How good can come from tragedy and loss

Posted Friday, February 6th, 2015. Filed Under Voices of wisdom

The son of my parents close friends, I. J. Schecter, was asked to ‘ghost write’ a woman’s true story of the loss of her daughter Bonnie Craig who was stolen from her at the age of 18. The mother, Karen Fraser, was told her daughter died in a hiking accident but she did not believe it and spent the next 17 years proving otherwise.

The book titled, Justice For Bonnie: An Alaskan Teenager’s murder and her mother’s tireless crusade for the truth is heart-wrenching at times and makes you look at your life and say, “My problems are insignificant compared to this”. So many times I was brought to tears thinking how I would feel if one of my children were snatched from me and there seemed no recourse.

What inspired me in this book is how from the depths of despair we, as humans, can find the strength to find a larger purpose.

In the Epilogue Karen writes:

“When a child is stolen from you, you learn that the pain has two layers. There is the raw pain of your own loss, and there is the sympathetic pain for anyone else who might experience the same. That’s why it’s so common to see parents of slain children in front of microphones shedding tears for their own loss but telling the world they want to do everything possible to prevent it from happening to others. They mean it. We mean it.”

Karen shares a story that when her and Bonnie were driving to the mall to do some shopping, Bonnie noticed a bumper sticker on the car in front of them that read, God puts us all on Earth for a reason, but I’m so far behind I will never die. She then goes on to write, “Bonnie never got the chance to discover her reason. Or maybe her reason was intertwined with mine. Maybe her death, and the pain our family endured, were signposts pointing to something bigger. After Bonnie’s murder, I felt something speaking to me, telling me that God’s mission for me now was to do everything in my power to protect other children from a fate like Bonnie’s, and other families from the hell our family was going through. There was only one way to do that: change the law. Until it happened, really happened, people like Kenneth Dion (the man who killed her daughter and got away with it for 17 years) would continue to get away with murder, rape and other heinous acts. With the collection of DNA on all felony arrests, they wouldn’t.”

That is exactly what Karen has done. She had a bill passed in Alaska by Sarah Palin in a matter of 12 days. She is fighting for DNA collection on arrest of felony to be passed by all the states so it is there and accessible nationally. Currently it is only in about half of the states. In the UK I believe DNA is registered within three days. In Alaska it has to be registered within 60 days and in most cases it is done within 30 days. This simple act of immediately registering the DNA of a person with a felony arrest means immediate access and the possibility of thwarting future heinous acts of crime.

I want us to learn from Karen. When there is loss or tragedy, even on the smallest scale, we can learn from this and find our voice to speak out and make changes if need be – to business practices, government policies, health system, education or whatever it is. I have had my own few learning moments that I want to find a way to teach other’s how to avoid what I have done. I know that all I can do is share my story and in some cases even affect change through my actions.. I also know I cannot sit idle.

I understand how loss and tragedy can cause one to tailspin down and lose hope or faith. My wish for all of you is to find the way, your way, that you can help others learn. Having a mission and purpose in life helps to bring you out of the depths of despair. I too am finding my way and my voice. I do know how important it is to use our voice to affect change — even when we think no one is listening.

I hope I have inspired even one of you. This “talk” is as much for you as it is for me.

I want to wish everyone a wonderful weekend. Enjoy the Grammy on Sunday if you watch.

All my love,

Sandra




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