Sarah Beth Nanyes

Sarah Beth Nanyes

Selfless, beautiful soul, big-hearted, lived life to the fullest

Sarah Beth’s personality was larger than life and at six feet, she radiated her presence when she walked into a room. She was stunning and gregarious. She was the silly daughter, always fun, dancing, and having a good time. Sarah Beth looked up to her older sister Rebekah and had great respect for her stepfather, Bob, who understood her illness and was always supportive of her. She and Bob regularly recorded, then watched Jeopardy together. They challenged each other, hitting the pause button while they each answered, then seeing who was right. She always knew she had a place to stay with her mom and stepdad and valued that, often leaving them notes of thanks and appreciation.

The family often took vacations together, going to Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Ireland, and Iceland. At 18, Sarah Beth spent a month backpacking across Costa Rica with a boyfriend. She was proud of herself for doing that. She was free-spirited and often transient. It was during those times that Rebekah helped her by taking in Sarah Beth’s dogs for her. She now has Sarah Beth’s beloved dogs, Blizzard and Stella, permanently.

Sarah Beth had a passion for make-up and tattoos. She had a colorful full sleeve and added more tattoos over time. At one point, she talked about going to cosmetology school, but it didn’t happen. Given her ability to relate well to people, she would have been good at it.

At 14, Sarah Beth was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. “Looking back, she had a lot of quirks,” her mom said. She was possessive of her mother’s attention and was extremely sensitive and easily hurt. When she felt her medication was working, she would quit taking it because she “felt fine.” At about 16, she started self-medicating with marijuana and eventually moved to stronger drugs.

High school was difficult for Sarah because of the medications, drugs, and conforming to school rules. She went to seven different high schools trying to find the right fit for her, but never quit. Refusing to get a GED, she continued with classes and graduated. “A big accomplishment,” her mom said, I was so very proud of her that day.”

Once in the middle of an argument about her drug use, Sarah Beth said to her mother, “You don’t know what is going on in my brain. I actually dream about drugs.” This gave her mother pause and insight into the disease of addiction and how it changes the brain. Michele feels she is kinder and more compassionate to people after experiencing Sarah Beth’s illness. “You don’t know what people are going through.” She and Bob have set up a foundation in Sarah Beth’s memory and Michele checks in on Sarah Beth’s best friend, who also struggles with substance use disorder.

After Sarah Beth’s passing, her family pushed the dining table against the wall and placed her picture there. “Sarah Beth always has a seat at the table,” her mother stated. Michele looks back at videos she has of her dancing and recalls wonderful memories with Sarah Beth. “She lived life to the fullest, living every day like it was her last,” she said.

Sarah Beth’s mother, Michele Cass, provided the information for this narrative.

March 29, 1991-June 17, 2019

Age 28- Lived with the disease of addiction for 12 years.

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