Sunday, December 25, 2011

Holiday Message

A message to all bereaved parents during this special time of year from Sandy Fox:

On this special day we remember our child, all the wonderful times, all the love, and all the dreams we had for them. May these precious memories be forever in our minds and hearts.

Karen Taylor-Good has written what I think is the most beautiful song expressing how we feel about losing our child. Join me in listening to it on this free mp3 download (don't miss putting in the two underscores after the word 'free' and after 'mp3' to get it right) at:
"A song can travel to places in the heart that the spoken word alone cannot go."

Happy Holidays to all.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mourner's Bill of Rights

I always feel it is useful to hear other professional points of view that deal with surviving grief, and I love author, speaker and grief specialist Dr. Alan Wolfelt’s list of what he calls “The Mourner’s Bill of Rights.” I hope you will too. Thanks, Dr. Wolfelt, for helping so many with your words.

Though you should reach out to others as you do the work of mourning, you should not feel obligated to accept the unhelpful responses you may receive from some people. You are the one who is grieving, and as such, you have certain “rights” no one should try to take away from you.

The following list is intended both to empower you to heal and to decide how others can and cannot help. This is not to discourage you from reaching out to others for help, but rather to assist you in distinguishing useful responses from hurtful ones.

1. You have the right to experience your own unique grief. No one else will grieve in exactly the same way you do. So, when you turn to others for help, don’t allow them to tell you what you should or should not be feeling.
2. You have the right to talk about your grief. Talking about your grief will help you heal. Seek out others who will allow you to talk as much as you want, as often as you want, about your grief. If at times you don’t feel like talking, you also have the right to be silent.
3. You have the right to feel a multitude of emotions. Confusion, disorientation, fear, guilt and relief are just a few of the emotions you might feel as part of your grief journey. Others may try to tell you that feeling angry, for example, is wrong. Don’t take these judgmental responses to heart. Instead, find listeners who will accept your feelings without condition.
4. You have the right to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits. Your feelings of loss and sadness will probably leave you feeling fatigued. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Get daily rest. Eat balanced meals. And don’t allow others to push you into doing things you don’t feel ready to do.
5. You have the right to experience “griefbursts.” Sometimes, out of nowhere, a powerful surge of grief may overcome you. This can be frightening, but is normal and natural. Find someone who understands and will let you talk it out.
6. You have the right to make use of ritual. The funeral ritual does more than acknowledge the death of someone loved. It helps provide you with the support of caring people. More importantly, the funeral is a way for you to mourn. If others tell you the funeral or other healing rituals such as these are silly or unnecessary, don’t listen.
7. You have the right to embrace your spirituality. If faith is a part of your life, express it in ways that seem appropriate to you. Allow yourself to be around people who understand and support your religious beliefs. If you feel angry at God, find someone to talk with who won’t be critical of your feelings of hust and abandonment.
8. You have the right to search for meaning. You may find yourself asking, “Why did he or she die? Why this way? Why now?” Some of your question may have answers, but some may not. And watch out for the clich├ęd responses some people may give you. Comments like, “It was God’s will” or “Think of what you have to be thankful for” are not helpful and you do not have to accept them.
9. You have the right to treasure your memories. Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after the death of someone loved. You will always remember. Instead of ignoring your memories, find others with whom you can share them.
10. You have the right to move toward your grief and heal. Recounciling your grief will not happen quickly. Remember, grief is a process, not an event. Be patient and tolerant with yourself and avoid people who are impatient and intolerant with you. Neither you nor those around you must forget that the death of someone loved changes your life forever.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

More Tips for Handling Holidays

Thanks to my friend Sandi Howlett, grief specialist, here is a list of more tips for handling the holidays. Use whatever is helpful to you and Happy Holidays.

DECIDE WHAT YOU CAN HANDLE COMFORTABLY AND LET FAMILY AND FRIENDS KNOW. Can I handle doing a family dinner or shall I ask someone else to do it?Should you stay here or go to a completely different environment? I will miss the person and grieve regardless of geographic location, so where do I prefer to do it?

RE-EXAMINE YOUR PRIORITIES, GREETING CARDS, HOLIDAY BAKING, PUTTING UP A TREE, FAMILY DINNER AND OTHER TRADITIONS. Do I really enjoy doing this or is it a tradition we like or an obligation we endure? Would the holidays be the same with out it? Is this a task that can be shared?

MAKE SOME CHANGES IF THEY FEEL COMFORTABLE FOR YOU. Vary the timing of holiday gift giving. Have dinner at a different time or place. Let other children or relatives take over decorating the house.

RECOGNIZE YOUR LOVED ONE’S PRESENCE IN THE FAMILY. Light a special candle to quietly include your child. Hang a stocking in which people can put notes with their thoughts or feelings. Listen to music especially like by the one who died. Look at photographs and relive your memories.


OBSERVE THE HOLIDAYS IN WAYS WHICH ARE COMFORTABLE FOR YOU. There is no right or wrong way, but do let others know what you will be doing.


ALLOW YOURSELF TO EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS. Holidays often magnify feelings of loss. It is natural to feel sadness. Share concerns, apprehensions, feelings with a friend.

CONSIDER DOING SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR SOMEONE ELSE. Donate a gift in memory of your child; donate money you would have spent on your child; adopt a needy family, or invite a guest to share festivities.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO HAVE FUN. Laughter and joy are not disrespectful. Give yourself and your family members permission to celebrate and take pleasure in the holidays.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

This and That

Worldwide Candle Lighting…

The annual worldwide candle lighting is this Dec. 11 in remembrance of all children gone too soon, any age, any reason. Mark it on your calendar. Services and special events will be held around the country. Check the Compassionate Friends website for those services open to the public. Last year there were over 500 in 15 countries around the world. If you don’t want to go to a public service, you can do your own quiet candle lighting in home with friends or even by yourself. What ever works for you is a acceptable.

Regional TCF Conferences…

Regional conferences offer a rewarding opportunity to share an intimate time with families that are going through the natural grieving process after a child’s death. There are three upcoming ones:

Frankfort, NY regional conference will be March 23-24 with this year’s theme “Wilderness of Grief…Is There Hope.” The conference will feature speakers including Drs. Heidi and Gloria Horsley, Dr. Darcie Sims and entertainment by Alan Pedersen. Planned are 14 workshops covering many areas of grief. For more information, contact Dusty rhodes at 502-223-1505 or by writing .

Kansas regional is February 17-18 in Olathe, Kansas at the Doubletree.. The theme is “Sunflowers of Hope-Walking Together Down Grief's Yellowbrick Road." Keynote speakers are Alan Wolfelt, Darcie Sims, Kris Munsch and Alan Pedersen. Dr. Wolfelt will be doing a professional morning from 8-11 a.m. Friday, February 17 with three CEU's provided by KU Medical Center (no charge for the Professional Program, but registration will be required to know how many people to expect). For more information, contact .

Western Pennsylvania’s regional conference is April 20-21 in Meadville, PA with the theme "Treasured Memories." Look for additional information soon.

For all these regional conferences, contact Compassionate Friends for more information:

35th TCF Conference…

Rev. Canon Simon Stephens, the worldwide founder of TCF, will attend the 35th Compassionate Friends National Conference and International Gathering in Costa Mesa, CA, July 20-22, 2012. He will travel from his home in Moscow to speak to the gathering. Additional speakers will be Darcie Sims, grief management specialist and author; Lois Duncan, author of "Who killed My Daughter", and Kathy Eldon, bereaved mother, journalist, author, producer and activist. It is recommended you make reservations at the Hilton Costa Mesa early as they expect to be sold out soon. More information is at the Compassionate Friends website.