My 18 year old son was killed too


jon2Ferguson has been causing a heaviness in my soul. You see for those of you who don’t know, my own 18 year-old son was murdered in 2011. I was angry too – at the cruelty of humans, at a media that doesn’t fact check and harasses grieving families, at lying girls, at drugs that keep parents from watching their children.

And at the same time, the last thing I wanted to do was pour more anger into the world. I talked and got to know so many people during these past few years. I have heard stories of other people’s losses, fears and angers. I have learned that all people are dealing with something. I knew this in my head, but now I truly understand it in my being.

Now I know I need to be as kind as I can. Everyone I meet has dealt or is dealing with loss, failure, regret, loneliness, fear, and sadness. The women in the checkout line going so slow may be in a brain fog after another round of chemo. The menacing teenager that glares at you may be feeling abandoned as his dad has moved across the country.

We don’t want to see other’s pain because then we might have to deal with their darkness. We also might notice our own. What if we don’t know what to say? What if they start to cry? What if we start to cry? The whole thing might get…uncomfortable.

We don’t need to fix. We only need be there in their hurt and pain. It probably will be uncomfortable. it will also bring you closer.

We put up barriers between ourselves and others all the time. What if we didn’t assume someone was judging us by our skin color, weight or income? When we assume we are judging them. What if we didn’t allow our own biases to color our interactions? What if we asked how someone was doing and really wanted to know? What if when asked how we were doing, we answered honestly?

It is in our kind, honest interactions with others that healing connection happens. On a personal level. And societies as a whole.

When Jon died, I was given a collection of Ben’s Bells that say, “Be Kind”. I hang them as a reminder, have one outside my entryway door and have given them to others. Many of us also did an act of kindness for each year of Jon’s birth plus one extra. Out of tragedy, kindness sprung.

I will always remember the outpouring of love for my family from others and still have my prayer shawl, angels, candles, jewelry and plaques. (Though the food is long gone)

Just this past Sunday part of the youth group from my church brought baked goods and wanted to let us know they continued to pray for our family. They didn’t know how they would be received. They were probably uncomfortable. They didn’t know if they were going to bring up bad memories. But they followed love and I was deeply moved.

When we look at Ferguson, or Syria, or Iraq and see all the hate and division we feel so helpless. But, we can all be kind today.


  • NayNay says:

    Oh, Beth, this is so beautiful! Such wisdom in the face of great tragedy. You are my shero! Hugs and love, NayNay

  • Julie says:

    Hi Beth, I’ve never posted a comment here before but I wanted to say that I found this post moving and uplifting. I am sorry for your terrible loss, the worst kind of loss that a mother can experience. Your perspective is remarkable – a beacon for those whose lives you touch. Thank you for writing about your experience today. I wish you peace and happiness.

  • beautiful post, Beth!


  • matty says:


    So beautiful and sincere. While I cannot imagine the pain the loss has caused, the fact that you have turned it into kindness, light, care, and love means the bad guys didn’t really win.

    Sending love and light… m

  • matty says:


    So beautiful and sincere. While I cannot imagine the pain the loss has caused, the fact that you have turned it into kindness, light, care, and love means the bad guys didn’t win.

    Sending love and light… m

  • Carla says:

    Such a beautiful post… I do remember about your son and although we’ve never met, you cross my mind often and I send up a prayer for you. <3

  • Nancy Hutchinson says:

    Thanks for sharing your honest feelings. You will always remember Jon and the hurt but by replacing it with kindness you help yourself as well as others. It is always helpful to know that others remember. God bless, Nancy

  • Beth – from St. Louis, I want to thank you for this post, and to send you a big warm hug for not only sharing these thoughts/feelings with us, but for the words that will hopefully guide us towards a better future!

  • Beth, that is beautiful and written from the heart. I often think of you and your son. What a lovely gesture from the youth group.

  • Ray J. says:

    Powerful and important! Also, I am very sorry for your loss and pain.

  • Charles Werling says:

    You are an amazing inspiration Beth. I am in awe of your faith and spirit. Thank you for being you.

  • Denise says:

    My heart is heavy for you, but the way you have turned your tragedy and grief into a way to bless others with kindness is truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

  • Mary says:

    Beth you are a beautiful person, inside and out. Your message about Jon was so touching and heartfelt. You have turned your pain into a way to reach out and help others. You are so kind. Thank you for all you do for all of us. That is the best way to honor Jon. Know that you are loved!

  • Anne DeMarsay says:

    Beth, there are tears in my eyes as I read your post. I bow to the faith and courage that have led you to the perspective you embrace. There’s profound wisdom and healing in your words, and I hope they’re read by many. I will certainly share them.

  • Sharon K. Moritz says:

    Beth, that was a very beautiful blog post you have written. Kindness does matter all the time. God bless you and your family!

  • Linda Geerlings says:

    You are a blessing to all those who read Simple Living.

  • Corryn Crosby-Muilenburg says:

    Dear Beth,

    Such wisdom, caring, and beauty in your post. The meaning you make and the legacy you choose for Jon’s death are a blessing to us all and an inspiration. I will put more emphasis on acts of kindness in Jon’s name.
    Sending deep respect and wishing profound blessings for you and your family.


  • Cathy vJ in MA says:

    Blessings on you, Beth. This is a very moving and important message. Thank-you for reminding us all to take time and be patient and kind – everyday, with others and with ourselves. Continued healing and strength! Hugs, Cathy

  • Bev says:

    Thank you for showing us how it is done, for reminding us of the truly important things….Blessings to you and your family. A huge gift both you and your son are sharing!

  • Mauna says:

    Even through your loss and pain, you are finding ways to bless others. Thank you for the gentle reminder that everyone is going through something and just that extra bit of kindness, even the gift of a smile in passing can mean so much. May the Lord bring you greater comfort with each passing day.

  • Harriet Craig says:

    I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful son. Thank you for all that you do for us.

  • Kathleen says:

    Thank you for sharing a very tragic and heart-breaking time. You are so right in all your words. I’ve said a prayer that more people will be blessed by finding you and a healing prayer for you. May we all strive to be kind today.

  • Nancy Norris says:

    Hi Beth,
    Your post this morning came at a time when I have been struggling to deal with tragedies of my own – my husband had a near-fatal accident in October, and since that time we have lost a very dear girlfriend and then two weeks later a co-worker; both suddenly and unexpectedly. I have been in a fog of grief and confusion, and although I like to think that I am a person who lives in gratitude every day, I confess that I have been having a hard time making sense of it all, particularly at this time of year.

    Your words came at a time when I most needed to hear them; I am so terribly sorry for your loss, and thank you so much for putting some much-needed perspective on my world at the moment. Kindness is free to give; it makes the world a more beautiful place and it empowers us to make positive changes in our own lives and the lives of others. Your kindness in sharing your story has had a ripple effect that I’m sure is resounding even further than you can see. Thank you and please accept a warm hug from the West Coast.
    Best Wishes and God Bless,
    Nancy Norris

  • Shonda says:

    Oh, Beth. I am so sorry! That is something that you will hold forever in your heart. I’m praying for you!

  • Robyn says:

    I am so very sorry for the loss of your son. But, thank you for sharing your insights. This post really resonated with me and I needed to hear it. Prayers and hugs to you and your family.

  • Margaret Ogle says:

    I am so sorry for your loss.
    Thank you for sharing. Your words have encouraged more people than you will ever know.
    God bless you and your family this Christmas and in the days ahead.

  • Jeanne DeShazer says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I can’t even begin to imagine what you have been through. I have a friend that lost her son (13) around the same time as my husband died and I know that her loss was so much harder than mine because of the promise and hopes we have tied up in our children. Four years have passed and though I miss my husband am doing much better while she is still in such a difficult place. We all move at our own pace, but I think your perspective is very enlightening and helpful. You do so much good. Bless you and your family.

  • Jeanne DeShazer says:

    My daughters were molested when they were just little girls, and so I had some major difficulty being able to forgive their perpetrator so I could move on. I don’t know how it must have been to have your son taken in such a violent way. You impress me with the productive and brave way you have dealt with this. God bless you.

  • Carol Carver says:

    Thank you, Beth, for sharing your story of courage, growth, and hope. Also for the information about Ben’s Bells. I will look them up next time I’m in downtown Phoenix

  • Beth Dargis says:

    Thank you Carol! And thank you everyone who posted replies. I must have missed them when I was grieving.

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