Monica Brown Coleman has lived every mother’s worst nightmare – her only son, Jared Mealey, was brutally murdered in St. Rose nearly nine years ago.
“I am a Christian and I pray about a lot of things,” Coleman said. “But I was like, ‘God, I don’t know what to do with this … this is overwhelming. It was so rough … I literally thought I was losing my mind and at one point I think I really did.”
Coleman’s journey of grief eventually led her to start her own ministry – God Still Cares. Her goal is to reach out to other parents who have lost children.
“It started when I thought, ‘What can I do for people? What have people done for me in my process?’” Coleman said crying as she recounted the generosity shown to her during the most difficult time in her life.
As a part of God Still Cares, Coleman puts together a package of various items, each one that was important to her in her grief journey. A candle is included for illumination on particularly dark days, as is a picture frame that allows parents to display their child’s photo. A journal is also included.
“Those were the things that were given to me,” Coleman said. “It took my about a year to be able to look at a photo of him though. Some parents can and some can’t. It’s different for everyone.”
Coleman said her ministry started and then eventually grew organically.
“It started out as word of mouth because I couldn’t even watch the news for a while,” Coleman said. “I would have people who would call and tell me about friends they knew who lost a child, so I would get their address and drop it off … so many people are losing their kids to violence.”
Coleman said reaching out to people in their darkest days – days she unfortunately understands – has been difficult yet rewarding.
“I truly feel the pain,” she said crying. “I truly feel the pain. All I can do it give them the benefit of my experience.”
The practice of journaling was particularly helpful and therapeutic for Coleman in her grieving process.
“When you’re in grief you want to say things, but you can’t,” she said. “But the writing really took me out of that zone. There were times when the grief was so profound that I didn’t know what to say, but I could write it down.”
Writing down her feelings, as well as the details of the three-year court process that eventually led to two people being convicted in her son’s death, prompted Coleman to write a book. She is about half-way through the writing process, and hopes to be completed in 2022.
“Nine years ago I couldn’t believe that anything good could come out of my son’s death,” she said. “But now I can see that I’m stronger and I can see that this is my purpose … this is my calling. Even as a young child I had a heart for people … it was there, but I never knew what I would use it for … but it was this and I had to accept it.”
Coleman said she still faces triggers that plummet her into dark days – triggers like birthdays or holidays or even seeing a blue bag of Doritos (Mealey’s favorite) at the store.
“You feel it and you have to go through it,” she said of sad thoughts. “Sometimes I still go to that dark place, but I don’t stay as long as I used to.”
Coleman said she is eternally grateful for the hard work of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office for working tirelessly in Mealey’s case.
“For three years they diligently worked to get justice for me and my family and I am forever grateful for them,” Coleman said. “I just want people who did not know Jared to know who he was … he touched a lot of people’s lives and I want them to know that his spirit is still here with us.”
To connect with Coleman, email firstname.lastname@example.org.