I’m angry.

I’m angry that a young mother of three was taken from her kids because a man could not accept her disinterest in him.

According to CBS Pittsburgh, Janese Talton-Jackson was approached by the suspect, 41-year-old Charles McKinney, before closing time at ‘Cliff’s Bar’ in Pittsburgh, but she ignored his advances. Police say after closing, he followed her outside and shot her in the chest.

 

Like Janese, every other woman has the right to say ‘not interested‘ when approached by men. Some men accept that and move on like gentlemen, some will respond to our disinterest with rude or unlikely behavior, and the rest will kill us.

It’s a blunt thing to say, but unfortunately, it’s true.

As a woman, I’ve experienced enough and have seen/heard enough to know that a man with a bruised ego could be dangerous for girls and women. This is not the first time we’ve heard of a woman killed by a man who she turned down and as a woman, that scares the shit out of me. I’m also scared for my 12-year-old daughter. One day, she will be accosted on the street by a guy who wants her number. Will he simply move on? Will he call her a bitch and/or spit on her? Or would he feel so embarrassed and disappointed, that he will pull out a gun and shoot her dead?

Janese could have been any of us! When we’re going about our daily lives, we’re not thinking of the possibility of being murdered when we turn down a guy’s request to exchange numbers. We shouldn’t have to fear for our lives when we say no but it’s become more apparent that we should be more cautious and observant when we’re approached. Janese’s story has shed light on a societal issue with misogyny and mental health that I wish we could somehow tackle head on. It’s my belief that those issues are why women are dying by the hands of men who can’t handle rejection. I’d like to think we can pinpoint the mental issues of strangers before we meet them, but I know that’s impossible. Incidents like this happen all the time. In some cases, the woman is beaten and bruised, but she lives to tell about it. Janese is one of many victims who will never get a chance to see her children grow and experience more of life because a “man” took her life for saying NO.

I look back at the few times I’ve been approached and immediately think of how lucky I am that the men I’ve turned down accepted my disinterest like gentlemen and walked away. I look at my children and wonder how much they’d struggle if I wasn’t here for them. Janese’s twin girls and a one-year-old son will never get to be cared for and nurtured by their mommy ever again. I can’t even imagine how they’ll feel everytime they hear how and why their mom died.

Janese Talton-Jackson was murdered….because she said no.

…and that makes me angry.

 

As an accomplished model and actor, Sam Sarpong seemed to have had it all. One would never thought that he would commit suicide. On the outside looking in, Sam’s life was “perfect”. However, no amount of money or success will have any bearing on your mental state. The death of Sam Sarpong proves that.

Sam’s Death teaches us that depression is prevalent in the black community. Often times, when we are suffering for whatever reason, we keep our problems to ourselves. It’s the stigma that covers us like a black cloud. Because we’re taught to be strong and proud folks who should keep others out of our business, we hinder ourselves from reaching out and getting the help we truly need, particularly black women, who are looked upon as the “backbones” and nurturers of our families. We forget that we are humans with feelings, and like everyone else, we go through the daily stresses of life which can be excessive and sometimes difficult to bear. Instead of asking for help, we deal with our problems in our own way, which could lead to self-defeating effects such as negative thought patterns or worse…self-harm.

So many of us work hard to make sure our outside looks good (exercise, make-up, cosmetic surgery, etc.), but we also neglect our inside. Let’s get our minds right by seeking professional counseling if need be, or even talking with family members and friends who care.

Check on your loved ones, talk to them, ask them if they’re okay.

Don’t worry about being ashamed or being scrutinized for showing weakness. We all go through moments of weakness in our lives, whether it’s from loss of loved ones, job loss, broken relationships, etc. We should never be ashamed to seek help with a therapist or a doctor that can prescribe you the appropriate medication.

Sam’s death has taught me that folks can appear to have it all, but we’ll never know what’s going on with them behind clothes doors. Let’s start communicating with our loved ones. It could possibly save lives.

After losing my son, I had to know where to find my place of acceptance and I couldn’t do it soon enough. I needed to be a mom for my other two children so “bouncing back” was a major priority. I was aware that bouncing back fully wasn’t going to happen and naturally so. After losing a loved one, we grieve in ways that sometimes only the sufferer understands. It wasn’t until I did my research that I’ve learned about the seven stages of grief and how that would help me recover and move on with life. Little did I know that I have already gone through a few stages. Everything I’ve read about the seven stages of grief was very familiar. By this time, I realized that I was going through exactly what I was supposed to go through in order to find my place of acceptance and recover.

 

Shock- When I asked the doctor if my son pulled through, a wave of paralyzing trauma went through my body, causing me to collapse onto the floor in such emotional agony when he told me “no”. After processing the devastating news, I felt numb. I remember feeling like I needed to wake up from a horrible dream. His lifeless body was placed in a room, covers neatly folded at his tiny waist. I could tell he was placed there with care for me to say my goodbyes. His room was dark (shades closed, lights out). Silence echoed throughout the room so much, you could hear my tears fall. At that point, I was still sitting next to him, still numb and waiting to wake up from this bad dream.

Denial- Because I wanted to stay strong for the kids and not bawl out of control in front of them, I denied my tears, my pain and my hurt because I felt I had to. I’m realizing now that’s the worst thing a grieving person could do. Never hold back your feelings. Letting go releases amounts of emotional weight that could be very unhealthy(emotionally and physically) for you to carry .

Anger- My son, who had never had any health problems other than an occasional cold, died in his sleep. I was angry, because he was taken from me…just like that. Autopsy revealed that it was a viral infection that took him. His report was read “normal” page to page. Nothing unusual, suspect,etc. My question was “why him?” I was never given an answer and that’s why I had so much anger. That was also the My anger was lifted once I realized that as humans, we do what we think is best. God saw to take him, because he was too good to stay on Earth. God placed him as an angel and I’m just thankful and blessed to have had Robert in physical form for his short three years.

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Bargaining- I hoped and prayed to change how I felt as I dealt with the death of my child. I even bargained with my heart to try falling in love…not understanding that I was forcing it, because I wanted to feel happiness and joy again. That didn’t work for obvious reasons. However, I acknowledged my behavior and decided that it was not his responsibility to make me happy. I had to discover happiness on my own…starting with finding it within.

Guilt- Oh boy! I felt tons of guilt. From not being with him the day he died to feeling like a complete loser of a mother, guilt was that one symptom that was hard for me to get over. It’s that need to “turn back the clock”, so we can do things over. I regret not being with him during his last moments. However, It took a lot of understanding and knowing that I did what I thought was best for my child, was all that mattered.

Depression- It’s one of the most common symptoms when we lose a loved one. I go through profound sadness, usually around his birthday. I get over it by celebrating him like I normally would if he was still here. That includes buying a cake and singing “Happy Birthday”.

Acceptance- I accepted Robert’s death when I realized I could go on with life. I knew life would never be the same, but I hoped for peace of mind and that’s what I got. I can talk about Robert and my lips will form a smile. A memory of him being silly will pop up and laughter escapes. Those are my signs of acceptance. When we learn how to deal is when we accept a loved ones death. For some of us, we will never learn how to heal and naturally so. As long as we learn how to deal and find the strength within ourself to find our place of acceptance, we’ll be fine. It takes an uber amount of courage & strength for ppl to live their best lives after losing a loved one. I’m showing off my courage everyday. I recovered when I believed in owning a better life. My son’s death has taught me how strong I am.

 

I wanted to make sure I had something to honor my son’s memory. Of course, I started a journal. However, the grief support/counseling sessions I attended gave me the bright idea to not only write in my journal, but decorate it.

The pic you see above is that of my journal with all decked out in all  things Robert. I used a composition notebook, construction paper, glue, a few pics and other lil nick-nacks that you can get from any arts & craft store. I also covered it with plastic so it could stay clean and intact.

In the midst of grieving, this crafty project helped keep the tears away. I was able to create something about him that would last a lifetime; Something I will forever cherish. All of my thoughts about him would be poured into this book made with love.

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This box was given to me by the funeral home. Its contents were Thank You Cards, envelopes, and visitor sign-in book. I took the contents out and decided it would be a great storage box to put Robert’s thing in. I call it a “memory box”. I put his favorite hoodie in it, a few of his favorite toys, documents, and a few other miscellaneous items. You could also use a show box and decorate it, using the material aforementioned. Every now and then, I look through the box and reminisce. It also reminds me that Robert was indeed here. He wasn’t a dream…a thought…a memory. H was here in human form and now…he’s my own very angel.

I thought about my son a lot today.

That usually occurs close to his birthday or anniversary of his death.

While my heart aches from thoughts of him not being with me, I reminisce about how I miss HIM…his eyes…his smile…and his gigantic personality in such a small body. The first time I visited his grave site, I watched my own tears  fall from my face and hit the dirt he’s buried under. I remember wanting to scream so loud because he’s not supposed to have a final resting place until long after I’M GONE.

However…

I accept…that’s he is gone

I deal…with his absence

I hurt…every day

I cry…when he crosses my mind

I smile…when he crosses my mind

Repeat

I’ll never get over losing my son. I’ve just learned to deal. It takes a lot of strength for a grieving mother to go on with life. We have a choice to “die” with our kids or keep living for them. I chose to keep living for Robert and his siblings. I still have two other children to care for and be strong for. Sometimes, being strong is being able to show emotions, and I want my kids to understand that talking about their brother and showing emotions is okay. I sense their strength in them when we bring Robert up. I pick up on how they try NOT to cry because they don’t want to see me cry. That makes me want to cry more. On the flip side, I love that they like to keep his memory alive by talking about him. Every time they do, I feel like Robert’s spirit is in the room with us.

How do I heal?

I never fully healed and I don’t think I ever will.

He’s not here for me to hug, kiss, grow, nurture, teach…..AND LOVE.

But knowing he loved me is enough to keep my heart pumping with joy, and I am blessed to be his mother.

I can hear his lil voice now…telling me he loves me. That always used to be the highlight of my night before bed, because he used to tell me every night before he fell asleep.

In closing…I’d like to share with all parents who has lost children that your child is there with you. You know the feeling you get when it feels like they’re in your presence? That’s them, letting you know that they’re always going to be with you. Trust and believe me.

One night after his funeral, I felt his lips touch mine as I was falling to sleep. That proved that he will always be with me.

I guess you can say that’s how I deal with the loss of my child.

Remembering his sweet kiss to let me know that he will forever love me…near and far.

Teresa Rutton, a Native from The UK, began creating dolls after she lost her son. The mother-of-three says that creating “reborn dolls” helped her deal with her own grief. Her son was 21 when he committed suicide. Now, Russon makes babies for couples who have lost children.

Teresa’s dolls are made of a silicon and vinyl blend. They are painted and cooked in an oven for several eight-minute intervals and then assembled for their owners. Certain dolls can take up to six months to make because the silicone is very expensive. She charges more for them which could cost up to $550.

 

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It worth every penny for a lot of parents who misses their children and want them to be there…physically….in some way.

For me my most challenging baby to create was one from America, where the lady sent me pictures of her child in a coffin to make sure every detail was precise. I worked with her for around six months trying to get everything from the skin tone to her child’s small birth marks correct. She wanted me to recreate her child who tragically had died, it may seem unusual but it really helped her to move on with her life. Even now, years on she sends me pictures of herself and the reborn doll wherever she goes, even on the beach. Knowing that I’ve helped her and nearly 300 people makes all the long hours painting day and night worth it.

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If you’d like to know more about Russon’s work, click here.

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