Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

The survivors never really rest in peace

by John Halverson

March 21, 2013

The fatal dog attack March 6 has stirred our emotions.

We’re appalled that someone would allow a child near pit bulls.

We’re angry that pit bulls are getting such a bad rap — again.

We’re sad for the family, for the child, the babysitter, for the many who have been damaged.

Who the “we” represents depends upon who we are and what’s happened in our lives.

There are even some people on our website who have responded by taking each other to task over grammar. It’s such a petty response.

For parents who have lost a child it means memories that can’t help but reappear.

Blogger Bridget McCarthy allowed us to use her words on our commentary page last week. It received an astounding number of hits when we put it on our website. Her words hit home, because her history is scarred by a similar episode. She lost her daughter in a car accident.

As she pointed out, the rest of us can think we know what the death of a child means…but we don’t.

“Even if you think you do, you don’t. I’ve lost a child and even I don’t know. So do not say that you do.”

The web comments to her article were heartrending:

“Beautiful blog. This goes for any death. I lost my brother a few months ago & everything in this blog applies to his wife, my parents, his children, & myself. Thank you for such a heartfelt blog. I’m sorry for your loss & for this mother who lost her son. My heart, thoughts & prayers are with both of you.”

Sheila Bond

Lynn Haven, Florida

“Bridget, you have covered the points head on to help the grieving. I am just going to tweak it a bit — having been in the stunned, grieving mother role — by saying, please, please don’t say “let me know what I can do.” The mother/family can barely get dressed or put in a new roll of TP, so just do it. Feel free to tell a caregiver of the family, “I will be over Tuesday to do the laundry; is morning or afternoon the best?” or show up to shovel or rake or cut the grass. And three months after the horror, all lives get back on track except the mother or family, and that’s when a dinner is really appreciated. Thank you Bridget, you said it all so well

Lynn Wesolek

Geneva Township

“We lost our 19-year-old daughter Meagan so we have joined that exclusive club that you blogged about. Please continue to write about it, I wish I had seen this 5 mos ago. Every point you made was so true it’s scary!! Thank you.”

Ken and Lori Tassone

Hebron Il

“I have also lost a child and grieving is a process that you do in steps. The loss gets easier but never goes away.

“My heart goes out to the parents of this young boy!

“My son was older but I still miss him every day!”


Baton Rouge

I was going to be self-righteous and express my opinion on pit bulls, but stopped myself.

Clearly, it’s a proper subject for discussion and we’ve had both sides expressed in our paper and through commentary on the web. Being a forum for debate is part of our job description.

But what stopped me from adding to the debate at this time was as issue of tone. What’s the most appropriate way to view the death of a boy and the tragedy that engulfed everyone involved?

It ought to be one of reverence. Not necessarily the religious kind, but the people-to-people kind we all understand — respecting others more than ourselves, which is often hard to do in our self-obsessed society.

A boy died after being attacked by the pit bulls.

The pit bulls’ owner was injured.

And some people on our web commentary are arguing about grammar and calling each other idiots?

“it’s “you’re,” not “your.” “your” an illiterate idiot,” said one.

“There is no apostrophe in Williams Bay... dumba$$.” said another.

We’ve received similar response following other tragedies.

I suppose we can be blamed for letting this stuff on our website. We have been.

Sometimes we have taken out material, especially if it was graphic, obscene or racist. Over the last year we have become more watchdog than before. It’s a job description I don’t relish. For the most part we want to allow people to be able to have a forum to express themselves. I’ve always thought people had the right to be wrong — give them space and let others decide.

In this case, name calling and talking trash about grammar doesn’t rise to the level of exclusion, but it’s certainly bad manners in light of what happened.

It indicates a lack of perspective, maturity and what’s really important in life.

I can’t comprehend what it means to lose a child. I have three, and they’re all precious.

It may happen. I may live long enough to see it.

I’d like to keep that horror in its place. The same place we keep thoughts about our own mortality. When it crosses our minds, as it must in these situations, we push it back inside.

Those who have been stricken can’t do that anymore.

Halverson is editor and general manager of the Regional News.

McCarthy’s blog can be found at: She writes regularly at