Monday, December 24, 2007

The greatest gift

At this holiday season I have to reflect on how lucky I am. Lucky to have a partner, my husband Lawrence, who is so loving, so caring, so full of life, so willing to be helpful in anything I need, and most of all, so understanding of me and my loss, the greatest loss of all…that of a child.

He makes sure I never forget those special days that are important to all bereaved parents. He has everything marked down in his PDA, birthdays, death anniversaries, special ceremonies. And when those days arrive, we do something special. We either light a candle and he says a short prayer, or we might go somewhere where the lost children are being honored. Every few months he says, “It’s time to go to the cemetery, visit Marcy and bring flowers.” I agree with a smile, happy that he wants to make the journey with me. We always make time in our busy lives to go together.

If I have a bad day…and after almost 14 years there are still and always will be bad days…he hugs me for as long as I need him to. He cries with me also. When we talk to others about Marcy, he gets very emotional. I watch him in awe. Here is a man, who, unfortunately, never knew my daughter (she died nine years before he and I met), yet it is as if he feels everything I feel and more. He speaks of her lovingly as though she were part of him.

It is too bad they were destined never to meet. They would have really loved each other. Marcy, too, was a giver, a sweet person who always tried to look for the good in everyone, who was always there to help a friend, and who was always loving to everyone around her.

But every day he makes me laugh. He tells me a joke or does something funny. He thanks me for laughing at his old jokes. (I don’t know they are old…and I do think they are funny!) Laughter is the most important medicine you can take. Laughter opens up your heart, makes you breathe easier, and gives you hope that today will be a good one. He says, “I love to hear you laugh. I hope a little laughter pushes out some of the sadness in your heart.” It helps.

We have known each other for less than 5 years and it’s as though he has been part of my life forever. I love you, Lawrence. You are by far the best thing that has ever happened to me. And thank you for being who you are and for loving me, the greatest gift you could ever give me.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Passing a milestone

Saturday was a real milestone for me. For the first time in almost 14 years I was able to do something I thought I’d never be able to do again. Let me explain.

When Marcy died and Lynn, her best friend, had children (naming her daughter Marcy after my Marcy) I was thrilled to become their official Godmother. As her three children grew, I became involved in their lives. Only one problem existed. If we were to go out somewhere, either Lynn or my husband Lawrence had to drive. I couldn’t drive and have the kids in the car. As long as someone else drove, I was comfortable about being in the car with them.

My Marcy was killed by an impaired driver, and in my mind, I could not take the responsibility of having Lynn’s children’s lives on my hands and wonder if another impaired driver could possibly cause an accident hurting my godchildren in any way. I realize this may have been over-reacting on my part, but that’s how I felt, and I had to follow those feelings.

For almost 11 years that is how we have operated. Lynn would bring the kids over to play or sleepover, but we never went anywhere that involved a car unless someone else could drive. This past Saturday Lynn, the kids and myself were going to the movies. Both Lynn and I had to drive to the theater separately because I had to be somewhere else right afterwards. I anticipated little Marcy wanting to drive with me, and I was right. I made a decision that it was time; I would face that demon. Marcy, of course, knew nothing of my fear and we chatted as we drove to the theater.

Was I scared? I was petrified, very nervous and, of course, very careful on a before Christmas crowded freeway with thousands going shopping. I drove slowly; I kept to the right; I looked in the mirror constantly and kept a watchful eye for any eratic drivers on the road. I made it to the theater, met Lynn and her son Jonah a few minutes later and felt really good about what I had accomplished.

No, I will not jump in with both feet, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to take all three children in my car, but as they say, one step at a time… as it was when my Marcy died…one step at a time.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Getting through the holidays

After losing a child, most of us find the holidays challenging. Do yourself a favor and try some of these suggestions to give new meaning and purpose to your lives.

LET OTHERS KNOW HOW YOU FEEL. Giving others the tools they need to help you through the holidays is a precious gift, and loved ones and friends will appreciate knowing how they can be of help and what you need from them. You, in turn, will benefit from these caring individuals.

PLAN AHEAD. Spend that special day with people you enjoy being with rather than staying at home thinking of the past. Consider taking a short trip over the holiday, perhaps a 3-4 day cruise can be enjoyable. Or go to a beach location, completely opposite of usual holiday weather.

SEND NOTES or cards that you have bought, written or had printed to special friends, including thoughts about your child or a fond memory you have that includes that person, their children and your child.

DONATE your time or your money to a school or organization your child enjoyed or perhaps help out at a hospital where needed. There are people out there who can use our help during the holidays, particularly care homes for the elderly, and it is a good way to be a friend. Caring about others adds purpose to our lives.

DECORATE a tree, a room, a fireplace with mementos of your child that you and your friends and loved ones can look at and discuss with them. They, in turn, will probably be able to contribute a memory of your child.

HELP OTHER PARENTS WHO HAVE LOST A CHILD. Invite them to your home on a special day and share good memories of both your child and theirs. We all have a special bond with parents who have gone through the same kind of loss. We understand so well.

KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS. Grief is all consuming. When the holidays arrive, added stress places demands on your time and emotions. Don’t do too much. Try to do what is best for you at that specific time. Accommodate your current needs.

ACCEPT HELP WHEN NEEDED. Sometimes the holidays are overwhelming and you need others to help you with decorating, cooking and shopping. Those close to you are probably trying to offer support at this time. Allow them to, and you will both feel better.

BE YOURSELF. If you want to cry, then do. If you want to laugh, don’t feel guilty. You are not obligated to do anything you don’t feel like doing. Grieving is nature’s way of healing the mind and heart from the worst loss of all. This holiday is for you to hopefully begin to open your heart to the new you.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Spiritual Bereavement Recovery

I am passing along to you some information I received in the mail that some people might be interested in pursuing in dealng with their grief. It is from a certified grief recovery specialist, Christine Duminiak, who facilitates Spiritual Bereavement Recovery and who has also lost a child.

Spiritual Bereavement Recovery addresses both the emotional and spiritual sides of grief. It means learning how to reclaim your inner peace and joy after an overwhelming loss so that you will be able to reinvest in and enjoy life once again. It includes learning how to express your innermost feelings and how to recognize your own direct and personal afterlife signs that you may be receiving from your loved ones, so you will know that they are ok and with God and are still a comforting part of your life.

"My work uniquely combines the spiritual and emotional aspects of grief to help you recover from your grief in a more holistic way," said Christine. "It includes your important ongoing connections to our loved ones and to a God who cares about your pain and loves you very much."

Christine is the founder of the world-wide non-denominational group called Prayer Wave for After-Death Communications and author of the spiritual bereavement self-help book "God's Gift of Love: After-Death Communications--For Those Who Grieve." She has been a featured guest speaker on many NBC affiliates around the country, in print media and has spoken to The Compassionate Friends, MADD and other bereavement and support groups. She has been a facilitator since 1998.

"I have personally received many different types of afterlife contacts from my child and other members of my family who have died," she said. "Some of these were in the form of dreams, visions, coins, audio, music, butterflies, scents and touches. They were a key to my recovery." Christine now does phone sessions with people who want help from experts in the field. She believes phone sessions can help release feelings, help learn after contacts and signs of communication, and learn positive steps to recovery. She emphasized she is not a psychic nor a medium. For additional information, contact Christine at 215-604-0469 or email her at .

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Worldwide Candlelighting

On the second Sunday in December every year, there is a worldwide candle lighting that unites families and friends around the globe for one hour to honor and remember children who have died at any age from any cause. As candles are lit at 7 p.m. local time, hundreds of thousands of persons commemorate and honor children in a way that transcends all ethnic, cultural, religious and political boundaries. This year the candle lighting will be held on Sunday, December 9 at 7 p.m. For those who would like to participate, many states list their information for the ceremony on the Compassionate Friends website: .

It took many years of hard work to get legislation to make this an official event. The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the resolution declaring this day National Children’s Memorial Day. It allows us to join together in unity to remember and honor the memories of all children so they may never be forgotten.

The worldwide candle lighting creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light as it moves from time zone to time zone. Not only are hundreds of formal candle lighting events held, but also thousands of informal ones are conducted in homes as families gather in quiet remembrance of special children to always be remembered. It is believed to be the largest mass candle lighting on the globe.

This lighting started in the U.S. in 1997 as a small internet observance, but has swelled in numbers as word has spread throughout the world. In the U.S., publicity about the event has been featured in Parade Magazine, Ann Landers column, Guideposts magazine, and hundreds of newspapers.

I hope you can find this event locally so that you may participate, and if not, just doing a lighting in your own home will ensure your child is never forgotten.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanksgiving remembrances

Thanksgiving: a time for families to gather around the dining room table, a time to share the story of the pilgrims and their bountiful harvest, a time for caring, a time for loving.

Thanksgiving 1993 was the last time I saw my daughter in a family-type setting, so it is hard for me to think of it as a joyous occasion when it comes around every year. I still miss her laughter, her stories, her hardy appetite, as I would watch her gooble down the turkey she loved so much. That last time she was just married a little over a month, so she drove from California to Arizona that weekend with her husband, planning to spend Thanksgiving with the family and her friends still living in the area. I remember how uncomfortable she was in the trundle bed and complained it was hard to be close when the two beds were just pushed together. After all, she said, they were officially a married couple and wanted to sleep close together. I laughed and told her she could deal with it for a few days, that there would be so much time, so many years together. No, not to be. Only a few months as it turned out.

I don’t think it matters that she was my only child. I’m sure it is just as hard for parents who still have other children to look at that empty seat at the dinner table and remember with love other, more happy Thanksgivings. But we all do the best we can.

One year I helped out at St. Vincent de Paul dining room for the homeless. I stood behind the counter and dished out food. As they came through the line, I played a game with myself. Let’s see if I could guess the situation and why these people were homeless, why they had no one with whom to share this holiday. What had happened in their lives to place them there on that day? As hard as I tried I couldn’t imagine. And then I heard some stories…all heartbreaking to say the least. You always think your situation is the worst, until you hear another’s story.

It is then I realize how lucky I am to have people who care, people who invite me every year to their dinner table, those who know it’s hard for me but want me to know they understand. Those people are my true friends. I try as hard as I can to enjoy myself. Sometimes it works well, other times, not so well. But I believe that is to be expected, and when it’s over, I breath a sign of relief that I don’t have to think about this particular holiday for another 365 days. I move on as I try to do every day of my life and make the most of it, always thinking of these good memories with my daughter, my friends and my loved ones.

And for those who don’t know the real story of that first Thanksgiving the Pilgrims celebrated, the feast was not with Turkey. They ate EEL and celebrated for three days!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Alive Alone does online chat

Alive Alone, the organization for parents who have lost their only child or all their children, is collaborating with T.A.P.S. (Tragedy Assistance Progrm for Survivors...military) to have an online chat for parents with no surviving children.

The first live chat will be on Thursday, November 15 at 9 p.m. eastern. This chat is open to any parent whose only or all children have died, regardless of the circumstances. It is an excellent way to hear other parents tell their story and their coping techniques which could be of help to you also.

Everyone needs to register by going to, clicking on the blue TAPS Online Community/Chat box there on the right, and follow the promts to register. Remember your "screen name" and password to get back in. If you need to download Java to your computer before the chat, there is a link to click on within this sight.

Future programs include "Coping with the Holidays" with guest Darcie Sims, well known author and grief theapist, on Nov. 19 at 9 p.m. eastern. On Wednesday, December 5, also at 9 p.m. the topic will be "After Death Communications" with guest Sandy Goodman.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A trip to the cemetery

I don't mind going to the cemetery. It is where my daughter is and always will be. I make a special effort to go on her death day, her birthday, sometimes near my birthday, her wedding anniversary and any time before I leave on a long trip. I place new white silk lillies (her favorite) next to the stone (the flowers last for months) replacing the old ones. I look at the picture on the stone and see a bright, happy, smiling Marcy as she was 14 years ago for her engagement picture, full of life, full of hopes and dreams for her future. I scrape the marble that has the picture embedded in it. Then I clean off her stone which has developed a lot of calcium corrosion from both rain and watering of the lawn. I like to have it clean for anyone who might visit. When I am done, it is usually the shiniest stone there.

As I look around at other graves, no one else seems to do what I will keep on doing for as long as I live. I am a virgo and virgos are very neat, organized people. I attribute a lot of my actions to my astrological sign.

I no longer ask why did this happen to Marcy, to me, to everyone who loved her. I know there is no answer and that you end up just accepting that this is the way it is. That doesn't mean I don't get sad or angry at the way life has turned out for all of us. I still have my moments but as time goes on, I am calmer and more practical.

I like talking to Marcy and telling her my latest adventures and the latest gossip, which I know she would love to hear. I sometimes chuckle and can almost hear her laughing with me.

One day I was called by a relative to tell me of an unusual experience he had at the cemetery in March 2006. His parents are buried there also, so when he goes, he also stops at Marcy's stone which is close by. I was having a very serious operation that day and when he went to Marcy's stone, he said something strange happened. For a split second, he could see a halo around Marcy's picture and her saying, "Don't worry, Mom will be all right." He was afraid to tell me of this experience because he thought I might think him crazy, but I certainly don't. I know things like that have happened to others, and I just smiled when I heard his story. The operation, by the way, was a success.

I find it interesting that a cemetery is a place of peace, quiet and solitude that people can go to be with a loved one for just a while, yet, how many take advantage of that. I realize some may have their reasons for not coming, but I think there are a number of people who find it morbid. I am not one of those, and I will continue to observe special days and certain anniversaries and find comfort in being close to Marcy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Remembering in Maui

This past week I have been in Maui. I love Hawaii and so did my daughter Marcy. We first brought her here in 1980. She loved the beach, playing in the sand and particularly picking up shells from the ocean. She continued to visit here. One time when she was older, we took her boyfriend with us; another time we took her grandmother. We eventually purchased a condo to stay in when on the island. Her last trip here was with her soon to be husband in 1993. They loved it and vowed to return. It was never to be. She died 5 months after her wedding in October 1993 in a horrific car accident. I often think of her when I am here...a younger Marcy, running free in the sand and water, lying on the pristine beaches, and picking up those seashells she was so fond of.

I pick up those seashells now as I walk along the beach. Yesterday, I saw a young girl walking towards me...a reminder of Marcy in those tiny bikinis that looked so great on her slim but perfectly curved body. The young girl runs after a dog into the ocean waters, laughing, her brown hair bouncing in the sunlight, her laughter infectious as the dog gets soaked by the currents. I stop short, close my eyes. Emotions overwhelm me, and when I finally open them again, the girl and the dog are far down the beach chasing each other. They are but a brief reminder of another life, another time, one tucked far down into my heart forever.

We get moments like this any day of the year, any hour, any minute. It is not only a moment in time, but it can also be a song that reminds us of our child, an anniversary, a birthday, a beautiful sunset, or an activity enjoyed together. Embrace those moments. They are for you alone. You will never forget them nor will you ever forget your child. And you never should.

We all have rushes of emotions that can be overwhelming when we least expect it. This does not mean we will not heal, will not continue to move forward with our lives. We are different people now than we were when our child was alive. We have different goals; different friends; different priorities and hopefully, eventually, a life with a new richness to it that focuses on what our children left us...the gift of having them.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Healing the Grieving Heart

I would recommend for anyone who has lost a child to tune in to the Thursday weekly web-radio series “Healing the Grieving Heart” at broadcast at 9 a.m. Pacific, noon Eastern time.

The show features Dr. Gloria Horsley, family therapist and Dr. Heidi Horsley, her daughter. who also helps on the show. The popular, ongoing series keys in on issues of importance to families that have experienced the death of a child and each week, a different professional, author or parent is interviewed.

The show covers such topics as: Where does sadness end and depression begin after the death of a child; faith; grief in the workplace; coping with pregnancy and infant loss, when here are no surviving children; surrendering to grief; opening your heart with yoga; and building memorials to honor your child.

Dr. Gloria Horsley has worked in the field of family therapy for 22 years and holds graduate degrees from the University of Rochester, Syracuse, Greenwich and Holos Universities. She has appeared on a number of radio and television shows including “The Today Show.” Dr. Horsley’s 17-year-old son, Scott, died in a one-car accident in 1983, prompting her relationship with The Compassionate Friends, which evolved into a commitment to help those families that have gone through the same tragic experience.

Following these broadcasts, the hour long shows are available for your review through TCF’s national website, , which has them available as streaming audio. The shows are archived as far back as June 2005, and you may choose any of the titles that appeal to you. You may also call in to their toll free number during the show and ask questions.

I was interviewed on her show January 2007 about my book, how I came to write it and techniques I and other parents use to move through the grief process. My interview is also in the archives and available for listening.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Remembrance quotes

Reading grief and recovery quotes can be a comfort to surviving family members. I have included here some of my favorites that can give us all strength, hope and a realization that we are all survivors.

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,
Love leaves a memory no one can steal.
Irish headstone

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”
Mary Ann Radmacher

And when we have remembered everything,
We grow afraid of what we may forget.
A face, a voice, a smile? A birthday? An anniversary?
No need to fear forgetting, because the heart remembers always.
…Sascha Wagner

“Hope” is the thing with feathers…
That perches in the soul…
And sings the tune without words…
And never stops at all…
Emily Dickenson

One of the hardest things in life to learn is which bridge to cross and which bridge to burn.
Anais Nin

Flowers are the spirits of the children whose footsteps have passed from the earth, but reappear each year to gladden the pathway of those now living.
Cowlitz Indian Legend

When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart,
And you shall see that in truth you are weeping
For that which has been your delight.
from The Prophet
by Kahill Gibran

To weep is to make less the depth of grief.
William Shakespeare

You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying overhead, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.
Chinese Proverb

Wherever you are, I am there also.

What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.
Helen Keller

To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.
Thomas Campbell

We Remember Them…

In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
We remember them;

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
We remember them;

In the opening of buds and in the warmth of summer,
We remember them;

In the rustling of leaves and the beauty of autumn,
We remember them;

In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
We remember them;

When we are weary and in need of strength,
We remember them;

When we are lost and sick at heart,
We remember them;

When we have joys we yearn to share,
We remember them;

So long as we live, they too shall live
For they are now a part of us as
We remember them.

from Gates of Prayer,
Judaism Prayerbook

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Angel of Hope

Many states have an Angel of Hope Memorial, giving all bereaved families the opportunity to memorialize the loss of their child. The statue is a dove-winged angel, whose face is that of a child's, its arms raised as a child to be lifted. In its wings are HOPE.

Richard Paul Evans' book, The Christmas Box, was the impetus for this memorial. The story is of a woman who mourns the loss of her child at the base of an Angel Monument. As a result of this story, the Angel Monument was introduced to the public and is now known world-wide as the Christmas Box Angel. Although Evans' book is mostly fiction, the Angel Monument once existed in Salt Lake City, but it is speculated that a flood destroyed the original statue. Evans commissioned a new Angel statue in response to reports that grieving parents were actually seeking out the Angel as a place to mourn and heal. At its dedication there was no division in race, in religion, or in class. Just one heart huddled together for shelter from life's storms to find peace and hope at the base of the Angel.

This statue has provided comfort and solace to thousands of parents since 1995 and many states now have their own Angel statues due to the dilligence and dedication of bereaved parents who have made it happen through donations. There are opportunities for donors to receive recognition on a wall as well as a plaque for their loved one in many of these states. Find out if your state has one and if they don't, perhaps it is a project you can work on and make happen in your area.

Each year on the second Sunday in December at 7 p.m., there is a world-wide candle lighting for all children who have died. Many communities have these at the site of the Angel. Others plan the ceremony at a local park, church or cemetery area. To find out more about the ceremonies, contact Compassionate Friends website at . If interested in information about starting an Angel of Hope Memorial in your community, contact Hansen's Mortuary in Scottsdale, Arizona. There is one there on the cemetery property, and it is a beautiful tribute to all our chidren.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Starting your own grief support group

I would encourage anyone, who needs the help of a support group to deal with the death of a child, to start their own if there is none in the area in which you live. The group does not need to be part of a national group of bereaved parents. It can serve any purpose you need in your own area of the country.

In order to get started, the local newspaper should be contacted to see if they will do a story in the paper about your first and subsequent meetings. Flyers can be placed in hospitals, funeral homes and religious institutions. Local hospice groups in each state can help. Contact one of the national bereavement organziations for any information or encouragement to get started. See what happens and who you meet. It can be the beginning of a new life that has new goals and new priorities in it. (See previous blogs that have the national organization information in them.)

Through the encouragement of another bereaved parent, I brought 10 bereaved parents together in my community, both mothers and fathers, who have specifically lost their only child or all their children. Hopefully, through these parents we will get others. We now have a place to talk about our children and share fond memories, laugh, enjoy a cup of coffee and discuss coping techniques. We are all in differnt stages of the grief journey, from a few months to over 15 years. Our children were all different ages when they died. Causes of deaths range from car accidents and illnesses to drug overdoses and suicides among others. We feel comfortable sharing and enjoy each other's company.

The group you start doesn't have to be for only childless parents. You can combine forces for a meeting and then break up into smaller groups within the meeting, such as: childless and those with surviving children. Or you can have groups by the number of years the child is gone: 1-5 years, 6-10 years, and over 10 years. There are many ways of running these groups, and I encourage you to try to put one together.

Everyone going through the grief process should know that it eventually becomes bearable. You don't heal from grief. It is with you your entire life. But you can live with it; it becomes a softer grief. You will eventually find something useful and suitable to do with your life and in doing so will honor your children's life. Many people in my book "I Have No Intention of Saying Good-bye" talk about what they have done to remember their child or children. It is comforting for them to tell their story; it is heartwarming for me to write about them. They are brave parents. They have accomplished a lot since their child died and they have made a difference. I hope that everyone going through this unbearable loss will one day make a difference. That is when you will know you are on the other side of grief. And these support groups can start you in that direction.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Taking care of yourself

When a child dies, the grief is intense. You become immobile. You don’t care about anything. You don’t want to think about anything except the child that you lost. Your number one priority now should be to take care of yourself. You may have other children who need you; you may have a husband who needs you; you may have a job or activities you are involved in that need your input.

Grief affects the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical parts of your body. This change in your life will drain you physically and exhaust you emotionally. Grief work is hard work, the hardest you will ever have to do. So how should you deal with these changes in your life while walking this difficult journey we call grief. Here are a few suggestions.

Doing daily exercise is good for both your spirit and your body functions. A class in yoga or pilates or both will help you physically and emotionally. It will release chemicals that are good for your body and give you that energy you so desperately need. If you don’t have time to do a complete regimented program, try just walking for a minimum of 30 minutes a day at a 16-minute or better mile. Keeping fit will keep your body ready for the continued adjustment to loss.

Drink a lot of fluids and force yourself to eat properly. A well-balanced diet with lots of water, fruits and vegetables will help your energy level and keep you healthy. Try some herbal tea for relaxation. Your body is under a tremendous amount of stress as you adjust to your loss.

A good night’s sleep is important. Resting is good for any anxiety you may feel about your loss. Try not to take medication to sleep.

Listen to some meditation tapes or play some instrumental background music. You’ll be surprised at how music will help you to relax and gain a different perspective.

Read. Whether it is a comic book, a novel, a grief book or a magazine article, you will need to relax and relieve some tension during the day. If a specific grief book, you may come to understand your own reactions better as you go through your grief journey. Keep your mind active.

Volunteer in a hospital, church or school. Or perhaps help a friend who is not well. When you do things for others, you will feel better about yourself and your own situation.

Find a place of worship and attend. This may be difficult for those who want to blame God for what happened to their child. But in attending and sitting and listening, perhaps your faith will be restored and will help in your healing process.

Reach out to friends and family. We are not alone. There are many going through similar experiences. Find some of those people and share your thoughts and your child with them. If you are having trouble coping and think a grief therapist might be of help, seek one out. But in doing so, make sure they understand and are helpful to your specific needs. A grief support group can help you through your journey and allows you to realize your feelings are normal.

If you feel you must do something related to your child, why not try a scrapbook or a video of pictures you have of them. It will be something you can always look at, now and in the future with fond memories.

You will survive this loss. It may take a year, two years, five years, but you will eventually come out on the other side of grief. Try some of these techniques and see if any of them are of help to you.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

When Words Become Precious Gifts

Today I went to an afternoon stage production with five friends. While waiting on line to get in, I saw an old aquaintance whose chidren knew my daughter Marcy. The mother, Yetta, and her son Mark were there to see the production also. Mark's wife wrote it and stars in it. After saying hello to Yetta, I was introduced to her son. "Mark, this is Sandy Fox. Do you remember Sandy's daughter, Marcy Finerman?" Before Mark's mom could explain the circumstances now, Mark blurted out, "Yes," he said, his eyes lighting up, "we went to grade school together, and how is Marcy doing?" "She was killed in a car accident 13 years ago," I answered. Yetta was very embarrassed, but Mark didn't miss a beat. "I'm so sorry," he said very sincerely. "Marcy and I were friends. I do remember her," he said. "Yes," I said to him, "I remember your name among her friends. I was looking at a 41-year-old man, the same age as Marcy would have been this year, but, of course, would have never recognized him. But Yetta had remembered Marcy from almost 30 years ago. With her reaction, she gave me a precious gift.

Her gift was just mentioning Marcy's name. She didn't have to. She was aware of what happened 13 years ago. Even though we had lost touch many years prior, she had heard the news and remembered it. Most bereaved parents want nothing more than for someone to acknowledge their child existed and is still remembered. Although I have nothing in common with Mark, the kindness on his face told me all I needed to know, and his mother's words allowed me to talk comfortably, even if briefly, about her and the situation.

Marcy's best friend Lynn always talks about her and Marcy's time together, about places they went to, about things they did, about the hopes and dreams they both had for their future. I am very lucky to be close to Lynn and I know Lynn will always remember Marcy and not be afraid to talk about her, laugh with me and share great memories.

One of my friends at the theater production came up to me afterwards and said, "It must feel good to have someone bring up your daughter's name and remember that they went to school together so long ago." "Yes, very good," I said to my friend. To myself I thought, "You can't know how good!"

Knowing our children are remembered and live on in the hearts and lives of others, no matter how briefly, is a measure of the wonderful legacy they have left to us and to everyone they knew and who knew them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Help is available for those on a grief journey

So much help is available for those going through a grief journey. Three very good national organizations (some with local affiliates) are out there. I mention these in my very first blog writing: Compassionate Friends, Alive Alone and Bereaved Parents USA. There are also organizations for different causes of a child's death. A few are listed here. A more detailed list is in my book, "I Have No Intention of Saying Good-bye." If you think one of these can be of any help to you, don't hesitate to call or email them.

SUICIDE: The American Society of Suicidology supplies information to lead famiilies of suicide victims to local resources such as survivor's groups. One of these groups is The Samaritans which provides self-help support. They hold meetings every week to allow the opportunity to ventilate feelings. A national hotline is also beneficial. Email: and phone: 202-237-2280.

CANCER: The Candlelighters Childhhod Cancer Foundation is for parent support of children who have or who have had any form of cancer. It is worldwide; there are no dues; they do have a monthly newsletter. Their philosophy is that "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness." Email: and phone: 301-962-3520.

SIDS: The National Sudden Infant Death Foundation helps parents deal with the shock and grief of losing their babies to SIDS and connects those parents. It provides information and counseling serivces and has a bimonthly free newsletter. Phone: 301-322-2620.

AIDS: The National Association of People with AIDS educates the public and provides services needed for those afflicted with AIDS. They can also refer people to additional souces of help. Email: or phone: 240-247-0880

MURDERS: Parents of Murdered Children puts grieving parents in touch with each other. There are chapters all over the United States for support and you can be with those who will listen and understand. Email: and phone: 513-721-LOVE.

TAPS: Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Inc. offers peer support and assists survivors who have lost a loved one in the line of military duty. They also have a national magazine published a few times a year with interesting stories of hope and survival. Email: and phone: 1800-959-TAPS.

To talk to or be with people who truly understand and will listen not only can be very helpful but also very comforting. As The Compassionate Friend's motto says, "We are not alone."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

"Time" in relationship to surviving grief

When a person talks about an important year in his/her life, or a news show on TV asks what you were doing when...I always think of my daughter, Marcy's life.

How old was she in 1970 when I first started teaching? What were we doing then? Just a year later she started school. Years become important in your memory. The year 1966 when she was born, the most important. What was happening in the world then? Viet Nam. President Johnson. The Beatles. Twenty-five cent hamburgers. A friend says, " Do you remember when we..."What year was that?" I ask. "Oh, yes," I answer, "I remember that year."

But to myself I associate every year between 1966 and 1994 with Marcy and what she was about then. If the year is before 1966, it is "before Marcy was born." If I'm told to think of the year 1984; yes, that was an important year; Marcy was graduating from high school. And 1988, yes, that too I remember; Marcy graduated from college and was anxious to start her life in the advertising world. If the year is 1997, yes, that was an important year because I retired from teaching but not that important for me, because Marcy was already dead three years by then.

Time has a way of passing very quickly, and we lose track of it. I remember when it was the tenth anniversary of Marcy's death. I wondered how that could be. As far as I was concerned, it had all happened just, today. Today, I felt her body hugging mine as we said goodbye at the airport because, ironically, she had to go to a funeral in California. I felt her strong arms surround me and I thought, "I made this beautiful, intelligent, vivacious woman." What a wonderful life she was going to have! I could never guess it would be the last time I would ever touch her and that a week later she would be dead. Thirteen years have passed and I think of all the wonderful things she could have done with her life and her new husband of four months: children, a life-long career, traveling...she wished and hoped for so much, but it was not to be.

They say time heals. I say time only makes the grief a little softer. It will never, never go away. Time allows you to eventually move forward with your life when you begin to understand you are a survivor of the worst possible thing that can ever happen to you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rest of Childless Issues

In my previous blog I spoke of issues parents have when they lose their only child. I spoke of "Am I still a mother," "Do I need to make a new will?, and "Will there be any special events in my life?" See my blog below this one for comments on these questions. Today I'll finish with four other issues.

First, "listening to others talk about their children and grandchildren." My bridge friends talk about their children and grandchildren all the time. They have every right to. But do they really understand how I feel. Of course not. It's never happened to them. They can never understand what I am going through. I hide it pretty well. But if given the opportunity to say something about my daughter Marcy, I'll certainly take that opportunity, whether they want to hear or not. They may be thinking, "Why is she talking about her dead child?" Why do you think? My daughter was all I had, and I will always have her as far as I'm concerned. And what better way to keep her memory alive but to talk about her. She is as important to me as my friend's children are to them. And so I continue to listen to the talk around the table. What is so wonderful is when someone says to me, "And how did Marcy react to that in high school or college," making me gladly join in with a story also.

Second, "affects on a marriage." If you had a good relationship with your spouse to begin with, chances are that the death of your only child will not hurt your marriage. But, if the reason you were together was only because of the child, there is a good chance your marriage may be in trouble. Despite what a lot of people think, if a marriage breaks up, it is not because of the child's death but because there was something wrong with the marriage in the first place. If your marriage is worth saving in your eyes, seek help during this awful time in your life. Another problem could relate to significant others. Are they supportive? Do they understand what you are going through? Do they let you talk and express your pent up feelings? Or does your grief and loss cause problems in the relationship with not only the significant other but with any stepchildren? I am very lucky that my husband has a wonderful daughter who I am very close to. She reminds me a lot of my daughter. Their personalities are similar, they are both spirited with minds of their own, their birthdays are identical except for the year born. She gets along great with her parents as Marcy did with me and her dad. Others are not quite as fortunate and I would again encourage those who need professional help to get it and not wait until it is too late.

Third, "losing friends who still have children." Many newly bereaved parents believe their friends are uncomfortable around them now. And they are probably right! It's that old syndrome: I don't want what happened to you to rub off on me. When Marcy died, good friends who I thought would be there for me were not. Others who hardly knew Marcy camped at my doorstep. I was so surprised at how people reacted, and I hear others also talk about it all the time. I found that I made new friends, friends that have brought new meaning to my life and try very hard to understand the new me. Grief shoves away friends and scares away so-called friends and rewrites your address book for you. Oh, so true.

Lastly, "I wanted others to understand the new me." I am a different person than I was when my daughter was alive. I have new goals and new priorities. What was once important to me may no longer have any meaning. I ask for patience as I go through my grief journey. I ask for understanding that there is no set time limit to my grief. Grief makes what others think of us moot. It shears away the masks of normal life and forces brutal honesty out of your mouth before propriety can stop you. Don't cry over a broken plate. Don't worry about gas going up 2 cents this week. Those things are insignificant and no longer important after our child dies. There is a powerlessness we feel over life after the loss of a child. It's hard to believe how much energy it takes just to go on. We've been slammed against a brick wall. And the slamming comes again and again. We are suffering through the most unbearable loss of all, but we are all survivors. We will never forget, never get over it, but we will eventually move on with our lives. What other choice do we have?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Childless issues

When a parent loses an only child or all their children, we learn there are unique aspects that confront us. I will be listing for you in this blog and the next, some of these aspects of being childless.

I begin today with what I believe to be three most important questions: "Am I still a mother?" "Do I need to make a new will" and "Will I ever have any more special events in my life."

First, "Am I still a mother?" Of course we are. We will always be a mother, whether our child is alive or has died, and we should think of ourself in that way, no matter who may ask.

It does become awkward when someone we first meet asks us if we have any children. How should that question be answered? Please don't ever say, "None." Acknowledge that at one time there was a child or many children. By saying, "None" we are saying they never existed. For me, I just simply say, "I have one daughter who died 13 years ago in a car accident. She was 27 at the time." Although the other person may now feel awkward, didn't we, too, feel awkward when confronted with the question. Tell it like it is and go from there. Acknowledging we are mothers and will always be mothers will make all of us feel better, and now we can ask the other person the same question and release the tension, letting them talk about their children. We have said what needed to be said, and everyone is more comfortable about it.

Second, "Do I need to make a new will?" The answer is "Yes, you probably do." If your child was not married and did not have any children from that marriage, you need to think about your will, your trust and any legal issues that will entail. Who do you leave your money and wordly goods to? If you have a grandchild, the task may be easier. Many of us who don't have grandchildren may have siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and special friends who are possibilities. Or there is always a charity happy to take a donation. I do not have any siblings or blood relatives, but I do have 3 godchildren (my daughter's best friend's children) who are now in my will, as are some friends, some of my favorite charities and a foundation to honor my daughter. I am very specific as to who gets what and just have to ake sure that my wishes are carried out. That is the best I can hope for.

Third, "Will there be any special events in my life?" Not as far as going to say, your child's graduation, birthday parties, wedding, birth of a grandchild. When our friends have these happy occasions and talk about them, they tear at our hearts. When my friend's son got married a few months after my daughter died, I couldn't go to the wedding. I explained why to her and she understood. Years later it became easier, but I still think of my daughter and what she is missing. I go to events and smile and congradulate where appropriate, but it is a sad time. My daughter should be here attending these events in my place or with me. But it will never be and I must accept that.

In my next blog I will talk about the other aspects of being childless: listening to others talk about their children and grandchildren, being childless and affects on your marriage, losing friends who still have children and helping people understand the new you.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Birthday thoughts on surviving grief

Tomorrow, September 7, is my 63rd birthday. I hate telling people how old I am. I don't feel old. I'm told I don't look my age...thank goodness! But today when Pavaratti died at age 71, I thought, "yikes, he's only 8 years older than I am." It made me more determined than ever to live my life to the fullest, to do all the things I want to do, to continue traveling, to continue writing, to continue enjoying my friends and to love my husband more and more each day.

I then think of my daughter Marcy, who died much too young at age 27, before she could really experience life to it's fullest, before she knew what it was like to have a child, before she could travel the world with her husband and children. I thank God that I had her for 27 years, and she was able to have some wonderful experiences, and that even though she was killed in an auto accident only four months after she married, she at least had a great love and was able to marry.

I hate listening to people who say, "When I retire, I'll travel and do everything I've always dreamed of doing." A great thought, but my philosophy is "Why wait?" Do it while you still can, while you are healthy and can run through the sand, climb that mountain, swim in that sea.

I lost the most precious person in my life, my daughter. Except for my husband, I have no other living blood family members. Why not go out there and enjoy a beautiful sunset, see all the wonders of the world, write a great American novel, live, live, live...

This is one of many thoughts that might go through your mind as you go through the grief process, a process that can last a lifetime. You are always continuing to heal and one of the things that is so helpful is to live your life as your child would have wanted you to do. Everyone must do what is best for them in whatever time they need. As time goes on, that grief gets what I call, 'softer.' It will never go away, there will always be a hole in your heart, but you will know when it is time to move on with your life. I have chosen to move on with a great desire to live as long as possible and see everything there is to see and everything there is to do. And I always keeping my precious daughter Marcy in my thoughts every step of the way.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

What to do with child's possessions

When your child dies, you must eventually make decisions about your child's possessions and what to do with them. Certain items you will always keep...that cute drawing a 3-year-old made of what he perceives as his house...that first hand print...that certificate the child gave you saying you are 'the greatest mother in the world.' Those are items you will treasure forever. Other items you have to make decisions about: the clothing, the jewelry, the trophies and awards.

Should you keep everything? Should you give everything away? Some parents gain much comfort during the grief process from seeing, touching and wearing their child's items. Others find it too painful. Do what feels right for you WHEN you wish to do it. Don't let family or friends tell you what or when to do it. It is important not to dispose of items too quickly as later you may regret it.

I kept most of my daughter's jewelry because I like to wear it. It makes me feel so close to her and she had such wonderful taste in jewelry. A few earings I wanted some of her friends to have and asked them to choose what they wanted. I did the same with her clothes, keeping some, giving some to her friends who were her same size, and giving the rest to Goodwill. Wearing the clothing is also comforting, although her perfume smell has long since disappeared. A leather jacket she bought in Italy and a sweater jacket I wear in chilly weather to this day still bring compliments for their designs. As I wear them out a little, I can only hope that they will continue to last for quite a while to come.

I only have one blouse left and thought I would make it into a carrie bear. Carrie Pike at takes clothing and will make bears out of it and even put pictures on the front of the bears. I packaged up the last blouse and was just about to mail it. Then a strange thing happened. I couldn't let it out of my hands. "The last blouse," I kept saying. "I can't. I can't." In the end I couldn't mail the blouse, took it out and hung it back up. Maybe one day I'll be ready. But then again... maybe not. Surviving grief certainly has its ups and downs.

There is no correct timing for doing something with your child's belongings. You'll know when you are ready for a change. One important thing to remember is to store items you want to keep in a place with a good temperature, so they don't get ruined. If there is anything you want to display, there are a myriad of ways you can do it...trophy cases, display cases or a memory box. Or you may just want to keep it in your closet to take out from time to time as you remember.

The most important thing to remember is that putting your loved ones things away does not mean putting them out of your life. Your child will always remain a part of you.

Uniqueness of child loss

In my book I have three stories I find unique. All three stories deal with the deaths of two children and how each family had different outcomes as to how they dealt with their loss. Let me explain what I mean.

Bridie and Paul lost two sons, one in a car accident, the other in a plane accident. The story tells about their sons and the grief process they went through where they learned that husbands and wives grieve differently. Their choice was to not have any other children and they now lead rich, full lives and have done much to help bereaved parents by helping professionals understand us.

Joe and Wanda lost two children, a boy and a girl, when a car driven by a 17-year-old smashed into theirs. Because of the great love they believed they still had in them, they adopted a Korean child and are bringing him up. He is the love of their lives and their choice was to have someone to give all that love to. This child is being brought up to understand, love and respect the memory of the two children who died.

Pat and Wayne lost two children, a boy and a girl, in a horrific motorcycle/car accident. Their choice was to have two more children and they believe every couple has to decide for themselves what is right for them. They explain that these two chidren 'do not' and 'never could' replace the first two who died, and they are talked about in this new family all the time. The new children enjoy doing memorials during the year for their lost sister and brother, understand the situation and accept it.

So here are three couples who made three completely different choices as to how to survive their grief and move on with their lives. The three stories, of course, go into greater detail about what happened to both the children and to the husbands and wives. What is important here is that everyone grieves differently and all have different ways of dealing with it. We will never know the happiness we once knew. But it does become, in time, a different joy, filled with compassion, courage and conviction that life is worth living and a desire to help others as many of these parents I write about have done.

Trust your own timetable for healing, feel whatever you need or want to feel and you will grow in the process. And hopefully, you too, will reach new heights you never dreamed were possible.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Preserving your child's memory

The most important thing to parents after the death of a child is 'forgetting.' They don't want to forget their child, nor do they want others to forget. They want people to talk about the child, say their name, tell of an event related to the child...anything that will keep the memory alive.

For the parent there are many things they can do to honor their child. Many parents set up scholarship funds in memory of the child at the school he or she attended. Each year a winner of the scholarship is announced and some parents like to do the actual presentation so they can say a little bit about their child in the process.

I not only set up a scholarship in my daughter's memory at the school I taught at for 27 years, but a tree with a memorial plaque was planted right next to my classroom by SADD. A building was built in her honor by donations from her friends, and I bought many bricks with her name on them in her memory at ballparks, theaters, and where she worked. It is a good feeling to know she is part of my world and always will be.

One of my favorite projects was when my husband and I put together a slide-music presentation of her life from birth to death. It is on my computer, and I enjoy watching it any time I get the urge or when I miss her so very much. The same idea can be done with a scrapbook, memorial pin, memory quilt, Christmas wreath, stepping stones, memorial garden and collages of pictures on a wall.

A 20 inch Carrie Bear made from a piece of favorite clothing that belonged to your child and placed on a bed is a good memory. It helps another person feel close to someone they have lost. Go to and see an assortment of bears and the way this is done. A photo can also be included on the bear.

Journaling one's feelings after your child dies is a way to look back and see how you were feeling during those awful first few months or years. Releasing those pent up feelings is good for you and, by the way, crying is very healthy, so don't be ashamed. Most importantly, journaling shows how far you have come.

A web site of the child has become very popular. Parents can tell all about him or her, scan in pictures and even play music. I have a video a friend of my daughter's made that I enjoy showing to both old friends and new friends. I enjoy sharing her life and personality with them, and they appreciate getting to know my daughter more intimately.

A great gift a parent can receive is to have a newborn named after the child. I was fortunate to have my daughter's best friend name her first daughter after mine. At first I thought I might feel awkward saying her name, but I don't. She is not my daughter, but carries with her a story of a very wonderful person. She now understands who she is named after and has asked me what happened. I happily talk about my daughter, and once more, my daughter is not forgotten.

I find my greatest reward is in helping others who are now going through the grief process. I do this through writing, putting on national conferences and speaking at the conferences about surviving grief. I do this for myself and in honor of my daughter, Marcy, who will always be in my heart and mind and never forgotten.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Never give up: Bobby's story

I have watched miracles happen when parents who have lost a child are helped. In July 2005 I attended the national Compassionate Friends Conference in Boston. I spend a lot of time in the bookstore selling my book. It was there I met Bobby and his sister when they bought my book. He was very quiet and withdrawn. She explained: "I had to bring Bobby here. I was afraid for him." In 2001 one of his teenage children was killed in a car accident. In 2002 the second of his teenage children was killed in a car accident. In 2003 the third and last of his children was killed in a car accident. All three children gone and in different types of car accidents. Bobby's wife was getting treatment in a special hospital. "I love my brother and want to help him desparately," she said, "so I brought him here to hopefully get that help. I didn't know where else to turn." No one should have to go through what Bobby has gone through; yet it happens to the best of people.

Through the 4-day conference I occasionally saw Bobby and his sister. At workshops he sat quietly, taking in everything. His sister did a lot of talking. Gradually, he began to talk also. Good for him, I remember saying to myself.

At the end of the conference they both came into the bookstore to say goodbye. I turned to Bobby and said, "I must ask you this. Was this conference of any help to you?" He looked at me and without a second's hesitation said, "It saved my life." Bobby went back home to North Carolina and started a Compassionate Friends chapter in his hometown where there were none and is now the chapter leader. The chapter is growing very strong.

I lost track of Bobby for two years. Just recently at the 2007 national conference, both of them again walked into the bookstore. What a powerful walk he had. What a powerful handshake. I could tell he indeed had come through the worst part. This doesn't mean he won't have any more bad times; he will probably always get teary-eyed when thinking of his children, but there is nothing wrong with that. After 13 years, I still can't mention my daughter's name without a little choke forming in the back of my throat. The important lesson from this story is, of course, to never give up. And what a beautiful example of how Compassionate Friends, the workshops, the speakers, and the sharing sessions have helped so many over the roughest parts of surviving grief.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Coping techniques

The death of a child is the most unbearable loss of all. Everyone has his or her own timeline for grieving. For some it can take a year to start the healing process towards surviving grief. For others it can take as long as five years. For still others, even longer. There is no set time limit to grieve, nor should one feel guilty about the time it takes. Everyone must do whatever is best for them. But you will know when you are beginning to cope. Here are ten tips.

You know you are coping when:
...You can say your child's name without choking.
...Putting away your child's belongings does not mean putting him out of your life.
...You accept your child has died but the love you shared will never die.
...The laughter you hear is your own.
...A smile plays on your lips when looking at photographs of your child.
...You are interested in matters outside of yourself.
...You remember to take care of yourself.
...You appreciate a beautiful sunrise or sunset, the small pleasures.
...Memories bring comfort and warmth instead of emptiness and pain.
...You realize you will always miss your child, but he/she is part of your life forever.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Having a positive attitude

Last night I invited a friend to dinner, Diana, who has been through hell and back. Her son Jimmy died 29 years ago at age 10 of a gunshot wound, while on a shooting expedition with his father and Diana's brother. The brother, who was the cause of the accident, has never recovered himself and has had a difficult life since then. Don't think for one minute Diana, or any other parent for that matter, stops thinking about or grieving for that child, even after 29 years!

But Diana is a survivor and moved on with her life and became the executive director of the national Compassionate Friends organization for 10 years. I lost track of Diana after she left that position, but this year I planned a national conference in Scottsdale, AZ, for parents who have lost their only child or all their children and discovered in searching for a good speaker that Diana lived only a mile from me and was working for Hospice! She brought me up to date on her life which included two other children who live in Arizona and California, divorce, her many bouts with cancer and her heart attack last year.

On July 27, 2007, she was declared cancer free. Four days later on July 31, 2007, Arizona was deluged with one of the worst rain storms in almost 100 years. Once again she was hit with a catastrophe...this time the rain turned into rushing currents and absolutely destroyed her house and everything in it including photos and lifelong keepsakes of her son Jimmy and her other children...things that can not be replaced. She was four feet in mud, without a home or clothing, and she did not have flood insurance to cover this loss. (She was not in a flood area and didn't need to buy it.) Fortunately, my husband, Lawrence, had a picture of Jimmy from the last conference, so at least we were able to replace a very precious item for her.

When she came to dinner, she updated us on the last few weeks and how she is trying to put her life back together once again. Her attitude is amazing. She laughs at things I would cry about. She is thankful she wasn't at home when the rushing water came through her home and could have injured her severely. She is determined to get her life back together little by little. And finally, she is an inspiration to people who are facing the loss of a loved one, and continues her grief workshops every Wednesday night despite what she is going through now.

I think we can all learn from Diana's experience and how she lives her life. We sometimes think our grief story is the worst... until we hear about the next person's.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Light at the end of the dark tunnel

Losing a child is the worst loss possible. Nineteen percent of all parents in the United States lose a child each year. That is a large percentage of our population. Only in the past 10-15 years has information been available and organizations started to help these parents move on with their lives and their grief journey.

The three that are very active include The Compassionate Friends with over 600 chapters in the U.S.; Alive Alone, for parents who have lost their only child or all their children; and Bereaved Parents USA, similar to Compassionate Friends but on a smaller scale. Compassionate Friends ( meets 1 or 2 times a month where parents can come to talk or just listen to others. It provides support, reading materials and a yearly conference with workshops on a variety of topics. Alive Alone ( does not have meetings, but Kay Bevington, who heads the organization, sends out a newsletter to share grief thoughts and keeps parents informed of conferences. She also has books and videos where experts guide bereaved parents. BPUSA ( provides a network of peer support groups, newsletters and help for parents, grandparents and siblings.

This is a good place to start your grief journey. Meet others who have gone through this or are just starting out. Another suggestion is to read as much as you can. See what other parents have done to move on with their lives and survive grief, and maybe their stories will inspire you also. A few good books to get you started include "I Have No Intention of Saying Good-bye," "No Time for Goodbyes," "When Bad Things Happen To Good People," "First You Die," "Roses In December," and "Saving Graces."