Life Forever Changed By Child Loss – Jessalyn’s Story

Jessalyn Dorsey remembers well.

October 3rd marks the 17th anniversary of the night that her son, Terrence, was murdered outside of a Sweet 16 birthday party, Jessalyn told the audience at Georgia’s Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims ceremony last week at the Fulton County Courthouse.

In those 17 years, Dorsey has learned that with the loss of a child life is forever changed. “Even though a part of me died with Terrence’s death, he will always live on within me and I will remember well!” Dorsey said.

Part of how Dorsey moved past her grief and keeping her son’s memory alive was getting involved in helping other survivors who had lost a loved one to a criminal act. For years she’s served as the executive director of the Crime Victims Advocacy Council in metro Atlanta, making sure that those who come behind face an easier path than she did.

Her experience with other victims and with the criminal justice system is also why she became one of the first high-profile endorsers of Marsy’s Law for Georgia. She knows how the system can better serve victims, and she knows those rights need teeth. 

“For almost two years after Terrence’s death, most of my time was spent balled up in his bed so I could be where he had been, smell his scent, surrounded by all his belongings,” Dorsey said. “This violent act placed me in the club that I did not ask to join, that I had only read and heard about from afar. I didn’t want to become a statistic or be counted in those numbers. This senseless crime started me on a journey that I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams.”

Dorsey offered advice for healing to families still going through the grieving process: 

1) Keep your loved one’s name and life as constant memories within your circle of family and friends.

2) Visit a support group where there is immediate love, caring and understanding of your grief. 

3) Channel your actions in preventing more homicides and other senseless deaths and violence. 

4) Commit to a cause and/or volunteer with an organization that is working to make a difference in our communities.

We hope some who heard Dorsey’s inspiring words will join her in fighting for Marsy’s Law for Georgia.