Memorial for Unhoused People Who Died on the Streets
Chaplain Ed Jacobs conducted another Homeless Memorial Service last Sunday at Shiloh Baptist Church in Tacoma, calling people together to make certain that those who die while experiencing homelessness are not forgotten by our community. According to statistics compiled by Ed, the average age of the 32 people who passed away while living on the streets during the past several months was 51 years, which tragically is 25 years younger than the average age of death in Pierce County. Three of those who passed were just 28 years old, and 12 were under 40; the oldest was 78. He was able to find details about the cause of death for 13 of the 32, and for more than half of them, drugs were involved in their deaths. Among the poignant comments made by Ed at the gathering were the following thoughts:
“Unsheltered people are not problems, they are our neighbors. We went to school with these neighbors, shared family time and sat next to them to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July… we have shared experiences with many unsheltered people. We may have known them before they became unsheltered… before they learned to fight to survive… before they starting taking drugs to dull the emotional pain and stress of living on the streets; this life is not what they envisioned when you or I knew them before they started dying on the streets.”
We are grateful to Chaplain Ed for continuing to put a realistic face on the experiences of our houseless neighbors, and for helping our community not to forget them.