Eulogy for Brianne Carter - Memorial for a Beloved Child

“On this very, very sad day, I am honored that Stacey and Bob requested that I say a few words. It is an especially sad day because grief for the loss of a child is hardest to bear. When an old person dies we may grieve, but we can accept more readily that a life has been lived and has drawn to its inevitable close. But when a child dies, we mourn not only the life that was, but also the life that might have been.

“It is right and natural that we should grieve, because sorrow is a reflection and measure of the love, the happiness and the intimacy we shared with the one who has gone. In a way too we grieve for ourselves, because we know that our own lives will never be the same without Brianne.

“A few days ago Helene Stephens looked at me with sorrowful eyes and asked, “Why -- why was Brianne taken from us so young? She was so good, so honest, so sweet? Why, why, why, why?”

“I told Helene, and I tell you now, that every human tragedy is an act of nature. Nature does not know good from bad. Nature does not know right from wrong. In nature there are never rewards nor punishments -- there are only consequences.

“Death is as natural as life. All that have life have beginning and end. Nature is permanent in this world. The world is now a much poorer place without our Brianne. How do we know? We know this by remembering that the world was once enriched by her presence. And what a presence she was.

“When we close our eyes we each see a vision of Brianne as we each knew her. Every memory is as different and as individual as we are. Every anecdote we recall reveals a special side of our lovely Brianne.

“My special vision of Brianne is that of a generous person who volunteered to help me with my parties. She loved to help me decorate and cook. She graciously greeted my guests, hung their wraps, and escorted them into the party areas. I never worried about the reception my guests would receive when Brianne opened the door for me. I knew her smile and radiant cheerfulness would immediately charm anyone who arrived.

“I recall the many times she delivered bags of mail to me after I had been away. Sometimes it would take her several trips and sometimes Stacey, Brandon or Kiersten would have to help her. Brianne never failed to fulfill her obligations. She was truly a responsible young lady.

“I long to see Brianne knocking on my door to visit me. Brianne was also anxious to learn. I spent many wonderful hours sharing my knowledge and experience with her. She wanted to be wise and intelligent. I never got the chance to tell her that her innocent wisdom and intelligence actually taught me many things.                

“We all want Brianne to live again. It is your individual vision and the recounting of her legacy that will bring her back to life. Speak of her often, for stories and memories are truly an afterlife. Her legacy is worthwhile and her life is honored when recounted time after time.

“Speak of her sweetness. Tell others about her lack of prejudice. Talk of her kindness towards people and animals. Express your love for her memory and she will live again. Emulate her grace, poise, sense of fair play and being a good sport. In doing so, you will honor her legacy.

‘The record of a generous life runs like a vine around the memory of our dead, and every sweet, unselfish act is now a perfumed flower.’*

“ Brianne’s unselfish acts touched every person in this room. Hold on to that memory as a celebration of her life. Adore the memory you have of her, for like a beautiful precious flower she bloomed only a short time to give the world a little bit of happiness in seeing her, touching her, and loving her.

“What can we learn from her tragic death? We can all learn to be more aware of the valuable short life we have. We can be reminded to drive slowly and carefully. We can justify taking extra time to love our children, our nieces and nephews, our grandchildren, and our precious friends.

“Leave this ceremony today knowing that Brianne would want you to slow down and share the flowers on the vine of life with the ones you love. Remember her and she will live again.”

                                 *quotation from Robert Green Ingersoll