Not in Vain: Real life stories from Moms on losing a child to drug addiction

According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control, almost 850,000 people have died due to a drug overdose since 1999. And overdose deaths continued to increase from 2018 to 2019. For hundreds of thousands of parents, these statistics represent more than just numbers. They represent the loss of a child.

Toledo-based #NotInVain provides mothers— over 100 more nationwide every day, according to the CDC— with a chance to avoid grieving alone. President PJ Champion started the nonprofit after the loss of her daughter, Christina, to crack cocaine and heroin toxicity. What began as a viral obituary reached nearly two million people and led to the realization of the lack of support groups for mothers’ grief from loss of children due to substance use.

Today, #NotInVain’s members number over 4,000, across all fifty states and nine countries. 

Through an active Facebook community, daily communications, crisis intervention, programs like “Heavenly Holiday Gifts for Kids” that provide comfort to children who have lost their parents during the holidays, as well as a yearly retreat, #NotInVain provides community and support to those affected most by the drug epidemic. The group also connects mothers in need with a variety of resources through their website.

A helpful book
Not in Vain, Mothers Share Their Journey through Their Child’s Life and Loss to the Drug Pandemic, was published in October, 2020. Bobbie Ziemer, an Ohio native, is the mother of three children. She lost her daughter, Madison, on October 10th, 2017, and has since made it her mission to help spread awareness around a taboo topic while creating a safe space for those struggling with grief. Bobbie describes the book as being “filled with over 160 real-life stories from grieving mothers through the initial discovery of a child’s drug use to the devastating end of the journey.

“We have shared what we have learned, the emotional ups-and-downs, the ‘enabling,’ ‘tough love,’ ‘unconditional love,’ the effect within ourselves and our family, and what we wished we would have known or even done differently. Nobody wants to talk about it when it’s happening to them, or how families are completely lost when fighting this disease.”

While the book cannot bring back those who have been lost, it can help mothers who survive such tragedies. 100% of proceeds from both the ebook and paperback versions are being donated to the #NotInVain nonprofit organization. The book, along with other resources, can be found on Amazon or through their website at:

 Join the Movement, Support the Cause
Bobbie Ziemer, PJ Champion, and other women who formed the organization, believe “these real-life stories will further awareness and help provide comfort and navigation to those who arestruggling.” While the book may not provide professional guidance, it does offer a small glimpse into the lives of those mothers who have experienced grief firsthand. To donate, learn more about the book, or seek help among members of #NotInVain, visit their website or send them an email at [email protected].

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