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Easing the grieving process

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VISITING: Valeria Horton stands at her daughter Jayva's gravesite at the Gardens of Memory Cemetery. When Horton pointed it out, she chuckled and said it's the one that's bright red.
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JAYVA'S PICTURE:For Horton, having a photo ofJayva on the marker means more to her than having just words, which is why she wants to provide the opportunity for personalization for those who are helped by Jayva's Love Foundation.

BY HEATHER COX - hcox@chronicle-tribune.com

Following the death of her four-year-old daughter Jayva, Valeria Horton discovered just how expensive funeral and burial costs can really be.

She also learned that the price of a permanent headstone is separate from funeral costs, meaning those who are unable to afford purchasing headstones for loved ones might have to settle with unmarked graves.

Horton decided she wanted to create a helping hand to those who need it, after experiencing the surprise of the permanent headstone cost firsthand.

Jayva’s Love Foundation was established in January 2018 to help with the grieving process for those who have lost a child and are unable to afford a permanent headstone, by helping them purchase a personalized marker.

“Maybe I can help, by helping people make sure their angel isn’t left in an unmarked grave,” she said.

Visiting a cemetery and not knowing where a loved one is buried since there isn’t anything to identify where they are is a difficult process, Horton added. She said she believes not seeing a marked grave could even make the grief process harder and longer.

Horton said that upon the death of a loved one, cemeteries do provide temporary markers, but each cemetery has different lengths of time the temporary marker can be there. She said it averages from 15-45 days.

For her, she used a temporary marker until she was able to pay off a permanent one a week or two later, which is her advice for anyone finding themselves in the same position. In fact, she said once the temporary marker is replaced, it can even be taken home, potentially providing an additional memorial.

“You’re allowed to take it home and you can create a memorial garden at home. For me personally, the child is buried there but you don’t always have to go there to remember them. Having one at the house makes it easier for me,” she said.

So far, Horton said she’s had people inquire about the foundation’s services but has not had anyone follow through with requesting help to purchase a headstone. At this point, she said she has been working on fundraising to prepare for those who do need the help of the foundation.

The foundation also has a fundraising event next month, on Feb. 23. A winter ball will be held at the Clarence Faulkner Community Center, to raise money in a way that also celebrates Jayva.

Jayva had a winter ball for her third birthday and it was such a hit, the family wanted to bring it back to celebrate her sixth birthday, which recently passed. When they were unable to do that, Horton decided to hold the event as a fundraising event for the foundation instead.

Right now, Horton said she has family members helping with the foundation but does want to make connections to create sponsorships and to continue working with the cemeteries to make sure people know about her accredited foundation.

“My main goal is to get the foundation big enough to provide permanent markers … to help as many people as possible who can’t afford a headstone,” Horton said, regarding the foundation’s future.

Those interested in learning more can visit jayvaslove.wixsite.com/mysite or Jayva’s Love Foundation on Facebook. Tickets for the winter ball are $15 for adults and $10 for children and can be purchased at the door or by contacting Horton.