Not in Vain.

By: Jessica Bonardi

How a mother turned her pain into purpose.

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Today on Up to Speed, we share the journey of an incredible V Teamer who turned the pain of her tragic loss into purpose.

Bobbie Ziemer is a Client Partner in Business Development SLED Sales in Hilliard, OH, and a mother of three. Her first daughter Madison was extremely gifted artistically from a young age, but suffered heart problems. “After high school, she got a really good job and I was happy to see her spread her wings and start to fly,” remembered Bobbie. “I was really proud.”

After Madison underwent heart surgery, she was sent home with liquid morphine. Over time, she became addicted to opioids. “Five or ten years ago, we didn’t know how dangerous opioids were,” Bobbie explained. “That was the beginning of the battle against the disease.”

Three years later, Madison was still struggling with addiction. Desperate to be a good mother to her own two year-old daughter Kinsley, Madison took the advice of an interventionist who suggested a one-year stay at a long-term care facility.

Madison said goodbye to her family and flew to a facility located near Phoenix. On her third day there, the center called Bobbie informing her that Madison had been found unconscious on the floor of her room. They later informed Bobbie that they couldn’t resuscitate her. Madison had died from septic pneumonia.

For Bobbie, the loss was immeasurable. “The thing they don’t tell you is how much of a physical and mental impact trauma has on your body and mind,” recalled Bobbie. “I would say for that first year, I was functioning at 1%. It’s not just the loss of a child or loved one. It’s the loss of everything.”

Bobbie took a leave of absence, but not at first. “I hesitated. I didn’t know if I took the time off, would it mess up my career? Am I going to have a job when I come back? I was still newer to Verizon. But what I found was the opposite.”

She found the time off to be a gift. “I joined a mother’s support group, but it was also therapeutic. I learned that you have to stop beating yourself up. This is a process that you have to go through. And it just helped me to not feel so alone.”

Bobbie wanted to help other parents who find themselves in a similar position, so she wrote “Not in Vain: Mothers Share their Journey through their Child’s Life and Loss to the Drug Pandemic,” a book in which Bobbie and more than 160 other mothers share their journeys through their children’s lives and loss to drug addiction.

To get the book into the hands of as many parents as possible, Bobbie self-published on Amazon with 100% of the proceeds being donated to #NotInVain, a nonprofit organization that provides emotional, informational, and tangible support to mothers who have lost a child to substance use disorder. “Education is key. Our stories need to be out there,” said Bobbie. “This can happen to anybody.”

Meanwhile, she continues on her mission. “I want people to feel safe. By not speaking about it, we’re just contributing to the stigma,” said Bobbie. “People don’t have to suffer alone. There are people out there to help.” She’s also releasing a second volume of the book by the end of the year, with additional stories.

Thank you, Bobbie, for sharing your story with us and for supporting so many parents at a time in their lives when it is needed most.

Need to talk?

If you are dealing with grief or other mental, emotional or physical challenges, our Employee Assistance Program is here to give you and your family the help you need. EAP is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-441-8674. You can also access the EAP online at For International support, go to our EAP site: or go here to access your country specific support number.

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