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James DeGraaf


James DeGraaf

Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.    (Matthew 11:28)

It is with profound sadness and loss that we announce the sudden passing, due to a drug overdose, of a dear son, brother, uncle, and friend. James Nathaniel Frasier DeGraaf (August 17, 1990 to April 13, 2021).  Son of Rene and Elizabeth, brother to Christopher (Jenna), Cheryl-Lynn (Nathan), Joshua, and predeceased by Steven (1991).    Father of Tanisha.

His life was one of many challenges and hurts so troubling to his psyche.  His biological parents were unable to care for him and he was adopted into a family at a very young age with his biological sister. That adoption didn’t work and he was returned (without his sister) to the "system".  He was adopted into the DeGraaf home when he was about 5 ½.  Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder negatively affected him in so many ways for his entire life.  He struggled mightily to make good decisions, to have impulse control, and was prone to chemical dependency.  James thrived under structure.  He loved to stay busy and active.  He loved working with his hands.  He made many, many friends ‘on the street’ when he chose to leave our home.  There he fell to the lure of addictive substances.  Many friends, with huge hearts, gave him meals, lodging, love, and second, third, and more chances.

Incarceration was his lot for much of his life….and oddly, we think these were places of respite for him.  He had more frequent contact with his parents when in jail or prison, always regularly saying how sorry he was to be a disappointment.  He was always much loved and prayed for…and was reminded of this.

His body, a canvass of tattoos, gives insight into how conflicted he must have felt in different times of his life.   His life, a series of hard knocks and disappointments and fears....but we cannot forget all the love and hope he showed others and was shown to him.  His decision on April 11th resulted in an overdose that killed this dear, and troubled man.  We believe God has him safely home with Him….God sees the heart of each of us.

James will be remembered for his big laugh and  willingness to help anyone and everyone.  He made friends easily and was always ready to do something fun.

James will be missed by so many.

Special thanks to the ER and ICU staff of St Mary’s, and to Trillium for their expertise and tender compassion in directing organ donation.

Cremation has taken place.  James's family will hold a private service at Mount View Cemetery, Cambridge.

 A Celebration of Life service will occur at a later date when Covid restrictions allow.  This will be an opportunity for people to share their love, stories, and memories.

Words of condolence can be left with Corbett Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers please direct donations to TeenChallenge.


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