- Associated Press - Saturday, June 27, 2015

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) - His hair. His eyes. His beaming smile. Those are among the treasured memories that Caroline Farmer has following the sudden death of her beloved child on May 30.

Farmer doesn’t want the memory of her son, Riggs, to be forgotten. She appreciates the overwhelming community support which she and her husband, Justin, have received since her son’s passing.

She has since embarked on an awareness mission which involves keeping the sweet spirit of Riggs alive and letting parents know that survival - however hard it may be - is still possible following the death of a child.

“Everybody says, ‘I can’t imagine what you’re going through.’ I don’t want anybody to try to imagine this grief, but Justin and I have to choose to survive without our son, who was our only child and our world,” Farmer said.

Bereaved Parents Awareness Month is coming up in July, and Farmer wants other families to know that there is grief support out there for them and their families.

The website www.bereavedparentsawarenessmonth.info provides links where families can find advice and support.

Farmer said, “Nobody really addresses the parents that have to live without their children. It’s a hard subject that no one even wants to think about, but that unthinkable pain that most cannot imagine is my reality.

“I was living the American Dream: great job, great house, great husband, great child. Then everything just came crashing down. I’m broken and I’m trying to pick up the pieces and I think Bereaved Parents Awareness Month should be a time to recognize those parents that choose to survive.”

Her 1-year-old son passed away in his sleep. While she and her husband still do not know exactly what caused the St. Matthews child’s death, they realize having the answer will not bring him back.

“Whatever the answer is, it’s not going to be an easy answer. Riggs was just able to touch so many people while he was here, and the magnitude that he’s reached in his death is unbelievable and absolutely amazing,” Farmer said.

The 26-year-old is an independent mortgage lender at Kwest Mortgage in Orangeburg and loves her community. She said the flood of orange ribbons on mailboxes and in other locations across Orangeburg and Calhoun counties are among the ways that her son is being remembered.

“They’re all over the place and were placed in memory of my son. That means more to me than I can say,” Farmer said. “A friend thought about the orange ribbons. Orange is our favorite color because we’re Clemson fans.”

A friend started a “Remembering Riggs” Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RememberingRiggs, which has more than 5,200 followers.

“The orange ribbons just kind of took off,” she said.

Some businesses are now selling the ribbons, with the proceeds going to the Orangeburg SPCA Maude Schiffley Chapter.

Farmer said T-shirts and decals are also being sold, with all proceeds going to the SPCA. She said she chose to support the SPCA because her son’s best friends were his dogs, Rue and Moose, which were adopted from the SPCA.

“The plan is to build a doggie playground in his name there at the SPCA. After speaking with the SPCA board, it’s something that we want to put a lot of thought into rather than just throwing it up in the emotion,” Farmer said.

She and her husband enjoyed the time they spent with their son, who also loved being around people.

“He loved his teachers at the First Baptist CDC. Without having the capacity to know, he loved this community. He went to a lot of community events in the short time he was here,” Farmer said.

“It will never be complete without Riggs, but my plan is to still raise my family here, whether that’s me and my husband or if we have a house full of children,” she said.

Farmer said the Facebook page helps her to express her grief in her own way.

“I’ve chosen to be transparent through the Facebook group with my grief. There aren’t words to encompass the struggles that I feel and the heartache that I’m experiencing, but to be able to express my thoughts is helpful.

“To get feedback and have people reach out to me and say that my family - Riggs included - is touching them in some way is extremely therapeutic for me,” she said.

___

Information from: The Times & Democrat, http://www.timesanddemocrat.com

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