Samantha Hope Saunders

“Hope was a good person and a beautiful soul; that part of her never changed.”

Altruistic, beautiful. strong, fearless, healer 

Hope was a “kind, generous, loving and happy girl with a quick wit and a laugh that lit up your world.” She cared about others more than herself and was an excellent caregiver to her grandparents, younger sister and baby cousins. She was gentle, compassionate, loving and thoughtful; “a true ray of sunshine.”  She made everyone feel important, needed and wanted and ended every conversation with “I love you.”   

Hope had diverse interests and talents. She was a natural athlete, playing many sports, though softball was a big part of her life. She also engaged in horseback riding, fishing, camping and working on cars. She loved time with family; playing guitar with her Papaw, working in his yard and doing woodworking with her dad.  

Unfortunately Hope’s drug use affected her schooling and she had to withdraw from high school to attend rehab.  She later earned her GED and registered for college to major in psychology to become an addiction counselor and help others like her; sadly, that didn’t happen.   

Hope’s mother, Sandra, states that the most difficult part of living with Hope during her addiction was fear and denial. The constant fear that her addiction would eventually take her life and the denial that her daughter had been taken over by addiction. “Hope would go from being extremely sweet to cruel darkness, her innocence gone.” Even throughout her struggles, “Hope was a good person and a beautiful soul; that part of her never changed.”  She had accepted Christ as her personal savior and was” God’s instrument” in bringing others to accept Him. Leading her Father to Christ,  Hope felt, was her crowning achievement.  

Her mother misses her smile; her infectious laugh, her spunk and spontaneity.  She misses how deeply loved she felt by Hope and how she made everyone feel better about themselves. She was a fixer – “if you had a problem, she’d find your resolution.”  

Sandra says her life has been “both enlightened and destroyed since Hope’s death.  Enlightened by Hope’s presence, but destroyed by her absence. It is like Hope’s addiction killed them both. She feels that the system to address addiction is broken and the stigma about it prevails.  Though Sandra is doing her “best to honor Hope’s memory by trying to help others;” she feels pretty dead inside since Hope’s passing. “I feel that I’m biding my time until I can be with her again in spirit.” 

Hope’s mother, Sandra Radford provided the information for this narrative. 

March 3, 1994 – July 18, 2016 Age 22 – lived with addiction 7 years

Story by
Sandra Radford

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