That We Might Have Joy: Julianne's Story

“He’s dead.  He's dead.”  Those were the only words combined with sobbing that I heard on the other end of the line. It was 8:30am, and I was 2 weeks postpartum with my third son. What was going on? I was in shock. “Who is dead?” and “What is going on?”

My husband continued sobbing, “I am so sorry.  I'm so sorry he is dead.” I tried to calm him down explaining that it would be ok. It was then I heard the rest of the story. Our 22 month old son Carder was just run over by a van in our friend's driveway.  He died instantly, and to top it off, our 3 year old son witnessed the entire accident. Now I am not only dealing with a deceased son, I am also dealing with a son who has post traumatic stress from the accident, and a husband who is distraught and caught with bad images engraved in his mind.

He then proceeded to tell me they had to wait for the medical examiner and crime scene investigator to rule that it was indeed an accident. The police had to take everyone's statements, and I needed to call and figure out all the details.  My 3 year old son was caught at a crime scene, unable to leave, and I was home to call the funeral home.  Thankfully, my husband had 2 brothers with him and 4 nephews who were able to occupy my son's mind with fun.

It was 1 in the afternoon when they allowed my son to leave, and he went with his cousins to play.  It was 2:30 in the afternoon when the Sheriff finally brought my husband home and reality sunk in. It was true; Carder was dead.

I thought to myself this kind of thing does not happen to me. I read about this on the news.  And why did my 3 year old have to witness the accident? Why did this happen?

In a sudden event as this, it is easy to get caught up in the “what if’s” and “why's,” questioning  yourself, "What could I have done differently?"  This is Satan's plan.  He wants us to have doubts and to fear the unknown. There is only one thing to do during our trials-- turn to the Lord. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden” the Savior said, “and I will give you rest” (Mathew 11:28)

We were in pain, grieving the sudden earthly loss of our son. But, put the pain of my son in perspective.  He was only 14 months older than his brother. They would wake each other up every morning. They always made sure they knew where each other were, never getting out of sight of one another. If I gave one son a popsicle, he was sure I handed him another one for his brother. He lost his best friend, and he doesn't understand death. It was hard and still is.  We have good and bad days.

Just a few days ago I was watching a video with my now 3 1/2 year old son Dee, and he was wrestling his brother Carder. Half way through the video, he said, “Mom, I have to go to the castle.” I said, “You mean the temple?” His reply, “Yes mom, I need to go inside so I can wrestle Carder.” Since my son Dee has no concept of death, he thinks his brother is just gone and with Jesus, so he had figured it out in his mind. If the temple is the Lord's house, then Carder must be in there. Things like this happen all the time. I will be driving down the road and my baby is sleeping, the next thing I hear is Dee slapping his baby brother, “Wake up, wake up.  Mom, Ethan is dead.  He needs to wake up.” After countless tries, his brother finally wakes up, and I hear a sigh of relief from Dee, “He was just sleeping.” Just the other day, my brother-in-law was getting something out of our van. Dee asked what he was doing and teasing Dee, he said, “I'm stealing your van.” Dee broke down in sobs. He had an unexplainable loss, so he believes that he will lose whatever you tell him you are taking. It truly breaks his heart. This is something we will have to deal with for years, until he understands what really occurred.

A few comments I often hear are “You are handing this so well" or "You look happy.” Let me tell you, we had thousands of people praying for us, and we felt the prayers. We received hundreds of cards and messages.  We had over 400 people at his funeral. We received peace from it all. The Lord promises us this peace, and we received it. If you listened to the LDS General Women's broadcast Elder Eyring focused his TALK on peace.  The peace that we often want to feel, the Holy Ghost will provide. We received countless tender mercies through the process of this event. We were reassured that we would see our son again. We knew it was his time to work on the other side of the veil. We have had spiritual experiences as we attend the temple. And we were blessed with his smile and memories that will be with us forever.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to be happy. Although there may be days we are saddened by the trials that are before us, He is here to help us.  “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88) He is here for us. He experienced all my pains 10 fold, so I can handle this temporary trial. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the most important event that occurred. It brings us peace and joy. We have to utilize it, have faith, and trust in it and in Him. Alma 7:12  “And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”

What more could we want?  We are blessed. Of course, life is hard, and we will continue to be faced with daily challenges, but I hope we may never forget why we are here and that we are never alone. “Through your faith and righteousness and through his atoning sacrifice, all the iniquities, injuries, and pains of this life can be fully compensated for and made right. Blessings denied in this life will be given in the eternities. And although He many not relieve all your suffering now, He will bless you with comfort and understanding and with strength to “bear up (your) burdens with ease” Mosiah 24:15

This is the relief that I have felt.  I still have my burdens and pain, but I have peace, joy, and comfort that have provided me with happiness amidst the trials. May will mark one year since my son's passing.  Some days it still feels unreal, some days we cry, and sometimes I lift others. But through it all, the Savior has been by my side. The Savior is our best friend, and as we focus on his life and teachings, He will bless us. He is here for us. Seek Him.


  1. Julianne thank you for sharing. You are going to bless so many people who have lost a child by sharing your story. I love you for sharing it. <3 Thank you!

  2. Julianne! Thank you. This is so beautiful! We love you guys so much! You are in our thoughts and prayers and I want you to know that your vulnerability will help others in similar situations.

  3. I love you guys so much. I am so thankful to know your family and I know how blessed you guys are. I'm so inspired by your unshakable faith. Thank you for sharing your story.

  4. You are an amazing person. You are a true messenger and example of Christ. I feel such a connection with Carder. I know I didn't know him but him being born on my birthday and having sons so close in age makes me feel connected with your family. I know there were angels helping guide me to go to Jean Keaton class. I am pretty sure someone on the other side was taking the regins on getting all things lined up for the drawing of Carder. I think they knew Dee was in need of seeing his brother with Christ. I love that he wants to go to the temple so he can see him. We love you guys!!!

  5. Julianne that was lovely, you are lovely. You are great at putting your thoughts and testimony into words <3

  6. Love and Hugs being sent to your family! 😘

  7. Grateful for your testimony! We miss your sweet family in our ward. Thanks for sharing!
    Love, the Allphin's