Sunday, January 25, 2009

Angel Moms

I found a web site bereaved mothers may be interested in looking at and even joining. The site is .

Through their pain, these mothers have bonded together to offer each other love, support and understanding, something we all need. Their email group of moms chats daily, sharing tears and laughter.

As I opened the site, the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” played in the background. I felt very comfortable and comforted looking at this lovely site and reading about what they have done for each other and for others out there, not even members.

If you read about their beginnings, a few mothers who had connected and formed an email group has grown to way over 200 members. “Nothing can take away the pain of losing a child," they say, "but being able to share it with others who know and understand your pain helps.”

Angel Moms come from all walks of life, have lost children of all ages, to different causes and are at different stages of grief, but their loss bonds them together like nothing else can. “We joke a lot, we cry a lot; we do things together; we can talk or just listen…we are here for each other,” says Judi Walker, one of the founders.

On their web site you can find a list of their members, how the children died and their death dates, newsletters they have written (with information, poetry and writings from other bereaved moms), acts of kindnesses done by these moms for others, and their meeting times (if you live in the area). If not, conferences have also been held where moms come together from all over to share their lives and that of their children. And, of course, there is email to connect everyone. Guidelines for the group are also on the site.

Judy Walker wrote a beautiful poem in memory of her son Shane and all the other children who have left this world. I used the words at a candle lighting ceremony at a national childless conference I was in charge of a few years ago in Scottsdale, AZ, and have never forgotten them. I hope you all at your own special time and place light a candle for your child and relive the wonderful memories. I share this poem with you and hope you will look at the site for further information.

I Light This Candle

I light this candle in memory of you.
My life, my child, my heart,
May it shine bright and true,
As you did from the start.

In it’s flickering flame I see,
The life we shared together,
The love and wonderful memories,
That I’ll carry with me forever.

I light this candle in memory of you.
I look up to the Heavens where you are,
I see the lights of Heaven shining bright too,
But your candle shines brighter than the brightest star.

My child, you are still so much a part of me,
Even though you are no longer here.
You live on in my heart where you will always be,
No matter what, I will always keep you there.

On this special night I light this candle for you,
And I hope every one who sees it will know,
How very special you are, how much you are loved and missed too,
And will remember you with me when they see its golden glow…

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Old Friends Never Forget

A few months back I wrote about an email I received from Marcy’s first boyfriend, telling me how much he cared for Marcy. This week I received another email, from a good friend of my daughter from 25 years ago, who has been trying to find me for many years (she had only my former married last name and didn’t know I had remarried). She was finally able to get my email. She had heard about Marcy’s car accident years before and through her tears was writing to me. “Some friendships,” she said, “can not be forgotten.” I, too, was very friendly with her mother and somehow, as happens at times, we lost track of each other.

I called my daughter’s friend immediately and we talked for a while. My daughter would have been 42 this year, and it is hard to picture her friend as 42, married and worrying about her child serving in Iraq. She spoke of her mom and when we finished, I anxiously called her. Time melted away, and it was as if we had just spoken the day before, not 20 years ago. It seems she, too, changed her name when she remarried and that is why I could not find her. We plan to get together soon. It is so hard to believe we have lived in the same city all these years and never bumped into each other. What we did discover was that we have mutual friends that we are both friendly with. We believe we’ll have a lot to talk about and catch up on when we meet, and hopefully, I will never lose track of her again as we grow old together.

I can’t wait to bring my friend and her daughter the book I wrote about surviving grief, and show them precious pictures of Marcy, as we laugh at the antics of both Marcy and her daughter in their teens. I’m sure she’ll also share memories and some of her photos.

What happiness it brings to my heart to know that after all this time, Marcy’s friends still bring me joy by staying in touch and remembering her. I was right all along. She will never be forgotten by me, and it is such a comfort to know that her memory will live in the hearts of others as well.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Famous people lose children too

Actor John Travolta is the latest of famous people to lose a child, his son Jett. The rich and famous are not immuned to this devastation. Actress Mary Tyler Moore, TV star Carroll O’Connor, Senator John Edwards, President John Kennedy, comedian Bill Cosby, and historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain, just to name a few, have all suffered the loss of a child. There are times when all the money and fame in the world can not keep us safe from something like a car accident, an unwelcomed illness, suicide, murder or a drug overdose. Their loss is as great as ours, but they are just more in the spotlight.

The only people who understand the pain that the Travolta’s are going through are parents who have also lost children. Even though some people say they know how you are feeling because they lost a cat or a mother, they have no clue as to what this is all about unless they too have suffered a child’s death.

My front page book endorsement from Stephen Cannell, famous author and TV playwright, told me about losing his teenage son many years ago in a freak beach accident when the castle he was building out of sand collapsed on top of him, suffocating him. Author Danielle Steel, who also endorsed my book, lost one of her nine children to suicide and never saw it coming. A friend of mine lost three children, all to car accidents, one year after the other; he is now childless.

Whether the child was an only child or one of many makes no difference in the intensity of the loss. We love all our children and don’t want anything to happen to any of them. And when it does, it is devastating.

The death of a child is the most painful experience you can ever go through. Children are not supposed to die before the parents. It is not the natural order of things, and so when it happens, we are thrown helter-skelter into a different life, one we wish we didn’t have to go through.

We all feel for the Travolta’s as we do any parent who loses a child. We’d like to help in some way. But there is nothing we can say or do that will make it all go away. The best advice I can give to family members and friends is to just listen. Let the parent talk about their child. Hold their hand. If you want to, cry with them. Fix a meal. Go shopping for them. Invite them out when they are feeling a little better. Show that you care. It’s what you do, not what you say, that’s important.

The pain will never leave these parents, but it will get softer with time. Time is a great healer as the Travolta’s will discover moving through their grief. I, along with many others, wish them the best.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Conferences for 2009

A new year and a new resolution: to make sure I give you all the information I have on major conferences being held this year for bereaved parents.

May 2009
The Compassionate Friends 5th International Gathering in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This conference will give anyone attending the opportunity for “continuing build bridges of love without borders” and commemorte 40 compassionate years since The Compassionate Friends was founded in Coventry, England, by Reverend Dr. Simon Stephens, who spoke at a recent national conference. See the compassionate friends site for more information: .

July 10-12, 2009
Bereaved Parents USA gathering in New York City. This conference will be held at the Crown Plaza Hotel at La Guardia Airport. The theme is "Light My Way." All parents, grandparents and siblings are invited. For additional information contact Diana Roscigno at .

Aug. 7-9, 2009
The 32nd Annual Conference of Compassionate Friends. This conference will be held in Portland, OR. Anyone interested in participating in or giving a workshop can submit their ideas to national office. See their website for more information: .

Aug. 20-23, 2009
The 23rd Annual Parents of Murdered Children National Conference. This will be held in Cincinnati, OH, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The theme is “Broken Hearts Healing with Help, Hope and Hugs.”Contact Sherry Nolan or Bev Warnock, 513-721-5683 or 888-818-7662 or visit for ore complete details.

Alive Alone would appreciate someone stepping forward to sponsor a national conference for parents who have no surviving children, but so far no one has done that for the coming year. If you know of someone who would do a good job, have them contact Kay at

In addition, local and regional conferences are held during the year. One I know of so far is March 20-21, 2009 in Frankfort, KY, at the First Christian Church, 316 Ann St. in Frankfort. Conference speakers include Paul Alexander, singer, psychotherapist, author who shares his music and message of hope throughout the U.S. and has worked with hospice and terminally ill children; William Ritter, author and speaker on suicide; Sherry Russell, who works in crisis management; and Alice Wisler who writes and teaches courses on "Writing the Heartache." Workshops include: journaling, after death communications, coping separately together, grief vs. depression, children's grief, coping, and getting through the firsts. A reflection room and butterfly table are available as well as picture buttons and a memory table.