The death of a child affects an untold number of people from all walks of life. We are your public servants, teachers, baristas, business owners, and athletes...in short, we are everywhere. We live in the shadows, often keeping our losses private and yet we are a community in desperate need of more support. EVERMORE is bringing our stories to life.
Is Your Child Safe? Betsy Wants To Know
Serving her country was the first thing Betsy Cummings would do following graduation. Leaving her small hometown of Culpeper, Virginia, she was off to see the world, meet her future husband, and eventually welcome her young son, Dylan, into the world.
Following maternity leave, Betsy did what millions of American working families do each day: she relinquished her only child, seven-week old Dylan, to a local childcare center in Norfolk, Virginia, entrusting them with his life. But what happened next was a tragedy no parent should experience.
What Betsy did not know then, and what American families do not know now, is that federal child safety protection laws are not equally enforced by all states. Certain childcare providers are exempt from commonsense requirements such as background checks, fingerprint analysis, and formal childcare training. In Betsy’s home state of Virginia, for example, 14 types of organizations are exempt from federal child safety protections including religious institutions, karate training centers, local parks and recreation facilities. In these states, families are left with no criminal recourse when their child is injured or dies while under the supervision of an exempt childcare provider.
Nearly three years ago the nation’s attention was gripped by the shooting death of Michael Brown, a young black man who was shot by Darren Wilson, a white police officer. As unrest unfolded in Ferguson, larger questions about racial inequities and institutional racism began making headlines. Today, police shootings continue to be scrutinized, but racial bias and the inequities that plague families do not capture America’s attention.
Going largely unnoticed, except for sensational headlines decrying Chicago’s latest homicide count, are the thousands of families who live in communities where it is conceivable that their black son may walk out the door in the morning and never return. Although homicide is the leading cause of death among black men ages 15-35, many families feel invisible and left behind. This reality is true in a portion of Washington D.C. known as Anacostia, less than ten miles from The White House. Read more in the HuffPost.
Countless experiences shape the trajectory of a human life, but for Maryam Henderson-Uloho the convergence of two specific and devastating events ultimately changed her course: a 25-year prison sentence and the death of her son, Augustine.
Maryam was serving her sentence at St. Gabriel’s Louisiana Correctional Institution for Women when she received the news that her oldest son had died in a motorcycle accident. There were no social or mental support systems available Maryam. In addition to the absence of professional assistance, she could not even take refuge in the support of her prison community. A gesture as simple as a hug from another inmate could result in a minimum 90-day stay in solitary confinement, known as “The Hole.” Read more in the HuffPost.
Matt and Roya Pilcher were among the millions of Americans who slogged dutifully through the process of filing their taxes in 2011. But that year they joined countless other bereaved parents in experiencing pain far beyond the inconvenience of paperwork. Not only had they lost their daughter Ava; the IRS subsequently informed them their claim had been denied because someone else had already claimed Ava - and the accompanying dependent tax credit - as their own. Now the Pilchers were burdened with proving to the IRS that their dead daughter was, in fact, their dead child.
“All we really have is her memory and her name. For someone to try to steal that, to appropriate that for themselves – it’s beyond reprehensible,” says Matt Pilcher. Read more in the HuffPost.
“She wanted to be with her daughter.” This phrase was repeated often in the days following the death of Debbie Reynolds, who passed just one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher. While the prominence of these two individuals grabbed the nation’s attention, their story resonated because it spoke to our society’s unconditional love and investment in our children. Dying to be “with” your child is a decision every parent can both understand and fear.
Weeks following Debbie Reynolds death, I again heard the phrase, “she wanted to be with her daughter.” As President Donald Trump was being inaugurated, I sat in the pews of a very different gathering just one hour north of our nation’s capital. This story, unlike the death of Debbie Reynolds, would not garner any media attention. It would instead go unnoticed - as do millions of other equally powerful American stories - hiding in plain sight. Read more in the HuffPost.
Among the men who have led our nation since its inception, there is a strong bond. And for more than half of our First Families, there is another, silent connection. This thread is woven not only through the families of our commanders in chief; it unites parents of of newborns with those of seasoned war veterans, Chicago’s homicides to our fallen policemen in Dallas, devout Christians to observant Jews to pious Muslims: it is the unequivocal, life-changing loss of a child.
According to Doug Wead, a historian and author of All the Presidents’ Children: Triumph and Tragedy in the Lives of America’s First Families, twenty-six children of presidents died before the age of five, and many more before the age of 30. Read more in the HuffPost.