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October 22, 2019

10/5/2019 7:30:00 AM
Alessandra Nicole Stensrude

Alessandra Nicole Stensrude, 28 of Rhinelander, passed away on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019 at Ascension St. Mary's Hospital.

Aley was born on Thursday, May 30, 1991, at Elmbrook Hospital in Elmbrook, Wis., the daughter of Bradley T. and Christine A. (Culley) Stensrude. The family lived in the Milwaukee area and summered in Three Lakes on Four Mile Lake. She was a graduate of West Bend East High School in 2009. Aley attended Nicolet College in Minocqua where she studied Journalism. She had an inner and outer beauty. Aley was represented by the Victors Modeling Agency of Chicago, Ill.

Aley enjoyed traveling, she loved attending Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studio in Orlando, Florida and attending as many Britney Spears concerts with Christine as possible. Family trips to Mexico and Universal Studio were her favorite.

Aley will be remembered for her generosity, her laugh and smile and having a big heart.

She will be dearly missed by her parents, Bradley Stensrude of Slinger, and Christine Stensrude of Three Lakes; loving sister, Courtney Stensrude of Rhinelander; maternal grandma, Nancy Wendt of Rhinelander; paternal grandfather, Larry Stensrude of Ft. Meyers Beach, Fla., maternal grandfather, Carl Culley of Evansville, Ind. and an aunt, Stephanie Kaither of Rhinelander. Also surviving are paternal aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives and many friends.

She was preceded in death by her paternal grandma, Joyce Stensrude.

A Celebration of Aley's Life will take place at a later date.

Sharing a very honest story about my sister Alessandra Stensrude who passed away on Sept 8th at the young age of 28.

My heart goes out to anyone who has someone they love that is addicted to drugs or alcohol. It's a "tricky" relationship to find a balance of. I don't think I ever got it "right" with my sister... but what is right?

My sister and I growing up were best friends and I always felt like I had to look out for her and I did as much as I could. I always remember worrying about her and being all big sistery! Aley & I went drinking together all the time but I always looked out for her. (I had my own issues with alcohol dependency early on but that is my story though that I may share sometime).

As the years went on into our 20's I started to realize her drinking wasn't just a "phase". I don't know if there was pain, she was trying to cover up from something I wasn't aware of but It didn't matter if she was happy on vacation, happy in love, or sad... drinks always started and ended the day. She also eventually started to get very mean and physically and mentally abusive to myself and others close to her. She would hurt my feelings deeply.

She passed out from drinking more and more often. She would mix certain drugs/ pills while extremely intoxicated. She had hospital scares, lost friendships. I had to distance myself from her, it got to a point where she wasn't good for my health. I couldn't be that big sister for her anymore... nothing I said mattered to her. She would just hurt me and be cold as Ice. The sister I knew was fading away more and more as time went on. I remember always thinking "that's not Aley, that's not my sister".

My family decided about 5 or 6 years ago to stage an intervention in Miami (where I was living at the time) with one of the best & expensive guys out there. I remember that day was the hardest day of my life (until the day I learned she died).

Back then I myself was still "new" to learning to do difficult stressful things without drinking. But I did it sober (still proud of myself for doing that it was hard for me back then).

Reading my letter to Aley I still remember shaking uncontrollably and crying getting the words out. Aley fought hard to not go to treatment...very hard. She yelled at us probably every name in the book, threw things.

We ended up getting her to go to treatment because she had no other choice & was going to get taken by police and forced to treatment anyway. It was very hard for my parents as well but we all knew she needed to go. I can't remember after that how long she stayed Or stayed sober but I know it wasn't long enough on both.

She didn't take her treatment seriously or believe she had a problem. Our family was told if she was drinking to not talk to her and tell her we love her but she needs to get sober. That was a more difficult thing to do for some more than others, but we all did our best. After that intervention my relationship with Aley was never the same. Our relationship was "distant" and it killed me inside. I also never drank around her for years after that in support of her even though she told me I could.

More hospital stays and rehabs happened later which were all forced by 3rd party petitions, she never wanted to check herself in. It was all her family who forced her to save her life. And who knows maybe we already did a few times back then & avoided her doing something.

She had doctors tell her she won't make it past 30 if she didn't "quit today". Doctors warned her but it never clicked with her. I've heard Dr Drew say the mind of an alcoholic is of the age they started drinking heavily at. That was 15 or 16 for Aley. She never knew an adult life without alcohol or who she was sober. She never did. I think that is why it didn't click for her. Her brain just wouldn't think that way and her brain was getting worse every year with what she was doing to her body. She became an angry and sad person- all the time. Her light dimmed more and more. She would be sweet to friends & full of life and when she went out drinking. But deep down she was a very, very, sad girl. Only a few people could see that.

I remember the times she did stay sober after a rehab stint for a few months and those memories I loved so much. She was still troubled but Aley was more present and I could see HER more. But it was always this bittersweet moment because I knew she would go back to drinking and this relationship would all be over again.

The last year of Aley's life I only saw her a handful of times. We didn't text as often about real life... more just silly things.

I honestly avoided seeing her. It hurts to say that but it was the truth. It hurt seeing her drunk and sad. After years of suffering and begging for her and it never helped, I stopped reaching out as much.

It affected me so much and my mood would be ruined when I saw her or when people would talk about her. I wanted nothing more than to save her and help her but it was like talking to a wall. She loved hearing what I would say but NEVER did one thing about it. She kept unhealthy relationships because she needed the attention from people and the distraction to party. She loved the company of other addicts because they never told her to stop like her family did. It was all very sad.

(I also don't blame those people by the way, they all have their own stories and journeys to recovery. And I know my sister wasn't a good influence on their addiction either.)

The last time I saw Aley was a few weeks before she died. We had a nice day out by the lake with family having dinner. Her eyes were pure yellow as they had been for a few years now, skin yellow, her feet swollen.

She was cold so I gave her my sweater. She wanted to wear it home with her and I was like Aley no I know you'll lose it!! And laughed. She said She wouldn't and I'm happy I let her take it home because that was the last time, I would see her on earth.

She spent the week before she died drinking heavily. She called me drunk one of those nights telling me a personal story I won't share but it broke my heart. After our phone call I texted her begging her to get help and to get healthly for herself. All she said the next day was "I love you Courtney" and I said "I love you too"- that was the last thing we said to each other and I'm so grateful for that!!!!!💕💓

She spent the last few days before she died detoxing at my mom's house. My mom kept trying to get her to go get help but Aley was stubborn and would not. My mom even called police/emt's they could not force Aley to go & because Aley was talking they didn't think she needed to be forced to a hospital.

Two days later Aley finally was the one who said she needed an ambulance the night she would die.

It was all too late. None of us expected it to happen that night. It was something we feared would happen down the road but not that night. I didn't even bother texting her when I heard she went to the hospital because she's done it so many times and I wasn't aware of how sick she was the last couple weeks of her life. It just seemed like the same old same old.

The hospital told her that her liver was failing and she had an infection in her foot. Aley asked if she was going to die and the nurse said "not on my watch."

They were trying to get her stable enough to take a helicopter to the Wausau hospital. But she never made it on the helicopter. She died with my mom there.

I wish with all my heart that she would have told me how sick she was the last couple weeks and asked me for help or anyone for help. It was all too late.

The hospital told us later on that they believed even if she had made it to the other hospital she would have died there still. All the what ifs come up... what if she would have made it out of the hospital and this was finally her rock bottom and wanted to stop drinking for good? That is what I would hope. But all my family agreed, myself included, that she most likely wouldn't have been phased and gone right back to alcohol soon after.

All I can say is she is now at peace and no longer suffering. She is now in heaven with that beautiful smile and her true self is there again. That sister that was my true best friend.

She is watching over all her loved ones. I've felt her already.

This may sound bad to some who don't understand family addiction, but I feel in a way I can finally move on? I no longer have to worry about how sad my sister is. Her pain was my pain. My moms and my dad's pain. That was our reality. I couldn't look at old memories when she was alive because it was painful because that's not who she was anymore.

NOW she isn't suffering. NOW she is back to her true self as an angel. NOW I can look back at memories and truly enjoy them. NOW I know she sees my heart and how I always only wanted her to live a healthy, full life with other healthy people around her.

So Back to my question of what is right with how to balance a relationship with an addicted family member... I guess it's just simply doing what you can at that moment. What seemed best at that moment. That's what we all did. It's easy to feel guilt or like I could have done more but we all did what we could, now I hope maybe her story can help someone else. 💕💓💕

The messages I've already gotten from

Other struggling addicts truly touches me. I wish you all strength. And to reach out to me anytime.

Feel free to share this post.

I love you Aley you cared for others so much and would help anyone! Now you can help others while you are in heaven.



Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Article comment by: Bruce Rosebrock

This is heartbreaking - alcohol and drug addiction is out of control in the U.S. Never stop offering a hand up to those in need. Your family and her friends are in my thoughts and prayers. Call someone today and tell them you love them!

Posted: Monday, October 7, 2019
Article comment by: Stephanie Kaether

As Aley’s aunt it is heartbreaking that I will never be able to hug that beautiful young lady again. I remember one day during my cancer treatments, sitting in a room with her and her mother, and her mother saying “Aley, my sister is fighting for her life, and your killing yourself”. I remember the tears in all of our eyes. Addictions come in many forms. In our family we have many. Alcohol, destructive relationships, food, and more. I have hope that our family’s openness and honesty may shine a light on this subject for someone that is struggling. It is extremely difficult to break that cycle, but it can be done! Life is too short to numb yourself with addictions. I personally have broken that bond with addiction, and hope my children will never know that struggle. Aley will be in our thoughts and hearts every day.

Posted: Monday, October 7, 2019
Article comment by: Lin Meisinger

Oh my. . .Courtney, I don't know you, Aley or your family but I am SO touched by your story. Each of us knows someone, or personally, suffers from what you describe. It's all just heartbreaking. Thank you so much for sharing your unvarnished truth in regard to this issue, Aley's struggles, as well as yours and that of your family, I truly believe, will help others. I'm praying for peace for all of you...for all of us.

Posted: Sunday, October 6, 2019
Article comment by: Pete Centner

I'm truly saddened by this. Although I never knew her, I can relate. Sorry for her family.

Posted: Saturday, October 5, 2019
Article comment by: John Terzynski

What a touching and difficult story. Such a beautiful life, cut way short. While I dont know nor never met. As a parent it is very difficult to see this story play out, helpless when we just wat the best. Very sorry to hear this sad chapter of an all too common challenge with aoda.

Posted: Saturday, October 5, 2019
Article comment by: Barb Gambetti

How difficult the loss of your sister must have been both before she joined God and now, after. Thank you for sharing your story. I wish nothing but light and love to surround you, your family, and Aley.

Posted: Saturday, October 5, 2019
Article comment by: Dawn Roesler

This story was heartbreaking thank you for sharing it. Your love for your beautiful sister shines though your words. As you stated, the life of an addict affects everyone.



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