“This is heartbreaking to write. To have to recognize just how hurtful and mean-spirited people can be, EVEN when they know your painful story or circumstances. Sometimes, because of your story or circumstances.
Each year on July 3rd, the anniversary of my son Sloan’s death, we hold a small family and friends memorial for him. After the sun sets, we light tethered sky lanterns in his honor. Lantern Festivals originated centuries ago in other countries, (most specifically China and other Asian countries, but they’ve been held in thousands around the globe) to honor deceased family members. When they are done safely (tethered), they are absolutely breathtaking to witness.
We live on a hillside overlooking a large valley, the foothills, and Mt Rainier. Seeing the glow of the lanterns against the backdrop of the twinkling lights in the valley and the darkness of the hills behind it, is absolutely cathartic and beautiful. It’s our love for our sweet boy, lighting up the sky, the way he lit up our lives.
July 3 is a week away now, and last night I had a confrontation with a neighboring couple, a husband and a wife, on our street, who threatened to ‘report’ us if we do our memorial this year. They said these memorials are ‘unsafe and idiotic.’ Many hurtful and insensitive things were said. We only use tethered lanterns so they can’t get away from us, and then once the flame goes out we dispose of them. No danger, no litter.
Afterwards my head was heavy with grief, and I cried heavy tears all night.
It’s heartbreaking that someone would be so uncaring, unsympathetic, unwavering in their goal to ruin a memorial for a deceased child. To further injure an already grieving family this way, especially a neighbor, is just abhorrent. As neighbors, as human beings, there’s a level of compassion I think we all expect from others. It’s unfortunate that expectation can be so easily met with disrespect and intentional hurt. I’ll never understand why the response couldn’t have been supportive and respectful. Why you wouldn’t want to hold your neighbor up during a difficult time in their lives.
My heart hurts. This home, this neighborhood, has been such a safe space for me since my son died. It has literally been therapeutic in all its beauty. Everything felt so right here and right now it feels tainted. I’m uncomfortable living near someone so heartless, someone who has such little regard for others.
This morning, because I am who I am, I got out of bed after crying all night and pulled myself together. I told myself I was done with the tears about this, and I contacted the Fire Marshal myself. I got expressed permission to have our tethered lantern memorial, in writing. I will not let my son’s anniversary be clouded by another’s lack of respect or compassion. Evil will not win.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jordan Peterson-DeRosier. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her blog. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
Read Jordan’s powerful backstory of her baby boy’s sudden death:
‘I went into my son’s room to wake him. I could sense something wasn’t right. I remember the pallor of his face as I turned him over. Grey. Porcelain.’
‘This is my baby now. ‘Mountain View Crematory 31934,’ it reads. It’s been 15 months since I held him as a body, and not as ashes in a bag.’
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