Sunday, August 31, 2008

A message of hope

One mother who I know quite well lost her only child, Valerie, almost twenty years ago. In a recent writing for a bereavement newsletter, she offers hope to those who are just beginning their grief journey. I find that it can be very comforting to those newly bereaved and even those a few years down the road to hear from others on how they have survived and moved forward with their lives. (That is how my book came about.) I am pleased to include Francine’s honest appraisal of what she felt and did with her life and how we can all renew our lives in the face of unbearable sorrow.

“This is a message of hope…a message that you will heal with time. Well, heal somewhat. I don’t think we ever truly “heal.” We never get over the death of our child, especially an only child as in my case.

Time helps. Your child still lives in your heart, in your memory. With time, you start living another life, a different life…a life not as a parent but a life as a spouse, as a family member, as a friend, and as a career person.

The possibilities are so wide…you can sponsor charities in the name of your child and have his/her memory relived through other people’s lives. You can give of your own person to assist people in distress. After what happened to us, we understand hardship, and we feel compassion. We are capable of reaching out.

There is no use dwelling forever upon one’s grief. We have to live with the living. My daughter, Valerie, was 16 when she died. She has now been dead longer than she lived. To this day I still miss her dearly and think of her every day, several times a day. But in the course of those twenty years, I have volunteered for several charities: the UNICEF shop, the Florence Nightingale Foundation, and programs that take care of the elderly. I also became the godmother of several children in third world countries. How rewarding to be able to help those young people to get a decent start in life.

Sometimes I have the feeling that Valerie is helping me in my everyday life. And, of course, there is always the supreme reward: the hope of seeing my child again in the afterlife. What a soothing, enlightening perspective. Be positive. It helps.”

As a footnote to my friend's message, she sponsored this 4-year-old girl in Chile with letters and money and helped her finance her nursing schooling. She is now 22-years-old, a registered nurse and works for the Armada de Chile, Chilean Navy. Francine also had the pleasure of visiting and meeting her five years ago. She is so proud of this child's great success story. Other children Francine has sponsored were from the Philippines, Guatemala and India. The cost of supporting a child is only $30 a month through the CFCA at .

I invite anyone who would like to share their perspective with others on the ways they have survived grief, to email me, and I will try to include your voice in upcoming weeks.

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