The Last Jolly Rancher

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by Joe Mudd on October 30, 2011

Richard was a fan of Jolly Ranchers.

In case you don’t know,  Jolly Ranchers are rectangular blocks of fruit flavored hard candy. Each Jolly Rancher comes individually wrapped in cellophane wrappers.

He had lots of them in his apartment. There were a couple of containers of them on his desk. There was a cup full on an end table. There was also a huge unopened bag of them in one of his kitchen cabinets.

Because of the strong chemicals used to fumigate Richard’s apartment after his death, I tossed out all the candy he had in open containers. I didn’t trust the cellophane wraps that were just twisted closed on the ends to keep the chemical fog away from the candy.

But I was sure the big unopened bag was OK and I brought it home when I cleaned out his apartment.

Over the past two and a half years I’ve eaten Richard’s Jolly Ranchers. I would think of him with each piece. It was like sharing a little bit of his life again.

We also “gave some to Richard” at candy giving times by tossing them on his grave – with the wrappers removed of course.

Today we went to the cemetery and did a bit of Halloween decorating at Richard’s grave. Debbie tossed out some candy for Richard.

In that candy she tossed on his grave was the last of Richard’s Jolly Ranchers. There were two left and she gave them to Richard.

They were his of course, and it’s only right he gets to finish them off. The wrappers were getting hard to peel away from the candy and it was time to do something with them.

But it seems along with the last chunk of the candy he loved and bought with his own money, another piece of my kid is gone.

Yes, that’s pretty silly when you really think about it. But then, having to bury one of your kids is pretty silly too.

Happy Halloween kid, I hope you enjoy the candy.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo Ann December 1, 2011 at 10:29 pm

I just started reading some of your stories. Thank you for posting them and bringing me some comfort. My son DJ was in a tragic car accident and we just buried him this last Monday. Much like your son, he was loved by many and hard to believe he is gone. This is all very new to me and the road ahead, well, I’m not looking forward to. I’m not a book reader and reading your short stories is helping. I consider myself a rational woman. One that knows that I cannot change what happened. That I need to be strong but unsure how to handle all this the “healthiest” way I can. My son was 21. He has a very close sister who is devistated and 20 and a 17 year old brother and 5 step siblings. Hopefully I can keep it together. I have to for them. How do I get the recording out of my head of his suffering even though I was not there? I’m supposing it doesn’t go away. Everyone just says “time”. I love that boy, I’m sorry you lost yours too. God this is awful.


Debbie Mudd December 3, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Jo Ann,

I am so sorry about the death of your son, DJ. As weak as those words are, I haven’t found any other words because there just aren’t any to express the sorrow. I know your heart is broken as mine has been since the night we got the word about Richard. It is horrible. I have many thoughts that run through my head, all the what ifs, whys, and the suffering. It has gotten a little “softer” over these past two years and six months since his funeral. But I have them still. You’re right the hurt doesn’t go away, the best way I have found to describe it is the pain and the recordings get “softer”.

One thing that has helped me is the Compassionate Friends group I know Joe has mentioned here on the blog. Though I do like to read, I haven’t been able to read the grief books. With the exception of “Heaven is Real” and one our daughter sent me, “Choosing to See”. I have found meeting with people who have lived through the death of a child and talking about Richard, listening to them talk about their’s, discussing our fears and disappointment does help.

As far as how to get through it, there is no “correct” way. There is only the best way for you and your family. No one understands what it is like if they haven’t been there themselves. The Compassionate Friends is made up of only grieving parent, siblings, and grandparents, which is what makes them somewhat helpful.

I understand wanting to be strong, but at the same time you need to let yourself feel your loss and grief. Don’t be afraid of breaking down even if you need to lock yourself in another room. You’ve just lost your baby and that just sucks!

Your family needs you and they are suffering this loss in there own ways too. Talk to each other about it. And hug each other a lot. Lean on each other. This is Awful, you’re right. We can only take each day as it comes, putting one foot in front of the other one day at a time.

I didn’t even try to look too far ahead during those first weeks. It was all just a nightmare. Still is in some ways. But I also kept reminding myself what Richard would think. And I talk to him, sometimes I will just look at his picture and have a conversation with him, though it is pretty one sided.

My faith, too, has been the most helpful. God gave him to us to bring joy and love into our lives, but He could only leave him with us for a little while. I have to be grateful and thankful the gift of Richard for the time we had. I miss him everyday, and cry for him often still.

I am sorry you have become another traveller on this grief journey, you are not alone. There are many of us out here. I know my husband Joe is glad the stories he shares here have been some comfort. That’s one reason he started writing it. It’s his way of working with his sorrow. Many times what he writes here is exactly what I am thinking, or feeling its amazing. I hope you feel free to visit us and leave a comment anytime.

When you are ready you might consider finding a Compassionate Friends group near you and take in a meeting or two. When I started going, I went to every meeting, just recently I have missed a couple. But our group meets twice a month where many others meet once a month. You can locate a chapter close to you from their web site ( I think that’s it, or just google Compassionate Friends. They are easy to find.

God Bless you and your family…Debbie Mudd


Heidi February 17, 2012 at 11:59 pm

OH WOW! Thank you Debbie! :) I am greatful for my faith too. I don’t know how I would have gotten through this without it. It doesn’t help the pain but I feel at peace with it (to some degree).
It has only been two months, I almost feel like I am still in shock. I had to smell, feel, taste, listen and breath everything he did before he passed. I slept in his bed, I went to the very spot he passed, I felt every moment….etc etc….I even dressed him at the funeral home. I had to see him. When I first saw his body laying on that table, I held it together. I thought I would have climbed next to him and held him. Wasn’t like that at all. The shock of seeing a dead body, realizing that dead body was MY SON!! I started to panic!!! I felt as if I were about to die right then and there. All of a sudden the pressure was relieved starting at my head and going down to my feet, big exhale!!! Then a calm came over me that I can only describ as shock. I felt as though half of my face was blown off and I was walking around like nothing happened. (but it was way worse) People say God will only give you as much as you can handle…it is because he will lay his hand on you and take that pain away. I felt it!!!

I still don’t know how I am holding it together??? I haven’t been able to break down completely. That scares me. I feel choked alot! I can tell my body is extremely tense, however I am not experiencing the mental break down, I thought I would…???? any advise? experience anything similar? My friends and family are scared to talk to me. I think they look at me like, how are you still here? I ask myself the same thing!!

My favorite is when people say, I can’t even imagine what you are going through. I can’t either!! I can’t imagine it either and this movie is playing before my eyes and I can’t believe it either!!! I desperately want to reach out to people and tell them but I also don’t want to be the person who lost a child! I am not a fan of pity, however I want it! I need someone to help hold me up because it is difficult doing it all by myself! I am a strong woman and would never feel sorry for myself nor let anyone else. Major internal struggle! I don’t want to cry because I feel sorry for myself, so I don’t. I can’t cry because I feel sorry for my son, He is with God. Help ME!~:)


Joe Mudd February 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Heidi, I know Debbie has found great help in The Compassionate Friends. It’s made up of other bereaved parents. They know what you’re going through.

They won’t have any magic to make it go away. They just offer a chance to talk with people that have been down this path before you. Some of them are many years down this road, and others are like you, and have just recently lost their child.

You don’t have to be “strong” for them. They don’t expect it, and probably won’t be strong for you either. But they’ll listen.

Our prayers go out to you.


mary jean gandolfo February 7, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Debbie- through the years you have and will always be in my prayers.
You have experienced a parent’s nightmare. I admire you for “walking with others’ going through this terrible experience. I came across your web site accidently today. I am searching as I help a parish family who lost their 11 year old daughter during the Christmas holidays. Your beautiful words will comfort them I know. What Compassionate Friends group are you a part of? It saddens me that there is not a group for the Oldham, Henry, Trimble Counties. Our parish family drove into Louisville from Henry County for a meeting. Any direction that you can give me in helping this family would be appreciated. God Bless- Mary Jean


Debbie Mudd February 7, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Mary Jean,

First let me thank you for your prayers. I can truly say they were indeed felt all around us. I still have the praying angel you gave me when Richard was in the hospital and it sets in our tv room with a picture of Richard.

Now, I can’t take credit for this site. It was a gift to Richard from his dad on Richard’s 23rd birthday and has served as a journal as we experience all that the loss of a child can bring. Though I haven’t written any of the posts, I’ve found in most cases Joe expresses my feelings very well with his words. He does seem to have a way of putting what we have experienced into words that people can relate too. I just tend to ramble…Joe does send me the comments that come in and I usually reply to most. Sometimes I just can’t think of what to say, then Joe will take it. Your parish family is welcome here any time, we are very aware of what they are suffering and know what a nightmare it is.

The Compassionate Friends group we are active with is in Frankfort, and meet twice a month on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays at 6:30. They do have a web site at: they are planning a conference in March also where we will have speakers from far and wide all of them grieving parents. Joe and I have gone the last few years and have found it to be helpful.

Hope this helps, and give them a hug from another grieving mom. I’ve learned there isn’t much more one can do but pray, and share a hug.

Take care Mary Jean


Heidi February 17, 2012 at 11:27 pm

I can truly relate to your story. My son died just before Christmas, it’s soreal even saying it, his favorite drink was Dr. Pepper. I have one almost every day. It is like sharing a little bit of his life again. I think to myself…is this what it’s gonna be like the rest of my life? Is it going to be Dr. Pepper and Youtube videos forever….??? I am fortunate my son made a CD in which I listen to over and over and over…Does this end? Will I move past this? I do but I don’t want to. I don’t want to be this person, the person who lost a child! :(


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