Nebraska parents Matt and Melissa Graves lost their 2-year-old son, Lane, in a tragic alligator attack at Walt Disney World earlier this week. The boy had been playing on the beach at the Grand Floridian Resort when he waded into the water and was dragged away by the alligator.
Online, social media users have relentlessly accused the couple of child neglect.
But now, more fellow parents are stepping up to support the Graves family, BuzzFeed reports.
Jennifer Venditti shared a photo of her son playing at the Grand Floridian Resort’s beach no more than an hour before the attack occurred. In a Facebook post, she urged others to “judge less” and “pray more.”
Janice Croze also took to Facebook to support the grieving couple. She shared a photo of her daughter playing on the same beach with a caption that read: “That family deserves our prayers and empathy. It could have been any of our children.”
Blogger Kristen Howerton did the same with a photo of her two children. “We want to comfort ourselves with the idea that our superior parenting could prevent a tragedy,” she wrote. “But the truth is, bad things happen to good parents.”
In a post on her website Sippy Cup Mum, Melissa Mitchell pleaded with other parents to show sympathy, writing, “My heart is breaking for this family. Let’s come together and support them and send love to them. It could have been us.”
The most widely circulated defence came from writer Melissa Fenton, who penned a scathing essay on Facebook that’s been shared nearly half a million times. “I have one question for the blaming and shaming mums and dads,” she wrote. “At the funeral for this two year [old] boy who died in front of his parents…can you walk up to the mother and say the words that you just typed out last week?” she wrote. ” Can you greet her, hug her, shake the father’s hand and then say, ‘Who was watching that little boy? You should have known better. I would never let that happen to MY child.'”
Despite the outpouring of both criticism and support, Matt and Melissa Graves have stayed mostly silent on the tragedy. On Thursday, they released their first, brief statement. It read:
“Words cannot describe the shock and grief our family is experiencing over the loss of our son. We are devastated and ask for privacy during this extremely difficult time. To all of the local authorities and staff who worked tirelessly these past 24 hours, we express our deepest gratitude.”
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