Beautiful, compassionate, contagious smile, loving mother, dedicated friend
Brittany was a beautiful young lady who loved life. Her hair was often as bright as her smile, and although she was an old soul in some ways, she often saw the world through the eyes of a child.
She loved her family very much. Brittany was a mama’s girl and a homebody all through high school. She was full of fun and happily engaged with her family in her teenage years. They spent hours watching “their shows” together. Holidays were something she always looked forward to and celebrated with fervor. The big family meals are still a warm memory for her family. She was grateful for all she received, but she found pure joy in giving her son, Kayden, gifts for the holidays.
Her biggest source of pride was Kayden. He was six when she died. Her favorite part of her life was this little boy. She loved being a mother and there is not a day that goes by where Kayden doesn’t feel her glaring absence.
Brittany was blessed with two wonderful siblings. She loved them both dearly and was supportive of her older brother, Jakob, as he built a life in Vietnam. She also had a very close relationship with her younger sister, Taylor. Brittany was nine years older than Taylor, but she often welcomed the annoying little sister to tag along with her and her friends. Brittany greatly enjoyed participating in gymnastics and cheerleading, and later she loved being the “softball sis” in the bleachers cheering on her sister.
There was great joy in creativity for Brittany, and she could often be found with her bag of Sharpies or gel pens and coloring books. She had an eclectic taste in music, listening to everything from Backstreet Boys to S Club 7, and she loved to drive around listening to music.
She was a wonderful friend to many and always wanted to make others feel welcomed and loved. She was the person you could call if you ever needed anything.
Brittany graduated from the Institute of Business and Medical Careers (IBMC) with a diploma in Medical Assisting. Eventually, she returned to community college to study nursing. It was at this time she began to struggle with her substance use and was unable to continue with her studies. She wanted to pursue a career as an addiction counselor to help others who struggled like she did.
In trying to make sense of the new life her family is forced to live without Brittany, her mother, Jill, became an addictions therapist to try to make a difference. One of the most important takeaways from this experience for Jill is the stigma surrounding substance use disorder (SUD). She advocates for change to combat stigma and uses her story to try to instill change in the systemic views of those who struggle with SUD.
As Jill spoke of her daughter, she thoughtfully mused, “I like to think our sweet Brittany was too bright for this world. That doesn’t make the loss easier, but it helps with the pain. We miss her face. We miss her smile. We miss her laugh. We just miss her.”
Brittany’s mother, Jill Conner, provided the information for this narrative.
December 17, 1989- December 14, 2016-Age 26
Portrait Artist: Shawn Faust
Narrative Writer: Lynn McKnight