Arrangements & In Lieu Of Flowers Let’s Love

It’s been 5 days since Everett died and it’s simply the most unreal thing I’ve ever experienced.  I really thought I was pretty prepared since I’ve walked this grief road before when Mom died, but whoa, whoa whoa!  I was not as well prepared as I thought I was.  Everett lived in our house and was brother to 5 children in our home and rode in our car every day and sat on our countertop every single morning for breakfast and snuggled in our bed and his things all over our house and there we’re certain things he did with each individual family member and and and.  A beautifully painful reminder is all throughout our house and there are 7 people grieving deeply the loss of their son or brother under one roof.  No way any of us we’re really prepared for this.

Sidenote:  Not sleeping did in fact carry over from one grief experience to the next.  Hence I’m posting this at 2am on Sunday morning.  I keep wracking my brain trying to remember when I finally started sleeping good again after Mom died.  I need a nap or 10 cocktails.  You pick.  End Sidenote.

We have been working on arrangements for Everett and I seriously could not make one decision the first few days…more or less pull off a funeral in such a short amount of time.  His little body didn’t even arrive in Tennessee until Friday.  So even though it’s not your typical funeral turnaround time we decided to do nothing until this coming Friday and Saturday.  I seriously can barely think straight and the first few days I couldn’t think at all.  So we decided to ditch the normal and do what worked for us.

His obituary will be published today in our local newspaper and I wanted to share the arrangement part here with you guys.  I’ve had several asking and also wanted to share a little more since I was limited in the newspaper because they charge you $423 dollars per line.  Geez newspaper.

“Visitation will be held on Friday, July 28th from 2-8 pm at Northside Church of Christ in Nashville, Tn. A celebration of his life will be held on Saturday, July 29th at 5pm at Rock Castle in Hendersonville, Tn. If you plan to attend the celebration please bring food to share and lawn chairs or quilts. Drinks & desserts will be provided. In lieu of flowers a memorial fund has been set up at Pinnacle banks in the name of Josh & Laura Kelley FBO Everett Kelley Memorial.”

All the arrangements we’ve made…vistation and celebration of his life… are kid friendly because well, Everett was a kid and kids are fun.  No one wants to go to a child’s funeral so we’re doing our damnedest to make this a little less miserable for everyone.  Saturday is Everett’s 4th birthday so a celebration was in order.  We will have a small service starting at 5pm and after that we will celebrate.  We are asking anyone coming to the celebration to bring some food to share and we’re providing all the desserts, drinks, paper products and fun.  There might even be some bounce houses…we’re working on it. 😉   And please do not wear black…for the love do not wear black.  Let’s just have all the colors people…all the colors…in honor of Everett’s joyful personality and his rainbow piñata donkey Fiesta.

We also have an account set up at Pinnacle banks so people can make a donation in lieu of flowers.  We love to see good flourish in our world.  We also know these heart warrior kiddos are larger than life and we believe in family and supporting these families under financial medical stress.  All donations will be given to the Morning Star Love Project.  Morning Star is a non-profit who not only cares for sweet kiddos, but also comes along side families who cannot afford their child’s surgeries.  My sweet friend Meredith helps run their baby home in China full of the most precious heart warriors around.

“The sad reality for many impoverished families around the world who have children born with congenital heart disease is that they are often forced to make a choice that no parent should ever have to face. The decision to abandon their child or choose to do nothing, taking their child home from the hospital, forced to watch them die.

Can you imagine watching your daughter gasping for breath and having no options for treatment? Surgery is too expensive; the medications are too expensive; there is no medical insurance. What are your choices? Do you watch her suffer or do you leave her at the gate of the orphanage hoping that somehow they will be able to save her life because you can’t?

No parent should have to make this choice, and no child should suffer without a parent simply because taking care of them is too expensive and resources are not available to aid families.

The LOVE project aims at forming a community of believers who come together to reach out to families parenting children with heart disease who because of financial limitations are faced with this terrible choice. We aim to change the conversation. Stand up for the orphan by preventing them from ever occurring. Orphan prevention. Family preservation. Friends, if we are “for” the plight of the orphan, we MUST be for the family as well.

The LOVE project requires significant funding—But the needs do not stop there. In addition to caring financially for these children’s surgeries, the LOVE project will invest in each of the families lives by caring for their physical, emotional and spiritual needs until the child recovers and form lasting relationships that will continue throughout the child’s life.  We walk with them through the entire process and even afterwards we continue to check on them and encourage in any way that is needed.”

 I hope this is something we can all get behind.  We talked and talked about what we could do…how we could use Everett’s story for good…how he could change the world even after leaving it and The Love Project is where we landed.  Sweet heart babies in need of surgeries and rallying around their parents to lift the heavy financial burden…how could we not is the real question!  If you would like to donate in Everett’s honor you can call or go by a local Pinnacle bank or you can donate directly online HERE.  They have some amazing prints available for your donation as well or at the bottom right hand side of the site you can make a donation of any amount.

I wanted to say yet another THANK YOU to all of you.  We have received so many notes, comments, emails and messages as well as all the sweet mail in the hospital and financial support for Everett’s medical & funeral expenses.  The kids have received surprises in the mail and treats of all kinds dropped by the house.  We surely feel all the love and I can barely even keep up with all the things and I’m still looking for my “thank you” list from the hospital I lost.  I like to send thank you notes and always try to, but please know if you do not receive one it’s not because we’re unappreciative, but either because I lost the address of who sent/did what or my brain is not functioning and I simply can’t pull it off right now where I am.  Please please please know we are forever grateful for the way you have prayed and encouraged our family.  It has meant the world to us.

We are all processing and grieving.  Everyone is quite unsure of what to do next.  Josh Kelley keeps saying, “We just have to do the new thing in front of us, just the next thing.”  So we will continue to praise God because He is beyond deserving of praise, rest in His goodness because it is still everywhere and just try and love the best we can doing whatever is next in front of us.  Thank you so much for all the continued prayers and maybe we’ll see you this week…if so…I’ll be the one giving out bear hugs…and likely crying. 🙂


  1. thinking of your sweet family and praying for comfort for all of you. thank you for sharing your story and your precious Everett.

  2. Dear Ones, we are praying for your sweet family. Praying that Everett will continue to bless and inspire others. He was a much loved little boy, by so many of us here in Internet-land. We are grieving with you.
    Thank you for sharing him with us all. Although we cannot celebrate his life with you, in person, please know that we will be doing so here at home.
    Much love to your family from ours.

  3. Amanda priest says:

    Sending love and prayers to all of you from thousands of miles away..Although I cannot be there and have never met you, I will be celebrating your precious Everett alongside you. He touched the lives of many who feel like they knew him through your shared stories..I followed his journey home from China and now I am following his final journey Home…May he fly high with the Angels..xox

  4. Lynn Dale says:

    What an awesome way to celebrate him through giving back. You guys are simply amazing. May God continue to bless each one of you and hold you tightly in His arms as you walk on this difficult uncharted journey.

  5. Josh is right Laura….just do the next thing…one step at a time. Holding all of you up in prayer as you walk through this with your sweet family.

  6. praying for your sweet family

  7. Your faith in the midst of such pain is such a testimony to the goodness of a God.

  8. Just shattered for you, mama. Now that your family is loved.

  9. CousiN rhonda says:

    Robin and I continue to pray for your sweet family. We plan to see you next weekend and get one of those bear hugs…and just so you know, we’ll likely be crying too…
    “Right foot, left foot, breathe, repeat” (Pat Summitt)

  10. Shannon collins says:

    Hey Laura! I have been covering you and yours in prayer. I love what Josh says…just do the next thing in front of us. I think that is how we now have 7 kids! By saying that it shows that your family is trusting God and ready to follow Him wherever He leads next. I have a little something for you. I had your address before but don’t have it anymore. Can you message it to me on FB or email it to me? We will keep praying…

  11. Sweet Laura, every morning as I pull out my Bible Journal I think of you and pray. I love how you are determined to choose joy and celebration in the midst of your grief. God is so in the middle of all of this and you are so loved.

  12. Thank you for sharing your sweet boy with us! I have been praying for y’all constantly! I’ll be celebrating with y’all at home in TX! Love love love the Love Project! Such an amazing way to serve the babies! I’ll def be donating!!!!
    Big hugs and prayers to you all!

  13. You are always on my mind, and I’ve been sharing Everett’s story with so many because I just want everyone to know about him.
    I’m working out the details for the book drive that we discussed — I’ll kick it off in Everett’s birthday, because that seems especially appropriate.
    So much love to you all!

  14. cannot even imagine. prayers for you and your family. thankful you are holding on to the One Who will carry you all through this. have a picture of everett riding piggy back on Jesus shoulders now. the memorial sounds like it will be a wonderful celebration. i think you have come up with a wonderful idea to remember him with! God bless and comfort you all.

  15. Sheila Ryan says:

    Sending love and prayers to your family. Thank you for sharing your life with us. You are an inspiration and sweet Everett has brought more love to our hearts. ♡

  16. Carrie Corrigan says:

    What an incredible way to celebrate Everett’s life & honor his memory. I wish I wasn’t 12 hours away so I could hug your neck and cry with you. Your sweet family has been in my thoughts constantly. I am continuing to send love and hope for continued strength as you walk this path of grief. We are all with you. Big love ❤️ from Green Bay, WI.

  17. Continuing to pray for you and your sweet family. What a beautiful thing you all are doing to honor sweet Everett’s memory and to help so many other children and families. May God wrap His arms around you all tightly and give you continued strength and peace during this time. Sending you all love and GIANT bear hugs. <3

  18. Dee Griffith says:

    I have been following you for a few years now and want you to know what a blessing g and form of encouragement you have been to me at so many “right” times! God truly uses you and I am sure there is no way to know how many others feel the same way – it is only fitting God is taking this time of grief to this wonderful place of encouragement and blessings for Everett. Praying for a week of peace and some much needed sleep for you and to quiet your mama brain for that rest! Love from Texas

  19. JIllbloodworth says:

    I think about your family all throughout the day, and I just pray for peace for all of you. I’ve said it before, but your faith truly amazes me. Your family is loved by so many people, even us who have never met you. Oh that precious Everett was loved so much!

  20. Michelle nimmo says:

    Good gracious! You (Everett & your family, too) are simply Heaven-sent! Again, thank you for allowing all of us a seat on your journey in your lives. I (we) are honored to be a part, whether through prayers, reading your blogs, or in person. My family & I will be out of town during the celebrations; however, we will certainly praise God & celebrate Everett with you from where we are. Laura, Josh, & Kelley family, we love you!

  21. carolyn anders says:

    God bless you and your sweet family

  22. Praying for you guys! Maybe all of us who can’t attend can do a random act of kindness for #everettsheart

  23. Thank you for the example of trust in God and obedience to Him that you all have shown throughout this time. My heart is broken for you all, yet I still believe that God is in control, as I know you do.

  24. Grace greene says:

    Continuing to pray for y’all. I will pray specifically for sleep for you! May you feel God’s deep comfort to you during this time.

  25. Laura, it’s a good thing to take the time you need to make any plans for anything. The description of Everett’s celebration is most definitely a wonderful thing to do. And, as the days come and go, you do what you just do the next thing as your wise Josh suggests. A lot of those next things are going to be continue to be breathing, eating, sleeping, showering, etc. I know for sure that losing your mom when you’re fairly young(I was 33) is nothing close to your child’s passing – or in our case our grand daughter’s passing. It’s a life changer and helps us view life in a completely different, but better way. Prayers and hugs to all. Sandra Lewis – from Goodlettsville Zumba

  26. Catherine says:

    Praying for your sweet family as you step forward in faith. Praising God for sweet Everett’s life and all that will be reached for Him through your amazing son!

  27. Oh how I wish we didn’t live so far apart. I would love to wrap you in a tight hug and cry right along with you. Your memorial for Everett sounds wonderful, fun and uplifting for such a sad occasion. May peace and love comfort you as you continue to walk through your grief. You have a great support system, including your husband and children. Just remember you have many thinking of you often and surrounding you with love and prayers.

  28. Laura,
    Though we have never met and I just learned about your Everett today via a shared instagram post, my mama heart sees your mama heart and sobs for you and your family. Your journey inspires me to lean heavy on God and love fierce. I will be keeping you and yours in my prayers.

  29. Carolyn says we are thinking of you & praying for each member of your family. We wish so much, you did not have to go through this loss & grief of your son. Please think of the time you had to love him & Everett is in Heaven now running & playing happily. You will see him again & we will be happy to meet him & you there too some day. God bless you in the way only God is able!

  30. Jennifer says:

    Lifting you and your family in prayer! So proud of the way in which you all are handling Everett’s passing and all of the details that follow. Though I only came to know you all within the past month, I am so thankful that I have. The work you did in Everett’s life, that you continue to do in your other children’s lives, as well as, the Kingdom, is SO great! Your unfailing faith and bold way of life are remarkable! May SO much good come from the funding in rememberance of Everett AND Jesus’ love and faithfulness to your family! So many lives will be changed because of your trust and belief in Jesus! You are SO loved and prayed for!

  31. Still praying, hoping, and loving all of you.

  32. Jo Moseley says:

    Stopping by to tell you all that I am continuing to pray for your hearts and souls. I so so wish that I could do something to ease the pain that you all are experiencing. I love you, Kelley family. May God cover you all with Blessings and Peace and a comfort that only He can give. – Jo

Leave A Comment