Happy Thanksgiving to All and especially to those of us who are feeling our Loss

Happy-Thanksgiving-Images-4As I sit here and reflect on past Thanksgivings, all I can think of is those who meant so much to me who are no longer with me.  Of course, I think of my parents who I shared a close relationship with and were the cornerstones of my life.

Oh, how I miss them.  My dad making numerous trips to the grocery store, picking up things he forgot and additional items my mom sent him to get to make that Thanksgiving dinner so special.  Mom was always in the kitchen and the fumes from the turkey, collard greens, candid yams, etc. to delight your pallet filled the air.

Until I lost my beloved Justin, I did the same thing for my daughter Shenita and him.   Holiday were always important.  What seemed so trivial but meant so much is gone and life will never be the same again.  I don’t care how many people come or don’t come, life is so different and the magnitude of our loss cannot be measured or debated.

Nevertheless, this Thanksgiving, let’s keep in mind the blessings God has graced us with. The fact that God did not give us our children and loved ones, he loaned them to us. Just as he giveth, he taketh. And as thankful we are for that loan and equally as hurt from the loss, let’s look to those we still have with us, enjoy them, be thankful for them and not take them for granted.

And let’s remember that the memories we make today are the ones we will look back on tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone from http://www.survivingmurder1.com

Denise Cosby

Author of Forthcoming Memoir:

Murder at Harvard University Kirkland House –A Mother’s Worst Nightmare







This month began with a celebration at the State House that was hosted by Tina Cherry and the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute.

I have had the honor of being mentored by the award winning author Michael Patrick MacDonald over the past couple of months.

He asked us to write a story about “A Room that is all to familiar to us.”  Several rooms came to mind but this room kept overshadowing the others.  In memory of my son Justin Devin Cornelius Daniel Cosby and other victims of violence I have written about this room I know so well.


This room is all too familiar to me. These walls have stories to tell. I have been in this place far too many times. Though this room is decorated elegantly with fancy draperies, pictures, flowers and mementos, this room disturbs me — I hate this room.

Yes, I know this room. I know it well. Most of the time this room does not discriminate. This room has no name engraved on its front door. This room has no race. This room is ageless. This room denies no gender. This room does not care what your class or status is, who you are or where you are in life. This room does not care what your political views are or what connections you have. Everyone will pass through this room at one time or another. Yes, sooner or later, we all know this room.

The photos that adorn this room change from week to week, sometimes day to day. Sometimes, the faces are far too young to be on these walls. Old and young, dressed in their Sunday best, stand telling stories — memories of a loved one who is gone. I’ve been in this room with my mother and my father. I’ve also been in this room with two of my brothers. Lord, have mercy, I’ve been in this room with so many others. Yes, I know this room. Continue reading “A ROOM THAT IS ALL TO FAMILIAR”





TODAY, MAY 18, 2015 I WOKE UP WITH A HEAVY HEART.  6 years ago today May 18, 2009, my son Justin Cosby was cut down by murder at the age of 21.  Justin was my youngest child and only son.  Around 10 a.m., this morning 6 years ago, he was hollering out to me how much he loved me.  6 hours later, he was shot in the Kirkland House at Harvard University.  About 10 hours later, Justin died from a gunshot wound to his stomach.

Justin was a joy to have as a child and a self-admitted momma’s boy until his death.  Justin was energetic, ambitious and very charismatic.  He left a devoted mother Denise Cosby, a devoted sister Shenita Cosby and an array of family and friends who still mourn his death six years later.  Even though all 4 of the culprits have been convicted and are being punished, my son’s life is No More.  I will always remember, love and cherish my son’s legacy.  When I think of Justin, I think of his big kool-aid smile that used to spread from one side of his face to another and those warm hugs he used to give me.  I am not sure whether I experience more pain from the memories because he is no longer here or, do I indulge in the happy memories Justin shared with us when he was here.  I know his spirit will remain in our hearts forever.  In memory of Justin, I have posted a letter written to him from my my upcoming Memoir “Murder at Harvard University’s Kirkland House – A Mother’s Worst Nightmare”.


Son, I am so proud of you.  I am so proud of the legacy you left behind.  I am in awe of the friendships you made along the way.  I cherish the love and the respect you always gave to me.  I am proud of the strength and tenacity you displayed as you tried to mature and navigate your way through the complexities and atrocities of life from boy hood to man hood in spite of the challenges and difficult journey you faced along the way.



grief photoMother’s Day means so many things to different people.  Mother’s Day is a day set aside to recognize all mothers or persons whom have acted as mothers.  Mothers are sometimes not the woman who birthed you but she is the woman who supported you through thick and thin, doctored you when you were sick, listened to you when nobody else cared and loved you no matter what.  You could always depend on a mother to pick you up when you are down.  No matter what disagreements have come and gone, a mother’s love endures.

Mother’s Day is one of the most deserved and recognized days of the year.  It is a day when we tell our Mothers how much we love them and appreciate them.  It is also a day mothers look forward too because they know their most precious jewels will make them smile by showing them how much they appreciate and love them.  Many are flourished with special dinners, cards, flowers, gifts and moments.  Some are just happy to be able to hear their children’s voice.  No matter the method of communication when a child shows love to his mother, Mother’s Day usually leaves memories that mothers take to the grave with them.

My mother died about 20 years ago.  I still remember her teachings, scoldings, support and most of all love she showed me.  20 years later, I still have cards and mementos she gave me for inspiration and motivation.  I know my mother’s love still endures.

The best day of my life was when I became a mother.  Even though I went through long hard labors, the reward outweighed the pain.  My first child Shenita, a girl; someone to dress up, teach to become a young lady and groom for woman hood.  Shenita has become an amazing young woman and I thank God for her every day.  Shenita has been a gift and I am very proud of her.




www.survivingmurder1.com extends its sincerest condolences to Odin Lloyd’s family who was murdered on June 17, 2013 in North Attleboro, MA.   We also extend our congratulations and best wishes to Odin’s family for enduring a long successful trial that came to fruition on April 15, 2015.  The killer – Aaron Hernandez, ex-New England Patriot’s football player celebrity status kept this story headlining national and international news for almost two years.   After nearly 7 days (36 hours) of deliberations the jury returned a verdict of GUILTY of first-degree murder in Odin’s death.  Aaron Hernandez is now being held accountable for his heinous actions he committed on Odin Lloyd.  In fact, the murder was described as extreme atrocity and cruelty “execution style of a helpless man”.   The Judge sentenced Aaron Hernandez to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.

As I listened to the impact statements of Odin’s mother Mrs. Ursual Ward, his sister and uncle my heart dropped.  I felt as though I was having a flashback.  Through her words, I relived my son Justin’s verdict and my family’s response to the verdict.  No mother knows a pain of another mother who has loss her child other than another mother who has walked through the same valley of death.  Odin’s mother expressed some of the same thoughts about her son Odin as I did about my son Justin in my impact statement.  I heard her say she missed his big smile, her son calling out to her “Mom Dukes where are you going?”  What are you doing?  Kidding with her by asking her, “who told you that you could go out today”?  What are you cooking mom and mom you look beautiful.”  Those words were some of the same words my son used to say to me and I would like Mrs. Ward  to know I feel her pain!!!  In addition, it just made it clearer that so many parents who have lost children to murder share exactly the same sentiments and memories.  However, thank God, we have memories that will always elicit a smile and warm thoughts of our loss.




For years the Boston Marathon has been one of Boston’s most proudest events.  Runners come from all over the world to compete and participate in the 26-mile marathon.  On April 15, 2013, as crowds of spectators cheered on runners who were approaching the finishing line, two homemade pressure cooker bombs exploded seconds apart.  The devastation caused mass destruction and left over 260 people with major injuries including many lost limbs.  Those bombs took the lives of 3 people.  29 year old Krystal Campbell, Boston University Graduate student Lingzi Lu and little 8 year old Richard Martin laid dead amidst the carnage.  The attack also left the City in an uproar.  Over the next few days, the local residents were ordered to stay in their homes while the police pursued the suspects.  On April 19, 2013, law enforcement continued to scan the City for the suspects.  MIT Police Officer Sean Collier was approached by the suspects was and shot dead.  The suspects left the area where Officer Collier was shot and went a couple miles away to a neighboring City of Allston.  There they hi-jacked a vehicle, drove the owner to a service station in Cambridge where the owner escaped and ran into a nearby service station begging for help.  The clerk called the police and a high speed chase ensued into nearby Watertown, another bordering city just a few miles away.

The suspects turned out to be Tamerian Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnavev, two brothers from Cambridge.  The chase ended when Tamerian Tsarnaev fell from the car and his brother Dzhokhar ran over him resulting in Tamerian’s death.

Dzhokhar escaped during all the mayhem and went on the run for 2 days.  Cambridge Police, Boston Police, Watertown Police State Police and Federal law officials set up a command post in Watertown until they found Dzhokhar hiding in a boat in one residents’ back yard.  Dzhokhar was apprehended and taken into custody.  Many lives were altered, devastated and destroyed by the Tsasrnavev brothers actions.

In January 2015, a Dzhokhar Tsarnavev went on trial at John Moakley Federal Court in Boston.  On March 3, 2015 a jury of his peers were chosen.  Dzhokhar faced 30 counts of charges in connection with the bombing.  17 of those counts punishable by the death penalty.

On April 8, 2015, two years after the bombing, the verdict came in.  Dzhokhar Tsarnavev was found Guilty on all 30 counts including conspiracy and use of weapons of mass destruction.   17 of those counts are punishable by death.

Many of us have lost loved ones to murder.  However if we were given the opportunity to choose life or death for the pepertrator would you be able to choose the death penalty?   Death is final and ends the pain, misery and punishment for the offender.  However, life in prison without the possibility of parole is a living hell.  Each and every day that person lives, he has to think about what he has done, the pain and devastation he has caused and the fact that he has no chance to ever cause harm again.



posterFor the past couple of months I have been working as a Delegate with the Cambridge Participatory Budgeting Committee in an effort to create projects for Cambridge residents.

In memory of my son Justin and other families who have lost loved ones to murder and accidents, I have proposed a peace garden be created in Cambridge. This peace garden will serve as a place of tranquility and reflection for families left behind to mourn the loss of their loved ones. Along with my project, there are many other good projects to be considered and we are asking all residents to come out March 22-28 and see visuals of our proposals and vote on the ones you feel will best help our community.  Please pass this on to all families and friends who live in Cambridge and ask them to come out next and vote.  Help us bring our ideas to fruition. Thank you!

If you are a Cambridge resident or know someone who is, please go online to  https://www.facebook.com/events/790060157745246/.

or cambridgema.nationbuilder.com and cast your vote for the Cambridge Garden of Peace no later than Saturday, March 28, 2015.  Thank you.



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“Five Stages Of Loss and Grief”

grief 2

The suddenness of death is often times hard to comprehend.  The pain of losing a loved one is crushing.  It is much like losing a part of oneself.  It is a pain, that you learn to tolerate but you never recover from it.  You cannot fix it.  You cannot get over it.  We can only work towards accepting it.  We all know that we will lose people who we love in our lifetime.  However, when we lose someone to murder, it is a shocking and devastating.  The lost sometimes makes one feel as though they are walking around with a daze with a huge hole in your soul.  When our love ones are murdered, it leaves us feeling as if we to, have been struck down.

When we lose people by murder, it feels like an attack on your spirit.  Whether the perpetrator(s) are someone who is familiar to you in some way or a complete stranger, the suddenness of death affect us in ways that are impossible to explain and leaves us with feelings that are hard to comprehend.  Families are left with many unanswered questions and often times they are unable to hear anything beyond an explanation as to  “WHY!”

A Therapist by the name of Kubler Ross came up with a five stage theory to try to help people understand and cope with grief.  Her theory is interesting and gives some clarity and understanding of how to deal with our loss. The Stages of Grief according to “Kubler Ross” theory does not necessarily happen in chronological order but the victim could experience any of the five stages at any given time.

Stage 1.  The first stage of grief in her theory is Denial.   Denial is a defense mechanism.  A defense mechanism protects our emotions when our brain refuses to deal or cope with sudden trauma.  Emotionally we are not ready to hear, deal or accept our loss.  We emotionally shut down until we are able to begin to process our loss (murder).  The impact of a sudden murder often times leaves one in a state of disbelief, uncertainty, shock and anger thirsting for revenge.  I reflect back to when my nephew Justin was murdered.  I can remember I was standing in the middle of the floor talking on the phone.  My brain refused to process the news that my nephew had been murdered and it shut down.  I actually lost my footing and fell back onto a chair.  It felt as though someone had punched me in my stomach.  I could not cope with the realization that someone had murdered my nephew.  The loss caused me emotional pain and disbelief.  I experienced denial. I did not want to believe I heard what had just been told to me.  Continue reading ““Five Stages Of Loss and Grief””

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This year, I choose to “Believe!”  No matter, what happens or have happened, we have to have faith!  It has been one year since God gave me a vision to reach out to families who have experienced the loss of a child or loved one to murder. I created http://www.survivingmurder1.com in memory of my son Justin Cosby who was murdered at Harvard University on May 18, 2009.  During this time, I have posted 37 blogs sharing opinions, experiences and situations with families and friends who are trying to cope with the tragedy their family has face.  After one year of Blogging, www.survivingmurder1.com have had over 8100 visitors reading and sharing my blogs.

There is nothing any worst than a parent who loses a child to murder.  The feeling is indescribable and incomprehensible.  From the initial “Call” a parent receives notifying them that his or her child has been murdered, planning funeral services, grieving and navigating through court proceedings one can easily become overwhelmed and disillusioned.  Many families don’t receive justice for one reason or Continue reading “www.survivingmurder1.com Celebrates 1 yr. of Blogging!”

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