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January 2013
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Roadside Memorials

I’m sorry you lost your loved one to some kind of accident. You and your family have my condolences.

But that’s it. I don’t know who you are. I don’t know who your loved one was. I don’t know the circumstances of the accident. I don’t know when it happened. All I know is that some time in the past someone’s loved one died nearby.

I don’t know if the deceased was old or young, male or female, married or single. I don’t know if she was a mother or he was a father. I don’t know if the children left behind were young or adults. Maybe this person was a beloved uncle or aunt. Had just started college or just finished. Finally had that dream job. Just got married. Just found out the family would be growing.

I also don’t know the circumstances of the accident. Was it a single- or multi-vehicle crash? Was the driver responsible drunk or high? Had she just broken up with her boyfriend and was driving angry and with tears in her eyes so she didn’t see the oncoming car? Were the road or weather conditions dry and clear or wet, icy or slippery? Was it night or day?

I don’t know any of this from a roadside memorial. I might see a cross. I might see it covered with limp balloons, dying flowers, and rotting stuffed animals. All that it tells me is that someone died there.

It doesn’t help me avoid whatever caused that accident.

If you must buy a teddy bear or other stuffed animal, take it to the police station, fire station, or a local hospital or emergency room. Put a note on it to say who it’s in memory of. Police and Fire personnel can give it to a child who is need of comfort. Maybe their house just burned down. Or there’s a domestic or criminal issue going on and the child needs to be removed for his or her own safety. Maybe a child’s been in an accident and brought to the emergency room. Her parent is hurt as well. Other adults in her life can’t get to her right away. A teddy bear can help comfort her or keep her company while she waits. A stuffed animal can help a child in chronic care in the hospital too. The nurses will know which child would be best served.

The child can be told that the gift is from an angel in heaven. And it will be.

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