Family, friends remember 'spirited' bullying victim Amanda Todd
Published Sunday, November 18, 2012 1:53PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, November 18, 2012 7:39PM EST
Family and friends of bullying victim Amanda Todd gathered in Coquitlam, B.C., Sunday to celebrate the life of a teen they described as “bubbly and spirited,” and to thank her for the anti-bullying message her death has sent to the world.
The British Columbia teen came to the world's attention after taking her own life to end years of online harassment and torment.
The young girl was 15 years old when she took her own life last October. A video she posted to YouTube just weeks before her death -- in which she explains the two years of torment she endured as the target of online sexual exploitation, stalking, bullying and harassment -- has since garnered more than six million views.
In the "Celebration of Life" service, the Todd family wanted to give friends, as well as Canadians from coast to coast, the chance to pay tribute to the girl's time on Earth, rather than dwell on the reasons why she ended it.
The service, which took place at the Red Robinson Show Theatre, opened with Amanda’s family lighting candles on the stage.
A short poem was read and local singer Cole Armour performed a song called “You.”
The 14-year-old singer told the gathered audience that the song was inspired by classmates who had been bullied.
“I wrote this song because of bullying and being alone and upset,” he said before he began to sing.
Pastor Gord Demchuk reminded the gathered mourners that the purpose of the ceremony was to celebrate the teen’s life.
While they might be reminded of the reasons why Amanda took her own life, he said the group should take time to focus on good memories of her, as well.
Those in attendance were encouraged to grieve openly, but also applaud openly and laugh openly.
“It’s OK to have tears here today,” he said, later adding that they also had “permission to laugh.”
Following a short prayer, the pastor, as well as those who knew Amanda including friends, coaches and teachers, took turns sharing stories about her.
They recalled an energetic teen who was “always quick to try out new things.”
They also described Amanda’s passion for activities such as skating, cheerleading and dirt-biking with her family at their cabin.
The teen especially loved singing and had a natural aptitude for piano, said friends.
At the end of the ceremony, Amanda’s father and mother took turns to share their memories of their daughter.
“She had to do everything to the fullest,” said Norman Todd. “Life was always an adventure with Amanda.”
Norman recounted storiesof his daughter, such as how during a family vacation, Amanda once dragged him onto the “biggest, baddest, scariest” ride. He also described how at the age of 12, she managed to start a large dirt bike and ride it at their family cabin.
“She jumped on it and booted away,” he said. “Amanda was like a child with an ‘on-off’ switch, so it was either all or nothing.”
He later shared his pain with the mourners.
“I’ve lost a big part of my heart that will never mend,” he said. “Amanda has a new journey now that will be brighter and stronger and she will always be with us in so many other ways.”
Amanda’s mother, Carol, also shared memories of her “ever-spirited child.”
“It was through this spirit that she taught me how to parent with patience, thoughtfulness, care and understanding,” she said.
During her eulogy, Carol described their loving and sometimes turbulent relationship, pausing often to wipe her tears.
“We fought, we made up, we laughed, we giggled and we harassed each other playfully,” she said.
“Amanda taught me so many things about life and beauty. And now with her passing she continues to teach me and the rest of the world so much more about the importance of human kindness.
“I have lost my daughter, a bright, strong, unique young woman,” she said. “Although she is gone from our physical world she has left behind a larger-than-life message that has sparked the world and has made it open its eyes, its ears and its heart.”
Those who wish to leave a message of support for the Todd family can do so on a dedicated page set up on the Alternatives Funeral and Cremation Services website.
A team of investigators is working on Todd's case, but so far no charges have been laid.