Posted by: Mothers Against Teen Violence | April 22, 2008

A Survivor’s Story

By Carlene Strickland

(not related to Joy Strickland)


On the morning of Saturday, August 19, 2006 my son Stephon left home headed for the barbershop.  After getting a haircut, he stopped by a friend’s house on our street to deliver a business card for a job reference. From what I understand, Stephon’s friend and four other boys had recently committed a robbery and a dispute arose about the money. The four boys felt they had been cheated out of their fair share. My son arrived at the house with no knowledge of what was going on. When the four boys showed up with guns and kicked the door in, I can only image how shocked he must have been. His friend escaped and ran for his life, but my son was shot and killed.


There is no way to explain the pain and devastation of losing a child. For months, all I could do was cry. My son’s death was absolutely senseless. It was a mistake! I simply could not cope with what had happened. I’m sure that I was completely depressed for at least a year. I spent an enormous amount of time talking to my sister. And a good friend gave me some literature on grief and loss, which I found very helpful.


Eventually I sought the help of a psychiatrist to work though grief, which I had not dealt with for years. You see, seven years before I lost my son I was in a near fatal automobile accident and hospitalized for eleven months.  It is truly a miracle that I survived. As a result of the accident, I am a quadriplegic. I still remember how devastated my son was to see me in a wheelchair. He was 13 then. Prior to my accident, I was a busy, vibrant working mother and I was overwhelmed by the very idea of living my life from a wheelchair.


With a lot of love and prayer, I managed to persevere. I was determined to help Stephon deal with the issues associated with having a newly disabled parent. I was vigilant about his self-esteem and emotional wellbeing. I encouraged him to grieve the loss of is old mom and celebrate the new one. It was a daily challenge to stay involved with teaches and keep Stephon motivated about his school work. But I managed to get though it. When he graduated from high school, my family and I were so proud of him. Thinking back, I was so overwhelmed and so concerned about my son that I didn’t see to my own healing. When he was killed, it was clear to me that I not only needed to grieve his death, but I also needed to deal with everything else I had lost.


I still have days when it seems like Stephon has just died and grief covers me like a dark cloud. At those times I find it helpful to bow my head in prayer and think about what I have to be thankful for: I had my son for twenty wonderful years; I didn’t lose my life in that automobile accident; I have the love and support of my family; And my faith in God continues to sustain me. Despite everything that has happened I know that God is good.


The four boys accused of killing Stephon have finally been arrested and charged with capital murder. Bond for each has been set at $1 million. A trial has been scheduled for May 2008. Although I will have family and friends at the trial, I have decided not attend



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