In stark contrast to my first post in this six part series, this article takes the time and space to explore the emotions that individuals go through when they lose a loved one, especially when it is a tragic death that takes a young person’s life. For an introduction to my six part series, click here.
The second perspective on death that I am going to be exploring is the loss of hope.
On Feb 21, 2011, Laura Chee’s life came to an end. Click here to read about her story. When reading through this story, I’m sure you picked up on the dehumanizing/humanizing theme that underlines this story, especially when Judge Day refused to use the word accident to explain the death of 23-year-old Laura Chee. He told the court that Stephanie Gaylene Beckley, a 27-year-old mother of two, who had been free on bail, and who didn’t attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings after her previous charges, “killed Laura” while driving with a blood alcohol level that was twice the legal limit. Judge Day called her actions “grossly selfish.” Although Beckley did kill Laura, the author tries not to dehumanize Beckley by including a few sentences on her remorse over the situation. The author’s attempt is quickly forgotten when he goes back describing the “despicable” actions of Beckley at the police station. As a result, the article ends with the author dehumanizing Beckley. In contrast, it begins with the author humanizing Laura by providing a look into the hurt that her parents, sister, and friends have experienced and will continue to experience for a very long time.
Another theme that is found in this story is the loss of a part of each family member’s identity that came with the loss of Laura. Her father told the court, “My identity was taken from me that evening.” Her mother wrote, “Nothing can mend my broken heart.” And her sister expressed how “a part of me died with her.” The pain that the family is experiencing is so deep that it has hit the core of each of their beings – they are disoriented and are, so far, without hope for the future.
Join me next time as I explore another one of our culture’s perspectives on death.