After My Son Died: My Life As A Cemetery Mom

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Death Of A ChildLast month, Ontario, Ohio police posted on their Facebook page a video of a very disturbing theft. In it, a woman is shown taking a stuffed toy duck from a child’s grave. The child, a fourteen month old boy named Hayden “Tank” Cole Sheridan, died in 2007.

The Ontario police decided to set up the camera after numerous complaints from his family. The suspect has since come forward. Her claim is that she needed to move the toy so a stray dog on the property wouldn’t destroy it.

As a bereaved mom, this story really hit home. I was especially struck by the words of Hayden’s dad. In an interview, Scott Sheridan said that they would continue to decorate their son’s grave. As he put it, “That way we feel we’re including him even though he’s passed away.” My heart really goes out to Hayden’s family. I have been there. In fact, I still am.

While my family has never experienced a gravesite theft, I sure understand their pain. After the loss of my nine day old son Liam in 2008, I was shattered. For the first few months, my husband and I practically lived at the cemetery. Our first project was decorating his grave for Halloween. We set up a little ghost and put down a couple of pumpkins. Just a couple of months earlier, we had looked forward to spending this first holiday with our son. But now, this was all we had. It was the only way we could parent our child. It was all that we knew. This was our new normal.

In our particular case, the cemetery has devoted a whole section to all of the children gone too soon. It is called Holy Innocents. Almost immediately, I was touched by seeing the other gravesites. I would wander around, learning the children’s names and wondering how they passed. Some graves had been there for years. I often wondered how the parents were doing today. Were they able to survive this nightmare? Did they go on to have more children? In the beginning, my husband and I could not imagine either. Our pain was still very raw.

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