One mother and father in Butler County suffered the ultimate loss of their daughter to the substance, and they decided to take the boldest of measures to save other people's lives.
Confronted with the sudden death of their 18-year-old daughter, Alison Michiko Shuemake, Fred and Dorothy McIntosh Shuemake made a defiant decision: they would not worry about any finger-pointing, whispers or family stigma.
They directed the funeral home to begin Alison Shuemake's obituary by stating flatly that she died "of a heroin overdose."
"There was no hesitation," Dorothy said. "We've seen other deaths when it's heroin, and the families don't talk about it because they're ashamed or they feel guilty. Shame doesn't matter right now. What really matters is keeping some other person, especially a child, from trying this ... We didn't want anybody else to feel the same agony and wretchedness that we're left with," she said.
She and Fred, a retired Middletown police detective who investigated crimes against children, want to promote a potentially preventive dialogue about what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls an epidemic.
(Associated Press. "Grieving parents in Ohio place warning in obit: Alison, 18, died 'of a heroin overdose.'" Cleveland Plain Dealer. September 07, 2015.)
I am printing Alison's obituary in respectful memory of her passing. I encourage every parent or guardian of an adolescent child to share this post with their young one. I believe Fred and Dorothy McIntosh Shuemake are incredibly strong people -- loving, responsible parents who want to see something good happen out of the tragedy that befell their family. Their efforts are commendable.
This horrible health epidemic strikes without respect to class, age, or educational achievement. It is evident from her obituary that Alison was an active, commendable young lady with a promising future. We must stop heroin in its tracks -- now.
Alison Michiko SHUEMAKE
1996 - 2015
SHUEMAKE, Alison Michiko Age 18, of Middletown, OH passed away Wednesday, August 26, 2015 of a heroin overdose. She was born December 21, 1996 in Middletown. Alison was a funny, smart, gregarious, tenacious and strong-willed teenager with gusto. Her favorite color was "sparkle" which matched her personality. When she was younger, Alison was in the Girl Scouts as both a Daisy and Brownie. She played basketball, softball, and soccer. She played the clarinet in the marching band and the violin in the orchestra. She was in the Spanish and Sign Language Clubs. Alison had a beautiful singing voice and was artistic. She attended Central Academy K-8, Middletown H.S. and was a 2014 graduate of Marshall H.S. in Middletown. She was currently employed with Touch of Elegance and Comfort & Care Home Health. Alison would light up a room. She will be dearly missed by her family and friends. She was preceded in death by her grandmother, Hannah R. Shuemake and grandfathers, Julius A. McIntosh and Haywood Shuemake. Alison will be missed by her loving parents, Fred and Dorothy McIntosh Shuemake; sisters, Natalie R. Holland and Jessica A. Shuemake; brothers, Joshua A. Shuemake, and Justin A. Shuemake; grandmother, Margery S. McIntosh; nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Funeral service will be Monday, August 31, 2015 at 12:00 pm at First Presbyterian Church 2910 Central Avenue, Middletown, OH with Rev. Greg Gibson and Pastor Doug Alder officiating. Visitation will be from 6-8 pm on Sunday at Breitenbach - McCoy - Leffler Funeral Home and again Monday from 11 am-12 pm at the church. Burial will be in Woodside Cemetery. Please visit www.breitenbachfuneralhome.com to send an online condolence.
Published in Journal-News from Aug. 28 to Aug. 30, 2015