On her daughter’s 28th birthday, Tina Louden wasn’t celebrating.
She was at home. And instead of watching her daughter Ashley blow out birthday candles, or be loved on by family and friends, she sat in front of a pink urn. Inscripted with her daughter’s name, the urn holds Ashley’s remains.
There was no celebrating on what would have been Ashley’s 28th birthday.
Tina took to Facebook to talk about what she was feeling. “I was hugging her and my phone was right there and I just took a picture,” Louden explained. She shared the picture with a caption “To my daughter’s drug dealer, this is how I spend my daughter’s birthdays now.”
Tina lives in the small community of De Soto, Missouri. She’s hopeful that her post would reach Ashley’s drug dealer.
“I know Ashley took the drugs, but I still believe the dealer should be somewhat responsible,” Tina said. “They are selling this poison knowing that it could kill you.”
Ashley’s fatal journey with drugs began with prescription pills, before heroin took over. For five years the 20-something struggled to get clean and be healthy for her two young daughters. But on July 4, 2013, Ashley overdosed. She was 24 years old.
Tina is unsure whether or not the drug dealer ever saw her post, but her story has been shared more than 250,000 times since August 15. She says she’s received messages from both addicts and their families, saying that the post has inspired them to seek treatment.
Heather Louden, Tina’s other daughter and Ashley’s sister said, “It’s awesome how such a simple picture would be so powerful and meaningful.”
Tina hopes that sharing her story, and the powerful image that goes with it, will ultimately help to save a life. “Maybe it would change somebody,” Tina said. “We live through this pain, every birthday, every holiday, it’s not the same. Part of our heart is gone.”