I Wish You Were Dead – The 2013 National Disability Day of Mourning

March 3, 2013

Remember Lives Taken - 2013 National Disability Day of Mourning

“I wish you were dead.”

It is a terrible thing to say or even think to another human being.  Imagine it being said to a young person with a disability.  Now imagine someone following through on that threat.  Now imagine them receiving no condemnation for the action.  That was the case of George Hodgins, a 22-year-old autistic man from California.  He loved hiking, and walking through shopping malls, and stopping at the Disney Store.  And in 2012, he was shot to death by the person who should have loved him the most – his own mother.

“I wish you were dead.”

George Hodgins’s death inspired the first vigil.  As stated by Zoe Gross at the time, George’s story was discussed and presented as the story of a mother who snapped under the pressure of caring for her son, and the story of other parents who felt the same way. It became a story about a lack of services for families with special-needs children, as though a lack of services is a justification for murder.  It became about them and George was “erased from his own murder.”

“I wish you were dead.”

On March 1, 2013, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, Not Dead Yet, and the National Council on Independent Living held the second annual National Disability Day of Mourning to remember people with disabilities who had lost their lives at the hands of their family members or caregivers.  Disability is either inspirational or a soul-crushing burden, and those with disabilities are either world champions, or helpless, hopeless millstones.  There is nothing in between.  And the killing of people with disabilities is euthanasia, merciful, and understandable. The heartbreak is that this Day of Mourning is needed to remind the world that people with disabilities’ lives have value.

“I wish you were dead.”

No one should ever have to hear that.  No one, in their last moments in this world, should ever have to suffer such a betrayal.  And no one should be erased. For these people with disabilities, the tragedy wasn’t their life, but their death.  All their future promise and love stolen from the world. Forever.


This essay is cross-posted at the Lead On Update.

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One Response to “ I Wish You Were Dead – The 2013 National Disability Day of Mourning ”

  1. [...] killed and asked attendees and others to put forward names.  I wrote about this in more detail at Day in Washington and the Lead On Update, but I wanted to take a few minutes on my blog to consider Jennifer Lee [...]