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Our Story

The story of The Beading Hearts all began with beaded hanging decorations created by my son, Adam Nuszen.

After struggling for 10 years with mental wellness and then addiction, Adam lost his battle on  November 3, 2015 while in a drug rehab.

When Adam was a child, he was always reminding everyone to look up.  There was so much to miss if we did not look up. As a young adult, Adam felt if we looked up to the stars and sky, there was something more than we could see … that we were all part of something bigger than ourselves. As an adult, Adam reminded us to look up even when we were feeling down. Throughout his life, Adam would string together lettered and color beads to create an inspirational message.

I met another parent whose son had also died from a drug overdose and gave her a strand of lettered beads that read “Look up for Vaughn”.  Janet D’Agostino’s son, Vaughn, years-long struggles with addiction ended the day he died on July 17, 2015.  Janet stated that the beads felt magical and symbolic of Vaughn.  Both of us thought that others would probably have a similar reaction were they to receive beaded strands to memorialize their loved one by their name. Janet introduced me to Maryann Natale whose son, Anthony (Ant), had succumbed to a fatal drug overdose on May 21, 2015.

In the throes of grief after the drug-related overdose deaths of our children, the three of us along with a few other parents would meet and talk about our feelings related to our children’s deaths. We would create strands of beads so they could hang from a car’s rearview mirror, a keychain or anywhere they were easily visible.  We gave the beads to others who were also suffering from the death of their loved one because of substance use.  We found that talking and beading together were broken-heart therapy.  Others heard about us and joined us. During the first annual event that I hold each year in memory of my son, I acknowledged each member and their loved one.  Maryann turned to me and said “Wow, we really are something”. We realized then we had formed something special and that is when we became The Beading Hearts. Currently, we have over 500 members joining us from throughout the U.S.

As time went on, we found some of our group members needed to meet more than once a month. Many who we met were having difficulties functioning on a day-to-day basis because of their grief. Therefore, we decided to hold meetings on a weekly basis to give each other support. We know that one never “moves on” from such a tragedy. Instead, our intent is to help one another to move forward.

Besides our in-person and online weekly meetings, our group has grown to such an extent that we now perform outreach by visiting jails and sober homes. We want to make a difference by offering hope and encouragement to those with a history of substance use.

We attend local street fairs and other events to sell our beaded items and raise awareness of addiction and the unique challenges of overdose grief.  Money from the sales enables us to subsidize our activities that help people affected by addiction and their families.

Our aim is to heal broken hearts, one bead at a time.

Linda and Adam Nunzen
Linda Nuszen & Adam
Janet D'Agostino & Vaughn
Maryann Natale & Anthony