Turning grief into action

Hauser family creates the ‘Becky Basket’ for homicide survivors

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO The Hauser family with some of the “Becky Baskets” they have put together for families/survivors of homicide.

A family’s grief has turned into a mission to help others going through the same trauma.

More than 20 years ago, Rebecca “Becky” Hauser of Union was murdered in Marshall County.

Still impacted by that pain, Hauser’s eldest son, Josh, and his wife, Beth, have created a unique way to help those in crisis.

“Becky was murdered back in 1994 by four runaway teenagers from Missouri. She was a mother of four, with Josh being the oldest, 10, at the time. It has been over 20 years since her violent death, and this is still something Josh deals with on a daily basis,” said Beth Hauser. “Together, Josh and I have created the ‘Becky Basket’ filled with grief resources to help young families after a homicide has occurred. We hope to promote health, hope, and healing after this kind of traumatic loss,” she said.

“In our baskets, we provide books on grief and trauma-books that would be easy for family members of all ages to comprehend. We also include a picture frame, journal, sketchpad, Crayons and tissues. The basket contains a stuffed rabbit, our ‘Becky Bunny’ — Josh’s version of a cardinal bird (visitor from heaven) to provide comfort to children, and help to remind all family members that their loved one is never truly gone. In each basket, is also a letter from Josh, explaining his own struggles and ongoing healing after coping with this tragedy.”

With monetary donations, the family was able to put together 50 baskets to donate this year. These baskets will be distributed among the 10 homicide programs throughout Iowa this week — April 2-8: National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Victim advocates from these programs will then take them to the homes of families who have suffered a homicide. The family hopes this is something they can continue on an annual basis.

In the letter provided in each basket, Josh Hauser writes:

“My mother, Becky Hauser, of Union, Iowa, was brutally murdered when I was just 10 years old. It has been over 20 years since she was taken from me, and I can say that dealing from this tragedy is something I still go through on a daily basis. Over the last couple of years, I have come to realize how important the grieving process is after such a traumatic event. Addressing my feelings, emotions and the lifelong effects of my mother’s violent death is a constant battle. Surviving a homicide is not an easy journey for anyone, even for young children. Children, along with adults, will need a chance to recover from this event. As I share my experience, I hope that you understand how important it will be for you and your children to try and heal from this loss in a healthy manner.

“Since the time of my mother’s death, I have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Not until recently, did I fully understand what that meant. For years I wondered if I could ever return to ‘normal’ again. I suffered from horrible nightmares, panic and anxiety attacks, and recurring depression. I kept to myself a lot as I felt no one understood what I was going through. I was lost and alone. Reverting all my thoughts and emotions inward carried on into my adult life. Over time, these repressed feelings turned into deep resentment for everything and everyone around me. In the last few years, my family members encouraged me to seek professional help. Reluctantly, I agreed to do so. I quickly realized the benefits of getting assistance, and only wish I had done so sooner …

“At this time, my anxiety is well-managed and I do not suffer from the other symptoms that I used to. Professional counseling has helped me immensely. After all these years, I feel my life has reached a sense of ‘normalcy,’ something I have been missing since 1994. It will be helpful for you to become aware of the effects homicide can have on both adult and child survivors. If healthy grieving is introduced early, it could help to prevent the kind of negative effects that can hinder a healthy future.”

For more information on the Becky Basket program, email: bahauser1986@gmail.com