Loud, loving, compassionate, kind, brave
Sheena had a spark; she was loud, brave, fearless and stood up for her beliefs. She was a beloved mother, daughter and sister; a caregiver by heart. She was also kind, loving, and fought for the underdog.
Sheena was passionate about her job as a State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA) always treating her patients with the utmost respect. Even in active addiction, she went to work, had a vehicle and did her best for her patients. She loved her son, Wyatt, with all her heart and wanted to buy a home in the county, raise him well and be a wonderful mother.
Sheena had many periods of sobriety, as long as seven years, and was very open about her addiction. She used social media as a platform to educate people by telling her story to illustrate how it felt to live with a substance use disorder. Many people have come forward to tell Sheena’s mother, Brenda, that her daughter either saved their life or reached out to them to help.
Her mother remembers Sheena being feisty even as a child. When the biggest bully in 7th grade gave her problems, she punched him and broke his nose. Sheena was a tomboy; she loved to fish and was awarded the Master Angler award many times. At 13, she jumped from a bridge into the river because all the boys were doing it. She had no fear at the time, but her disease changed that; she lost her confidence, her honesty, and fell into a depression.
Her mother remembers her laugh, her beautiful eyes, their Sunday mother/daughter days and doing Sheena’s hair. Her mom felt helpless about Sheena’s addiction and about the stigma people hold about substance use illness. Her mom feels the posttraumatic stress of having the experience of addiction in her life. She has put her grief into advocacy and refuses to hide how Sheena died.
Brenda has started a non-profit focused on children affected by family substance abuse, which is helping to diminish her anger about the loss of her daughter. She is trying to stop the stigma and negative stereotypes surrounding addiction. “Sheena would not want us to cry,” she said, ‘she would want us to fight.’
Sheena’s mother, Brenda Ryan, provided the information for this narrative.
February 2,1985-June 9, 2016
Age 31-Lived with addiction 12 years