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Nate Phelps, the estranged son of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, broke the news over the weekend that the elder Phelps was on the “edge of death.” Now that Fred is dead, Nate has issued a public statement by way of Recovering From Religion, a group for which he serves on the board.
Apparently there is talk of some turnabout-is-fair-play picketing of Fred Phelps’ funeral when he finally dies. I think that’s a pretty ridiculous idea on its face. What would be the point? “That’ll show ‘em?” He’ll be dead, guys. And if he was looking down (or up) on the whole proceeding, can you imagine anything that would please him more than to see a throng of angry protestors at his funeral?
There’s another idea being floated that, yes, the funeral should be picketed, but “with love,” with a healing kind of demonstration in which Phelps would even be forgiven.
Look, doing any kind of pro-love and pro-forgiveness demonstration is well-intended, unlike the first option, which is just spite and emulating the very thing you’d be protesting. I get it; I applaud the motivation and the capacity for forgiveness, but in my opinion it’s still misguided.
Let’s take a step back.
This is a guest post written by Nikki Moungo. Nikki is a self-employed, work-at-home mother to three inspiring children.
As a bereaved mother, my heart goes out to Ann Marie Devaney and what she is experiencing since the death of her son. A word exists to describe the loss of a spouse: Widow. There is no word to describe the loss of a child, because no words can begin to convey the sheer gravity of what we parents experience. It’s an all-consuming loss, and that’s an understatement. Every fiber of your being is stretched beyond imagination. You think of all the ways you could build a time machine. Denial takes center stage. “It’s not over until I say it’s over! I simply refuse!” repeats like a mantra in your head.
One month after my son turned twenty-one, I received “The Call.” I don’t remember the flight. I don’t remember packing my suitcase. All I remember is trying to make it to the city he was in as quickly as possible. When it came time to remove his life support, in spite of my grief, I knew that having the chance to be with him in his final moments was not a “luxury” all parents in my position were afforded. I was able to lay down on his hospital bed with him. I took my grown, young, adult son in my arms, just as I did when he was a baby. I laid my head on his chest and listened to his healthy heart continue to beat for nearly fifteen minutes after life support was removed. Each beat brought with it a ray of hope… but then his heartbeats slowed, until the monitor flat-lined with it’s macabre long beep.