Category Archives: Death of a Child


Death of a Child…Age is Unimportant


As I read some of the recent posts to the Grieving Hearts group, it will always be true that no matter when a family loses a child they feel deep sadness for the inability to have seen that child grow beyond the years of their death.

It doesn’t matter whether they were an infant, a teenager, or a 42 year old. It only matters that for their family they won’t have the joy of seeing what they would have done with their life, all the experiences they would have had from that point on and the person they would have become later in life.

When an infant dies the entire cycle of life is considered. All the pleasure of raising that child, watching them grow into a fine young man or woman. Seeing them graduate high school and college. Perhaps seeing them marry and birth children of their own.

Yet when it’s a 42 or even 52 year old child to an older parent, that parent deals with all the additional years they would have had with their child. They also think of how they counted on their child to take care of them in the latter stages of their life.

Regardless of the number of missing years that a parent no longer has the privilege of experiencing, the pain is still great and the hole in the heart still remains. But over time, as grieving and anquish subside, there is a place where it turns to celebration and gratitude for one’s life, however long they happen to be with us.


How It All Began

About a half hour ago my printer spontaneously circled as if to print a document, but none had been requested. Whenever something like this occurs, being so in tune to spiritual happenings, I sat back to wonder what this was about.

After asking out loud for clarity, it occurred to me that on this day thirty-six years ago I lost the first person who ever meant anything to me. The first person who had made such an impact on my life and who, unknowingly, would usher me into this field of study and my profession.

At the tender age of 12, while he was 15, the nephew of my neighbor and I became close friends and he ultimately became the first ‘crush’ I experienced. And while Paul and I were looked upon as ‘forbidden’ because of the differences of our age, he was such a wonderful guy and friend who I cared for deeply.

We’d play Iron Butterfly’s songs and scream the lyrics across the room, help me babysit little ones, watch him study the guitar and try to master difficult songs, taught me wonderful dance steps and just had lots of fun laughing at his funny jokes. And like teenagers do, we stayed on the phone much too long and wrote silly letters to each other.

As fate would have it, he and his family moved away and we became penpals back then. Both he and I went on to meet other wonderful people, but his life would forever impact mine a few years later.

On this day, April 14, 1974 Paul was hit broadside and killed by a drunk driver at the tender age of 19 while pulling out of his driveway. I knew he died in the late afternoon, but when the printer circled at 4:35pm something made me believe it could have been just then.

So I sat back in my chair and just had this simple conversation with him as if his spirit was surrounding me at this very moment. And even all these years later, I filled up with tears because I can still see him in the coffin and how paralyzed I was sitting on the sofa in the funeral home looking at a person who had meant so much to me and it was not registering as to how he could possibly be dead at 19.

Over the years I have wondered how his family had been and what all became of them. I can only imagine how it affected his parents whom I didn’t get to see again.

But this little sign I believe he sent to me today had in its own way comforted me and reminded me that not only has he not forgotten me, but that no matter where we go in life, the people we love and have lost will always shown themselves to us. Their spirits live on.

This lovely, simple confirmation and remembrance today, for me, though bittersweet, reassures me that there is something after this life which we will all reach. And one day we will be greeted by all those who went on before us and when that happens what a heavenly party we’ll have!


Jett Travolta – Death of a Young Son and Brother

No one will ever convince me there is a magical formula for healing from the death of a child.

Regardless of whether it was anticipated or not, there is a struggle to understand it. Parents don’t expect to outlive their children. It’s just the way it is.

When someone so full of life is taken from his family at the tender age of 16, we wonder how something like this could happen. How could such an accident occur; how could he die so young.

One of the most difficult challenges about children dying is there are few answers. It just doesn’t make any sense. We can’t get our heads wrapped around the tragedy regardless how it occurred.

I chose this particular photo of Jett because I just loved his tender expression. From the little I have learned from the news reports, it is clear his parents John and Kelly, and his sister, Ella, loved him dearly and completely.

Everyone should know that level of love in their lives. Everyone should be part of such a dynamic family who, even with their celebrity, seemed to really understand and know that family was the priority.

I send my condolences to the Travolta and Preston family today and also hugs to Jett’s sister, Ella, whom I’m sure misses her big brother very much.

May your family be comforted by the many families worldwide who send their love and concern.

And may you know in your hearts, which is obvious for all to see, that Jett moves on now knowing he was deeply, amazingly and demonstratively loved by you in a way that few of us will ever experience.



Adam Walsh – A Closed Case

It has taken 27 years, 4 months and 20 days for John and Reve Walsh, their family, friends and the committed law enforcement officials to say those words. It has taken 10,005 days!

Think about that for one moment…10,005 days.

Little Adam graced his family’s lives for only 6 years, 8 months and 14 days or 2,447 days before he was brutally murdered by Ottis Toole in Florida back on July 27, 1981.

Doing a bit of math, that says that it literally took three times more days to solve this crime than this precious little one lived on this earth.

When you’ve lived with an unsolved murder, as my former husband, his family and I had for 18 years, you understand this. You understand and learn too quickly that there is only a 61% chance that your loved one’s homicide will be solved in this nation. (See this article and blog.)

Any teacher will tell you that’s a failing grade.

But today we celebrate Adam’s young life and all the good that came from his death. It was his parents’ focus and decision that they would make something good happen from this tragedy which ultimately helped thousands of other families from waiting 27 years for definitive answers. I applaud them.

Meanwhile, to hear my comments on this case and the bittersweet ending, please visit my website. If you’d like to learn more about the history of this case, click here. If you’re dealing with the murder of a loved one, you’ll also find help at my website.

More soon…


The Ultimate Sacrifice

It’s a very hot and sunny day today and while I expected to be at the pool by this time, I found myself working on the computer much longer than anticipated.

In the background I had C-Span on listening to the ungratefulness of the Iraqi Ministers testify in front of the Congressional Foreign Affairs, Int’l Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight Committee.

When it was over, it replayed the Monday service at the White House where President Bush presented the Medal of Honor to the parents of Private First Class Ross McGinnis of Knox, Pennsylvania, whose brave service in Iraq saved the lives of four fellow servicemen when he put his body in the way of a grenade on December 2, 2006.

I found myself moving away from the computer and standing at attention in front of the television. I found myself moved to tears. As President Bush recounted how this young man wanted nothing more in life than to be a soldier, from the time he drew his picture at age 6, to the comedian he became, even being able to make his drill sergeant laugh, to always being there for his friends and family.

Although I may never meet any of the McGinnis family or other servicemen and women who were killed, I feel blessed to know there are people who call themselves United States military who protect me all over this world.

It’s easy to measure deaths and destruction, but our inability to measure what has not happened is what we should also concentrate on. We have not had a major attack on our soil since September 11th, 2001. Our President and his administration needs to get credit for that.

We cannot measure how many people may have died in our country had we had other attacks. We cannot measure how many cities might have been destroyed, how many avenues of transportation may have been suddenly halted (remember how there were no planes for nearly a week after 9/11), how many neighbors would have been displaced or homeless, or how much destruction we would have needed to clean up, repair and rebuild.

If we leave Iraq tomorrow, as many citizens and elected officials prefer, would we still be able to gain the intelligence needed to stop attacks? Unsure.

Sometimes we feel we need to just worry about our own people…bring all the troops home from everywhere on this planet, isolate ourselves, close our borders, move the United Nations to some island where they can foot the bill to house them, exclude everyone who doesn’t belong here and let them all handle their own lives. Let all the folks who hate our country leave and leave now. Let all these ungrateful ministers and heads of other states fend for themselves. After all, they hate us but, of course, they’ll take our money and curse us as they ask for more.

I don’t know the perfect answer and maybe there isn’t one. But today, I want us to remember a valiant man who gave his life for the lives of others – Private First Class Ross McGinnis.

The scriptures tell us, “no greater love than this, than a man who lays down his life for another.” The ultimate sacrifice.

And I don’t know too many people who can ever say they’d do that.