How do you cope with burying a child?

Like many of you I have been following the investigation and burial of poor Jorelys Galarza Rivera. The AJC ran last night the story of burial in her birth country of Puerto Rico. (She also had a memorial service here.)

It is heartbreaking to read, and I can’t even imagine burying a child – especially one that was so brutally murdered.

The part that really got me at the memorial service in Georgia was the description of the mom touching her face in the open casket. The story said how injured the poor baby girl was. I can’t imagine what she was seeing in the casket.

The dad’s last comment in this story is also heartbreaking. He said he promised Jorelys a horse ride when she came to Puerto Rico and that was why they had a horse-drawn carriage take her to the cemetery!! Oh my gosh, so upsetting.

Burying her with her toys is also just so sad and awful. That poor child and poor family.

I know that it is her mother’s hometown and it reads like the dad still lives there, but I wouldn’t want my child buried far away from me. I am wondering if the mom will return there with her remaining kids to start again.  Michael’s mother is buried at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and no one ever goes to visit her. (That’s where they lived when she died.) It makes me so sad.

Here is the AP story about Jorelys Puerto Rico burial:

“PENUELAS, Puerto Rico — A 7-year-old girl who was abducted and slain in Georgia was buried Tuesday in a white dress with flowers in her hair, surrounded by some of her favorite toys and what seemed like much of the population of the southern Puerto Rican town where she was born.

Hundreds of people filled Penuelas’ streets walking behind a horse-drawn carriage adorned with pink and white balloons that carried the body of Jorelys Galarza Rivera to the cemetery.

More than a dozen construction workers removed their hard hats in unison as the carriage rolled past. A woman leaned against the roof of a car and cried.

At the cemetery in the town on the island’s Caribbean coast, friends and family gathered around the white casket and musicians began to play.

“Mother, don’t cry,” the singer wailed as 24-year-old Joselinne Rivera pressed her hands onto the top of her daughter’s coffin and then leaned down to kiss it.

The girl’s father, Ricardo Galarza, spoke to the crowd before his daughter was buried.

“I ask all mothers in this world to take care of their children,” he said. “This (death) is something that is extremely hard. Something that, quite frankly, I don’t think I’m going to overcome.”

Jorelys left this industrial town wedged between sea and mountains with her mother when she was 3 but had come back several times and was to spend Christmas in Penuelas with her father and extended family.

The child was last seen alive Dec. 2 when she left the playground at the apartment complex where the family was living in Canton, Georgia. Her body was found three days later in a trash bin. She had been beaten, sexually assaulted and stabbed. A 20-year-old maintenance worker at the apartments was arrested and is being held without bond on a murder charge.

Luz Muniz Perez, a 44-year-old resident of Penuelas and a distant member of the victim’s family, said whoever is responsible should receive the death penalty.

“People like that should not exist,” she said. “To do this atrocity to a girl, that is the mentality of a person who does not deserve to be on this planet.”

Hundreds of people also attended a memorial service for Jorelys in Georgia, but the family chose to bury her in Puerto Rico amid family, friends and mementos from her short life, such as her prized stuffed animals — a unicorn, Hello Kitty, a bear and a rag doll. A purple butterfly with gold glitter was painted on the side of her face.

The girls’ mother said she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy in their hometown.

“I’m grateful to everyone for their support,” Joselinne Rivera said as she accepted condolences earlier in the packed funeral home. “I wasn’t expecting it.”

People from all over the island and as far as New York and Orlando, Florida, came to pay respects, and they did not even know Jorelys, said the girl’s aunt, Miriam Rivera.

“I never thought people would join us in this moment of such great pain,” she said.

As the casket was lowered into the ground on a sweltering afternoon, people released doves and dozens of pink and white balloons as they wiped away tears and sweat. They then walked back to the center of town behind the empty horse-drawn carriage.

Jorelys’s father said he found solace in one thing: He kept his word about taking his daughter on a horse ride when she came to Puerto Rico.

“To you Jorelys, I say to you, I kept my promise,” he said, then bowed his head and cried.”

What are your thoughts on this sweet little girl’s funerals and burial? How would you even go on without your child? How would you get through a burial? Would a murdered child be harder to bury than a child that died of illness?

29 comments Add your comment

catlady

December 14th, 2011
6:49 am

Loss of a child is more difficult than we can imagine. I hope her family has a very strong faith to cling to: That the little girl will never suffer again.

My son almost died in a freak accident before he turned 4. Well, actually he did die, and was recussitated a number of times. However, I was certain that NO MATTER what happened, he would be okay. If he died, he would be okay, and if he lived, he would be okay–that God was taking care of him.

Fortunately, he lived, and although he suffered terrible damage (including losing brain tissue), he is well, thanks to God’s mercy. Even the doctors, including those we consulted with afterward, said he was blessed, that it was not the work of man.

Those of us who pray, I feel sure, are asking God to help this family. Those who don’t pray, I am sure, are thinking of them also.

This has been quite the story in our Latino community here. I am hoping it increases awareness of child safety measures that we must take in this day and age in the US, some of which are not common in their own home countries.

catlady

December 14th, 2011
6:53 am

Oh, and please don’t say you don’t know how the mother can stand it, or that you could not stand it. You have no choice! If you are fortunate, you are surrounded by people who will encourage you, and help you to get through it as best is possible.

Gtmom

December 14th, 2011
7:13 am

I can’t not imagine anyone going through this. I won’t say I can’t stand it but I wonder if I would pull through. I am not that strong. I had a very rough childhood and my spouse and kids are everything and the only thing I have in this life. If something happened to one of them, I don’t know how to keep living. I hope that I would be strong enough for the remaining family member. But when I was given poor news about my son when I was pregnant, my heartrate hit 190-200 and it took the doctor days to get it down. I pretty much then spent 4 weeks not caring if I lived. After I had him, I found out I was given the news in error. I truly envy the strong ones and I really try to be strong for my family but I just wonder if I would make it through such news.

This poor woman – I am praying for her and her family. I hope her friends are good to her and were with her during the burial. It had to be very difficult to be there even as a distant friend.

Van Jones

December 14th, 2011
7:15 am

It once again drives the story home that life is fragile and can be gone in a second. Absolutely heartbreaking.

Musicteacher

December 14th, 2011
7:21 am

My sister-in-law and her husband lost their 18-year-old son in August. They have coped due to their strong faith and an outpouring of love and support by friends and family. Although his death was heartbreaking for the rest of us, I cannot begin to imagine the loss and emptiness they feel. This will be a very sad Christmas for them.

JesusFreak

December 14th, 2011
7:22 am

You are right to hope that she has a strong faith to cling to. Only through faith in God can we pull through the horrendous times. This makes me think of how the Amish schoolkids were murdered and yet they pulled through because of their faith in Jesus. Bitterness can kill us when the initial grief doesn’t if we cannot get beyond it. This doesn’t mean that the parents weren’t crushed and heartbroken in their grief, just that they overcame it knowing we are not alone and there is something better than this broken world. May God comfort the family in their loss.

BlondeHoney

December 14th, 2011
7:39 am

Ummm, TWG FYI, Puerto Rico is not a country; it’s a commonwealth of the United States and Puerto Ricans are American citizens…

Me

December 14th, 2011
7:58 am

I cannot imagine what losing a child does to a family/parent as this is such a sad and tragic scenario. For those of us fortunate enough to have never experienced it, all we can do is offer thoughts and prayers. It has to be an almost insurmountable grief but, as @catlady states, you are offered no viable options other than to deal with it in the best manner possible.

momofanangel

December 14th, 2011
7:58 am

Honestly, it is a decision every day and sometimes every moment of every day to keep breathing, to keep living. Sometimes the “support” is suffocating and then it goes away when others decide the grieving must be over because you’ve had a good day. The empty chair at the table is overwhelming. Faith that I will see him again is all I have some days, knowing that my family needs me here. Support groups of other parents who have faced these situations do help. It is really hard when no one else understands and then knowing you hope those around you never go through that pain. It gets easier but that pain is never truly gone.

motherjanegoose

December 14th, 2011
8:06 am

The thing that hit me first when I saw the arrest was: this young man is the age of so many of the college kids we have on our street. WHAT is going on? He would be around my daughter’s age and perhaps someone who would have gone to school with her, if we lived in the same area. WHY?

Yes, my faith is the only thing that would get me through this tragedy. Knowing that someone is praying for me in a terrible situation is very comforting. I have often asked God, “why?” It is hard to trust when horrendous things happen, in your life. Losing a child has to put a knife right through your heart.

As children, we roamed the streets ( IN CHICAGO) outside all the time. I walked blocks to catch the bus each day all alone, in Kindergarten. Things are not the same now. People are incredibly mean/selfish.

FYI…I shared a few easy games on yesterday’s blog: two that parents could easily play with their own small children while they are home for the break.

I couldn't

December 14th, 2011
8:24 am

I couldn’t make it. I never say to anyone that I couldn’t imagine the loss because the truth is I have not had to go through it so I really couldn’t. I always tell them my heart goes out to them and their family and that is the only truth I can give. I have four children and a husband and I pray for their safe return daily. I couldn’t imagine life without either of them. I don’t even know the family or the little girl but I have cried for them because I couldn’t imagine having to bury my child. It hurts from the outside. I can’t imagine how it feels from the inside. Faith and Family Support is the only thing I can imagine will sustain them. Blessings to them all!

motherjanegoose

December 14th, 2011
8:34 am

@ I couldn’t…we pray for our children’s safety too. We know the family of the boy who had the fatal accident at GCSU where two students were killed in the car he was driving. He is a nice kid and the situation was so unfortunate and sad.

My husband commented to me, “this is why we need to pray for our kid’s safety every day!” Life certainly can turn on a dime..as it were and you are not in control of what happens to you!

Silvio

December 14th, 2011
8:45 am

I really think you should wait until the child is dead before you bury it……

Just sayin

JOD

December 14th, 2011
9:06 am

The pictures from the burial/memorial in PR were so sad – the tiny casket and shots of Jorelys were heartbreaking. Mercifully not having been in that situation, I don’t know how I would cope, but momofanangel expressed it very nicely – God bless you and your family!

Gtmom

December 14th, 2011
10:08 am

Momofangel – I am so sorry for your loss.

jmb

December 14th, 2011
10:29 am

Theresa you just can’t win on here. There’s always one idiot that’s looking for any mistake you make….so childish. Like they’re really so perfect right? On topic, It’s really something I don’t care to think about. Why bring that sadness into my heart today?

Been There

December 14th, 2011
10:35 am

The loss of a child is something that you try to get through, but will never really get over. I would never presume to compare someone else’s pain with the pain that my family suffered through the loss of our 2 y.o. son, because every situation and every person is different. But not everyone believes in the same mythology as you, J-Freak, so it is presumptuous at best for you to say “Only through faith in God can we pull through the horrendous times.” In our case that is clearly false, as we relied on the loving support of family and caring friends, but didn’t need to bring superstition into the mix. Peace.

motherjanegoose

December 14th, 2011
10:40 am

@pws…Longtime Educator shared this on yesterday’s blog and I am solidly with her:

Theresa, I read your blog daily and really enjoy it, but only comment occasionally. I’ve really been perplexed lately by the “tone” of some of the comments…

Becky

December 14th, 2011
10:51 am

I have never buried a child of my own, so I don’t know that kind of loss..I have lost a nephew at 15 days old..That was a very sad loss..But, as others said, I just rely on my faith that I will see him again..

Like momofanangel said, it gets easier to deal with, but the pain never really goes away..

As for as dealing with a death of either murder or sickness, again, I guess it would depend…I have a nephew that was only given a 5% chance of living when he was born..He is now 16 and a happy, healthy teenager..But for years it was a tough thing to watch, never knowing if today was his last day here..Of course, I would not want to know that my child had suffered what this young girl did..Again, having never actually had a child that was murdered or gravely ill, I don’t really know..

To any that have dealt with this, my prayers are with you and your family…

Scooby

December 14th, 2011
11:17 am

You can lose a child to any number of things, not only death. You just try to keep going and learn to live with the pain and loss.

K's mom

December 14th, 2011
11:53 am

This is something that makes me physically ill to even consider. Hats off to the posters who have been through this type of grief and are able to share and help others.

Close friends of close friends lost their child to SIDS last year and they are making it. They have an older child and I know focusing on him has helped in thier grieving process. I look at them and their strength and faith in amazement. I am not sure I would have it.

Nora

December 14th, 2011
12:13 pm

My son died 21 years ago tomorrow. I have been reflecting all day about how we spent his last day. He died of SIDs at 22 days. It is the defining loss of my life, and while the pain fades to the extent you’re not weeping every day (which I did for the first year), there’s a threshold that it doesn’t fall below. When his class graduated from high school a few years ago, I really lost it. Those milestones are particularly tough.

We had a graveside service for our son with family and friends. It was a lovely, simple service. You end up comforting others far more than they do you. I got mastitis because of the sudden end to nursing and had to call the doctor for antibiotics. Hundreds of little hells, but you absolutely do what you must. As other posters said, you have no choice.

graveside
my breasts
leaking

Elaine

December 14th, 2011
1:44 pm

Losing a child is something you never get over, you just learn to cope & deal with it a little better each day. I lost my daughter 1 1/2 yr. ago she was 25 and it was due to complications from Leukemia and it has been a heart breaking experience for our family. I know that she is with our Lord, and I will see her again oneday, but it still does not make the heart break go away. The worst for this family is to know someone to her life for no reason. What I have came to terms with that if my daughter had to leave us, it was from a sickness not from someone elses hands, or a drug overdose or suicide. May God give this family the strenght that they need to get throught this and to knowe that thier faith is what will get them throught it each day. Christmas will be sad no doubt it is for us every year, but to know that she is celebrating Christmas with our Lord is even better. This happened in my community and this has touched our family in such a big way. Love & Prayers go out to the Rivera/ Galarza family.

Jesse's Girl

December 14th, 2011
2:11 pm

I would cope…I would manage. But I would suffer for the rest of my life. Any parent who loses a child is fundementally changed…and never for the better. As for losing a child so suddenly and violently….I can absolutely see having to hog tie Jesse down to keep him from bringing the fire of hell down upon the head of the one responsible. And I can see me doing my level best to arrange that meeting in private….and making sure we got away with it. I am not one to be trifled with in normal life….woe to the soul who dares harm my family. I know that retribution and my faith in God do not mix well. But I know me and I fear that revenge would taste like a good Pinot. Per Puerto Rico….Jesse’s mother is a from there. And I can guarntee you….she thinks its a country:)I have never met a single Puerto Rican who identifies as an American. Just a little side note to lighten the mood a wee bit:)

GAGirl

December 14th, 2011
5:02 pm

My first child was stillborn at 38 weeks pregnant. It was the most devastating thing that has ever happened to me, to my family. I had a great pregnancy, did everything right, but somethign just happened. For a long time, I was angry with God. Why would he let crackheads have babies only to take them home and kill them or their crazy boyfriends killed the babies. It took about a year for me to reconcile the loss and that it was a God/Devil issue. It took alot of prayer for me to forgive ignorant people for saying thigns like “you are better off losing her now, you can always have another baby, God needed her, She is an angel now, etc…” I know there were well meaning, but honestly, most condolences should stop at “I’am Sorry”. I was lucky to find a wonderful support group, Share Atlanta, that really helped me get through the loss and deal with a new pregnancy 3 years later.

During the first weeks, months, you think you are going to die. You often pray to die, but slowly the heart and soul heal and you learn to live with the loss. I will say that I get angry when people can learn to deal with the loss and are unable to work or function. As tough as this is to hear and write, life goes on. I am positive your loved one would not want you unhappy and miserable. You have to learn to find joy again. It isn’t easy. I know. I often say that I have walked in and out of Hell. I don’t know why terrible things have to happen to children. No explanation will ever be enough to ease the pain of that awful loss, but somehow you do survive it.

May God truly bless every one who has ever lost a child.

GAGirl

December 14th, 2011
5:03 pm

Corection to the above – the loss was NOT a God/Devil issue. Many people wanted to use that explanation and that never set well with me. The loss was not a test of my faith in God. It wasn’t. I was not a modern-day Job.

SHARA

December 14th, 2011
5:21 pm

Dear Blondelink,
Thats all your concerned about!! I think you missed the message COMPLETELY!! We’re talking about the DEATH OF A CHILD HERE!!

Jesse's Girl

December 14th, 2011
5:39 pm

Scooby….you sound war hardened. I know a few who have been in those battles…fighting to win the body, soul or mind of their child back. Sometimes it worked…sometimes it did not. But you are so right….it is indeed a loss. A profound one.

Denise

December 14th, 2011
8:38 pm

No parent should have to bury a child no matter the age. My grandmother buried her 49-year-old son last December, and though life goes on, she still suffers. She says it sometimes feels that someone is sitting on her chest and she can’t breathe. This had aged her. (She is still the most beautiful woman on the planet though. :-) ) I may be the only one, but I worried that we might lose her to grief. Thank God for family and friends or we may have.

I pray for those who have had to bury a child.