I recently saw a number of posts on a closed bereaved parent’s Facebook page that began with those two simple words, “Just because”. A picture or a series of pictures would be posted along with a short synopsis of the child’s life and personality.
It’s a roll call of sorts.
And it’s beautiful.
Because . . .
Bereaved parents lose the opportunity to post new pictures and brag upon challenges met, goals accomplished, and the hand of God at work in the lives of their deceased children.
The world demands bereaved parents forget, let go, or move forward but our dead children are just as much a part of our present reality in their absence as our surviving children are. Their absence is a tangible presence in our homes just like the college student living in a dorm room or a married child making their own home. The only difference is intense sorrow knowing they will never walk through your door again instead of the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your child is alive and well.
The absence of a child shapes family members just like the presence of a child does.
So, I am extending the offer to the bereaved to post a picture and tell the story of your loved one, be it a parent, child, sibling, friend or mentor. For grief is love bestowed upon an absent recipient and we are told, “They will know we are Christians by our love.”
We, Believers, claim every life is worthy—sacred—be it the born or unborn. Should not we value just as highly the deceased as we do the living?
Just because . . .
Every life . . .
and . . .
Deceased. . .
Carries an eternal legacy.
So post a picture (as a Facebook comment wherever this post is shared since I haven’t figured out how to add a picture to WordPress post comments), celebrate a life, demonstrate your unending love, respect, and devotion
just because . . .
Matters. . .
To God, the creator of life, and to the grief-stricken loved ones left behind.
We were created for eternity more than we were created for this world. The legacy left lives on. Death is not the final chapter—it’s the introduction—the prologue to a loved one’s living legacy. That legacy is an epic novel and it’s only just begun!
March 22, 2017 at 6:26 pm
Janet, I saw your article on Bereaved Parents today that was shared on a grief group page I’m on and your words were so spot on. In the 3 years since my son died I really believe this was worded perfectly and had so much feeling that I have not come across in all the articles and stories Ive read .Im sorry for your loss, by your pictures, did you 3 children? The pain of losing 1 has been more than I can bear I cant imagine more. I’m sending you big tight hugs and prayers for some peace to help fill the hole in your heart. Your girls are absolutely beautiful angels!! I just signed up to follow your blog. Thank you so much for sharing your words and heart.
March 22, 2017 at 6:49 pm
Please accept my sincere condolences on the death of your son, Jed. Yes, I’ve lost three of my four children. My son, Cole, was stillborn 24 years ago and three years ago my oldest and youngest daughters, Bethany and Katie, were killed in a car accident. Thank you for your kind comments about my blog post. Writing has helped me to work through my thoughts and feelings and reach out to other hurting parents. Knowing we’re not alone and that our feelings are entirely normal is is an indescribable relief. I hope others find validation here! Thanks for reaching out to me!
March 24, 2017 at 12:09 am
I lost an infant in utero at 4 1/2 months, but I thought I’d die for years afterwards. I already had a beautiful 5 year old daughter at the time, so I focused on her and assumed that would be all I would have. I was rather bitter. Then God “sent me a kiss” in the form of the perfect pregnancy, and the perfect daughter. She lived to be 26, was planning her wedding, graduated from the university and was working. She was out with friends and was the designated driver, when a drunk teacher entered the Interstate going the wrong way and killed her and a passenger.
I never see blogs or advice for parents who are bereaved who have to open the scab on their wounds every year to go to the Parole Board, discuss the accident, show photos of the life and death of their child, and tell the Board about the anguish they suffer. It’s repetitive and prevents any sense of healing.
Drunk driving falls under “negligent homicide” (aka, they didn’t mean it) and allows them to be eligible for parole in 1/6 of their sentence in Arkansas. Depending on the Judge, there is no jail time. But attending the Parole Board is sheer agony because you spend months preparing, going through photos, collecting letters from friends, and writing a speech. It turns me into a crazy woman every year. There is no healing. And soon I must face the fact that the killer will walk out of jail into the arms of HER child, while I still do not have mine.
So, I’m looking for articles regarding the constant grief faced by parents who must go to Parole Boards before they can even think about the healing process.
March 24, 2017 at 8:00 am
I am so sorry for the losses you’ve endured and all the traumatic events that have occurred as a result. I wish I could help you find what you are looking for but as of now, I haven’t come across a blog like you describe. Repetitive parole hearings sound like a cruel form of torture of the innocent.
In our case, the man who caused the accident that killed my daughters was not charged with vehicular manslaughter because he was not driving under the influence. Instead he was charged with misdemeanor Careless Driving in spite of the fact that he was driving without a license. It was later revealed that the day of our accident he was cited for driving without a license for the third time. A felony. He was ticketed for a second offense because his last name was misspelled on the citation for his second offense.
Our case was further complicated by the fact that the Careless driver had pulled in front of a speeding truck. Both drivers were therefore able to blame the other for the accident.
I spent countless hours researching and preparing a victim’s impact statement to read in court. While I read that statement (which is written for the judge and not the defendant) the judge was doing something on his computer – not listening to me.
Our attorney explained to me that the actions of the speeding driver were not relevant for a Careless driving charge but the judge split the maximum charge in half because there was another driver involved. He sentenced the Careless driver to a six month suspended jail term and a $500 fine. So this guy got away with a felony due to a clerical error and then received a slap on the wrist because the accident was not considered to be solely his fault. All those hours wasted on a judge who ignored me and then used invalid circumstances so he wouldn’t add the the overcrowded jails situation.
Our circumstances are not the same but I understand what you’ve been through on a much smaller scale. I understand how repulsive it is to know the person who stole your child from you will not serve the entirety of their sentence but instead only a small fraction. I understand how it feels to know that individual is enjoying life when they’ve stolen life from another. And I understand the fear of that person doing the same thing to another family.
You have been repeatedly re-victimized by the judicial system and it’s just not right. I do believe that God will see that justice is fully served in His time. While it helps to know that it doesn’t make it any easier to live with the reality that not only did the man who killed my daughters claim he was not responsible but the judge basically did the same thing in a complete miscarriage of justice. I’m sure the awareness of God’s perfect justice is less than satisfying to your mother’s heart as well.
I commend you for your efforts to get as much justice as possible for your daughter. Yet, I think you are correct in stating that the cyclical reliving of the collision and fight for justice does make it very hard for your heart to heal. You are just repeatedly traumatized by the parole board hearings.
There is a form of trauma counseling that might be of benefit for you. It’s called EMDR and has been found to be effective for the many different causes of trauma people experience in this life. It is not traditional talk therapy. It might help you cope better with the annual parole hearings and prepare you for the day the justice system releases the perpetrator without serving her full sentence. It doesn’t make the wrongs right but can help you find much needed healing in spite of the lack of true justice for your daughter. You need and deserve that for yourself to free you from the prison you’ve been locked into as a result of the way our justice system works (or fails to work is far more accurate).
If I come across a blog post that addresses your situation I will send you the link. Please accept my condolences for the loss of both your infant and your 26 year old daughter. My heart aches for all you have been through.
March 24, 2017 at 6:54 pm
Bless you! I’ve never had anyone even understand! I will check out the EMDR.
Also, I don’t trivialize the horror that you’ve endured, my heart aches for you as well. Bless you for having the energy to do this.
I reach out to Kathy’s friends who are young adults now doing marvelous things, and give donations in her name. People need to understand that grieving parents don’t want their child’s memory or name to die with them. So, I do my best to prevent that.
Thank you again!