Jessica Ayers, who uses the handle “thesingingwidow,” has since deleted the video from TikTok it generated so many negative comments, but it’s currently circulating on Twitter with 5.6 million views as of Wednesday.
— yasmin (@ycsm1n) November 22, 2022
In the clip, on-screen captions narrate what happened while Ayers dances along to the upbeat music.
“Eight years ago, a man shot and killed my husband … 11 months later, the man who shot him was convicted of manslaughter,” the captions say. “On the day of his sentencing, I gave a speech. I told his killer our love story.”
“I also told him that if he ever started to feel sorry for himself, to remember my face. It remains one of my proudest moments in life,” she concluded.
Critics came after Ayers both on social media and in the comments. She later deleted the video.
“The advent of tiktok and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race,” one person shared.
“Yep, her entire social media personality [centers] this traumatic experience for her and it’s a direct example of how social media takes advantage of the most susceptible of humanity’s desire for attention and walks them right off a cliff in terms of social behavior. sad,” the Twitter user added.
While the original video is gone, Ayers posted a follow-up clip that features her answering the question, “Just curious why would you dance to something so traumatic?”
“Eight years ago, my entire life went up in flames,” she replied. “Everything I knew, everything I loved, right when I became a mom — literally my whole life blew up.”
“I made a decision, maybe a year and a half in, that I wasn’t going to let the grief take me down and turn me into a shell of the person that I used to be,” she continued. “… yeah, I’m f***ing dancing, because why not? I’m happy again, and I’m proud of how far I’ve come.”
“How many people that are on here being negative about me dancing because I’m happy again, can say that I made you look, right?”
According to the Panama City News Herald, Justin Ayers, 33, was killed by a stray bullet fired by his neighbor Charles Edward Shisler in 2014. Justin was gathered with his family in his home to celebrate his 3-day-old baby coming home from the hospital. The bullet struck him in the back of the head, killing him instantly. Shisler later pleaded guilty to manslaughter and in May 2015 was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Jessica Ayers initially told her story to The Daily Mail that same year and published an essay on her blog about the tragedy.
Critics of Ayers’s dance video compared it to another TikTok clip showing a mom who danced while her sick baby was in the hospital. In December 2021, Whitney Leavitt (username whitleavitt) posted a now-deleted video of herself dancing to Kendrick Lamar’s “Love” right next to her son’s hospital bassinet.
She captioned the video with text saying, “Lil Lee was taken in ’cause of low oxygen. He tested positive for RSV. Waiting for him to breathe better on his own.”