Just when they thought they lost it all…

A guest post by Julie Barclay.

Take a moment. Think about the past nine months and how the economic downturn has changed your life. What have you had to give up? What were the changes, the goodbyes and the endings?

A year ago Holly and Craig Hunter were loving life. They both had jobs, a roof over their heads, and two beautiful daughters, Casey (2 years) and Rowan (4 years). Life was good. When the economy started to go sour in the fall, Craig lost his job at Jiffy Lube. As with thousands of others in his same situation, finding employment elsewhere became difficult. Holly was able to keep the family above water as she had been employed with Washington Mutual for 4 years. Although the banking system was shaky, she still had an income. When Washington Mutual was taken over by Chase, financially things began to slide further for Holly and Craig. More hours worked…less income.

The economic pressures took a toll both emotionally and financially on the family. Holly knew a change needed to happen. With the limited time and finances they had Holly went back to school and began the training to become and Emergency Medical Technician. One July 9th she passed the National Registry Exam and became a certified EMT.

Holly and Craig had a plan, and although financially strapped they were beginning to move forward and pick themselves back up. It would take months, maybe even years to build up their nest egg but they were on the right track. Until the bottom of their world fell out.

Their youngest daughter, Casey, was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome in June. Nephrotic Syndrome is a condition that effects kidney function. They spent many hours this winter and spring in and out of doctors’ offices. Toward the end of July, Casey was admitted to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital with a kidney infection. Under special medical care and observation, Casey fought the infection and was cleared to go home. While getting Casey bathed and dressed to go home the family’s real nightmare began. Casey ‘coded’…her body went limp. A team of doctors and nurses descended on two-year-old Casey, but it was too late. Casey died. Cured of her kidney infection, and excited to go home to play with her big sister Rowan, Casey was dead. A pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in the lung, killed her. The condition is not even related to Nephrotic Syndrome.

Holly and Craig have had to make some hard choices this past week. Never could they imagine that with this economy and their lack of funds they would have to ‘bargain’ shop for a cemetery plot for their precious little angel. Never could Holly and Craig have imagined they would have to make a ‘financially responsible’ option between the cheaper cremation over a traditional burial with casket, although Holly’s heart has chosen the option for her. Holly could not choose cremation, she could not fathom that for her baby girl. Never could Holly and Craig imagine they would have to ask the question, “What can we afford?” when it came to the funeral plans of their youngest child. To make matters worse, when Chase Bank was approached to set up a special account for Casey’s family to offset the cost of funeral expenses, the family was denied on grounds of a “confilict of interest.”

A year ago Holly and Craig would never have imagined the nightmare they are facing today. The loss of an income or the downsizing of a position seems small in comparison to the nightmare of how to afford a proper good-bye for their sweet happy little girl.

8/24/2006 ~ 7/30/2009

Casey Christeen Hunter passed away Thursday, July 30, 2009 at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, OR. She was born on August 24, 2006 in Vancouver, WA.

Even though she was only on this earth for a short time, she touched many people. She had a special way about her that made people smile. Casey enjoyed spending time with her family and friends, and trying to keep up with her big sister, Rowan. Casey was always such a happy little girl. She enjoyed being outdoors, and also really loved dogs especially her stuffed dog “Pepper.” Everyone who knew her appreciated how she was so “Casey.” She was very polite and continued to be her adorable, loving self, even during her recent hospital visits. Although diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome in June, Casey’s death was sudden and unexpected. She will be missed forever by all who knew and loved her.

She is survived at home by her parents, Holly (Gillespie) Hunter and Craig Hunter II; and her older sister, Rowan Hunter. Casey is also survived by her grandparents, Joy and Vern Earhart; grandfather, Craig Hunter; aunt, Kendall Freeman; aunt, Cristi (Rick) Dahlstrom; and cousins, Jordan, Jocelyn, Austin, Zach, and Brandon. She is also survived by her Papa and Nana, Al and Sundii Gillespie; uncle, Geoff Gillespie; uncle, Ryan J. Gillespie; as well as cousins, Elliott, Celia, Samantha, and Allie. Casey also is survived by her great-grandmother, Wilma Gillespie; as well as numerous other well loved family members and friends.

If you would like to provide additional support to the Hunter Family in their time of need, Casey’s parents have established an educational needs account for Casey’s sister, Rowan, at www.caseyhunter.com.

Take a moment. Think about the past nine months and how the economic downturn has changed your life. What have you had to give up? What have you had to say good-bye too?

This post was a guest post from writer and mommy-friend Julie Barclay. This darling little girl is almost the same age as my youngest daughter, and I was eager to allow Julie to spread the word–not just for the Hunter family, but also for a reminder to all readers to treasure what we hold dearest. I don’t doubt that the Hunter family would do anything to have even a few hours with Casey back–in your struggles with employment, money, debt or stress, please take a moment to put yourself in the Hunter’s shoes and ask if you’re prioritizing your stressors appropriately. If you are spending your time and energy within your values structure. Ultimately, you may also need to be asking if you are prepared. I’ll be posting soon as a semi-follow-up about economical and respectful funerals–as I’ve recently experienced a loss in my family, I’ve noticed a few stories and ideas in the news that might be of value to others.