Updated: Jul 24, 2020
By Kelle's mom, Debbie
Boone, North Carolina
Our beloved daughter, Kelle Muehleib, left us in the early hours of September 21, 2016, to go home to God. She was only 39 years old. Kelle fought an eight-year battle with chronic back pain and dependence on opioids, which were prescribed for her pain. Eight weeks prior to her death, Kelle announced to her family that she was ready to free herself and loved ones from the daily struggles of living with addiction. She had found an inpatient program that was covered by her insurance, and was ready to embrace recovery.
Tragically, less than two weeks after returning home, Kelle relapsed and died in her sleep. She left behind a large and loving circle of friends and family, including her husband and three-year-old son, who asks about his Mommy every day.
We have been consumed with the shock of her untimely death, trying desperately to understand how our daughter became another casualty of this appalling opioid epidemic. Kelle was our only daughter and my best friend. She was a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), specializing in working with children who were victims of trauma. She was a young wife and mother. Her son was the light of her life. She had the stability of supportive family and friends. We never guessed this could happen to her...to us.
It has been 3 1/2 years since we lost Kelle to prescription drugs that were prescribed to her for chronic back pain. Our pain, her family, continues on. While we live life more easily than we did the first year without her, it is only manageable, not joyful. Her son, who was 3 years old when she died, will be 7 in June. We focus on him; his life, keeping his mother's memory alive. One way we do this is through the nonprofit we started in her memory, Kelle's Krib. This mission fulfills a dream of hers to provide beds and bedding to children who do not have this "luxury" that most of us take for granted. As an MSW in Arlington, VA she saw this travesty too often; school age children who are forced to sleep in a chair or on the floor. This was her passion, her son was her life. Our lives go on, and this is what we can do for her. But it isn't easy.