If you are new here or have stumbled across this page, welcome. You may be unfamiliar with our story. At the end of June 2013, our beautiful baby girl Shaundi was born and she was perfect and such a joy! In early September, my husband found her unresponsive and not breathing. Life with one of our babies gone has been hard. I’ve shared our journey here.
Every time a tragedy happens where there’s no answer, people feel the need to fill in the blanks with their own speculation or with a comparison to another tragedy. Unfortunately, they also feel the need to do it in a public forum.
If you were qualified to do this, you wouldn’t be sitting at home on Facebook perusing news stories and creating a sensational story.
When our infant daughter became unresponsive during her nap, I was a suspect. I wasn’t home when it happened, it was a pretty clear cut case in the end but in the heat of it all, in the immediate moments following a death or an accident, everyone is a suspect.
Some of the last few hours of my daughter’s “medically sustained” life, I spent time with a homicide detective and a social worker. While she lay in a hospital bed alone, I was being interrogated about where I was, what my life was like, who I was with, what I ate, what I drank, what I did in my free time.
While my baby was dying/dead in the hospital.
My husband was interrogated separately from me.
Then it wasn’t over.
While we held the hands of our sweet baby girl and sobbed and were told that the situation was very grave, a police officer stood at the door and observed everything we did.
During the nighttime hours that we spent kissing her forehead and praying and begging, homicide detectives searched our home and interviewed our friends and neighbors.
When Shaundi was removed from life support, an autopsy was performed to be sure that there truly was no foul play.
While we were planning a funeral, our other children were interviewed without us by a child psychologist and social worker.
The autopsy came back showing exactly what had happened. She had stopped breathing in her sleep for this reason and that. We weren’t guilty of killing our child.
In the months following Shaundi’s death, there were home visits.
And finally the case was closed.
I am still so angry about how the system works. There’s no innocence until proven guilty, only guilt until proven otherwise. BUT, then I try to remember that if this process saves the life of one child, it’s worth it. Even being two years removed from it all, it’s hard to say that. I repeat it to myself often.
When I see people online spout out their public speculation about the guilt or innocence of other people in the media, I think about the time that I was under fire. I shudder to think of what would have happened if my husband or I had been torn apart by these people.
As a grieving mother, a mom who had just lost her baby, I already wanted to die. If my community had shared their unmerited “hunches”, I don’t think I would be alive. I’m fortunate that I had a supportive community in real life AND online. I only ever saw love and compassion being shared. And don’t think that mourning families don’t read these things. WE DO!
There’s no closure in death until you yourself die, so you search for small pieces of closure, you google your story, you see EVERYTHING.
And yes, you say things or write things that can be misconstrued and misrepresented by people who don’t know you. When you come from a religious background, you spout off things that you’ve always heard or told people when they are suffering. And people don’t always understand those things when they are on the outside, so they should just keep their mouths shut.
Church people say stupid stuff. VERY stupid stuff, and it’s supposed to help you find comfort. And if the person grieving says these same things, it doesn’t mean they are guilty. It’s automatic, robotic.
When my brother died, I said stupid religious stuff that I’ve heard my whole life, “It was God’s will”, “It was all a part of HIS plan”, “He’s in a better place”. When my daughter died, I couldn’t do it any more.
Maybe I’ve lost my faith, maybe I’m not as strong as other people, but I know I shocked them when all I could say to every pastor and church person was, “This f—ing sucks.”
And no one held that against me. No one shared that on Facebook or in the media. No one took my words out of context or tried to twist them to hurt me — because what I was speaking was universal.
If someone speaks in terms you don’t understand, don’t try to understand them, just move on. let them grieve and express themselves in their own words as they try to figure out exactly what is going on. There’s a whole new level of feeling and indescribable thoughts that come when your life is turned upside down. Let the experts figure it all out because I assure you, not only are they living in a personal hell, they are living in a legal hell that I hope you never understand.
My name is Katy Mann, and I'm the creator of Indy with Kids. With over 10 years of experience working with children, and my excitement towards the great city of Indianapolis; I offer readers guidance about great events and activities to do around Indianapolis with their kids and grandchildren. Join us on our family travels and adventures across the country!