Redefining the Name Karen- Meet the Karen that Inspired Me

Redefining the Name Karen- Meet the Karen that Inspired Me
My Sister Karen In Blue and Me in the Red when we were little girls

I am a huge fan of reality tv. There is nothing I love better than to curl up after on a long day and watch Southern Charm, Married to Medicine, The Kardashians, or any housewives franchise that might just happen to be on. But the other day as I was watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills I was saddened. Not because of what was happening on the show but because of what was said by one of the women. She called someone a “Karen”. Everytime I hear that name in a derogoratory manner it breaks my heart. Because the first Karen I ever knew was the best person I ever knew in my life.

So let me just give you the backstory if you have been a follower of me for a while and if you are new here. I had a sister named Karen who at the age of 27 died from Cancer. At the time of her death she had less than 15% use of her lungs. I was pregnant with my oldest daughter and the day that my sister spoke her last words to me was the day we found out I was having a girl. My sister was excited about becoming an aunt, and she told me to tell her husband what we wanted so when she got out of the hospital they could go shopping for her new niece. She was worried about what to get to for the new baby all the while knowing that in a few hours she would be sedated and put on a breathing tube. We hoped against hoped and prayed for a miracle to happen and she would be healed but God had other plans. A week later, the decision was made to disconnect the tube and let her go.

Redefining the Name Karen- Meet the Karen that Inspired Me
Karen in the striped tank top and me holding the camera

As I wept those 28 almost 29 years ago, I kept asking God why did He take her? Out of everyone in my family, Karen was the kindest, funniest and loving one of us all. Sure she had her faults but I kept looking at all her awesome qualities. When she was in high school she got a job at a home where children with disabilities lived and she loved those kids like they were her own. She continiued working there even after high school until her and her husband made the move to the beach. In fact, when she was deciding where she wanted to be buried if ever the time came she told her husband which cemetary and the reason why. One of her friends had committed suicide and was buried in the cemetary and Karen did wanted her to be in alone. That was just the kind of person she was.

Redefining the Name Karen- Meet the Karen that Inspired Me

So through my tears I honored my beloved sister Karen in the only way I knew how, giving the daughter that was growing inside me that precious name from that precious soul. I knew that I couldn’t give her the first name Karen as she was due just mere months after her namesake died but I would still honor her just the same. So that is how my oldest daughter came to have 3 names – the day that my precious sister Karen died that little babe in my belly became Madeline Karen-Marie. And as I look at my daughter who is 28 and living clear across the country with her husband and their 2 kitties and working on getting her PHD. I beam with pride because that is how the name “Karen” should be revered.

Redefining the Name Karen- Meet the Karen that Inspired Me

So when I was watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and heard the name Karen used in such a derogoratory way, my heart broke. So please for the love of all things holy can we stop using the name Karen or any name in fact in such a way that brings heartache to those who even after 28 years still mourn the loss of a beloved sister and best friend.

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  1. Dear Melissa, I am so sorry for your loss. How heartbreaking.
    The second I read you were pregnant with a girl, I *knew* she would get the name Karen, and look how she’s living up your sister’s / her aunt’s (w(ho sadly never got to meet her) legacy.

  2. What a lovely tribute to your sister Karen!!
    My daughter’s BFF is named Karen and is also an amazing, funny, kind bright being!
    They are both blond so have heard their share of ‘dumb blond’ jokes, and would also be appalled at hearing someone dissed for their name, (or race, hair color, gender ….)

  3. Melissa, I am with you on the elimination of using “Karen” in a derogatory way. How dumb and negative! I don’t even know where that started– do you? I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. But your daughter’s name is lovely. And life is being orchestrated from a higher level than the Real Housewives. Blessings–

  4. I am so sorry to hear about your sister! Karen is a beautiful name and I too am sad to hear it used in such a derogatory manner. I think it’s wonderful that you honored your sister by passing the name down to your daughter – what a legacy!

  5. So sorry to hear your sad news about your sister. And then to hear her name (and your daughter’s) be viewed in such a negative light. I’m glad you’re posting your viewpoint. It’s important.

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