in Maine, where she lived in Portland.

On March 29, the 25-year-old, who would have celebrated her birthday on April 22, died of a drug overdose at her mother’s home, her family told the Portland Press Herald.

“I have a mixture of relief and grief,” her mother, Susan Joyce, told the newspaper. “I’ve been trying to save my daughter for 12 years. I’m trying to figure out what my new normal is.”

In the obituary for the 25-year-old, Brown’s family wrote of the young woman’s loves, how she always enjoyed being out in nature and had a “special connection” to animals.

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“She had such a way with words and sharing guidance with those around her,” her family said in her obituary. “Above all, she loved her family and friends incredibly.”

Brown’s sister, Anna, told the Press Herald that her sibling had struggled with substance use disorder since she was a teen and also dealt with depression, ADHD, and bipolar disorder for years.

Joyce told the Press Herald that her 25-year-old daughter had overdosed at least six times and had been arrested several times on charges including possession of drugs and operating under the influence.

“I can’t tell you how many times I cried at the hospital and said, ‘Please don’t release her. Please. I’m going to get a call. She’s going to die,’” Joyce told the newspaper. “Never mind a wall. Save the ones who are here and need the help.”

Brown was released on March 21 from Maine Correctional Center, where she’d been incarcerated since August, according to the Press Herald.

Brown’s family said in her obituary that they never “gave up hope” for the 25-year-old as she battled her addiction. They wrote that they will “never stop advocating for all those touched by this terrible epidemic and disease.”

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“Our hearts hurt that many people will never see the bright young woman that was the soul and essence of Maggie—the confidante, the intellect, the writer, the compassionate daughter, sister, and friend,” they wrote. “She had the biggest heart. We want how hard she fought to be a part of her story. We do not want people to feel sorry for her because she struggled with addiction and succumbed to it. We do not want the astonishing light that was Maggie to be overshadowed by the darkness of this tragedy. She was not her addiction. She was not her mental illness.”

Read the full obituary for Brown, shared by A.T. Hutchins Funeral and Cremation Services, below:

Maggie Lee Brown

“To be remembered with love is to live forever”

On Earth Day April 22, 1993, Maggie L. Brown, 25, of Portland, Maine, was brought into this world to the loving arms of her mother; on March 29, 2019 her mother was blessed to be with her at her home in her arms when she left. She was the beloved daughter of Susan M. Joyce and Wallace R. Brown. She was the beloved sister of Anna G. Brown.

Maggie had a vivacious spirit that was present the day she was born. She loved being out in nature and spent much of her childhood swinging on hammocks with her family on Chebeague Island, exploring the forests surrounding her home, building fairy houses at Mackworth, and walking the dogs at Community Fields in Falmouth. She loved to sit by the ocean. She had a special connection to animals and throughout her life she was surrounded by many of them. She loved her support dog, Mei, with all her heart. She loved music and reading and found comfort in the worlds that her books created for her. She had a profound curiosity and wonder of the world and was deeply rooted in her spirituality. Maggie had a heart of gold. She was a talented writer and the most wonderful listener. She had such a way with words and sharing guidance with those around her. Above all, she loved her family and friends incredibly. She had plans to travel to Arizona this week to stay with her sister before moving to Seattle with a dear friend for a fresh start. She had wanted to continue school to become a veterinary technician and work with animals.

After a period of recovery, Maggie relapsed and lost her battle with addiction. Our hearts hurt that many people will never see the bright young woman that was the soul and essence of Maggie—the confidante, the intellect, the writer, the compassionate daughter, sister, and friend. She had the biggest heart. We want how hard she fought to be a part of her story. We do not want people to feel sorry for her because she struggled with addiction and succumbed to it. We do not want the astonishing light that was Maggie to be overshadowed by the darkness of this tragedy. She was not her addiction. She was not her mental illness. Maggie had hopes, ambitions, and dreams just like anyone else. We never gave up hope for Maggie and we will never stop advocating for all those touched by this terrible epidemic and disease.

Everyone’s life is like a book: some are long and some are short, but all are complete.

Maggie was predeceased by her father, Wallace Brown; aunt, Elizabeth Brown; maternal grandfather Richard Joyce, and paternal grandparents Lee and Robert Brown. Maggie is survived by her mother, Susan M. Joyce; sister, Anna Brown; grandmother, Susan C. Joyce; stepmother, Susan Brown; step-siblings, Chelsea, Nick, Chandler, and Griffin Villetta. Maggie leaves behind her maternal aunts and uncles; Karen McCallum, Donna Bialek, Jeanne Flagg, Richard Joyce, Anne Joyce, John Joyce, Mary Beth Woodman; her paternal aunt and uncle, Wynne Brown and William Brown; her twenty-three cousins and many loving friends.

There will be a service and celebration of life for Maggie held in July when the grass is green, the days are warmer, and the sun is shining.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to:

The Portland Recovery Community Center
468 Forest Avenue, Portland, Maine 04101

The Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland
217 Landing Road, Westbrook, Maine 04092          

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