HORSESHOE BEND, ILLINOIS – Tragedy strikes daily whether it is a house fire, traffic collision, drowning or one of many other tragedies that cause major injury or even death. These tragedies ignite numerous emotions for the readers or viewers causing many reactions. Some react with empathy for the families or surviving loved ones, while others assume the worst choosing to blame for the tragedy. Some choose to comment on online articles in ways that, if read by the devastated or mourning family members can cause increased pain for those who are already suffering.
Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and even share the feelings of someone else. It is not uncommon for someone who was once overly empathetic to become distant during times of tragedy to protect their emotions from the overwhelming pain they would normally have felt. Some are empathic people who have experienced emotional burnout while others can be considered psychopaths. Researchers from the 2013 Journal of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience showed that the brain regions involved with psychopaths who lack empathy and the regions involved moral judgements overlap.
An Idaho mother, who suffered the unthinkable death of her son on the night of June 2, 2016, shared her
experience on Facebook July 15, 2016. Ashley Grimm, 31 described the loss of her youngest son, who was only 4-years-old when she and five of her children were in a major traffic collision on Highway 55 north of Horseshoe Bend, Illinois. Grimm described pulling away from the gas station in their Ford Econoline van. She said she checked each seatbelt and car seat buckle then drove her short journey home through the “curvy, mountainous road”.
Although Grimm worked diligently to keep her child safe and buckled in his car seat, she called her son, Titus “the Flash” because he was always able to get out of his car seat. She proudly called herself “Flash Mama” because she took on the challenge and pulled over numerous times on each drive to buckle him up again. “We tried five point harness seats, boosters, but he always viewed it as a superhero challenge,” said Grimm on her Facebook post. Grimm said that a large rock rolled into her lane. “I had three choices: try to straddle the rock, move to the oncoming lane which was a double line large curve with an angry river at the other side. Rock, head on collision, river. I chose the rock. I chose wrong,” she continued.
She later learned that her 4-year-old son and 8-year-old son were both unbuckled and attempting to switch spots at the time of the crash. “The rock hit my axle, and sent us plummeting into the side of a cliff. Our 13 passenger van rolled and my son was instantly gone. Our lives were instantly ripped apart. The little boy who had been my pride and joy was cruelly taken from me in a matter of seconds.”
Grimm said she lost consciousness temporarily but awoke and immediately started removing her children from the van. She then noticed Titus but can only see the lower portion of his body from under the van. She attempted to lift the van but realized he was already deceased. “I refused treatment from the paramedics until they let me hold my dead son. All my children were whipped away and taken to an ambulance to be cared for. I was life flighted and sedated, for the shock made me inconsolable.” It was not until two days later when Grimm saw coverage that deepened emotional wounds even further. The news coverage she said was covered like they were covering a “weather change”.
If the news stories were not enough, the reader comments were enough to break even the strongest person. She said these strangers mentioned how horrible she was as a mother and that her other children should be taken from her. “I wanted to scream that he always told me he wanted to marry me, that I was the best mama ever. That he built me Lego ships, took naps in my bed while holding my hand with his dimpled little fingers.”
Even though her words would go unheard by those making the comments that hurt her while she attempted to mourn the loss of a child she wanted to explain the feelings she experienced. “I’m not who I once was; death and loss changes a person from the inside out.” She explained she has been through things that unless someone has gone through, they would never fully understand. She explained holding her dead son’s body, choosing a funeral plot, buying a $200 superhero outfit to bury him in, kissing him over and over holding his “dimpled, but lifeless hands”, and she that she has slept in the cemetery just to take one more nap with him.
A family friend has started a Go Fund Me account to help the family with any financial hardships they may face as a result of the collision and loss of their child.
Ashley Grimm wrote the following that she would like parents to remember while dealing with their living children:
– maybe finishing broccoli at dinner isn’t as important as we might think. Watch how your children eat, soak in their hatred for corn (oh how Titus hated corn). Maybe they can still have ice cream – even just sometimes – while those veggies still sit on their plate.
-learn to pretend. Get into their world. Learn to play the Xbox with them. Embrace their beautiful, fleeting imagination. Let them really believe that they are Captain America or Queen Elsa. Get in their mind, see how they tick. The dishes will still be there.
– take every hug and kiss they bring you – even the twenty fifth one they use just to get out of bed at night. And really squeeze them.
-stop and look at the bugs, the rocks, the sticks, the sunset. Slow down mama, slow down.
– tell them you love them. But look in their eyes and say it like you mean it. Tell them they can do anything – anything they set their mind to.
-yes, we must hold them accountable but sometimes- maybe grace is the answer. Maybe, just maybe, they won’t end up ruined if we let some things slide.
-never judge another mama. We don’t know the whole story, we don’t know. We just don’t know.
-Go hug your babies right now. Soak in their smell, look at the innocent sparkle in their eyes that is lost somewhere between childhood and adulthood. Really feel how they squeeze you. Set down your phone and see them through the lens of your eyes not only the lens of your camera. Remember the feeling of their head on your shoulder, their hand in yours, their sloppy kisses on your cheeks. Nurse them one more time. Sleep is overrated. Listen five minutes longer about Star Wars, minecraft and Disney princesses.
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- 13731530_1811788105774517_5808951693968701249_n: Ashley Grimm, Facebook
- mombaby: Ashley Grimm (Facebook)