Coleen Singer, of Bangor, Maine, passed away on Christmas morning 2014, at the far-too-early age of 32, but her obituary was published only this week, penned by her ex-husband, Brent Singer, a local attorney in Bangor. But his unusual, poignant, and controversial obituary for his former wife has gone viral, not simply for his touching tribute to his ex-wife but for the fact that he employed the obituary as a platform to attack Maine’s Republican Governor Paul LePage.
“She was a victim of herself, of LePage’s politics, of our society’s continuing ignorance and indifference to mental illness, and of our society’s asinine approach to drug addiction,” wrote Singer.
Coleen Singer died as the result of a heroin overdose. Her complete obituary can be read at this link.
Brent Singer decsribed Coleen as “intellectually gifted and artistically talented, quick to grasp complicated legal and philosophical concepts,” also saying that she “was capable of great compassion and would give the shirt off her back to one less fortunate.”
She also could be unscrupulous, “a thief and a liar,” he wrote, adding that Coleen’s mother was barely able to eke out a living and had her own drug problems, but managed to make a good home for Coleen when she was young. Coleen suffered from an insidious mental illness known as borderline personality disorder.
LePage was one one of 23 Republican governors who refused to take the federal funds available under the 2010 Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act — better known as “Obamacare” — to expand state Medicaid programs, the publicly run health care programs designed to provide low-income families and individuals with health coverage.
According to estimates, about 4 million Americans were left uncovered by the governors who refused to expand Medicaid, which in Singer’s state is known as MaineCare.
“I was very sad when Maine continued to block the Medicaid expansion since I knew Coleen, and others like her, would not be able to get medical and dental care they needed, and would just go without until it was acute and they literally show up on the steps of St. Joseph Hospital,” said Singer, in comments to The Bangor Daily News. “Not to mention her inability to pay for the [methadone] clinic with the loss of MaineCare.”
In the obituary, Singer writes that his late ex-wife had used methadone, as many heroin addicts do, to alleviate the often severe symptoms that come with withdrawal from heroin addiction. But without MaineCare coverage, she no longer had access to methadone clinics, and turned back to the cheaper alternative of heroin as a result.
“Coleen wanted to get back into a methadone clinic, but LePage and enough republicans in the Legislature said ‘No’ to the Medicaid expansion,” Singer wrote. “It is no stretch to say that but for LePage’s veto of the Medicaid expansion, Coleen probably would not have shot the heroin that ended her life.”
[Image: Brent Singer via Portland Press Herald]