Sunday, September 16, 2012


I was driving to work the other day. In front of me was a car that had one of those stenciled sayings on the back window. Due to my obsessive habit of tailgating, I got close enough to see the message – “In Memory of (name here), July 12, 1983 – August 27, 2008.”

Now. I have never (thank God) had to bury a child. I cannot comprehend the grief a parent must live with on a daily basis as a result. It has to be a constant, consistent burden that never really ends. My heart goes out to these people for having the fortitude to even get out of bed each morning and face a life that seems so grossly unfair.

But stenciling a reminder of their sorrow the window of their car?

I don’t get that, for a couple of reasons. For one, it just doesn’t seem appropriate. Again, I am not trying to tell anyone how to grieve, but is that a proper method of doing so? I mean, the parent obviously is already ‘in memory of’ the deceased – they sure do not need reminding. Which brings me to the second reason – what are they going after – reminding the rest of the world they lost a child? Is it their intent to let total strangers, like me, know of their unfathomable burden that will beset them the rest of their life?

Why would you even care what I think? I’m just a guy following you too closely on the highway.

Sure, when I saw that message, my first thought was, ‘That poor person,’ but just a couple of seconds later my thought shifted to, what are trying to accomplish with this message?

I am going to try to inject myself into their shoes for a moment. Let’s say my son died tragically. I go through the grieving process – denial, hating God, anger, compromise, then finally acceptance. Now, where would my mind be at after all that? I honestly do not know, but really, about the last thing I would think on doing is stenciling a reminder (to who?) of my loss.

My son’s mother lost her other child tragically to a drug overdose. He was 17. She channeled her grief into action – she took autopsy photos of him to schools and spoke to other 17-year olds on what would happen to them should they follow the same path her son did. I am sure she, by doing so, saved lives. She kept other mothers from the incomprehensible sorrow of having to bury their son or daughter. To me, that was a perfect way of her to express, process, channel…and help.

What does stenciling an epitaph on a window do, other than remind? Isn’t that what gravestones are designed to do? If you want a tangible reminder, why wouldn’t you visit the cemetery or look at the urn on the shelf? Why do you want it sitting there whenever you take the car to Publix to get some milk?

I just don’t understand.

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